The Source Newsletter - Fall 2019

Page 1


Issue 7 2019



Message from the Chair


elcome to the Fall 2019 edition of our

to three special individuals.

EE Newsletter. Much has happened

His recent research thrusts include i) wireless sensor applications and analytics using RFID

over the last year, but before you turn the page

Last February the department received a

technology in smart agriculture, transportation

to read all about it, I have a few highlights to

generous gift, the first of its kind, from one

and healthcare and ii) deep learning/artificial

share with you.

of our former graduates. Mr. Krishna Barri

intelligence theory. Since joining USF Dr. Uysal

owner and co-founder of WB Solutions, a

has secured more than $3 million in federal,

First and foremost, in case you haven’t heard,

Tampa based company (https://w-b-solutions.

state, and industry research awards. We wish

USF has a new President. On July 1st, Dr.

com/index.html), donated $500,000 to create

him continued success.

Steven Curall succeeded president Judy

an endowment to support PhD education. The

Genshaft to become USF’s 7th president.

endowment was established in honor of his

Unfortunately, our EE family suffered the

Congratulations to president Curall as he

parents, and brother in-law who sponsored his

loss of a great and passionate instructor who

embarks on his journey to lead our preeminent

USF education in the early 2000’s. Mr. Barri had

has inspired hundreds of students over the

institution to its next pinnacle. A warm farewell

dreams of his own for earning a PhD degree,

years. Professor Ralph Fehr passed away in

to now former president Genshaft who could

but he could not pursue them for financial

July after a long and courageous battle with a

not retire “quietly” ! A couple of months prior

reasons, and in his own words, “I want to give

rare disease. Ralph’s accomplishments were

to her retirement, Dr. Genshaft and her husband

others an opportunity I never had”. Mr. Barri’s

many, but everyone who knew him will always

donated $20 million to the university to help

generous donation will provide up to $30,000 to

remember him for his passion and dedication to

fund a new Honors College building, and an

future PhD students. The application for these

educating students. A student with whom Dr.

additional $3 million for an endowment for the

Fellowships can be found at: https://usf.az1.

Fehr had minimal interaction with – he taught

deanship of what will be the Judy Genshaft

100’s every semester – said it best: “He may

Honors College. Her legacy will indeed be long

On behalf of all those who will benefit from his

not know me, but I’ll never forget him. That

and lasting.

generosity, we want to express our gratitude to

is how far-reaching of an impact he had”. We

Mr. Barri.

will never be able to replace Dr. Fehr, but we

Now back to the department; we currently

decided to do something to keep his spirit alive

serve approximately 300 undergraduate and

Last summer, we welcomed to the rank of

and continue his positive impact on students.

270 graduate students (over 120 PhD). Our

Associate Professor the most recently promoted

An electrical engineering scholarship fund

enrollments are similar to last year’s, although

EE faculty member, Dr. Ismail Uysal. Dr.

has been established in Dr. Fehr’s memory;

we are being challenged by declining enrollments

Uysal teaches in the areas of communications,

those interested in contributing can do so

at the master’s level, a national trend in most

artificial intelligence, and deep learning. His


graduate engineering programs. Last year

research aims at using the latest technology for


99 students earned their bachelor’s, 122

the betterment of humanity, or as he often likes

their masters, and 12 their PhD degrees. We

to say, he believes “in impactful research which

A very eventful year to say the least; find more

wish them all the best as they are now ready

can bring positive and measurable change to our

about what happened inside; till next time, best

to make their mark in the real world. Our

environment and communities”; a true engineer.

wishes to all !

undergraduates continue to overwhelmingly

He focuses on understanding and harnessing

favor the new curriculum structure, which allows

the way machines learn from multisensory data

them to personalize their EE education.

generated by wireless devices and networks

Christos Ferekides, Ph.D.

.   Interim Chair and Professor

(often referred to as Internet-of-Things or I would like to dedicate the rest of my message

IoT) to ultimately improve the quality-of-life.



In Remembrance: Dr. Ralph Fehr D

octor Ralph Fehr, longtime Instructor, mentor, alumnus and friend of the USF Electrical Engineering Department, passed away July 19, 2019 peacefully after a long courageous battle with Good Syndrome. Dr. Fehr completed his BSEE at Pennsylvania State University in 1983, his MSEE at University of Colorado, Boulder in 1987, and his PhD in Electrical Engineering at USF in 2005. Before he began his teaching career full time, Dr. Fehr held positions with TECO Energy, Florida Power Corporation, the United States Airforce, the Public Service Company of New Mexico and Gilbert/Commonwealth Engineers and Consultants in Reading, Pennsylvania. Dr. Fehr began teaching as an Adjunct Instructor in 1986 at the University of New Mexico, followed by Adjunct positions with St Pete Junior College,



