Skip to main content

Promotions and Additions

in this section

Amit Lal honored as the Robert M. Scharf 1977 Professor of Engineering (4/24/2015)

Amit LalECE Professor Amit Lal has been recognized as the Robert M. Scharf 1977 Professor of Engineering by the Cornell University College of Engineering. 

"Amit leads one of the most creative programs at Cornell ECE," said Clif Pollock, ECE Director. "He's made MEMS-based power supplies that can provide energy for decades for sensors, numerous medical probes and instruments, microscale atomic clocks, even a 'cyborg moth'! He teaches a popular interactive freshman course where student make everything from a transistor to a health monitor based on MEMS sensors. He has also helped with several students start-ups, and leads the ECE Innovation Awards Competition. He has great insight into physical problems and is always ready to offer a creative solution to any challenge. I am delighted Amit has been recognized as a distinguished chaired professor at Cornell." 

Prof. Lal obtained his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Caltech in 1990. He obtained his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley. He conducted his doctoral research at the Berkeley Sensors and Actuators Center in the area of ultrasonic MEMS. 

He holds 32 patents and has published over 190 research papers in the area of microsystem engineering. He served as a Program Manager at DARPA in the Microsystems Technology Office from 2005-2009. There, he managed ten, and started six new programs in the area of navigation, low-energy computation, bio-robotics, and atomic microsystems. He is the recipient of the NSF CAREER award and the Whitaker Foundation award. With his students, his group has received several best paper awards at the IEEE Ultrasonics and Frequency Control Symposium, IEEE NEMS, IEEE MEMS, and IEEE PowerMEMS Conferences. He is also a recipient of the Department of Defense Exceptional Service Award and a Best Program Manager Award for his work at DARPA. 

In addition to School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Prof. Lal is a field member of Biomedical Engineering and Applied Engineering Physics. He is a member of Cornell CCMR, NBTC, and KAUST-CU Center. 

Professor Lal's interests are in developing concepts and technologies leading to integrated microsystems using micro and nanoscale fabrication techniques. He directs the SonicMEMS Laboratory, which works on very diverse topics aimed at transforming the way the world can be viewed. The group's focus currently includes vaporizable electronics, chip-scale ultrasonics for information processing, optically stabilized MEMS systems, linear and nonlinear effects of ultrasound for microfluidics, applications of radioactive thin films for power and lithography, microprobes for surgery and bioinstrumentation, nanoelectromechanical devices, hybrid insect microsystems, micromechanical solar energy, and chip scale particle accelerators. 

Read more about Professor Lal's work in the featured article of the most recent ECE Connections Magazine: or on his website at

Grace (Huili) Xing to join ECE faculty as Full Professor (10/28/2014)

Grace XingSilicon-based semiconductors have been of primary importance to the electronics revolution of the past 50 years. Professor Grace Xing is working on what comes next. She is one of the leading experts on gallium nitride components and their many uses in a wide array of applications and she will soon be joining the faculty of Cornell Engineering. Xing will have a dual appointment in both the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Xing received her bachelor’s degree in physics from Peking University, which is a major Chinese research university located in Beijing. She earned a master’s degree in materials science and engineering from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. After her master’s, she went on for a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara. It was at Santa Barbara, while working with Umesh Mishra, Steve DenBaars, Jim Speck, Evelyn Hu, and Mark Rodwell, that Xing began developing her expertise in gallium nitride materials and devices as well as high-speed high-performance electronics in general.

In 2004, Xing joined the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where her lab developed a reputation for leading-edge research into electronic nanomaterials—specifically the gallium nitride family and two-dimensional crystals. In the last ten years, gallium nitride-based semiconductors have led directly to the lasers that read Blu-ray discs, energy-saving LED lights, and to the compact and more efficient base stations for wireless communications. One focus of Xing’s research has been to develop gallium nitride components to make power delivery hardware more efficient and robust.  Another thrust of her research has been how best to use two-dimensional crystals to help realize better electronic switches for computation, and unlock the terahertz range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Xing has been recognized by several groups for the quality and importance of her research. In 2008 she received a Young Investigator Award from AFOSR; in 2009 she was honored with a CAREER Award from the NSF; and in 2014 she was given a Young Scientist Award from the ISCS—making her one of only two women to ever receive this award.

