The University Record, October 1, 2001

John F. Whitaker—Research Scientist Recognition Award

Whitaker (Photo by Bill Wood, U-M Photo Services)
John F. Whitaker, coordinator of the ultrafast technology area of the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Ultrafast Optical Science at the University of Michigan, is a world leader in ultrafast optical science. His pioneering work is particularly relevant to high-speed optoelectronics and high-frequency microwave techniques.

Since joining the University in 1988, Dr. Whitaker, research scientist in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), has built an outstanding research program, striking a balance between basic science and engineering. Using his excellent experimental skills and gift for sensing what might work, Dr. Whitaker has enhanced understanding of the fundamental characteristics of a variety of semiconductor materials and devices. He also has established several novel techniques to apply ultrafast optics and semiconductor technology to practical problems, including microwave field mapping and terahertz spectroscopic measurements.

Until now, optical sampling techniques have not been widely used by the microwave and electronic industries. Dr. Whitaker has contributed significantly to the development of the photoconductive microprobe, which will make optical sampling of electronic devices and circuits more practical. Dr. Whitaker also developed and filed a patent application for a scanning microwave-field mapping system.

Dr. Whitaker’s laboratory is a rich national resource, attracting collaborators from industry, government laboratories, and other universities in the United States, France, Japan and Korea. The laboratory has contributed significantly to the prestige of the University and the College of Engineering in the fields of high-speed optoelectrics, electronics, and wireless communication.

Highly regarded by students and peers, Dr. Whitaker’s work is published in top scientific journals such as Science and Physical Review. He has chaired or helped organize many Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Optical Society of America conference sessions and currently serves on the editorial board of IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques.

He has received numerous awards, including the Microwave Prize from the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society, the College of Engineering Outstanding Research Scientist Achievement Award, and EECS’s Research Excellence Award.

For his path-breaking contributions to ultrafast optics and semiconductor technology and his scientific leadership nationally and within the College of Engineering, the University of Michigan presents to John F. Whitaker its Research Scientist Recognition Award.