Kamalabadi: Kung Chie and Margaret Yeh Endowed Professor in ECE

Professorship: Kung Chie and Margaret Yeh Endowed Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Professor Emeritus Kung Chie (K.C.) Yeh (BSEE ’53) devoted his career to teaching and research in wave propagation and upper atmospheric physics and morphology. He played a key role in the first proposal to apply tomographic techniques to image the ionospheric plasma-density distribution using satellite radio-beacon signals, a technique that is now a key component in efforts to track and predict “space weather.” His pioneering research, innovative spirit, and generous demeanor continue to inspire his colleagues and students. His wife, Margaret, was a nurse and loving spouse. Together, they raised four children and have seven grandchildren.

K.C. Yeh was born in Hanzhou, China, and came to Illinois for his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He travelled to Stanford University, where he received both his master’s degree and PhD, working on meteor-scatter propagation, trans-equatorial ionospheric propagation, and the fading of radio signals propagated over long paths. In 1958, professors Edward C. Jordan and George Swenson invited him back to Illinois to participate in new research using signals emitted by the Soviet “Sputnik” satellites. He became the director of the newly formed Ionospheric Radio Laboratory in 1964, making numerous lasting contributions to the field and producing fundamental results in the theory of propagation in randomly inhomogeneous and anisotropic media.

Margaret Yeh was born in Wuxi, China, and came to the United States to study nursing at University of California, Berkeley. While there, she met her future husband, and they were married in Palo Alto, California, in 1957. Together, they made a permanent home in Champaign, Illinois. Margaret stayed at home to raise their children. Her nursing expertise was used not only to care for her own children but also for others in need. Later in life, Margaret was the director of a church daycare and also worked at the county blood bank.

In 1981, K.C. Yeh participated in the planning of the National Sun Yat-Sen University, a new university in Taiwan, and established the Department of Electrical Engineering. There he served as Chair Professor and Department Chairman. A decade later, he returned there to serve as Dean of the Engineering College. After several years in this position he returned to Champaign-Urbana where he enjoyed his role as Professor Emeritus.

K.C. Yeh was elected a Fellow of the IEEE, received the Illinois ECE Distinguished Alumni Award, convened many international workshops and symposia, and served as editor of the journal Radio Science and as chair of Commission G of the U.S. National Committee of the International Union of Radio Science.

Throughout his career, he published more than 180 papers and served as adviser to many graduate students. In his last three years, he authored or co-authored more than 10 papers on a diverse range of topics. His last paper introduced a new technique for estimating ionospheric plasma fluxes using radio tomography, and was presented by his co-authors at the 2003 North American Radio Science meeting just a few days before his death.

Faculty: Farzad Kamalabadi

Farzad Kamalabadi
Farzad Kamalabadi

Farzad Kamalabadi has made outstanding, multi-disciplinary contributions to research in geophysical and space remote sensing, computational spectral imaging and related inverse problems, solar tomography, and ionospheric sensing and imaging. He is recognized as an international expert and leader in the development of remote sensing techniques involving inference from under-sampled and incomplete data. His research has enabled a precise understanding of our space environment through his development of novel computational signal and image processing techniques for optimal estimation of multi-dimensional physical parameters from lower-dimensional observables. His work on computational spectral imaging with diffractive optical systems has integrated advances in signal processing with emerging small satellite technology, culminating in unprecedented space plasma sensing capabilities. His development of sequential Monte Carlo inference techniques has enabled computationally efficient spatiotemporal imaging of high-dimensional dynamical systems, and his work on tomographic imaging of the solar corona offers the first systematic and comprehensive exploration of the plasma and magnetism in this dynamic region. His research has also led to the development of new techniques for magnetic resonance and ultrasonic imaging in medicine, as well bio-inspired tactile imaging.

Kamalabadi’s educational contributions to Illinois have been equally substantial. He has developed a range of graduate and undergraduate courses and has been frequently recognized by his students as an outstanding teacher and advisor.

Kamalabadi has received the NASA Graduate Student Researcher Program Award, the NSF CAREER Award, the Illinois Engineering Council Outstanding Advisor Award, and the Illinois Engineering Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research. He was named a NASA Faculty Fellow and an Illinois Center for Advanced Study Associate. Kamalabadi has served on the science definition teams and as guest investigator of several major space missions and is currently a co-investigator on NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission. He has served on the editorial boards of scientific and technical journals and magazines and has led the organization and technical programs of numerous conferences and workshops. He has served on a variety of national and international advisory and steering committees. In his capacity as Program Director at NSF, he held leadership roles in major research program development and science policy initiatives, for which he received the NSF Director’s Award for Collaborative Integration.

Kamalabadi is also affiliated with the Coordinated Science Laboratory and the Department of Statistics.