Ted Norris honored with Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award

Norris was praised by students and faculty alike for his abilities as a mentor, researcher, and educator.

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Prof. Ted Norris, Director of the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science (CUOS) and the Optics and Photonics Lab, has been honored with a 2011 Rackham Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award for his sustained efforts as advisor, teacher, advocate, sponsor, and role model to doctoral students.

Students expressed heartfelt appreciation for his attention to their needs, both academic and personal, and carried from Michigan a profound desire to be the same type of mentor to others. They appreciated the breadth of knowledge he brings to any research problem, and his gift for clarifying difficult concepts.

He was praised by faculty for serving as a role model on how to develop a research portfolio in a way that provides an outstanding learning experience for doctoral students while also maintaining an internationally renowned research program.

Prof. Norris had led student research in the general areas of ultrafast optics, THz science and technology, and biomedical optics. More specifically, this research has delved into the application of femtosecond optical techniques to the physics of nanostructures, especially III-V semiconductor optoelectronic devices; the application of ultrafast optics to biomedical imaging, in vivo sensing, and cancer therapeutics; the generation of THz radiation with applications to THz imaging and spectroscopy; and nanoacoustic imaging with picosecond coherent phonon pulses.

His most recent research has concentrated on ultrafast electronic processes in graphene, which is a highly promising new material for next-generation electronics. He is continuing his active participation in the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences (M-NIMBS), where his work with students on novel optical sensors has led to several patents and the establishment of a new startup company, PhotonAffinity. He is also a participating principal investigator in the Energy Frontier Research Center: Center for Solar & Thermal Energy Conversion (CSTEC), where he is applying ultrafast laser technology to probe electronic processes underlying novel solar cell concepts. This work has the potential to significantly improve the ability of materials to harvest solar power and convert it to electrical power.

This intellectual diversity in applying ultrafast technology to a wide array of applications is also seen in the diversity of courses he has taught at Michigan. These include the undergraduate courses, Introduction to Engineering: Photovoltaics and Solar Powered Systems, Introduction to Circuits, Electromagnetics, Principles of Optics, Principles of Photonics, and the graduate courses Semiconductor Lasers and LED’s, Classical Optics, Lasers, Ultrafast Optics, and Techniques of Coherent Control.

He and his students have published more than 150 journal articles, more than 230 conference papers, and 7 patents.

Prof. Norris has received the University of Michigan Faculty Recognition Award, College of Engineering (CoE) Education Excellence Award, the CoE Ted Kennedy Team Award, the EECS Department Research Award and the Paul Rappaport Award. He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and the American Physical Society.

He will receive the award at a public ceremony on April 14, 2011, in the Rackham Amphitheatre at 2:00pm.