University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida. He started as an Assistant Professor at USF in 2006, transferring to the Lakeland Campus of USF in 2010 and returning to USF’s Tampa campus as an Instructor I/II in 2013. At USF, Dr. Fehr had a lasting impact on student in the power and energy area of electrical engineering through his instruction in courses that he taught including the Capstone Design Project, Circuit Analysis 1, Electromagnetics, Electromechanical Systems, Engineering Applications of Vector Analysis, Engineering Ethics and Professional Issues, Foundations of Engineering, IEEE Hardware Competition, Industrial Power Distribution 1, Industrial Power Distribution 2, Introduction to Electrical Systems, Power Quality, Power System Protection and Utility Distribution Systems. During his time teaching at USF, Dr. Fehr advised

countless students inside and outside the classroom, serving as the Major Professor for many masters and doctoral students. He was the faculty advisor for the USF Tampa chapter of IEEE where he was previously a senior member, student member, power & energy society and industry applications society member and an excecutive committee member of the Florida west coast section. He oversaw the semesterly IEEE SoutheastCon hardware competition, (insert some IEEE/Conference info such as awards here) You could regularly find Dr. Fehr interviewing with WUSF, NPR, St Pete Times, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Tampa Bay Times and many other power related publications, offering his professional input and giving the community tips during times of distress, such as when Hurricane Irma came through the Tampa area in 2017. Dr. Fehr additionally authored two editions of the textbook “Industrial Power Distribution” that addresses key areas of electric power distribution from an end-user perspective, which will serve industry professionals and students develop the necessary skills for the power engineering field.

a Professional Engineer for at least four years, passing two intensive competency exams and earning a license from their state’s licensure board. To retain their licenses, PEs must continually maintain and improve their skills throughout their careers. He achieved many awards as an engineer, he was named Engineer of the year in 2015 by the IEEE Florida West Coast Section, the PES Chapter Outstanding Engineer in 2014 by the IEEE Florida West Coast Section, Outstanding Engineering Educator in 2011 by the IEEE Region 3 Joseph M. Biedenbach IEEE Florida Council, Outstanding Engineering Educator in 2009 by the Transmission & Distribution World Magazine, and Instructor of the Month in November of 2008, also by the Transmission & Distribution World Magazine. The Electrical Engineering Department is grateful for Dr. Fehr’s many contributions and will remember him fondly as a colleague and a friend.

Dr. Fehr maintained his Professional Engineer licensure in Florida and New Mexico, which requires a fouryear college degree, working under The SOURCE


Dr. James Leffew Retires D

r. James Leffew retired after teaching his final course this past summer. Dr. Leffew received his BSEE and MSEE from Purdue University in 1967. In 1985, he completed his PhD in Electrical Engineering at the University of South Florida. Prior to starting his teaching career at USF, Dr. Leffew was a member of the United States Navy, where he served as an Assistant Technical Director, Staff Weapons Officer, Engineering Test Pilot, Assistant Aircraft Maintenance Officer/Operational Test and Evaluation Pilot, and a Weapons Training Officer/Operational Squadron Pilot. Once at USF, Dr. Leffew quickly became an integral part of the undergraduate instructional faculty. Having taught almost every undergraduate course in the Electrical Engineering curriculum, Dr. Leffew has specialized in teaching digital and analog design and co-developed courses in VHDL and Rapid System Prototyping. His research focused on the areas of remote learning, remote laboratories, and remote control of industrial control systems over the internet. Students, staff and faculty alike were entertained with Dr. Leffew’s exciting stories of his time in the Navy as a test pilot and his experiences gleaned from both traveling the world, raising a family and teaching at USF for almost 40 years.



Students in EE continually recognize the worth of Dr. Leffew’s instruction during their time at USF: “Top notch professor. Class of 96’. 20 years later I can still go to a white board with nothing more than a marker and derive any logic problem to the amazement of my peers.” “Great professor…When you get an A in his course, best believe you earned it. Dr. Leffew can teach any class in the EE department and always willing to help with any course whether he is teaching it or not.” “One of the best people…(in) all my years of studying, I have never learned in 1 class the amount of things I learned in 4 years of college is less than what I learned in 1 semester with Dr. Leffew”

“Looking back on the 20 years since graduating, Dr. Leffew was by far the best professor I have ever had. He teaches realworld; expect nothing less from a Navy test pilot. Some of his statements have stayed with me over the years. He’s very hard, accepts nothing less than the best, and if you want to make it in life, take all of his classes.” “Dr Leffew is a walking computer where his textbooks are on his brain and his marker is the only way that he can show you the path to success.” “Dr. Leffew was one of the best professors I had at USF…This guy can walk in with his Coke can and marker and teach any course at any point.”

Dr. Leffew is looking forward to spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren while helping neighbors in his community that don’t have loved ones nearby. The irreplaceable knowledge imparted by Dr. Leffew to thousands of students will always be a part of our department.



Dr. James Leffew Retires

DR.Rich RICHGitlin GITLINRetires Dr. D

istinguished Professor Richard Gitlin has retired after 11 years of service with USF. He received a BEE (with honors) in electrical engineering from The City College of New York (CCNY) in 1964, followed by an MSEE in 1965 and a Doctor of Engineering Science in 1969, both from Columbia University. After receiving his doctorate, Gitlin joined Bell Laboratories, where he worked for 32 years in research and development of digital communications, broadband networking, and wireless systems. His work there resulted in many innovative products, including: co-invention of DSL



