Professorship: Bliss Professor of Engineering

The Bliss Professor of Engineering is the result of a bequest from the late Helen Eva Bliss, in memory of her father, Abel Bliss Jr. Miss Bliss graduated from the University of Illinois in 1911 with a degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Early in her career, she taught engineering at a Shreveport, Louisiana high school, and later did clerical work with the Bureau of Aircraft Production in Washington, D.C. From 1936, until her retirement in 1962, she worked for the Washington law firm of Ivins, Phillips & Barker as an executive secretary.
Abel Bliss Jr. entered the University in 1872 to study civil engineering, but was forced to leave the University before completing his degree. In June of 1874, the University granted him a partial certificate in civil engineering. His business ventures included agriculture and real estate, and by 1929, he was a partner in the land development and oil production company of Bliss & Wetherbee. Mr. Bliss died in the mid-1930s.
A portion of the Bliss bequest went to support the Grainger Engineering Library and Information Center Endowment as well as other projects for “advancing the scholastic activities of the School of Engineering.”

Faculty: Stephen A. Boppart

ECE Professor Stephen A. Boppart

Stephen A. Boppart was born in the small farming community of Harvard, Illinois, and received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1990 and 1991, respectively, from the University of Illinois. For two years, he conducted research in the U.S. Air Force Laser Laboratory, developing ANSI safety standards for lasers. He then completed his Ph.D. in Medical and Electrical Engineering in 1998 from MIT, and his M.D. in 2000 from Harvard Medical School.

Professor Boppart is a faculty member in the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Bioengineering, and Internal Medicine. His Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory, established in the Beckman Institute, is focused on developing novel optical biomedical diagnostic and imaging technologies, and translating them into clinical applications. He is one of the early developers of optical coherence tomography (OCT), and he is actively participating in the growth, application, and clinical adoption of this technology, including applications in cancer imaging, primary care imaging, and the design and development of novel contrast agents.

Professor Boppart has more than 200 invited and contributed publications to his credit and holds more than 30 patents related to optical biomedical imaging technology. He has mentored more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate interdisciplinary researchers.

In 2002, he was recognized by MIT‘s Technology Review Magazine as one of the Top 100 Young Innovators in the World for his development of medical technology, and he received the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Early Career Award in 2005. He was Founding Director of the Mills Breast Cancer Institute at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, Illinois, and he has worked to establish partnership ties between the University and local medical institutions. He cofounded Diagnostic Photonics, Inc., in 2008, and serves as chief medical officer, assisting in commercializing its optical imaging technology for intraoperative guidance during cancer surgery. He is a Fellow of IEEE, SPIE, and the Optical Society of America, which awarded him the Paul F. Forman Engineering Excellence Award in 2009 for dedication and advancement in undergraduate research education.

Currently, Professor Boppart is leading the Illinois Imaging Initiative, a campus-wide effort to integrate imaging science, technology, and applications across multiple modalities and fields.