Illinois ECE graduate student wins prestigious IEEE awards


Joseph Park, Illinois ECE

Illinois ECE graduate student Megan Culler (photo credit to IEEE USA InSight)
Illinois ECE graduate student Megan Culler (photo credit to IEEE USA InSight)

Illinois ECE graduate student Megan Culler recently won the 2019 IEEE-USA Jim Watson Student Professional Awareness Achievement Award, recognizing IEEE members who volunteer to share their professional experiences with students and encourage active, lifelong IEEE membership. This award was first established in 2011, but this is the first year that a student has been selected as the recipient. 

"It's a huge honor to receive these awards because IEEE is such a large and prestigious organization in my field," Culler said. "The 2019 IEEE-USA Jim Watson Student Professional Awareness Achievement Award means a lot to me because I've been involved as a student leader in IEEE for pretty much my full college career. I'm honored to be the first student to receive this award, and I think it speaks to all of the dedicated student leaders for IEEE that bring incredible programs to their campuses."

Culler also received the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) Outstanding Student Scholarship Award for IEEE Region 4. This award is given to a graduate student who is pursuing a career in electric power and energy engineering and has demonstrated a high level of academic success, contributions to community and humanitarian needs, and leadership in advancing student engagement within PES. 

"The 2020 IEEE PES Outstanding Student Scholarship is also incredibly meaningful to receive since this is the first year that it has been awarded and because I am the only recipient from the United States," added Culler. "IEEE PES is the technical society most closely related to my research, and I've met incredible people through this organization, so it's very humbling to have my efforts in the field be recognized by a committee of influential and well-respected leaders in the field."

"I'd like to thank my advisor. Dr. Peter Sauer, for nominating me for the PES Outstanding Student award. He's been a huge supporter and mentor for my work. I'd also like to thank the individuals who provided recommendations for the award: Dr. Kirill Levchenko, Dr. Bruce Hajek, and Alfonso Valdes from UIUC, as well as Kate Davis, my former research mentor from Texas A&M, and Virginia Wright and James Hobbs, who have both mentored my internships."

Culler plans on graduating in May 2021 with her Master's in Electrical Engineering with concentrations in power systems and cybersecurity. Following graduation, Culler will be working at the Idaho National Laboratory where she will use her background in power systems and cybersecurity to work on projects for power grid resiliency and security, with an emphasis on integrating distributed energy resources. 

"Being at Illinois has been an adventure! As more time passes I become more sure that it was the right choice for me. I've had the opportunity to deeply engage with my dual passions of power and cybersecurity, I've been challenged to learn new skills, and I've met incredible people along the way. I have been continually impressed with the passion and dedication of my coworkers, and I'm extremely grateful for the flexibility from my advisors and mentors to pursue multiple projects."


Read more about Culler's achievements on the IEEE USA InSight website