PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Lawrence Larson, a pioneer in microelectronics technology and wireless communications, has been hired as the founding dean of the School of Engineering at Brown University, University officials announced today.
Larson currently chairs the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of California–San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering and is the first faculty member to hold the Communications Industry Chair. He will begin his work at Brown on July 1, 2011.
Larson’s hiring culminates a nationwide search and comes less than a year after the Corporation of Brown University elevated the Division of Engineering to a School of Engineering. The new school expects to increase its share of external funding for research through faculty growth in areas of national importance and by expanding collaborative efforts with colleagues throughout the University. As the first dean of the School of Engineering, Larson will be responsible for overseeing all facets of the school’s growth.
“Professor Larson has a strong record of achievement as an engineer in the private sector and as a researcher and administrator in the academy,” said Brown President Ruth J. Simmons. “He will be a skillful and committed leader as our new School of Engineering grows, develops, and realizes its full potential.”
Larson said he’s excited to be named founding dean and honored by the appointment. “Engineering in the 21st century is undergoing a fundamental transformation, as the barriers between traditional disciplines disappear and engineers work to solve the complex global challenges in energy, the environment, health care, information technology, and economic development,” he said. “Engineering at Brown is uniquely positioned to lead this evolution on a national and global scale, thanks to its tradition of world-leading research, broad intellectual and social engagement, and entrepreneurial leadership.”
Larson said his primary goal will be to raise the school’s profile and impact by aggressively recruiting new faculty in cutting-edge research areas, developing additional lab space to accommodate growth plans, expanding graduate programs, and creating groundbreaking undergraduate programs in collaboration with other areas at Brown.
“Brown offered one of the nation’s earliest engineering programs,” said Brown Provost David Kertzer, who chaired the search for the inaugural dean, “and engineering continues to be one of the leading areas of academic interest for our undergraduate students. Professor Larson is particularly well suited to lead the University’s School of Engineering, and I look forward to his contributions as a member of the University community.”
Other members of the selection committee included Ruth Iris Bahar, associate professor of engineering; John Donoghue, director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science; Huajian Gao, professor of engineering; Robert Hurt, professor of engineering; Arto Nurmikko, professor of engineering; and Tayhas Palmore, professor of engineering. Rod Beresford, professor of engineering and associate provost, served as staff to the committee.
Lawrence E. Larson
Larson joined the UCSD faculty in 1996, after a 16-year career at Hughes Research Laboratories. There, he pioneered the development of analog integrated circuits and new generations of low-noise high-electron mobility transistors (HEMTs), as well as microwave integrated circuits in SiGe HBT technology.
In a presentation late last year, titled “Wireless Everywhere and in Everything,” Larson predicted that within a decade, wireless devices and sensors will be so inexpensive that they can be embedded into almost any manufactured object and located almost anywhere through GPS technology. “It’s not implausible to think that pretty much everything we think about in a cell phone is going to be on something the size of the head of a pin,” he said.
Larson received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1986. He has published more than 300 papers in peer-reviewed journals and international conferences and edited or co-authored three books. He holds 39 patents.
At UCSD, he supervises roughly a dozen graduate students whose research broadly seeks to develop improved integrated circuit techniques and novel device structures for wireless communications applications. The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is the largest graduate program on the UCSD campus, with more than 500 graduate students.
Larson was director of the UCSD Center for Wireless Communications from 2001 to 2006. During his tenure, the center had an annual budget of approximately $2.5 million that supported 25 faculty members and approximately 45 Ph.D. students, as well as partnering with a dozen companies.
He is an IEEE Fellow and co-winner of the 1996 Hughes Electronics Lawrence Hyland Patent Award and the IBM Microelectronics Excellence Award.
Engineering at Brown
Brown currently has approximately 40 full-time, tenure-track faculty members in engineering. Externally supported research reported in fiscal year 2010 included:
- Fiscal year 2010 awards totaled more than $20 million
- Graduate research assistants supported: 108
- Current externally funded collaborations with biology and medicine: $58,696,820
Faculty in the Division of Engineering account for:
- 16 fellows of professional societies
- 10 recent National Science Foundation Career Awards
- Four members of the National Academy of Engineering
- One member of the National Academy of Sciences
- One fellow of the Royal Society
- Four members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- One fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Brown currently enrolls approximately 480 undergraduate students and more than 150 graduate students in engineering.
- Class of 2011: 96 concentrators (34% women)
- Class of 2012: 108 concentrators (34% women)
- Class of 2013: 138 current students (26% women)
- Class of 2014: 141 current students (28% women)
- Ph.D. students per full faculty member: 3.1
- All Ph.D. students are guaranteed five years of financial support.
- Brown accepts approximately 12 percent of applicants for engineering Ph.D. programs.