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Li: Donald Biggar Willett Professor in Engineering

Professorship: Donald Biggar Willett Professor
in Engineering

Donald Biggar Willett (1897-1981) attended Illinois from 1916 to 1922, but left the university just a few hours short of earning a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. During the 1930s, Willett moved to Los Angeles and opened a tax accounting business. He died in 1981 at age 83. His wife, Elizabeth Marie Henning Willett, was an avid investor who accumulated a fortune. She knew that her husband admired the U of I College of Engineering for its thriftiness and honesty, so in her will she left a gift to the college for research in memory of her husband. Mrs. Willett died in 1993 at age 91. The purpose of the Willett Professorships is to increase the distinction of the College and its departments by recognizing and stimulating intellectual leadership and outstanding research.

Faculty: Xiuling Li

Xiuling Li received her B.S. degree form Peking University and Ph.D. degree from the University of California at Los Angeles. Following post-doctoral positions at California Institute of Technology and University of Illinois, as well as industry experience at EpiWorks, Inc., she joined the faculty of the University of Illinois in 2007 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2012, and to Professor in 2015.

Her research interests are in the area of nanostructured semiconductor materials and devices. She has published more than 150 journal papers and holds more than 20 patents. She is a Fellow of IEEE, American Physics Society (APS), and the Optical Society (OSA). Her other honors and awards include NSF CAREER award, DARPA Young Faculty Award, and ONR Young Investigator Award. She served on the Board of Governors of the IEEE Photonics Society, and technical program committees of several international conferences. She is a Deputy Editor of Applied Physics Letters and serves as the Vice President of Finance and Administration of IEEE Photonics Society.