(digital subscriber line), invention of multicode CDMA (used in 3G wireless), and pioneering the use of smart antennas (“MIMO�) for wireless systems. Earlier in his career, Gitlin led the team that created the first V.32/V.34 duplex, high-speed modems that used echo cancellation, fractionally spaced equalization, and trellis coded modulation. Since joining USF in 2008, Gitlin research has focused on the intersection of wireless communications and networking with biomedical engineering. He created an interdisciplinary team that is focused on wireless networking in vivo miniature wirelessly controlled

devices to advance minimally invasive surgery and other cyberphysical health care systems, such as a compact vectorcardiogram that provides 24x7 wireless connectivity of diagnostic-quality cardiac information. Gitlin is also exploring technologies for wireless 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) systems. Dr. Gitlin has graduated 7 PhD students and 2 MSEE students during his time at USF, and advised countless other students through both mentoring and instruction in his courses including Digital Communication Systems and Wireless Networks. His students

speak highly of him, PhD Graduate Mohamed Elkourdi praised Dr. Gitlin’s support: “I would consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work and learn from my mentor, Dr. Gitlin, while obtaining my PhD. Something that always stood out to me was Dr. Gitlin’s commitment in helping his students succeed. During my work with Dr. Gitlin, we published many scientific papers, won a best paper award and were issued what has become my first U.S. patent, none of which would have been possible without his mentorship. Not only did Dr. Gitlin help me learn and grow professionally, but personally as well. He taught his students by sharing stories about his extensive experience in preforming and leading pioneering research in digital communication and wireless systems during his thirty two years at Bell Labs/Lucent Technologies. Within each story he shared was a lesson. Additionally, he was always a great source of inspiration, support, and guidance. Amazingly, his care and interest did not stop after graduation; he continues to stay in contact with his graduates to ensure that they continue to succeed, find careers, and excel in them” Doctoral Candidate Faeik Al Rabee discusses his experience with Dr. Gitlin:

“Prof. Richard D. Gitlin has been my supervisor in the Electrical Engineering graduate program at University of South Florida (USF) for 3.5 years. The first communication with Prof. Gitlin was in September 2015, through Skype, right before I came to the US to start my Ph.D. program in Electrical Engineering Department in Spring 2016. Prof. Gitlin is very accommodating and supporting. We started planning for my research during my first semester at USF, right after he helped me set my courses of study for the full period of my program. Throughout the program from setting my plan, conducting my research, writing and submitting research papers, improving my presentation skills, preparing for Doctoral Qualifying (DQE) and Candidacy Exams and writing my dissertation, Prof. Gitlin spared no effort to provide me with guidance and support every step of the way. Really, I would say that these years of working under his supervision have been one of the best academic years for me. He taught me a lot. Prof. Gitlin is open-minded, highly educated and is very aware of cultural diversity, which made my interaction with him so easy. He understood my cultural background and made my transition to American life an easy and The SOURCE


enjoyable experience. What I have learned while working with Prof. Gitlin will help me for the rest of my life. I am grateful and very lucky that I had such a pleasure and opportunity to work with him. He was a role model to me, and I will do my best to apply what I learned from him when I go back to my country, Jordan. I will always remember his motto “Work hard, play hard, dream big.”. It kept me motived and inspired me every step of the way. I understand that he decided to retire, but I am sure that his retirement does not mean the end of his active work. He will not stop here since he still has a lot to offer to the wireless communications field through his distinguished experience.

supervisor; it is much appreciated, and I shall miss working with you. Wishing you and your family all the best as you enter a new phase of your life. May you enjoy the extra time that you’ll be spending with them, may your future dreams come true, and may your life be filled with joy and happiness. Happy retirement!” After retiring, Dr. Gitlin plans to settle in California with his wife, children and grandchildren while still contributing to the field through patent consulting and as a courtesy faculty member in the Institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation. institute-adv-discovery/institute-faculty.aspx

Finally, I want to tell him that: I believe that these few words will not be enough to thank you for the enormous benefits I gained from you. I thank you for everything you have done for me directly and indirectly. Thank you for being an awesome

Watch Rich Gitlin’s National Inventor’s Hall of Fame video.

Dr. Gitlin’s awards include: • • • • • • • • • • •



Distinguished University Professor - University of South Florida Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors National Academy of Engineering, for “contributions to communications systems and networking” Thomas Alva Edison patent award from the R&D Council of New Jersey AT&T Bell Labs Fellow, for “contributions to data communications” IEEE Fellow for “contributions to data communications techniques” IEEE Communications Society Steven O. Rice Award IEEE Communications Society Frederick Ellersick Award Bell System Technical Journal Award Honor Societies: Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, and Sigma Xi Florida Inventors Hall of Fame

EE Student Awards and Accomplishments Ismail Uluturk was the recipient of an International Travel Grant from the Office of Graduate Studies. The department will receive up to $1,500.00 towards his travel expenses which he will use to present his work at the D4R – Data for Refugees – International Forum which was organized as a global big data competition. Researchers from around the world worked on using a large dataset of anonymized mobile phone data to provide a better insight into (and ultimately improve) the living conditions of more than 3.5 million refugees living in Turkey. The competition received 100 submissions of which only 26 were accepted for presentation at the international forum which was held in Istanbul. The organization and evaluation committee included researchers from institutions like MIT, Harvard, Oxford, Imperial College London, etc. whereas the workshop collaborators and sponsors included agencies such as MIT Media Lab, The UN Refugee Agency, The UN Migration Agency and UNICEF. More information about the conference and activities can be found here: Sadhu Moka recently won the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) 125th anniversary video contest, along with Zach Beasley (CSE). They will get a scholarship of $3000 and were paid to go to 2019 ASEE Annual conference and Expository in Tampa from June 16 19, 2019. Their video, “Innovation in Education”, can be viewed here:

