David Brady to Step Down as Director of Duke’s Fitzpatrick Center

David Brady plans to step down as director of the burgeoning Fitzpatrick Center for Photonics and Communications Systems at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering to take on increasing research responsibilities at the center, Dean Kristina Johnson announced Feb. 4.

Brady, who joined Pratt in 2001 to start the Fitzpatrick Center, leads a research program in computational sensors for biomedical and national defense applications and will continue to head the Duke Integrated Sensing and Processing laboratory, one of five research labs in the Fitzpatrick Center. Brady is the Addy Family Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and teaches courses in optical imaging and statistical optics.

"David was crucial in the founding of the Fitzpatrick Center,” Johnson said. “He developed the intellectual vision and worked hard in organizing center activities. He will continue to be a strong scholar, educator and contributor to the Fitzpatrick Center and the Pratt School of Engineering."

April Brown, chair of the school’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will serve as interim director of the Fitzpatrick Center effective July 1. She said a committee will be formed soon to conduct a national search for a new center director.

“We are looking for a leader to build on the firm foundation that David has built,” Brown said. “In recent years, we have filled out our expertise in hiring leaders in photonics, and we look to integrate across our expertise in microsystems, biophotonics and sensor design and processing.”

The Fitzpatrick Center was made possible by a $25 million gift from Duke alumni Michael and Patty Fitzpatrick. The center will move early this summer into a three-story, 120,000-square-foot wing of the Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine and Applied Sciences now nearing completion on the university’s West Campus. The Fitzpatrick Center will provide office and research space for at least 21 research and visiting faculty, 33 post-doctoral fellows, 22 staff and up to 250 graduate and undergraduate students.

"We are very grateful to David Brady for his leadership in launching the Fitzpatrick Center,” Michael Fitzpatrick said. “We understand his desire to devote more time to his research and teaching and we are very supportive.”

“The timing is good as we enter the next phase of the center and we look forward to his successor who will lead the center to its next stage of development. Optical technology is playing an increasingly important role and Duke is well positioned to have one of the finest centers for photonic education and research," said Fitzpatrick.

During the past academic year, the Fitzpatrick Center won 13 new research grants totaling $15 million, raising the total funding for current research to more than $20 million. One project supported by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse is developing non-invasive blood-alcohol sensors. Another broad effort funded by several Department of Defense grants is working on the mathematical framework for biometric tracking and robotic positioning sensors.

The Fitzpatrick Center is a participating partner in the North Carolina Photonics Consortium, comprised of North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Duke. The consortium’s mission is to promote the photonics industry in North Carolina through education, research and community development. The center also has developed relationships with National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.