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Innovative work with optoelectronics earns Preston Webster Palais Outstanding Doctoral Student award

Innovative work with optoelectronics earns Preston Webster Palais Outstanding Doctoral Student award

Above: Professor Steve Phillips, director of the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, presents recent doctoral graduate Preston Webster with the Palais Outstanding Doctoral Student Award at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Spring 2016 Maroon Convocation Ceremony at Wells Fargo Arena, May 10, 2017. Photographer: Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

At the conclusion of every spring semester, the Palais Outstanding Doctoral Student award is given to a graduating electrical engineering doctoral student who exemplifies excellence in research and academics.

This year’s award went to Preston Webster, who successfully defended his thesis in May 2016.

Webster, who hails from Bloomfield, Iowa, earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Iowa State University before enrolling at ASU to pursue his doctorate. At ASU, Webster distinguished himself by contributing to eight peer-reviewed publications, serving as the first author on four of those and securing a U.S. patent. He also has three invention disclosures to ASU, all related to his research on optoelectronic materials, which can source, detect and control light in all its various forms.

Together with his advisor, electrical engineering Professor Shane Johnson, worked on the development of new optoelectronic materials with a range of uses, from thermal imaging and tracking to solar photovoltaics as well as high-efficiency lasers and LEDs and defense applications.

“Historically, the discovery of unique material properties during fundamental research has been the driving force for major technological revolutions,” said Webster. “These new materials being produced in our labs are highly sensitive across the infrared, and with further development may one day find their way into state-of-the-art optoelectronic technologies that our society relies on every day.”

Webster currently has a position at the Air Force Research Laboratory, located at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he is continuing his work with material systems. He will remain in close collaboration with Johnson.

“I’d made a lot of friends working with a lot of great people in the electrical engineering department, so I was honored to be receiving the award and proud to know that I would get to leave a permanent mark with a place on the board of past Palais award recipients,” Webster said, reflecting on his time at ASU.

The award was established in 2003 with the generosity of Emeritus Professor Joseph Palais and his wife, Sandra Palais. Students are nominated by their doctoral advisors, and must maintain at least a 3.75 grade point average and have at least one publication in a journal or at a conference to qualify.

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