ECE Woman of the Month Archive

Every month we celebrate an outstanding woman in ECE (student, postdoc, or professor). If you would like to nominate a candidate, please write Prof. Petersen at kirstin @

Sophia Rocco

December 2018: Sophia Rocco

Please help us celebrate Sophia Rocco for her outstanding scientific achievements in her graduate degree and the tremendous social impact she has had on the department and the wider community in Ithaca. Sophia is one of a kind! Her research focuses on the energy partitioning in gas-puff z-pinch plasmas from implosion through stagnation – that’s plasma science folks. Her work is supported by NNSA SSAPP and Lawrence National Laboratory, and has already resulted in seven conference poster presentations and 8 journal papers. She has also served twice as a teaching assistant in ECE/AEP/NSE 4840/MAE4590.

As Prof. Hammer puts it: "I’d even nominate her for Woman of the Year if there’s such an opportunity." Striking about Sophia’s resume is all of the additional engagements. She is the president of Cornell University Electron Devices Society, on the committee of the ECE Graduate Organization, a senior scientist activity leader in Expanding Your Horizons outreach events, devoted to “Skype a Scientist”, and a board member of Ithaca Welcomes Refugees. Her commitment to changing this world for the better is beyond remarkable and she is the perfect example to round off Cornell ECE Woman of the Month in 2018. 

Jennifer Fuhrer

November 2018: Jennifer Fuhrer

This month we celebrate an outstanding senior in ECE, Jennifer Fuhrer. Jennifer was recommended for the insight and passion she commits as a Teaching Assistant to the 113 students in ECE3400 Intelligent Physical Systems. Jennifer is passionate about robotics, and her skillset ranges from hardcore electronics and programming, to mechanical design, fabrication, and analysis. She made the Dean’s list in 2016, and as a senior, she has already programmed robotic arms and designed custom grippers for Wilcoxon Sensing Technologies.

She is on is on the CU Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Project team (CUAUV) which scored 1st place in the 2017 national competition. To add to all of these technical and pedagogical endeavors, Jennifer is the Vice President of Communications in the Cornell Guild of Visual Arts, and was the Pre-Freshman Host for the Cornell Red Carpet Society 2015-2017. In short: Jennifer is awesome. She’s a one-of-a-kind engineer, that perfectly exemplifies the diverse set of skills you can cultivate at Cornell!

Ho-Jung Yang

October 2018: Ho-Jung Yang

This month we celebrate Ho-Jung Yang, an amazing junior in ECE. Ho-Jung seems to have discovered an extra source of time that evades the rest of us. Beyond top grades, Ho-Jung is on the electrical subteam of Cornell Mars Rover, she is the president of the Cornell Amateur Radio Club, and she does research on soft robots in Prof. Shepherd’s Organic Robotics Lab. She has also interned with Mitre, working on a radio testbed and underwater communications, and have participated in Cornell Cup.

However, we should stress that she was nominated not just for her astounding intellectual merit or for her engineering enthusiasm. She was nominated because she is a fantastic contributor the positive environment in ECE, always willing to help those around her. This year she is also a teaching assistant in ECE 2400. Prof. Batten has nothing but praise for her; she has been a great asset to the teaching staff, holds weekly office/lab hours to help students with programming assignments, and frequently provides feedback to students using GitHub to help them continuously improve their code. Engineers and robots alike, here’s a star worth noting!

Helena Caminal

September 2018: Helena Caminal

This month we celebrate the tremendous research accomplishments by a first year graduate student in the Computer Systems Lab: Helena Caminal. Helena completed a bachelors and masters at BarcelonaTECH in Industrial Engineering and Informatics, during which she completed internships with ARM and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center. Now a student of Prof. José Martínez, she has taken on not one, but two SRC-funded projects on intelligent memory and storage, covering everything from semiconductor materials and devices to applications. She has already become an expert on prior work, proposed and prototyped new artifacts, and presented her results to a larger audience. She has co-authored several publications, and has received prestigious fellowships both at BarcelonaTECH and Cornell. When asked about Helena, Prof. Martínez, fires of a long list of accomplishments and rounds it off with “did I mention that she came to Cornell barely a year ago?!” A huge shout-out to Helena for serving as an awesome role model for incoming graduate students, and especially for a hugely underrepresented group of women in Computer Architecture!

