Kung Chie and Margaret Yeh Faculty Scholar

Kung Chie and Margaret Yeh Faculty Scholar

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.


Songbin Gong, Kung Chie and Margaret Yeh Faculty Scholar