An electrifying career honored
Professor Chaitali Chakrabarti is the 2021 recipient of the Joseph C. Palais Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award
Above: In recognition of her accolades in the areas of service, teaching and research, Professor Chaitali Chakrabarti was nominated by her peers and chosen to be this year’s Joseph C. Palais Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award recipient. Photographer: Erika Gronek/ASU
Professor Chaitali Chakrabarti has been influencing future generations of electrical engineers for more than 30 years.
Starting in 1990, Chakrabarti brought her talents and passion for algorithm-architecture co-design of signal processing and communication systems, low-power embedded system design, reliable and energy-efficient in-memory computing and secure edge computing to what is now known as the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of the seven schools in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.
Her excellence through the years makes it no surprise to anyone that Chakrabarti was nominated and selected to receive the Joseph C. Palais Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award for 2021-2022, except maybe to her.
“I feel very honored, to say the least,” Chakrabarti says. “I started at ASU right after completing my PhD, so this has been home for 31 years. To think that my colleagues considered me deserving of this prestigious award meant the world to me.”
The Joseph C. Palais Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award was established by its namesake in 2016 and celebrates faculty members in the Fulton Schools electrical engineering program who demonstrate all-around excellence in research, teaching and community service.
Stephen Phillips, director of the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, applauds her selection as this year’s awardee.
“Chaitali personifies the spirit of this award,” Phillips says. “Her mentorship to over 70 doctoral and master’s students, both in the lab and in the classroom, has made a tremendous impact in our field.”
When Chakrabarti started her career at ASU, she was one of only two women in the department. Over the years, she watched the profile change and is now among a cohort of 14 women faculty members in the department.
“I love seeing the changes in electrical engineering for women in the past three decades,” she says. “I hope I’ve been a positive influence on that growth and I hope it continues, not only in the faculty but in the student body as well.”
Lalitha Sankar, an associate professor of electrical engineering, nominated Chakrabarti as a standout among her peers.
“Chaitali never hesitates to help and support junior faculty and is always accessible,” Sankar says. “She has a stellar record in all of her academic endeavors. Her accolades in the areas of service, teaching and research are an inspiration to her students and colleagues.”
She has published more than 300 journal and conference articles, including three Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, Micro Top Picks papers, and she has received seven best paper awards.
As an active researcher, Chakrabarti’s work is known to electrical engineers worldwide, and she is considered a great collaborator.
Her work includes more than 15 years of joint research with faculty from the University of Michigan on software-defined radio and ultrasound imaging, which has led to many highly cited papers, including best paper awards.
Chakrabarti is also the associate director of the Center for Wireless Information Systems and Computational Architectures and works across multiple scientific fields at ASU. At the center, she works on systems and circuits projects.
In 2012, she was elected a Fellow of the IEEE, a distinction reserved for select IEEE members whose extraordinary accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest are deemed fitting of this prestigious grade elevation.
Her alma maters have noted her contributions by awarding her distinguished alumni awards, first by the University of Maryland, College Park, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2013, followed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, in 2018.
Chakrabarti is consistently recognized as an outstanding educator by her peers and students alike.
“I was so pleased to hear Dr. Chakrabarti was selected as the award recipient,” says Manqing Mao, who received her doctorate in electrical engineering from ASU in 2019. “To be honest, this news was not a big surprise to me. She is the greatest mentor. She has infinite patience for research exploration. I have learned so much from her.”
In 1994, the College of Engineering and Applied Science, now known as the Fulton Schools, awarded Chakrabarti the Best Teacher Award in the Young Faculty category and in 2001, she received the IEEE Phoenix Chapter’s Outstanding Educator award.
For her excellence in teaching and mentoring at ASU, she received the Fulton Exemplar Faculty Award two years in a row (2014-2015 and 2015-2016) and the Fulton Schools Top 5% Faculty Award for five of the last eight years.
“It’s Dr. Chaitali’s inspiration and guidance that empowered me,” says Ming Yang, one of Chakrabarti’s former students and the 2014 recipient of the Dean’s Dissertation Award. “She transformed me from a novice into an expert in a research area I had no idea about.”
Chakrabarti becomes the fourth recipient of the Joseph C. Palais Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award after fellow electrical engineering faculty members Michael Kozicki, Mariana Bertoni and Zachary Holman.