50% of Cornell Engineering Undergraduates are Women; 53% of the Cornell Engineering class of 2022 are female; the national undergraduate percentage of females in engineering is 22.9%

August 2018: Women at Cornell Engineering

A special tribute this month to the Cornell Engineering Class of 2022, 53% of whom are women! You read that right. Compared to a not-so-distant past, 53% is a huge accomplishment. The world is changing, and the face of engineering is too. So thank you all for daring to break traditions, thank you for stepping up and serving as role models to so many other young women out there. As you continue to specialize in one of the 14 majors, please remember to choose the topics of your passion and don’t hesitate a second because of previous enrollment statistics; instead, join your peers in SWE, WICC, and PhEM, and reach out to the faculty in WISE. Breakthroughs in engineering come from collaborations between diverse and motivated people: our change comes with you, and we welcome it with open arms. Let’s end with a quote from the School of Engineering’s website: “Cornell engineers are motivated, collaborative, compassionate, and intelligent.” …and mostly women!

Check out more statistics here and the Cornell Chronicle story here.

Alyssa Apsel

July 2018: Professor Alyssa Apsel

Please join us this month in celebrating our new Director of ECE, Professor Alyssa Apsel! Alyssa joined Cornell in 2002, after received her B.S. from Swarthmore College in 1995 and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 2002. Her research is focused on power-aware mixed signal circuits in modern designs, and this has promoted numerous research awards (she was listed in the world's 100 Top Young Innovators by Technology Review magazine!) over 100 refereed publications (and best paper awards), and 10 patents with more pending.

Alyssa is a force of nature; she has also served as Director of Graduate Studies and done wonders for our curriculum, winning notable awards including a recent Distinguished Lecturer for the IEEE CAS Society. We couldn't help but notice this quote on Rate-My-Professor; "I simply choose my career path after taking her class. I want to do what she does". And now Alyssa is ready to take the reins of ECE; her plans include continued aggressive recruitment and stronger involvement with Cornell Tech. No doubt she can pull this off. Alyssa just concluded her second year as Visiting Professor at Imperial College in London, and we are thrilled to have her back!

Hazal Yuksel

June 2018: Hazal Yuksel

Ph.D. student Hazal Yuksel is one of the very few female scientists engaged in signal processing for RF circuits. We want to recognize Hazal for the amazing work she has done as a mentor and teaching assistant in Microelectronics, for which she just received the 2018 Outstanding TA Award from Cornell ECE. “She is an incredible teacher and really makes an effort to connect with her students. She is a role model for all women in analog design, where women are even less represented than in ECE overall,” says Leah Forrest, ECE B.S. ’18. Beyond mentoring, Hazal leads a prolific research career. Along with her advisor, ECE Professor Alyosha Molnar, she is co-leading a team to develop widely tunable frequency-division duplex radio transceivers. This work could allow peer-to-peer systems (like WiFi) to use many of the tricks presently only usable in cellular systems, and vice-versa, while also eliminating expensive off chip components, and allowing radios to be updated for new bands and standards with only a software upgrade! Hazal has been recognized widely for her skills with a Cornell Jacobs Fellowship, a George Sherrerd III memorial award, a SWE Goldman Sachs Scholarship, a AOE Engineering and Technical Science Achievement Scholarship, and graduating Magna cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree from Duke University. Please help us congratulate Hazal as June’s Cornell ECE Woman of the month - thank you for providing invaluable inspiration for a new generation of Cornell students!

Leah Forrest

May 2018: Leah Forrest

This month we’re heading to the stars with Leah Forrest! Leah will graduate with an ECE bachelors degree in little under a month and start a new job at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a System Integration and Test Engineer. This will not be the first time Leah tackles space–she has been the power team lead for the Space Systems Design Studio under Prof. Peck (former NASA Chief Technologist) since 2016 developing a 3U+ CubeSat to demonstrate autonomous rendezvous and docking in low Earth orbit. She delivered a beta copy of the CubeSat to NASA Langley Research Center in 2016, and is now working on the power team to create a second revision for the (approved) CubeSat Student Launch Initiative in 2019. But her journey to space doesn’t end there, she is also tailoring her project in the class of Multi-Agent Systems to simulate how many CubeSats may cooperate to rid low earth orbit of space trash. On top of all this, she found the time to work as a TA for ECE 3400 and in the Cornell Society of Women Engineers as the Finance Director and Corporate Liaison. Leah has received the Unitil Scholarship, the GE Women’s Network Scholarship, the Allegro Microsystems Scholarship and the Kiwanis Scholarship, and now she is May’s Cornell ECE Woman of the Month!