Mohamed Elkourdi and Asim Mazin, graduating doctoral students in the innovations in Wireless Information Networking Laboratory (iWINLAB) in the Electrical Engineering Department at USF, along with their advisor Distinguished University Professor Richard Gitlin, received a Best Paper Award from the 18th annual Wireless Telecommunication Symposium (WTS) held in April 2019 for their paper entitled “Performance Analysis for Virtual-Cell Based CoMP 5G Networks Using Deep Recurrent Neural Nets”. The researchers have developed a novel Machine Learning (ML) approach for proactive mobility management in 5G wireless networks referred to as dynamic CoMP. The results of this research are significant for 5G networks since the use of ML-driven dynamic CoMP can pre-empt the use of conventional handovers for ultra-low latency communication, minimize battery power consumption, optimize the cell-edge performance for a uniform user experience and enable “Cell-Less” 5G networks. The paper is available at

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Mehmet Aktukma’s paper submission to the 2019 ACM conference RECSYS was accepted for publication/presentation. This conference is by far the world’s top conference in “recommender systems” – the area of Mehmet’s Ph.D. research. Any online commerce and social media site we visit on the web today (Netflix, Spotify, Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc), all use this technology to recommend posts to read, things to buy, movies to watch, etc. Although his general research is in this area, this paper’s specific topic was on how to improve the security of such systems. BSEE students Tristan Siebold and Alex Tremper were two of 210 PES Scholarship recipients selected from the 548 individuals who applied for the scholarship. Applicants are all majors in electrical engineering, are high achievers with strong GPAs with distinctive extracurricular commitments and are committed to exploring the power and energy field. These scholarships are made possible due to the generous donations of individuals and corporations to the IEEE Power & Energy Society Scholarship Fund of the IEEE Foundation.

Jonielle McDonnough, a BSEE Student at the University of South Florida who studies in the hardware development and research and development (R&D) of biomedical devices under the direction of Dr. Sylvia Thomas, was awarded the highest scholarship with the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF). The Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) STEM Education Foundation provides scholarships to support students in advancing their college level education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) related disciplines. Scholarships are awarded at ITSMF’s Technology Achievement Awards Ceremony. This is an achievement-based scholarship awarded to students who have completed a minimum of 30 credit hours. Students are recognized for their academics, aptitude to lead and serve, and their commitment to further their education. Applicants are judged on their high level of academic achievement, essays, leadership and commitment to the STEM industry. Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to cultivating executive level talent among black technology professionals.

Ammara Mehd Ghani, Masters and visiting Fulbright student, was presented with the 2019 Golden Bull award. The Golden Bull is one of USF’s highest honors given annually to students who encompass the spirit of USF and have demonstrated its values. Recipients must exemplify exceptional leadership and service to the University and the community. Graduate student applicants must have completed a minimum of 12 credit hours, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, be in good standing with the university and have demonstrated a commitment to the values of USF and leadership on campus.



William Serrano-Garcia Receives Fulbright Program Award W

illiam Serrano-Garcia, a USF Electrical Engineering doctoral student, has received a U.S. Student Fulbright Program award to continue his dissertation research in the study of organic, conducting and semiconducting polymers for nanoscale fiber-based electronic devices at the National University of Singapore (NUS). According to Times Higher Education’s 2019 worldwide university rankings, NUS is ranked as one of the three best universities in Asia and one of the top 25 universities in the world. In his Fulbright grant proposal, Serrano-Garcia wrote that his research at the university will provide both him and USF the opportunity to pursue long-term collaborations with research leaders in his field. “It will provide me with the ideal environment to exchange research ideas within a multicultural, international setting to advance my career goal to become a globallytrained scientist,” he said. Serrano-Garcia is a member of the Advanced Materials Bio & Integration Research (AMBIR) Laboratory led by Sylvia

Thomas, associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering. AMBIR’s research focus includes investigating

the Nanofibers & Nanotechnology Laboratory. Thus far, SerranoGarcia’s efforts have resulted in two review publications with NUS, including one as a first author. Ramakrishna is a nanotechnology pioneer in Singapore and internationally recognized for his work on the science and regeneration of nanofibers. He is ranked among the most-cited researchers in the world and has co-authored over 1,000 international journal papers. Ramakrishna will also serve as Serrano-Garcia’s research supervisor during the Fulbright period to achieve the outcomes and publication goals outlined in the proposal.

advanced organic materials to enhance nanometric structures from thin films to nanofibers for the fabrication of nanodevices used for broader societal applications. Previously, Serrano-Garcia was funded as a guest researcher at NUS for two months in 2017 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) East Asia Pacific Summer Institutes fellowship program. Over the past two years, he has continued to nurture collaborations with NUS’s Seeram Ramakrishna, professor of mechanical engineering and bioengineering, and director of

For his Fulbright proposal, Ramakrishna wrote that SerranoGarcia will have all of NUS’ research and networking resources to help him accomplish his research goals and develop as an international researcher. “William will have full access to state-of the-art equipment in all (NUS’) respective laboratories and affiliated research institutes, nearly 25 faculty members from departments across campus, research staff and other students to conduct cutting-edge research

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activities,” he said. “NUS is a global leader of education and research in materials science and engineering, as we annually host distinguished faculty and guest researchers from throughout the world.” Serrano-Garcia earned his B.S. in Applied Physics and Electronics from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao where he participated in NSF-sponsored programs (Partnership for Research and Education in Materials, Puerto Rico LSAMP) and summer research programs at Penn State, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. As an undergraduate and graduate student, he has nine journal and conference papers, given more than 20 presentations, and has a patent application with Thomas on organic-based nanofibers. SerranoGarcia has four papers planned for publication from his dissertation.



