UCSB professor of electrical and computer engineering and materials John Bowers recently received the Faculty Research Lecturer award — the highest honor that the UCSB faculty can bestow upon one of its own members.

Bowers, who received his master’s and doctorate degrees from Stanford University and worked at Bell Laboratories and Honeywell before joining UCSB in 1987, is the 58th recipient of the award. He has published 17 book chapters, 570 journal papers, 840 conference papers and garnered 53 patents for his work.

Bowers’ research focuses on energy efficiency and the development of novel low power optoelectronic devices for the next generation of optical networks. Some of his research interests include integrated circuits, thermoelectrics and high efficiency solar cells. However, he is most known for his work on integrated silicon photonics.

Bowers said he was chosen for the award by a faculty committee out of a pool of other nominations submitted by members of the UCSB community.

According to Bowers, much of the credit for his accomplishments belongs to his graduate students, who provide major contributions to his research.

“While I am grateful for the award, it should be clear that students do most of the research,” Bowers said in an email. “I provide some of the ideas, but they make it happen. They demonstrate the ideas and they push the limits and get the results. The students at UCSB are phenomenal, as good as any university anywhere and I am lucky to have an outstanding group.”

According to Bowers, graduate students do much of the substantive research work that goes into transforming a raw idea into a concrete solution.

“The ideas are simple, but demonstrating them and proving things is much more difficult,” Bowers said. “The more difficult the solution, the more difficult it is to prove.”

Bowers is the director of the UCSB Institute for Energy Efficiency, a co-founder of the UCSB Technology Management Program and currently holds the Fred Kavli Chair in Nanotechnology. Outside of the UCSB community, Bowers is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Optical Society of America and the American Physical Society.

Bowers said he hopes his award will encourage others to think creatively and challenge conventional knowledge.

“I think the point is that innovations can change the world,” Bowers said. “The whole goal is not to continue the status quo.”



A version of this article appeared on page 1 of the May 13th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus