Three Duke Engineers Win NSF Early Career Awards

Jungsang Kim, Adrienne Stiff-Roberts, Sule OzevDURHAM, N.C. -- Three researchers at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering have won Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the National Science Foundation, its most prestigious honor for junior faculty members.

The awards went to assistant professors of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) Adrienne Stiff-Roberts, Jungsang Kim and Sule Ozev. The CAREER program recognizes and supports the early career development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become academic leaders, according to the NSF. Each award is expected to total $400,000 over five years.

“Having three NSF CAREER awards in one year in the Duke ECE Department is evidence of our strong focus on hiring world-class junior faculty, and the truly unlimited potential of these three remarkable young researchers,” said Hisham Massoud, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Adrienne Stiff-Roberts is developing sensors that simultaneously detect multiple signals, such as infrared radiation, magnetic fields, ambient pressure, and light of various wavelengths. She hopes to achieve such multifunctional detectors by synthesizing composite materials comprising an assortment of dissimilar nanomaterials such as semiconductor crystals called quantum dots. She said the structural, optical, and electrical characterization of these materials will enable the next step in harnessing the useful properties of nanomaterials for device applications, such as hyperspectral spectrometers for gas sensing.

Stiff-Roberts received a B.S. degree in physics from Spelman College and the B.E.E. degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1999. She received an M.S.E. in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in applied physics in 2001 and 2004, respectively, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she investigated high-temperature quantum dot infrared photodetectors. She joined the faculty at Duke in 2004.

Nortel Networks Assistant Professor Jungsang Kim is working to make quantum computing a reality. His approach to quantum computing seeks to use individual atoms to represent and store information and then perform logic operations on them. Utilizing the full quantum mechanical properties, such computing has the potential to produces computers much faster than conventional machines in solving certain problems, such as factoring the product of large prime numbers and searching large databases. Kim said his research will concentrate on engineering challenges to make the approach fundamentally scalable, a significant step towards realizing a large practical quantum computer.

Kim is developing a highly miniaturized complex optical system that can create hundreds of laser beams to control the information stored in the atoms. He is working with collaborators at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, CO and Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J. Kim earned a B.S. degree in physics in 1992 from Seoul National University in Seoul, Korea and a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University in 1999. Before joining Duke in 2004, Kim worked at Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies.

Sule Ozev is developing technologies to automate the design and testing of increasingly smaller analog circuits. Analog circuits detect information such as sound, light, pressure and temperature and are used in virtually all commercially available electronic devices. However, developing such circuits is a time-intensive, highly skill-dependent task that becomes increasingly difficult as the circuit size shrinks. Industry is exploring micro- and potentially nano-sized circuits to achieve gains in performance, power efficiency and more efficient use of space on computer chips.

Ozev said she ultimately hopes to automate analog circuit design and testing through a significantly more efficient simulation program capable of analyzing the effects of defects on the circuit, changes in the circuit design, and production quality-control issues introduced during manufacturing. Ozev earned her B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Bogazici University, Turkey, and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from University of California, San Diego. She joined Duke in 2002.

The NSF established the CAREER program in 1995 to help top-performing scientists and engineers develop their contributions and commitment to research and education early in their careers.