Award winning theoretic electromagnetics research group

Dec 20, 2016

Recently, research from Dr. Lijun Jiang’s group on theoretic electromagnetics (EM) has been recognized at international conferences via numerous awards. Due to the broad impact of the work on analyzing radiation, Dr. Ying Cao, a former member of Dr. Jiang's group, has received  the EMC Society President’s Memorial Award at the 2016 IEEE EMC symposium in Canada. This is the highest-level award for students from the international EMC society. On the other hand, Dr. Xiaoyan Xiong, a postdoc in Dr. Jiang’s group, received two awards at the EMTS 2016, namely the Young Scientist Award and the Honorable Mention Young Scientist Best Paper Award. Last but not least, Dr. Jiang himself received the Best Poster Paper Award at 2016 IEEE EPEPS on Oct 25 2016  in San Diego, for the paper entitled “Radiation Compatible Ports and Loads for the PEEC Method”. 

Below is an interview with Dr. Ying Cao.

Q: How did you get started on your Ph.D. life? 

A: In 2012, as an undergraduate student majoring in Physics, I was looking for opportunities to continue my academic pursuits. Among many directions, I found that Electromagnetics (EM) is one interesting bridge in between Physics and Engineering. I am fascinated by the beauty of theories. Hence, when an opportunity came up, I applied and joined Dr. Lijun Jiang’s EM and Optics Laboratory in the Dept. of EEE. There I started my adventure in EM. 

In the Lab, I not only got the chance to work closely with my advisor, Dr. Jiang, who is a leading researcher in the field, but also established connections with researchers all over the world such as Professor W.C. Chew, a pioneer in Computational EM. Working in a world-leading EM group  and Dr. Jiang’s high expectations, the pressure was mountain high. 

Q: Then how did you cope with all the pressure in your Ph.D. life?

The Ph.D training process was long and tortuous. My researches require strong mathematical foundations, fundamental physics insight, and broad engineering visions. Coming from a background on Physics instead of Engineering, the first two years of my Ph.D studies were the hardest period. I found that there was a huge gap in the ways a physicist and an engineer think. There were times when I were really frustrated because I was not able to achieve my weekly research objectives Dr. Jiang assigned. Luckily studying Professor Chew’s masterpiece in EM and Dr. Jiang’s book manuscript, and most importantly having discussion with them in person, it helped me a great deal in overcoming my problems. It was through a long time of struggling and learning, I eventually developed a theoretical foundation sufficient for doing my own research. Looking back, I am so happy that I made it through!

Q: Can you describe the significance of your research? 

A: The topic that first attracted my attention was radiation, a fundamental phenomenon in EM. We were curious about how radiation was generated, distributed, and coupled. That motivated us to search for engineering approaches for quantitatively characterizing radiation, especially the hot spots of radiators. The more we think about it, the more we realized how little we understood this basic phenomenon. It was encouraging to find that Dr. Albert Ruehli, Professor James Drewniak, and Professor Jun Fan shared exactly the same curiosity. This led to various research collaboration where I led the research effort.  By adopting the powerful PEEC approach, today we are able to understand, model, and analyze radiation much better. Our research outputs find direction applications for EMI control and hot spot diagnosis, disrupting the traditional “cut-and-try” design methodology. Due to its broad impact, our research received numerous recognitions in the IEEE community. Among others, I received the EMC Society President’s Memorial Award at the 2016 IEEE EMC symposium in Canada. This award is the highest acceptance and affirmation of the student’s work in the international EMC society. Other awards include the Best Symposium Student Paper Award at the 2016 IEEE EMC symposium in Canada. With these significant recognitions, all the struggling in the challenging Ph.D. training finally paid off. 

Q: What is your next stop after leaving HKU? 

A: Due to my outstanding track records, I was offered the position of Visiting Assistant Research Professor position at MST’s EMC Lab upon my successfully passing the Ph.D defense. I accepted the offer and hence I will continue my adventure in EM in USA. There, my research interests will focus on extending my radiation research to comprehensive high-speed systems.  Studying at HKU left me an unforgettable memory. I shall cherish and derive from it all the encouragement for facing the challenges in my path ahead.