Growing up in Wugang in Henan Province, China, Xing did not know what, specifically, she wanted to study. But by the time she got to Peking University her ambitions started to take shape. “While I was studying toward my B.S. in physics at Peking University I decided I wanted to be an engineer,” says Xing. “I was always wondering how stuff works, how one can, in real life, realize the boundary conditions used to solve a set of equations.”

Wugang is located near a large lake, surrounded by hills and mountains, so coming to Ithaca may feel a bit like coming home for Xing. “I am looking forward to hiking and sledding in the snow,” says Xing.

Xing says she decided to come to Cornell for several reasons: “the quality of the research, the quality of the teaching, the quality of my colleagues, and the quality of the students. I am very excited to continue my research into electronic materials and their applications.”

Debdeep Jena to join ECE faculty as Full Professor (10/28/2014)

Debjeep JenaElectronic devices have become ubiquitous—they are in our kitchens, bathrooms, cars, and our clothes. As these devices have shrunk to near their ultimate size and speed limits, many are wondering if we are reaching an end to the scaling described by Moore’s Law. Professor Debdeep Jena believes this looming technological wall is really not a wall at all. It is an opportunity.

Jena, who will soon join the faculties of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Materials Science at Cornell, thinks now is the perfect moment to develop new nanoelectric materials and devices. “I am excited to explore the physics of new classes of materials for unconventional electronic and photonic device applications,” says Jena. “I chose to move to Cornell ECE to work with excellent colleagues who share some of my dreams for the future. My joint appointment with MSE is another strong pull—along with the excellent Physics and Applied Physics programs at Cornell. My research work increasingly needs expertise in these areas and strong experimental facilities.”

Jena’s research and teaching interests are in the material growth and device applications of quantum semiconductor heterostructures, investigation of charge transport physics in nanostructured semiconducting materials, and their device applications. The work Jena is doing has applications in the fields of computation (low-power electronics), communications (high-speed RF), energy (power electronics), and photonics (visible and deep-UV).

Jena received his undergraduate B.Tech. degree in electrical engineering, (with a minor in physics), from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in 1998. From there he went on to the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he earned a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering in 2003. He then joined the electrical engineering faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where he has taught for eleven years. In 2007, Jena won an NSF CAREER award. In 2010, he won the Joyce Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Yeaching. In 2012, he was awarded the ISCS Young Scientist Award and the IBM Faculty Award, and in 2014, he won the MBE Young Investigator Award.

“While I am going to miss my colleagues at Notre Dame very much,” says Jena, “I am excited to forge new research directions with my new colleagues. I am also looking forward to teaching and doing research with exceptional undergraduate and graduate students.” Jena grew up in Asansol, which he describes as “a mid-size town in the steel/coal industrial belt in the state of West Bengal, India. I have heard so much about the natural beauty of Ithaca—it’s time to dive in and find out how true it is.”

In his free time, Jena says he likes “to hang out and try to relearn to be a child with my son. He is learning more everyday than I do in a year!” Jena joins the faculty of Cornell Engineering in January 2015.

Michael C. Kelley, promoted to emeritus status as the James A. Friend and Family Distinguished Professor Engineering Emeritus (9/23/2013)


Michael C. Kelley was recently promoted to emeritus status as the James A. Friend Family Distinguished Professor Engineering Emeritus. Kelley was elected to emeritus status upon his retirement on July 1, 2013.

