Stephen Forrest named Henry Russel Lecturer for 2020


Stephen R. Forrest, a scientist who has made breakthrough advances in understanding how the behavior of light and electrons may be controlled, has been selected as U-M’s 2020 Henry Russel Lecturer.

Photo of Stephen Forrest
Stephen Forrest

The Henry Russel Lectureship, considered the university’s highest honor for senior faculty members, is awarded annually to a faculty member with exceptional achievements in research, scholarship or creative endeavors, as well as an outstanding record of teaching, mentoring and service.

Forrest is the Peter A. Franken Distinguished University Professor of Engineering, the Paul G. Goebel Professor of Engineering, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and material science and engineering, College of Engineering. He also is a professor of physics, LSA, and served as vice president for research from 2006-13.

Forrest will deliver his lecture during the winter term of 2020.

The Henry Russel Lectureship was announced at the June 20 Board of Regents meeting, along with four faculty members selected to receive 2020 Henry Russel Awards, the university’s highest honor for faculty at the early to mid-career stages of their career. The recipients are:

Photo of Carrie Ferrario
Carrie Ferrario

Photo of Xianzhe Jia

Xianzhe Jia

Photo of Corinna Schindler

Corinna Schindler

Photo of Megan Tompkins-Stange

Megan Tompkins-Stange

  • Carrie R. Ferrario, assistant professor of pharmacology, Medical School.
  • Xianzhe Jia, associate professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, College of Engineering.
  • Corinna S. Schindler, associate professor of chemistry, LSA.
  • Megan E. Tompkins-Stange, assistant professor of public policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

As a research engineer at Bell Labs, Forrest worked with photonic components and electronic circuits to demonstrate the first avalanche photodiode, a highly sensitive semiconductor device that converts light to electricity, and invented the first reliable planar photodetector. These breakthroughs enabled the high-performance switches that are central components in today’s long-distance fiber-optic telecommunication systems.

Forrest also developed organic thin-film semiconductor nanostructures comprising high-performance light-emitting diodes. These efforts have produced technology that enables heads-up and flat-panel displays that are becoming ubiquitous in smartphones, televisions, cameras, flat displays and other applications.

His third area of major research accomplishment is in the use of thin-film materials to produce a new generation of ultra-low-cost solar cells with a high energy conversion efficiency.

With research appearing in more than 550 papers in world-leading journals, Forrest holds more than 320 U.S. patents and has helped found five companies. He joined the university in 2006.

Forrest has received several honors and awards, including election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors.

He has chaired or co-chaired the dissertation committees for 60 Ph.D. students and has mentored 34 postdoctoral fellows.

Ferrario was a postdoctoral fellow at the Rosalind Franklin University of Science and Medicine and U-M before joining the university faculty in 2013.

As a graduate student and postdoctoral fellow, she investigated the drug-induced neurochemical mechanisms that underlie the motivational behaviors in drug abuse. In recent years, Ferrario has used insights gleaned from this research into examining the neurobiological processes that underlie behaviors associated with obesity.

She has published 34 peer-reviewed papers in leading journals and earned numerous awards, including a NARSAD Young Investigator Award from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.

As a teacher, Ferrario helped design a new upper-level course for undergraduates interested in careers in biomedicine, as well as established the Interdisciplinary Drugs of Abuse seminar series for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Jia joined the university as a research fellow in 2009 and was appointed an associate professor in 2015.

He has established himself as a world leader in planetary physics who has mastered data analysis techniques, engineering concepts and theoretical modeling necessary for examining and interpreting the data accumulating from recent space missions to explore the planets and moons of Earth’s solar system.

Jia has published 74 frequently cited articles in leading peer-reviewed journals, and has been awarded grants of more than $10 million from NASA and the National Science Foundation.

He received a NASA Early Career Fellowship, and is a member of the leadership team for NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission.

Schindler, who joined the university in 2013, is an internationally recognized synthetic chemist who has made breakthrough discoveries in metathesis catalysis.

Her pioneering work on carbonyl-olefin metathesis reactions using iron as an abundant and benign catalyst created a green-reaction platform that has great significance for the creation of new molecules for medicine and other industries.

Schindler has published her research in 28 widely cited articles in peer-reviewed journals, and she has been recognized with several honors and awards, including a National Science Foundation Career Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, an Eli Lilly Grantee Award and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.

As a teacher, Schindler has earned the highest accolades for her teaching of the Department of Chemistry’s large and challenging service course in organic chemistry.

Tompkins-Stange, who joined the university in 2011, is a pioneering scholar of the impact of philanthropy on public policy.

Through close analysis of extensive interviews with decision-makers in the largest private U.S. philanthropic foundations, her work reveals the impact that leading charitable non-profits are having on K-12 education policy.

Tompkins-Stange is the author of “Policy Patrons: Philanthropy, Education Reform and the Politics of Influence” and the forthcoming “Value Added: How Teacher Evaluation Became a Big Idea.”

Tompkins-Stange also received the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize for her class that allows master’s students to work in teams, engage in hands-on grant-making and analyze the historically controversial relationship between institutional philanthropy and public policy.


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