Three new faculty join ECE department

Guha Balakrishnan, Songtao Chen and Yuji Zhao started at Rice, effective July 1.

Headshots of Guha Balakrishnan, Songtao Chen and Yuji Zhao

Three new faculty members in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering have joined the George R. Brown School of Engineering, effective July 1:

Guha Balakrishnan, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE): He earned his B.S. degrees in computer science engineering and computer engineering in 2011 from the University of Michigan, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering/computer science from MIT in 2013 and 2018, respectively. He was a postdoctoral researcher at MIT from 2018 to 2020 and an applied scientist at Amazon Web Services in 2020-21, working on fairness of AI systems. His research interests include computer vision and graphics, the theory, practical design and downstream applications of generative models for complex visual data.

Songtao Chen, assistant professor of ECE: Chen received his B.S. in optical science and engineering from Zhejiang University, China in 2013 and his Ph.D. in ECE from Brown University in 2018. He served as a postdoctoral research associate in ECE at Princeton University in 2018-21, developing multiplexed quantum network nodes using single erbium ions. At Rice he is part of the Quantum Initiative. Chen’s research focuses on quantum information processing using solid-state spins. By combining spin-photon interfaces with solid-state device engineering, he hopes to develop optically interfaced spins as platforms with quantum communication, computing and sensing applications.

Yuji Zhao, associate professor of ECE: Zhao earned his B.S. in Microelectronics from Fudan University, China, in 2008, and his Ph.D. in ECE from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2012. Before joining Rice, he was an associate professor and chair of ASU NanoFab at Arizona State University. His current research involves materials science and device engineering of wide bandgap semiconductors for energy efficiency, RF and power electronics, and quantum photonics applications. Zhao received the 2019 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the MIT TR 35-China Award, DTRA Young Investigator Award and NASA Early Career Faculty Award.