Kelley’s research efforts involved using Large RADAR observatories to measure wind and wave patterns from 30 to several hundred kilometers above the surface of the earth. Other research interests concerned the use of satellites and rockets to carry Cornell instrumentation directly into the space environment. The measurements are interpreted in terms of the physics of the atmosphere and ionosphere and both global and localized features of the earth's electric field, including thunderstorms and the aurora.

In 1983, Kelley merged his knowledge of rockets with the expertise of the Cornell radar community and mounted an intensive study of the equatorial upper atmosphere, when he led the NASA rocket campaign, Condor, launching 29 sounding rockets off the coast of Peru. Similar projects were carried out in Greenland in 1985 and 1987, in the South Pacific in 1990, and in Puerto Rico in 1992. Another project of this type took place in 1998.

Kelley has been deeply involved in ac/dc electric field experiments in space since 1966. He played an important role in supplying electronics and/or analyzing results for 70 rocket flights, four satellite missions, and numerous balloon flights. Since arriving at Cornell in 1975, he also performed experiments for neutral wind measurements using chemical tracers, for active experiments in space plasmas, and for radar and lidar scatter measurements of turbulence and dc electric fields.

After receiving the doctoral degree, Kelley was a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley, held a joint appointment as a Von Humboldt fellow with Gerhard Haerendel at the Max Planck Institute in Garching, Germany, and came to Cornell in 1975. He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and in 1979 he won their James B. Macelwane Award. Kelley has been a member of the National Academy of Science's Committee on Solar and Space Plasmas; the Management Working Group on Solar Space Plasmas of the Office of Space Science, NASA; and the National Science Foundation Advisory Committee on the Atmosphereic Research Program. In 1981, he won the Tau Beta Pi-Cornell Society of Engineers award as the outstanding teacher in the Cornell College of Engineering. Kelley is chair of the NSF Global Change Program's Upper Atmosphere Component, CEDAR, and is the special advisor for atmospheric science at the Arecibo Observatory. He was elected James A. Friend Family Distinguished Professor of Engineering in February 2001.


Maryam M. Shanechi to join ECE faculty as Assistant Professor (8/6/2013)

maryam_shanechiECE welcomes Maryam M. Shanechi to ECE in January 2014. 

Maryam received the B.A.Sc. degree with honors in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto in 2004 and the S.M. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2006 and 2011, respectively. She seeks to develop novel engineering solutions to address standing challenges in basic and clinical neuroscience. She is interested in using the principles of information and control theories and statistical signal processing to gain insight into basic neuroscience questions and to develop effective solutions for clinical neuroscience problems and non-clinical applications. Her work combines methodology development with in vivo implementation and testing.


Christoph Studer to join ECE faculty as Assistant Professor (8/6/2013)

christoph studer

ECE welcomes Christoph Studer to the ECE faculty in January 2014. 

Christoph received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Information Technology and Electrical Engineering from ETH Zurich, in 2005 and 2009, respectively. From 2009 and 2013, he was a Postdoctoral Researcher at ETH Zurich and Rice University. His research expertise lies in the design of very-large-scale integration (VLSI) circuits and systems, signal and image processing, machine learning, and wireless communications. Of particular interest to him is the challenge of bridging the ever-growing gap between theory, algorithms, and digital integrated circuits, which are growing in vastly different directions at a fast pace. Read more about Christoph Studer here.

Cornell ECE names David Albonesi new Associate Director (7/29/2013)

David Albonesi

Cornell University School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor David Albonesi as associate director. 

“David is an effective instructor teaching courses from freshman to the advanced graduate level, and a devoted faculty member who has served in various administrative roles in the School, most recently as Chair of the Policy Committee. With his myriad skills, David will lead us in bringing the ECE curriculum to the next level,” said ECE Director Tsuhan Chen. 

With his new role, David will be responsible for all educational programs in ECE, emphasizing curriculum planning, TA assignment and evaluation, and peer teaching reviews, as well as many other functions. While the associate director is involved mainly with the undergraduate curriculum, David will also closely interact with the director of graduate studies, Professor Lang Tong. 

