PhD Awards and Honors

Outstanding Dissertation Award

Presented in recognition of scholarly excellence

2020

Joseph Andrews

There are rare times when a PhD student manages to succeed in every possible area of dissertation-related work; such was the case for Joseph "Joey" Andrews. In his four years as a PhD student at Duke, Joey was able to invent a now-patented sensor technology that led to a funded startup company, publish multiple papers in high-profile journals, win the best paper award at a top conference in his field, be selected as an NIH fellow based on a research proposal that he wrote, mentor countless graduate and undergraduate students, and make numerous discoveries that continue to be transformative for ongoing research in the field.  His multitude of accomplishments made Joey an attractive candidate for faculty positions and he began as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a top engineering school, directly out of his PhD. Truly, Joey embodies that level of diversified success that we strive for in Duke ECE.

Junfei Li

By both objective and subjective metrics, Junfei brought a wide range of technical skills, from theory to experimental implementation, and technical fearlessness to his research. His research work as a PhD student resulted in a remarkable variety of notable publications in the field of acoustic metamaterials and wave propagation theory. That body of work has already had real impact and influence, and he received internal recognition through a John Chambers Scholar fellowship through Duke's Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics. His most significant contributions were in the area of new paradigms for acoustic metamaterial design and in the development of tools to analyze and design them. His Google Scholar citation record (h=13, n=730 citations) demonstrates overall research impact that would be enviable for an assistant professor being considered for tenure, much less a PhD student less than one year from his defense. Junfei was an excellent student in all aspects of his PhD work at Duke; and the breadth, quality, volume, and impact of the research contained in his dissertation was very high.

2019

Mohamed Ibrahim

Mohamed’s research interests include EDA and Optimization Techniques; Formal Methods and Applied Machine Learning; System-on-Chip Design and Testing; Microfluidic Biochips, etc. In this five-year PhD study, Mohamed coauthored two books, three book chapters, 15 journal papers (nine on the flagship journals in his area, IEEE society TCAD, on on Proceedings of IEEE, the flagship magazine of IEEE, and on on TC), and 18 conference papers on the top venues. His works also include four keynote/feature/spotlight papers and a Best Paper Award from the largest conference in Europe. During his study, Mohamed worked on four different but also integrated topics spanning from health, security, and CPS using microfluidic chips; which construct a comprehensive and systematic research work. Mohamed received the 2018 Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award. The depth and breadth of Mohamed’s research serve as a true exemplar of a Duke ECE PhD student.

James Thostensen

James’s dissertation was scientifically exceptional and simultaneously has immense potential for social impact. This is a rare combination and, coupled with the excellent research required to obtain these results, make his dissertation truly stand out. The focus of Jimmy’s dissertation was to understand the material, electrochemical, and biological mechanisms required to efficiently disinfect liquid human waste, otherwise known as blackwater, for developing countries. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, the application of Jimmy’s dissertation research was to develop a blackwater disinfection system that could be powered in “off-grid” locations, has a long service-lifetime, does not need additional chemicals for sanitation, and can be operated for less than 5 cents per user, per day. The scientific accomplishments and future social impact of James’s research make his dissertation truly outstanding.


Outstanding Service Award

Presented in recognition of extraordinary service to Duke ECE

2019

Tamara Lehman 

Tami was the kind of student who would offer to help with an event before anyone even realized help was needed. She became a go-to volunteer for every type of event. In addition to fruitful involvement in Duke’s ACM-W chapter and the Triangle’s GWIS chapter, Tami was a dream recruiter for the ECE department – brilliant, hard-working, engaged in her work, aware of the greater Duke and engineering communities – we couldn’t have asked for a better representative of the type of students we want to recruit to the ECE Department. Tami also came to the rescue for ECE as a repeat TA. We asked her to TA many more times than the average student, because of her expertise in a variety of important classes. And of course, also because she was fantastic TA!