Two UH College of Engineering Professors Receive Top NSF Award

Stanko Brankovic, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston, has received one of the top honors awarded by the National Science Foundation to junior faculty members.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award is NSF's most prestigious and competitive grant for junior researchers in science and engineering fields. It provides support to faculty members who have demonstrated great potential early in their careers.

Brankovic is the second faculty member from the department to earn the honor this year. Zhu Han, also an assistant professor, received the NSF award in February.

 "This award recognizes my research ideas and efforts in the field of electrochemical material synthesis and nanofabrication," said Brankovic. "It gives recognition to my research group and my students as well, and it offers great motivation and drive for excellence in my future work."

With the five-year, $550,000 grant, Brankovic will use both electrochemical and chemical fabrication methods to synthesize structures and materials to study how they act at the ultra-tiny nanoscale. He will try to learn how to manipulate properties of these materials at this scale to develop new products and technologies that could increase the energy efficiency of everyday devices.

Brankovic earned his bachelor's degree in chemical and biochemical engineering from the University of Belgrade in 1994 and his Ph.D. in science and engineering of materials at Arizona State University in 1999. He came to UH in 2005.

Han's work could allow wireless devices to more efficiently share the radio waves. With his five-year, $400,000 award, Han is hopeful he can develop devices and algorithms that better utilize periods of quiet in frequencies on the legitimate radio spectrum. Ultimately, the research could result in less congestion, more reliability and enhanced communication between new devices and systems using the spectrum.

Han received his bachelor's degree in electronic engineering from Tsinghua University in 1997, and both his master's and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland-College Park in 1999 and 2003, respectively. He joined UH in August 2008 from Boise State University.