His work with NUS will be the latest in a series of research collaborations he has cultivated at USF with international universities and research centers, including the University of Bologna, the Center for Nanoscience and Technology Italian Institute of Technology in Milan and the Institute of Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials Italian National Research Council in Naples. In addition to the international research training during his doctoral program, Serrano-Garcia has participated in research internships with the Air Force Research Laboratory Scholars Program and more recently with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Brookhaven National Laboratory with funding from NSF’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program. This summer, he will bring his electrospinning research to Idaho National

Laboratory, a DOE-funded federal laboratory. While at USF, he has been supported by the NSF FloridaGeorgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate Activity, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Minority Ph.D. Program and the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program. After completing the Fulbright period at NUS and defending his Ph.D. by December 2020, Serrano-Garcia hopes to secure a postdoctoral appointment and eventually a permanent research position at a national laboratory. His long-term goal is to advance leading-edge materials science and engineering research in areas of national need. Additionally, he also plans to continue his STEM outreach activities with the goal of inspiring more students from underrepresented groups to pursue science and engineering careers.

Faculty Accomplishments Distinguished professor Richard Gitlin gave a Distinguished University Lecture, at Columbia University, March 27, 2019 , and was named to his high school’s Wall of Distinction in April 2018. This neighborhood school is very distinguished : in terms of honorees such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, and is number 3 in the world in terms of producing Nobel Laureates.

Congratulations to Drew Hoff, Professor of Electrical Engineering at University of South Florida, who was honored as the 2018 IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Florida West Coast Section Engineer of the Year at Tampa Bay Engineering Week Banquet on February 21, 2019. This premier event is part of National Engineers Week, held each year during the third week of February to celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world. The banquet brought together local leaders and engineering professionals to recognize and celebrate outstanding engineering achievements by members of the attending engineering societies.

Chris Ferekides, Professor and Interim Chair for the Electrical Engineering Department at USF, was selected to receive a $750,000 award from the U.S. Department ofEnergy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to advance photovoltaics (PV) research and development. The project will explore a new cell design which starts with n-type CdTe instead of p-type CdTe commercially used today. This new approach could enable higher efficiency levels than the CdTe cells currently being mass produced. The team will use industrially relevant deposition techniques to demonstrate that the fabrication of n-CdTe solar cells is possible at scale with efficiencies approaching 25%, an increase of 2% from current world record CdTe solar cells.Dr. Ferekides was selected as a part of the Energy Department’s effort to invest in new projects that will lower solar electricity costs and support a growing solar workforce. Dr. Ferekides is one of several photovoltaics research projects that will focus on improving the performance and reliability of PV cells, modules, and systems and reducing materials and processing costs.

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A research team led by Lingling Fan and Zhixin Miao, Associate Professors at the Electrical Engineering Department at USF, was selected to receive a $1.2 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to advance photovoltaics (PV) research and development.Drs. Fan and Miao wereselected as a part of the Energy Department’s Advanced Systems Integration for Solar Technologies (ASSIST): Situational Awareness and Resilient Solutions for Critical Infrastructure funding program. This program will improve situational awareness of solar energy systems, especiallyat critical infrastructure sites, increase resilience to cyber and physical threats, and strengthen solar integration on the grid. The University of South Florida will design dynamic models of utility-scale solar plants and their interactions on grids with large penetrations of generation through distributed energy resources like solar-plus-storage systems and wind power. These models will be used to construct a coordination strategy and a stability enhancement module for photovoltaic and storage systems so they can respond to rapidly changing grid conditions.

Professor Jing Wang was recognized as one of fourteen University of South Florida faculty members were recognized with the 2018 Outstanding Research Achievement Awards. In a luncheon event at the USF Research Park Galleria, the researchers were celebrated for their outstanding publications, awards and grants recognizing their scholarship and scientific achievements. The awards are part of an open competition judged by the USF System Research Council to underscore the professional recognition that USF faculty have received from national and international peers during the previous calendar year. Dr. Wang’s research interests include RF/microwave/mmW devices, advanced additive manufacturing, micromachined transducers, RF/Bio-MEMS, lab-on-a-chip and microfluidics, functional nanomaterials. He published seven journal papers in 2017, with a highest impact factor of 9.237, among which he acted as the lead author for five, including a paper in Scientific Reports-Nature. Also in 2017, he was awarded more than $900,000 in research awards as principal investigator and more than $400,000 as co-principal investigator. Wang received three competitive peer-reviewed national research awards (two NSF and one USAF SBIR grants) and three research and development contracts and matching grants by the Florida High Tech Corridor. Five of his patents were included in licensing option agreements.



Dr. Morris Chang was nominated and selected for the NC State University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Alumni Hall of Fame! This extraordinary honor celebrates outstanding graduates who have used their education to excel in a profession, career, or service. With more than 15,000 ECE alumni, only a select number have been chosen for the 2019 ECE Alumni Hall of Fame class, making this a truly noteworthy distinction. Nominees will be honored at the induction ceremony, which will include a luncheon with the Department’s Strategic Advisory Board members on Friday, October 25, 2019. Dr. Gokhan Mumcu, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering Department at University of South Florida (USF), received an interdisciplinary research grant from the Electronics, Photonics & Magnetic Devices (EPMD) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to advance state of the art in reconfigurable mm-wave devices. The project will explore an innovative microfluidics based approach to enable highly reconfigurable mm-wave antennas and devices with reduced cost and efficiency. The project also aims to integrate these novel antennas and devices with compact actuation mechanisms to assess and enable their practical use in next generation wireless communication systems. Two distinct actuation mechanisms based on piezoelectric disks and electrowetting (EW) are proposed to investigate a broad range of capabilities in terms of actuation speed, actuation precision, reliability, and power handling. EW based actuation capability will be investigated in collaboration with Dr. Nathan Crane, Professor of Mechanical Engineering Department at Brigham Young University. The 3 year project receives $450,000 from NSF’s EPMD program with research funds being equally split between the two research institutions. USF acts as the lead institution to organize the research efforts between the two institutions. NSF Award Abstract: About the EPMD program of NSF: EPMD Program supports innovative research on novel devices based on the principles of electronics, optics and photonics, optoelectronics, magnetics, opto- and electromechanics, electromagnetics, and related physical phenomena. Learn more at