Divya Gupta

April 2018: Divya Gupta

This month we tip our hats to an extraordinary M.Eng. student Divya Gupta. Divya graduated with a B.S. from Cornell in December 2017, and is now taking additional classes to fill the time until she joins Stanford University in Fall 2018. Divya has excelled in classwork earning the Deans’ List, John McMullen Scholarship, and membership in Eta Kappa Nu and Tau Beta Pi, among many others awards. As Prof. Zhang, her research adviser comments: "Divya is not only ambitious, intelligent, and hardworking; she is also a very curious student who tries to understand things in depth, independent of whether it is related to the work assigned to her or not." Beyond studies and research, Divya also interned at Intel and found time to serve as an Electronics Subteam Lead for the ChemE Car project Team (’16-'17). Divya is part of the IEEE publicity board and the Cornell Society of Women Engineers (SWE), where she has helped arrange the Women In Engineering and Girl Scouts Days. We are proud to have taken part in her journey, and we are thrilled to see where life will take her at Stanford and beyond!

Shuang Chen

March 2018: Shuang Chen

This month, we celebrate Ph.D. student Shuang Chen for her outstanding work on datacenter computing. Shuang actually first came to town as an undergrad from Shanghai Jiaotong University in 2014 to spend a summer month at Cornell, under a program piloted by Prof. John Hopcroft. And what a month! In this short window of time, she managed to thoroughly impress her resident advisor, Prof. Martínez: “I knew right then this was someone who Ph.D. programs out there would be fighting over.” Shuang now works with Profs. Martínez and Delimitrou to develop intelligent techniques that allow cloud systems to increase the utilization of their resources without sacrificing the quality-of-service that we have come to expect from online cloud computing services. According to Prof. Delimitrou, Shuang is so full of ideas that in the short period of time she has been working on this problem, she has already pushed the needle on what previous work considered possible. Beyond her cutting-edge research, Shuang has found time to excel as a graduate TA twice. A perfect role model for graduate students everywhere!

Vaidehi Garg

February 2018: Vaidehi Garg

You will have noticed her walking the halls of the School of Engineering, always with a bright touch of color in her hair and an easy smile on her face. Please help us celebrate Vaidehi Garg as February’s ECE Woman of the Month! Besides acing all of her classes and making the Dean’s list every year, Vaidehi excels as a Team Lead for Cornell Cup Robotics, the Publicity Director of the IEEE Executive Board, and a member of the CollabSpace team. She has also been an outreach chair for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and has taught academic excellence workshops for Engineering Learning Initiatives. Vaidehi’s hard work over the past few years has led to outstanding improvements in the School of Engineering -- she is an inspiration to us all, and we are thrilled to announce that she already has a job lined up with Acacia Communications after earning her Bachelor’s degree in May.

Grace Xing

January 2018: Professor Huili (Grace) Xing

Who better to kick off the celebration of Women in ECE than our very own super hero professor Huili (Grace) Xing? Prof. Xing does groundbreaking research in devices and materials, including high-performance transistors and optoelectronics based on GaN, III-Vs, 2D-crystals and oxides, accompanied by extensive collaborations with industry and publications in high end journals such as Applied Physics Letters, Electron Device Letters, Nature journals, and Science. Her many prestigious awards include an NSF Career Award and a Young Investigator Program Award from the Air Force.

Prof. Xing started her career with a B.Sc. in Physics at Peking University, then went on to do a masters in Material Science and Engineering at Lehigh, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at UCSB. Prof. Xing spent a decade as faculty at the University of Notre Dame before co-founding the Jena-Xing group at Cornell in 2015. Among a multitude of service tasks, Prof. Xing frequently organizes events for female faculty, and with her positive and can-do attitude is a vital contributor to the supportive environment in the College of Engineering. At home she enjoys acoustic pieces played by her 9-year old son.