“As associate director, David will be effectively the 'face' of ECE to all our students,” added Tsuhan. “I know that he will be a very popular one.” David takes on the responsibility of associate director from Professor Sheila Hemami who was recently elected as Weiss Presidential Fellow and Menschel Distinguished Teaching Fellow and has accepted the role of ECE department chair at Northeastern University. 

David is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cornell University and a member of the Computer Systems Laboratory. David is a Fellow of the IEEE, and has received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, three IBM Faculty Awards, three IEEE Micro Top Picks paper awards, three industry excellence awards, and the Michael Tien ’72 Excellence in Teaching Award. His current research interests include adaptive and reconfigurable multi-core architectures, power- and reliability-aware computing, and energy-efficient smart buildings. 

More information about Professor David Albonesi can be found at or

Zhiru Zhang joins ECE faculty as Assistant Professor (8/30/2012)


Today’s cutting-edge computer chips can house up to six or seven billion transistors, a number roughly equal to the world’s population. While the comparison isn’t perfect—duplications, for example, would lower that number somewhat—the main point is the same: embedded systems are mind-bogglingly complex. And as the history of the semiconductor industry shows, they’re only going to get more complex every few years.

The research of assistant professor Zhiru Zhang, who joined the ECE faculty this fall, seeks to create tools to optimize system-on-a-chip design, particularly through automated synthesis.

 “My research is at the behavior level,” explained Zhang. “I want to develop efficient compilation tools, so we can use software languages to create efficient hardware. I think it’ll be a big step forward, and of course there are many open research challenges that make this area fascinating.”

In 2006, Zhang co-founded a company, AutoESL Design Technologies, Inc., which provided high-level synthesis solutions for designing and implementing application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and field-programmable gate arrays. Its main product, AutoPilot, has been adopted by leading semiconductor and systems companies to enhance design productivity and quality for video, wireless, and high-performance computing applications. In 2011, AutoESL was bought by Xilinx.

Commercializing part of his research and making it available to a wider audience, Zhang said, was a valuable experience, and one that will align well with the entrepreneurialism that ECE Director Tsuhan Chen wants to emphasize at the new campus in New York City. As Zhang notes, many engineering professors also start companies on the side. In the semiconductor industry especially, where technology evolves quickly and the research/product cycle is very short, it can be very helpful to have a foot in each world, he says. Zhang himself will be a full-time academic now, but he’ll draw on the knowledge and skills he gained while working in industry. The heart of entrepreneurialism, after all, is creating something new and valuable, an experience Zhang encourages any engineer to seek out.

“Whether you want to be a professor or develop a company or find a job in a company,” he says, “having an entrepreneurial spirit will help in almost every case.”

Eilyan Bitar joins ECE faculty as Assistant Professor (8/30/2012)

Eilyan Bitar is working to transform the way our electrical grid is operated to achieve deep integration of renewable energy resources. Traditionally, the grid is operated such that generation is tailored to match uncertain consumer demand on a second-by-second basis. At issue is the fact that renewable resources like wind and solar are highly dependent on the weather. They are hard to predict, highly intermittent, and largely uncontrollable.

“These energy resources are inherently variable,” Bitar says. “How can we efficiently accommodate large amounts without throwing the grid out of balance? This is the basic challenge we aim to address.”

One possible solution resides with the consumers themselves. According to Bitar, “there is a tremendous amount of consumption flexibility in the demand side that until today remains largely untapped.” Perhaps residential consumers can be coaxed into changing their consumption patterns, for example, to accommodate variability in supply. Simply making power cheaper during off peak hours, though, won’t do the trick – the monetary incentives are too small. “Even if the average home owner behaves optimally, their savings will at best amount to five percent on their bills. So on a $100 bill, the user would save at most $5.”

