ECE congratulates five faculty on recent promotions and welcomes three others
ECE faculty Minjoo Larry Lee, Lara Waldrop, Christopher Schmitz, Yuting Wu Chen, and Chandrasekhar Radhakrishnan were all promoted effective August 2021. The department also welcomes Andrey Mironov and Haohua Tu as the newest research faculty and Yun-Sheng Chen as a former research faculty member who is now a tenure track assistant professor.
Minjoo Lawrence Lee, whose research focuses on making III-V materials and devices for solar energy, integrated photonics, electronics, and sensing, was promoted to full professor. Since joining the Illinois ECE Department and Holonyak Micro and Nanotechnology Lab (HMNTL) in 2016, Lee and his advisees have developed new ways to grow III-V red lasers and LEDs on silicon substrates. They have also demonstrated that GaAsP/silicon tandem solar cells are a promising technology for use in satellites and other aerospace applications. This past year, Lee received the Grainger College of Engineering Dean's Award for Excellence in Research. He often makes the campus List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students for his instruction in the classroom.
An expert in optical remote sensing, Lara Waldrop was promoted to associate professor. Waldrop and her students are developing novel ground- and space-based sensing modalities for estimating key physical parameters of Earth’s upper atmosphere. Her work contributes to the predictive modeling of atmospheric evolution, mapping of orbital trajectories, and mitigation of space weather hazards. She is the lead investigator on a NASA-funded $75 million satellite project that ultimately aims to protect satellite electronics, radio communication, electric power distribution, and even air travel from the dangers of solar storms. This mission is the first to be dedicated to investigating the exosphere—the Earth’s outermost atmospheric layer and a critical protective component against solar storms.
Christopher Schmitz, who recently completed a three-year term as an Innovation and Entrepreneurial Mindset Fellow with the Grainger College of Engineering Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education, was promoted to teaching professor. Schmitz has developed and taught courses in the areas of circuits, digital signal processing, and digital communications. He serves as ECE’s chief undergraduate advisor and is highly regarded for completely redesigning the freshman Introduction to Electronics (ECE 110) course, which nearly 500 students collegewide take each semester. Faculty at Zhejiang University replicated Schmitz’s introductory course on their own campus. In the realm of engineering education research, Schmitz has demonstrated that hands-on activities along with student autonomy improves student engagement and self-efficacy.
Yuting Wu Chen and Chandrasekhar Radhakrishnan were promoted to teaching associate professors. An Illinois ECE alumna, Chen (BSEE ’07) began her instructional career in the department in 2015 and has taught Analog Signal Processing (ECE 210), Analog Circuits and Systems (ECE 211), and Computer Systems and Programming (ECE 220). As co-PI for the Integrative Engineering Leadership Initiative for Teaching Excellence (iELITE), she oversees the ENG 598 Teaching and Leadership course which provides pedagogical training and professional development for new graduate teaching assistants (TAs). Since its inception in 2016, iELITE has trained more than 800 TAs across campus. In 2020, Chen received the department’s Ronald W. Pratt Outstanding Teaching Award for Faculty. She serves as the Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering (WECE) faculty advisor and has been a camp instructor for Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering WYSE.
Radhakrishnan, who has research interests in circuit design and signal processing, primarily teaches undergraduate courses in these fields, as well. In 2019, he received the ECE department’s prestigious George Anner Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. This past spring, he won the Grainger College of Engineering Rose Award for Teaching Excellence. He started his Illinois career in 2011 as a post-doctoral research associate developing architectures and algorithms for reliable and efficient signal processing before joining the teaching faculty.
Andrey Mironov and Haohua Tu joined Illinois ECE as research faculty members. An Illinois ECE alumnus, Mironov (PhD 2016) conducts research in the areas of laser physics, nano-optics and materials, and photochemical processes. He has demonstrated several new lasers and lamps, including rubidium (Rb)-rare gas lasers having a quantum efficiency above 100%, and narrow-band 194 nm lamps that have made possible a new generation of compact optically-driven atomic clocks. He co-invented a photolithographic technique employing flat vacuum-ultraviolet (VUV) lamps allowing to inexpensively fabricate nanostructures and optical components in polymers. As a new ECE research assistant professor, Mironov will focus his research efforts on solid-state photochemistry in the vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) region for the realization of new electronic, photonic, and biomedical devices, and optical sources for time and frequency standards and quantum information.
A former research scientist with the Biophotonics Imaging Lab at the Beckman Institute, Haohua Tu has exposure to a wide variety of disciplines in his scientific career, including chemical engineering, materials science, optics, spectroscopy, photonic devices, and biomedical imaging. His recent efforts have focused on developing novel optical biomedical technologies and translating them into clinical applications. He has four patents related to laser source engineering and optical biomedical imaging technology. He has co-founded a start-up company to commercialize and disseminate his ultrafast laser technologies for diverse biophotonic applications. As a research associate professor, Tu is establishing a photonics tool development program that interfaces physics/chemistry, optical engineering, and biology. These tools broadly include lasers, photodetectors, optical amplifiers, microcavities, resonators, photonic crystals, waveguides, quantum dots, and specialty optical fibers. In 2019, he received a Microscopy Today Innovation Award for single-shot label-free autofluorescence-multiharmonic (SLAM) microscopy.
Yun-Sheng Chen, who started his Illinois ECE career in 2019 as a research faculty member, is now a tenure-track assistant professor. Chen’s research group focuses on developing imaging and theranostic technologies that can reveal disease with molecular precision. His approach involves combining the power of machine learning and nanotechnology with photoacoustic imaging to prevent, diagnose, and treat conditions such as cancer and neurological disorders. Last year, Chen received a highly competitive Google Faculty Research Award. Chen earned his PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to his appointment in Illinois, he was a postdoctoral fellow in Stanford School of Medicine’s Radiology Department. In addition to his ECE position, Chen is a faculty member at the Beckman Institute on campus.