Dr. Nabeel A. Riza

Head of School of Engineering (2013-16) and Chair Professor of Electrical & Electronic Engineering

Nabeel A. Riza completed his Cambridge University (U.K.) 1978 O-level and 1980 A-level overseas school certificates with Double Distinction in Mathematics. In August 1981, Riza joined the Illinois Institute of Technology in , graduating in August 1984 with a B. S. degree in Electrical Engineering (EE). He graduated summa cum laude highest distinction in 3 years and was amongst the top 3 seniors of the entire institute, receiving the Illinois Institute’s Highest Academic Honor, the IIT Alumni Association Academic Achievement Award.

Riza joined the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) on a full graduate scholarship in October 1984. He received his M.S. degree in EE in June 1985, and completed his doctorate in 4 years in the same field in Oct., 1989. In 1988, Riza’s graduate work on antenna controls won him an International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) Student Scholarship Award. A decade later in 1998, The International Optical Society (OSA) honored Riza with a Fellow Award for his pioneering work in photonic controls for radars and antenna arrays. After completing his Ph.D. work in 1989, Riza joined the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) Group at the General Electric Corporate Research and Development (GE-CRD) Center, New York. Upon joining GE-CRD, Riza showed how LCD technology could be used for optically controlling antenna arrays. For his High Risk/High Impact research ideas for GE-Aerospace, he received a 1990 GE-CRD New Start Research Award.

The next 5 years, Riza led the GE Optically Controlled Radar Project. At GE, he continued his research in acousto-optics and also initiated the earliest works in simple electronic control liquid crystal lenses. In 1998, SPIE presented him with a Fellow Award for his research contributions in acousto-optic signal processing and liquid crystal devices. With the sale of GE Aerospace to Lockheed-Martin in 1995, Riza decided to join academia at a new Optics Center called CREOL as an Associate Professor, being promoted to Full Professor in 2001. Prof. Riza established CREOL’s first Photonic Information Processing Systems Laboratory that focused on research in Applied Optics with pioneering works in power plant sensors,biomedical optics, nano-scale test & measurement optical instruments, fiber-optic communications, acousto-optic signal processing, optical MEMS, liquid crystal devices, microwave photonics and radar, and freespace laser communications. These works are described in over 431 publications (160 Journal papers) and 48 issued patents. In 2000, Riza launched a startup Company, Nuonics, Inc., to commercialize inventions.

Riza is the Editor of the reference book on Photonics and Antenna Controls. For his pioneering works in photonic signal processing and fiber-optics, Riza received the International Commission for Optics 2001 ICO Prize and 2001 Ernst Abbe Medal from Carl Zeiss Foundation-Germany. In 2007, Riza received an IEEE Fellow Award for his pioneering contributions to the international field of Applied Optics. In 2007, Riza was Visiting Professor at the Delft University of Technology. In 2008, Riza was one of three scientists awarded the Eramus-Mundus Scholar Award by the European Union (EU) Erasmus Masters Optics Program.

Riza was one of eight worldwide individuals/project groups in applied laser technology and commercialization to receive the German 2008 Berhold Leibinger Innovation Prize Nominee Distinction Award for his invention of hybrid laser beam profiler technology. Riza received a 2009 and 2010 IEEE Photonics Society Distinguished Lecturer Award for his work in extreme optical sensors and a 2009 Science Foundation Ireland Walton Award as Distinguished Visiting Fellow at National Univ. of Ireland-Galway. In August 2011, Riza was appointed Chair Professor of EEE and Department Head, University College Cork, Ireland and Associate Member, Tyndall National Institute, Ireland. In 2011, he received the IET (former IEE) Fellow Award and in 2012 he received the European Optical Society (EOS) Fellow Award.

In the late 90’s, he established the first IEEE Photonics Society Student Chapter and between 2002-2005 served as Vice President of the IEEE Photonics Society stressing student activities. Today there are 30  IEEE Photonics Society Student chapters active throughout the world. In 2011, Riza established the first IEEE Student Section at UCC.

Riza authored his first textbook Photonic Signals and Systems: An Introduction, in January 2013, published by McGraw Hill. On May 16, 2020, the UNESCO International Day of Light, Prof. Riza to ease the educational challenges students faced during the COVID-19 pandemic,  launched via his website free-access to the PDF copy of his textbook and teaching materials for all those interested across the globe. As of early September 2020, over 625 free downloads of the textbook had been achieved.

In June 2013, Prof. Riza was appointed as the Head (Dean) of the School of Engineering at UCC. In April 2015, he received the Engineers Ireland Honorary Fellow Award, the highest membership distinction of the Engineers Ireland Society. In November 2016, he was appointed to the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Engineering and Computer Science Committee. In April 2017, Prof. Nabeel Riza was inducted into the US National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the highest honor bestowed by the USA to academic inventors. In 2018, he received the IET Achievement Medal. He was awarded the 2019 Edwin H. Land Medal jointly by the OSA (The International Optical Society) and IS&T (The International Society for Imaging Science and Technology). In March 2020, he was elected Member, Royal Irish Academy, the highest honour in Ireland across all disciplines of sciences, social sciences and the humanities.

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