Photographs by Joseph Shaw

Research opportunities

Research focus areas

  • Remote Sensing
  • Atmospheric Polarization Imaging
  • Optical Aurora Sensing
  • Micro- and Nanofabrication
  • Optics
  • Power and Energy
  • Digital Design / Intelligent Computing
  • Signals and Controls
  • Communications


Research faculty specialties

Micro- and Nano-fabrication

Research in this area includes the development and fabrication of microelectronic devices, such as high-frequency inductors, silicon semiconductors, and micro-optic devices. Dr. James Becker's work primarily involves high-frequency CMOS design and power combining. Dr. David Dickensheets' research includes micro-optical devices, such as membrane focus control mirrors, and Dr. Todd Kaiser focuses on micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) development, specifically actuators and sensors. Dr. Anja Kunze’s research involves engineering and fabrication of BioMEMS, NEMS and microfluidics for neuroengineering and biotech applications. Dr. Wataru Nakagawa specializes in the fabrication in such micro- and nano-sized devices. Applications of micro- and nanofabrication span all areas of research within the department.

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The optics-related research is focused on climate and atmospheric behaviors, and also micro-optic devices. Professors design optical sensors to collect data and create images of polarized light in the atmosphere. Dr. Kevin Repasky's research involves using optical remote sensing to collect and analyze data on geological carbon sequestration and the development of LIDAR. Dr. Joseph Shaw also works with optical remote sensing, specializing in infrared imagining, polarimetry, and LIDAR. Dr. David Dickensheets' research encompasses optical instrument development for medical purposes, such as optical coherence tomography and confocal microscopes.

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Power and Energy

The topics of research range from alternative energy sources, such as wind, photovoltaics, fuel cells, and microturbines, to motors and power electronics. Dr. M. Hashem Nehrir's research focuses on alternative energy source development and application, such as smart and microgrid technology, and the modeling and application of power distribution system enhancement designs for residential use. Dr. Hongwei Gao focuses on motor design, including for electric and hybrid vehicles, and power electronics. Dr. Steven Shaw's research involves employing fuel cell technology for a variety of applications.

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Digital Design and Intelligent Computing

Research in this area includes the development of microsensors, such as actuators, gyroscopes, and accelerometers. Dr. Brock LaMeres' work involves computer engineering and digital systems design, and he oversees the High Altitude Balloon Payload Design program, a summer project open to female engineering students. Dr. Todd Kaiser primarily develops MEMS sensors and actuators. Both professors are currently collaborating with NASA to develop a reconfigurable computing device that self-detects areas damaged by radiation. Past projects also include the award-winning lunar robot.

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Signals and Controls

This field of research includes a variety of areas, ranging audio engineering and acoustics, auditory and visual neurosciences, to system identification and controls. Dr. Anja Kunze’s research includes computational and experimental approaches to better understand neuronal cell signaling and circuits. Dr. Robert Maher's research currently encompasses audio forensics, environmental sound monitoring and modeling and digital audio signal processing. Dr. Ross Snider researches how the brain processes simultaneously-occurring auditory signals. Dr. Steven Shaw's research also includes designing control circuits for different purposes.

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The area of communications research pertains to the development and design of optical communication devices, ad hoc networks, and Smart antennae. Dr. Ioannis Roudas specializes in communications research.

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Research areas explained

Digital Systems

Research in this area includes creating new computer architectures to provide increased performance for the application at hand. The term performance is used to describe not only the computational power of a digital system, but also the power efficiency and reliability. Professors in the ECE department are currently collaborating with NASA to develop a radiation tolerant computing platform for deep space missions.

Our research in computer architecture is used in a wide variety of cross-disciplinary projects. These include robotics, payloads for high altitude balloon platforms, and satellites. There is also collaboration with researchers in the micro-fabrication area to include sensors within the computer to provide an environmentally aware system.

Micro and Nanofabrication

Research in this area includes the development and fabrication of microelectronic devices, such as high-frequency inductors, silicon semiconductors, and micro-optic devices. The applications of these devices span all areas of research within the department.

Novel devices manufactured using MSU's micro- and nanofabrication facilities enable a broad range of interdisciplinary projects, including in-vivo biomedical imaging, high-performance MEMS devices, multifunctional optical devices, nanophotonic devices for chemical and biological sensing, and advanced photovoltaic devices.


We are developing novel optical and photonic components and systems for applications that include biological and environmental imaging, polarization measurements, and optical remote sensing. This research ranges from nano- and micro- to macro-scale systems.

Our optics research benefits society by providing technological advances such as biomedical imaging for cancer detection and optical remote sensing for weather and climate prediction.

Power and Energy

This field of research includes modeling and control of alternative energy sources such as wind, photovoltaics and fuel cells, and hybrid microgrids utilizing multiple energy sources. One related area of interest is the application of intelligent control for microgrid power management.

Information technology and communication are integral parts of Microgrid and smart resilient grid. Collaboration with these disciplines is ongoing.

Signals & Controls

This field of research includes audio engineering, acoustics, system identification, and controls.

In the signals area, faculty are involved in bulding tools for auditory neuroscience to help further understanding into how the brain process acoustic information. In controls, faculty are apply control theory and system identification for optimal control of fuel cells and microgrid power networks.


The area of communications research pertains to the development and design of optical communication devices, Ad Hoc networks, and Smart antenna.

Applying ad hoc communication networks to transportation environments.