Drs. Mumcu, Wang, and Arslan Receive NSF Grant to Develop Energy and Spectrum Efficient Transmitters & Receivers Operating at MM-Wave Bands


n interdisciplinary research team formed by University of South Florida (USF) and Oregon State University (OSU) led by Dr. Gokhan Mumcu, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at USF, received a research grant from the Spectrum Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, and Security (SpecEES) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The project aims to address fundamental challenges in energy efficiency, spectrum efficiency, and hardware complexity in large mm-wave antenna arrays through a lens antenna subarray (LAS) approach. The research plan is based on an end-to-end investigation that includes antenna array designs within the LAS scheme, mmwave transceiver integrated circuits (ICs) that leverage LAS, physical and media access control layer algorithms utilizing LAS, and low-cost packaging with emerging additive manufacturing technology. The project leverages industrial collaboration partnerships with Keysight Technologies for mm-wave device, system, network characterization, and GlobalFoundries for silicon integrated circuit design and fabrication. The 3 year project received $750,000 from NSF’s SpecEES program with $500,000 of research funds allocated to USF for leading the research efforts in mm-wave antenna arrays and low-cost packaging of arrays and ICs using additive manufacturing. OSU will lead research efforts in novel IC development.



Both institutions will also jointly investigate novel communication algorithms that will harness the proposed antenna array and IC hardware. The research team consists of: Gokhan Mumcu (USF lead), Jing Wang (USF EE), Huseyin Arslan (USF, EE), Stacy K. Johnson (Keysight Technologies), Arun Natarajan (OSU lead), Bechir Hamdaoui (OSU, EE), Thomas Weller (OSU, EE), and Edward Cahoon (GlobalFoundries). NSF Award Abstract: awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1923857 About the SpecEES program of NSF: NSF's Directorates for Engineering (ENG) and Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) are coordinating efforts to identify bold new concepts to significantly improve the efficiency of radio spectrum utilization while addressing new challenges in energy efficiency and security, thus enabling spectrum access for all users and devices, and allowing traditionally underserved Americans to benefit from wirelessenabled goods and services. The SpecEES program solicitation (pronounced "SpecEase") seeks to fund innovative collaborative team research that transcends the traditional boundaries of existing programs. Learn more at summ.jsp?pims_id=505311.

Dr. Sylvia Thomas Awarded National Science Fourndation Grant


r. Sylvia Thomas was awarded a grant of $582,334 by The National Science Foundation for support of the project entitled "The AGEP Florida Alliance Model: Improving Minority Women Success in STEM Faculty Careers," USF’s portion of the award is expected to total $1,316,000. This project is under the direction of Allyson L. Watson, Devona Pierre, Tonisha B. Lane, Sylvia W. Thomas. The AGEP Florida Alliance Model was created in response to the NSF's Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program solicitation. The AGEP program seeks to advance knowledge about models to improve pathways to the professoriate

and success of URM graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty in specific STEM disciplines and/ or STEM education research fields. AGEP Alliances develop, replicate or reproduce, implement, and study, via integrated educational and social science research, Alliance Models to transform the dissertation phase of doctoral education, postdoctoral training and/ or faculty advancement, and transitions within and across the pathway levels, for URMs in STEM and/or STEM education research careers. This collaborative research project brings together the University of South Florida, Florida Memorial University, Bethune-Cookman University, Florida International University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University to form the

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AGEP Florida Alliance Model project. The Alliance team is developing, implementing, studying, evaluating, disseminating and sustaining an AGEP Alliance Model to successfully advance STEM faculty career outcomes for historically underrepresented minority (URM) women doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers and early-career faculty. The project focuses interventions on professional development training via research boot camp experiences, mentoring and coaching by tenured women STEM faculty, and accessing support networks and programs through the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Additionally, the Alliance team is engaging campus administrators and leadership to address systemic institutional barriers that are limiting the success of URM women in STEM faculty careers. The targeted outcomes of this AGEP Florida Alliance project include a large group of URM women publishing scholarly work in their STEM disciplines, securing faculty positions and earning tenure. The project's vision is to see the collaborative work sustained at the partnering universities and to see other institutions in our country adapt, adopt and reproduce this AGEP Alliance Model.