By designing novel incentive mechanisms and real-time control algorithms to simultaneously manage millions of end-use devices in the distribution system, Bitar aims to transform the role of consumers from passive recipients of energy to active participants that willingly serve the systemic needs of the electrical grid. 

Essentially, the demand side will look not unlike a conventional dispatchable generator, capable of absorbing variability in renewable supply. Although he’s a native Californian and as such is used to more temperate weather, Bitar didn’t hesitate to accept Cornell’s offer. The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering has a deep and rich history of research in electrical power systems and information science, he says.

“It’s a truly scholarly place, with a collegial and brilliant faculty,” he says. “I see a genuine opportunity for stimulating discussion and collaboration, which will hopefully give birth to exciting and innovative research projects.”

Sheila Hemami named Associate Director of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (7/22/2010)


Today’s announcement from Tsuhan Chen, the director of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering states:

"As Associate Director, Sheila will be responsible for all educational programs in ECE, with emphasis on curriculum planning, TA assignment and evaluation, peer teaching reviews, and in many other aspects. While the Associate Director is involved mostly in the undergraduate curriculum, Sheila will also be interacting closely with ... the Director of Graduate Studies... As Associate Director, Sheila will be effectively the 'face' of ECE to all our students, and I know that she will be a very popular one... Sheila brings extensive leadership and organizational experience to the position. She has served as IEEE Image and Multidimensional DSP Technical Committee Chair within the Signal Processing Society (SPS), is currently completing a term as IEEE Transactions on Multimedia Editor-in-Chief, and serves on the IEEE SPS Board of Governors... [Sheila] also leads the CU-ADVANCE effort here at Cornell. Please join me to welcome Sheila to her new role at ECE!"

Sheila S. Hemami received the B.S. degree (summa cum laude) in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1990 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, in 1992 and 1994 respectively. During her last year at Stanford, she was a member of the technical staff at Hewlett Packard Laboratories in Palo, Alto, California. Upon completing her Ph.D., she joined the faculty of the Electrical Engineering department at Cornell where she currently directs the Visual Communications Lab.

Rajit Manohar appointed as Interim Associate Dean (11/11/2009)


Associate Professor Rajit Manohar has been appointed as Interim Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Engineering from January 1, 2010 – June 30, 2010. 

As Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Rajit will oversee and support faculty research and the graduate programs in the College of Engineering, handle conflict of interest matters, coordinate the Master of Engineering program and graduate department reviews, administer college fellowship funds and limited college funds in support of research, and serve as a member of the senior leadership team of the college. The Associate Dean also cultivates collaborative, cross-disciplinary research by identifying and coordinating major, college-wide funding opportunities. The Associate Dean works with departments to strengthen the quality, standing, and impact of the M.Eng., M.S. and Ph.D. programs.

Prof. Lang Tong named to Irwin and Joan Jacobs Chair in Engineering (12/4/2006)

Lang-TongThe Trustees have named Prof. Lang Tong to have the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Chair in Engineering. This is the endowed chair that Toby Berger held before his retirement last January. It is great to see the Chair stay within the School, and it is appropriate that it also is going to someone who has had a strong impact in the communications field. 

Lang has distinguished himself in many ways in our school, but was noted in particular for his pioneering scholarship in the field of communications signal processing, his leadership in the school, and his effort and success at team building for funded research among the faculty in the school and college. Even as this award is announced, Lang is busy assembling a large proposal for an Army-funded center that will involved over 6 Cornell faculty plus a number of other schools. He has been an active leader in helping others get research funding since he arrived. 

This is a great honor both for Lang and for the School. A Chair represents the highest rank that can be achieved in a university; it is well-deserved and appropriate honor for Lang. 

Cornell Chronicle

Hemami promoted to Full Professor (11/1/2006)


Effective November 1, 2006, Sheila S. Hemami will become the first woman in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell to be promoted to the rank of Full Professor. Sheila is an outstanding teacher, scholar, and leader at Cornell, and we are delighted that she has been recognized in this appropriate manner.