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University of California Santa Barbara
Academic Senate Awards

Prior Year Recipients

2012-13 Faculty Research Lecturer Award

John Bowers - Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Faculty Research Lecturership is the highest honor that UCSB can bestow on a member of its own faculty. The 2012-13 Lecturership, the 58th since the creation of the award in 1955, is awarded to Professor John Bowers. Professor Bowers arrived at UCSB in 1987, after working at Bell Laboratories. He received a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Stanford University. He currently holds the Fred Kavli Chair in Nanotechnology, and is the Director of the Institute for Energy Efficiency and a Professor in the Departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Materials. Professor Bowers is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), American Physical Society, and the Optical Society of America. He is Director of the US Department of Energy’s Center for Materials for Energy Efficient Applications; co-founder of UCSB’s Technology Management Program; and co-founder of three companies, Terabit Technology, Calient Networks and Aurrion.

Professor Bowers has made significant contributions to a number of research fields, including energy efficient materials and optical communications, but he is perhaps best known for his work on Silicon Integrated Photonics. Professor Bowers’ creative insights have led to significant advances in integrated silicon photonics by developing a bonding process to produce hybrid silicon lasers, advanced photonic integrated circuits, and hybrid photonic integrated circuits. This breakthrough solved a number of problems long-recognized in the field and will facilitate significant advances in computing, consumer devices, and communication systems.

According to one of his supporters, “He was one of the earliest pioneers of this field, and he has emerged as its international leader, second to none.” He is described by another of his references as “a great teacher, an outstanding public lecturer, a dedicated campus research leader, an accomplished entrepreneur, an effective collaborator and an inspirational worker for the public good. He is widely knowledgeable, being expert in the fields of electronic devices, device physics and materials.”

Another of his peers asserts, “John is the number one researcher in the area of optoelectronics in the world and, having worked in the field for the past 40 years, I know a large fraction of the leaders in this area.” “Early in his career his name became synonymous with high-speed optical components (semiconductor lasers, modulators, and photodetectors).” Professor Bowers not only developed the theories that led to an understanding of the performance limits, but he also developed the technology to test and measure the bandwidth of these devices. Bowers’ contributions to the development of high-speed quantum well lasers were exceptional. His theoretical work established the dominant physical mechanisms that govern the frequency response of quantum well lasers. Prior to this work, the importance of carrier capture and emission from quantum wells to the frequency response of quantum well lasers was not recognized. It was well known that quantum well lasers were not achieving the bandwidths predicted by the accepted theories at the time and there were many proposed explanations. It was Bowers and his group that “got it right”. Bowers’ group was also responsible for the excellent experimental work that confirmed their theory.”

One of his international colleagues notes that Professor Bowers “has demonstrated in his career all characteristics of scientific and technical competence and vision, quality and timeliness of results, leadership among peers, international reputation and visibility as a leading researcher in the area of photonics.”

Professor Bowers has published seventeen book chapters, 570 journal papers, 840 conference papers and has received 53 patents. He has published 180 invited papers and conference papers, and given 16 plenary talks at conferences. Fifty Ph.D. students have graduated under his primary supervision.

The Faculty Research Lecturer award is the most recent of a history of prestigious honors for Professor Bowers. His previous awards include the Tyndall Award (2012), which is the highest award in the fiber optic field, and the Nick Holyonyak Award (2009) from the Optical Society of America. He and his coworkers received the EETimes ACE Award for the “Most Promising New Technology” (2007), the Discover Magazine list of top 100 achievements in 2006, the PC World Technical Excellence Award for the Best Semiconductor Technology (2006), and several best paper awards.

One of Professor Bowers’ international colleagues offers the following summary of his qualifications: “His awards and prizes, his string of elections to prestigious Fellowships, his numerous invited papers at top international conferences, the demand for his services as an adviser and short-course presenter all attest to his outstanding professional competence and international recognition within his field….It would be very hard to find a researcher with higher professional competence and international recognition.” In honor of his groundbreaking scholarship, outstanding research contributions, and scientific leadership, we are pleased to announce Professor John Bowers as the recipient of the Faculty Research Lecturer Award.