As the nation addresses a STEM achievement gap between URM and non-URM undergraduate and graduate students, our universities and colleges struggle to recruit, retain and promote URM STEM faculty who serve as role models and academic leaders for students to learn from, work with and emulate. Recent NSF reports indicate that URM STEM associate and full professors occupy only 8% of senior faculty positions at all four-year colleges and universities, and only about 6% of those positions at the nation's most researchintensive institutions. The AGEP Florida Alliance has the potential to advance a model to improve the success of female URM doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers as they enter STEM faculty careers, and to advance URM women early-career STEM faculty through tenure and promotion. Advancing the careers of URM women faculty ultimately leads to improved academic mentorship for undergraduate and graduate students in STEM fields. The integrated education research being conducted by this AGEP Alliance team investigates the underlying personal, interpersonal, organizational and professional issues and experiences that facilitate or

inhibit URM women STEM faculty career entrance, persistence and advancement. The research team is also investigating ways that URM women in STEM build skills, knowledge and competencies to successfully enter and persist in faculty careers. There is a Research Advisory Board that provides feedback to the AGEP Florida Alliance research team. The AGEP Florida Alliance Model institutions are working with an independent external evaluator who is conducting formative and summative evaluations. This AGEP Alliance also engages two advisory boards - an AGEP Florida Alliance Model External Advisory Board and an institutional Executive Leadership Board - that provide feedback to the institutions and the project team, and that suggest adjustments to project management about model development, implementation, testing, evaluation, dissemination, sustainability and reproduction potential. The institutional Executive Leadership Board is also addressing the institutional barriers that warrant change to successfully advance women URM STEM students, postdoctoral researchers and early-career faculty in

their transitions into and through faculty professions. The project team is disseminating findings from their research, and from their work on the AGEP Florida Alliance Model's development, implementation, selfstudy, evaluation, dissemination, sustainability and reproduction potential, by presenting at national conferences of STEM professional societies and publishing peer-reviewed articles in professional journals. Additionally, Dr. Sylvia Thomas had the opportunity to be a Guest Editor for a Special Issue of the Journal of Functional Biomaterials on the topic of "Conductive Polymers and Composites for Medical Application". This Special Issue aims at describing the recent progress in the design and investigation of functional conductive polymers and composite materials as smart devices to be applied in, but not limited to, biomaterials, bioengineering and bioelectronics.

Where are they Now? Ilia Bautista Adams spent this summer as an Intel SEG Intern Scholar He was in Austin, TX immersed in testing and validation while enjoying Intel’s culture. PhD graduates Ramiro Ramirez and Denise Lugo Munoz started new positions at Qorvo in Greensboro, North Carolina as Senior RF Design Engineers. Dr. Longfei Wang is working as a Postdoctoral Research at the University of Rochester. Chih An Hsu is now an R&D Process Engineer at TDK Headway Technology in San Jose, California.



USF Biomedical Engineering Pre-College Program In 2013 Dr. Saddow and Dr. Hoff, started the USF Biomedical Engineering Pre-College Program as a small portion of a one-day presentation organized by the College of Engineering. The popularity of the interactive nature of the program lead to the development of a stand-alone workshop for students interested in Biomedical Engineering. Over the years, the program has evolved from a one-day experience, to two 1-week programs offered in June and July. The program added many hands-on training elements, as well as cutting edge research lab tours in an effort to not only give students a taste of what Biomedical Engineering is about, but also develop practical skills that they could use no matter where they ended up. The additional cooperation of the Innovative Education department has served to bolster the program’s effective reach. The program has grown year-by-year, going from 27 applicants over 4 days in 2017, to 84 applicants over 5 days in 2019. With the increasing relevance of Biomedical Engineering in our day to day lives, and the support of the students and faculty of the USF College of Engineering and Department of Innovative Education, the USF Biomedical Engineering Pre-College Program is truly UnstoppaBULL.




ngineers at the University of South Florida have developed a new type of cybersecurity software that mimics the human immune system. It’s a concept that’s beginning to be explored more and more by researchers in a variety of fields: What does the human body do well and how can we adapt those mechanisms to improve technology or engineering systems? Researchers in the USF Department of Electrical Engineering looked to the human immune system as a model for intrusion detection in wireless sensor networks. The concepts apply equally well to highvalue financial or military mission critical networks that may or may not be wireless. The research was published in Procedia Computer Science and has demonstrated extremely promising results in testing. “It’s very logical to develop these software systems based on human

systems,” said Salvatore Morgera, PhD, a USF professor of electrical engineering and the project’s principal investigator. “Our immune system does a very good job at protecting us – so we wanted to take those mechanisms and adapt them

for cybersecurity.” To develop the software, Morgera, along with USF doctoral students Vishwa Alaparthy and Amar Amouri, broke the immune system down into three layers. The first layer is external protection; how our bodies prevent pathogens from getting inside. In their software, this layer

of protection is encryption – a common cybersecurity tool used to keep unauthorized users out of networks. Most network security methods depend almost exclusively on encryption, and while modern encryption techniques are extremely sophisticated, they are not always successful at preventing intrusion. To combat this risk, researchers looked to the bodies second layer of protection; non-specific resistance. This non-specific immune response acts as a “catch-all”, immediately responding to any foreign-body with a variety of non-specific immune cells. In their software, Morgera and his team developed a similar non-specific response that quickly recognizes any intrusion and quarantines the threat for further examination. Just like in the human body, this response acts as a first line of defense when threats enter the system. The third layer that researchers looked at is the immune system’s specific resistance to pathogens. This subsystem of the overall immune

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system is composed of highly specialized cells that respond to specific pathogens. This response also builds immunological memory, leading to an enhanced response after the initial encounter. Just like in our bodies, the USF-developed software learns from each attack and maintains millions of intrusionfighting templates it can sort through to fight individual threat attempts. As Morgera states, “The need to sort through millions of intrusion-fighting templates can be a computationally complex undertaking.” Another researcher,

Patrick Lie Chin Cheong, and Morgera have developed a highly efficient ‘big data’ approach to the sorting that only takes fractions of a second and can be easily implemented on power-limited sensor networks using small microprocessors. When used in combination, these three mechanisms not only work to keep our bodies healthy but have been shown to be extremely successful in maintaining secure, high value digital networks.

Morgera and his team originally began this research as a potential new tool to secure wireless sensor networks deployed by the military. They have worked in collaboration with U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to test the software and have seen very promising results. Now, researchers plan to continue to improve the software and make it available for a variety of applications. It’s work that may change the future of cybersecurity around the world.

Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team Dr. Larry Dunleavy, Professor, spends time outside of work water skiing with the Tampa Bay water Ski Show Team. They are a local water ski team that performs themed water ski shows that are fun for the whole family. They have some of the best show skiers in the world, many of who have gone on to ski professionally at places like Cypress Gardens, Sea World, LegoLand, and the Wisconsin Dells.



The team puts on weekly shows from March through October, changing the themes to keep shows fresh for their audience. In addition, they put on water skis shows all over Florida, the U.S., and the world; including China, England, Ireland, and Spain. You can find more information on their schedule (and Dr. Dunleavy’s whereabouts) by going to their Facebook Page:

Dr. Ghani Receives NSF Grant to Develop Data-Driven Methodologies to Help Improve Security Methodologies for the Internet of Things (IoT)


multidisciplinary team of researchers from the University of South Florida, Florida Atlantic University, and the University of South Carolina, including Dr. Nasir Ghani (Professor of Electrical Engineering and Research Liaison at Cyber Florida) has received a research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC). This project aims to develop novel methods to identify and remediate infected Internet of Things (IoT) devices in near realtime. Broadly, the IoT represents a range of networked sensors for collecting and transmitting data for specialized application needs. These technologies are rapidly proliferating across many diverse sectors (such as healthcare, finance, transportation, defense, and utilities), and studies project over 20 billion connected IoT devices within 5 years. However, IoT developers have largely focused on cost efficiency concerns and not given

adequate consideration to security needs. Given the smaller scale of IoT devices, this represents a major vulnerability due to the sensitive and critical nature of most collected data.

Indeed, many notable IoT-based cybersecurity incidents have already occurred, e.g., Mirai botnet and variants. Hence the team will analyze over 100 gigabyte/hour of real-time unsolicited Internet-scale traffic to develop efficient deep learning

classifiers to fingerprint IoT devices. Scalable offensive security algorithms will then be investigated, leveraging empirical Internet-wide data to build macroscopic remediation strategies. The evolution of IoT botnet infrastructures will also be analyzed using advanced graph theoretic algorithms. Finally, an operational IoT cybersecurity capability will also be established through a large online repository for sharing device data and threat information. Overall, this project is of 3 years duration and has received $500,000 in funding support from the NSF OAC Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Core program. Of this amount, approximately $100,000 will go to USF to lead the development of graph-theoretic models to uncover and characterize inter-related components forming malicious IoT cyberinfrastructures. All of the partners will also collaborate on setting up the operational IoT repository facility. The overall research team consists of Dr. Elias

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Bou-Harb (Florida Atlantic University, lead), Dr. Nasir Ghani (USF), and Dr. Jorge Crichigno (University of South Carolina). NSF Award Abstract: awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ ID=1907821&HistoricalAwards=false About the OAC program of NSF: NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC) supports stateof-the-art research initiatives for developing new cyberinfrastructure tools, resources, and services to help advance and transform Science and Engineering (S&E) research and education. In particular the OAC



Core Research Program focuses on translational research activities in multiple disciplines, including computation, data science, software, networking, and security. Overall, the 2016 National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) plan has identified advances in the broader high-performance computing (HPC) area as essential to maintaining global competitiveness, sustained scientific advancements, and national security. For more information, please visit: pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505670.

Alumnus Creates Three Fellowships for PhD Students U

niversity of South Florida Electrical Engineering alumnus Krishna Barri, ‘03, is sharing his multimillion-dollar lottery winnings with the College of Engineering to help financially support students there. Barri, the winner of $14.5 million in a December 2018 Lotto drawing, is pitching in with a $500,000 gift to create three fellowships for PhD students in the college’s Department of Electrical Engineering where he earned his master’s degree. Barri says the large philanthropic gift is payback for the support he received when he began his graduate studies in 2000. Most importantly, according to Barri, that help included work as a research assistant to Professor Chris Ferekides, who is now the interim chair of the Electrical Engineering Department.

While Barri has accomplished considerable professional success, it wasn’t his original plan. He intended to pursue his PhD to conduct research and teach, but the need to earn a living took precedence, so his academic dreams were put on hold. The fellowships are named in honor of Barri’s parents Nageswara Rao and Tulasi Barri, and his brother-in-law Raghavendra Rao Palepu, all of whom he credits for his success. Originally from Visakhapatnam, India, Barri also gave $500,000 to support students in his home country.

After earning his master’s degree in electrical engineering, Barri found communication systems work with Verizon. He then co-founded W-B Solutions, an IT services and staffing company in Tampa, in 2012. His company has grown to employ more than 100 people.



In other news‌. Congratulations to Doctoral Student Ibrahim Azad and his wife, Arundhoti Ferdous, an USF MSEE graduate, on the birth of their son Nameir Ferdous, July 31st at 7:45 am. We celebrate the birth of a new bull!

Produced by Electrical Engineering Dr. Christos Ferekides, Interim Chair Cherie Dilley, Editor University of South Florida 4202 East Fowler Ave, ENB 118 Tampa, FL 33620 V: 813-974-2369 F: 813-974-5250 Editorial Contact: 26


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