Cynthia Furse, associate vice president for research at the University of Utah and professor of electrical and computer engineering, will receive the 2016 Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology, continuing a long list of University of Utah College of Engineering faculty who have been given the honor.
“I’m very humbled to receive this honor. I’ve loved engineering,” she said. “It’s been a tremendously rewarding career.”
Furse is one of six who have been awarded a medal in the “Academic/Research” category this year and is the only faculty member in the U’s College of Engineering to be named. The recipients will be honored during an awards dinner Jan. 18.
The awards, sponsored by the Governor’s Office for Economic Development and the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative, have been given to people and companies who have “provided distinguished service or made significant contributions to Utah’s advanced scientific and technological knowledge, education and industry.” This year, awards will be handed out to 11 individuals and one company. Other categories include higher education, K-12 education, industry, and government.
Furse is a Fellow of the IEEE and the National Academy of Inventors. She also is a pioneer of the flipped classroom model in which the time for lectures and homework are reversed, and she has received numerous teaching and research awards including the Harriett B. Rigas Medal for Excellence in Teaching.
Her research in electromagnetics is applied to sensing and communication in complex lossy environments such as the human body, geophysical prospecting, ionospheric plasma, and aircraft wiring networks. She has developed antennas to communicate with medical implants, as well as methods to predict statistical variability in bioelectromagnetic applications. She also co-founded LiveWire Innovation, which pioneers systems for locating intermittent electrical faults on aging aircraft wiring.
“Electromagnetics — E&M — is ‘exciting and magical.’ You can’t see the fields, touch them, or hear them. But they can help you find nearly invisible electrical faults in the belly of an airplane, reach through skin and bone to communicate with medical devices deep in the body, and carry your voice to a loved one at the other end of a cell phone call,” she said about her research. “These are the kinds of things my students, colleagues, and I have been able to work on. It’s very rewarding to see a career built up on helping solve some of the intriguing problems of our time.”
This is the second Utah award that Furse has received in the last year. She also was given last year’s Days of ’47 Pioneers of Progress Award for Science and Technology.
Other U College of Engineering faculty to receive the governor’s medal include Dean Richard B. Brown, materials science and engineering Distinguished Professor Anil Virkar, electrical and computer engineering Distinguished Professor Gerald Stringfellow, U President David Pershing and the late Distinguished Professor Stephen C. Jacobsen.
“The medal recipients are true leaders in innovation, serving as educators, mentors and influencers statewide,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement. “Innovation drives Utah’s thriving economy and unmatched quality of life. I commend the winners for excellence in their fields and for their important work, which will benefit Utah residents for generations.”
The list of this year’s recipients
Cynthia Burrows, Ph.D.—Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry, University of Utah.
Cynthia Furse, Ph.D.—Associate Vice President for Research, University of Utah.
Timothy McLain, Ph.D.—Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Brigham Young University.
Terry Messmer, Ph.D.—Professor and Extension Wild Life Specialist, Utah State University | Director, Utah Community-Based Conservation Program.
John Morrey, Ph.D.—Research Professor, Director of the Institute for Antiviral Research, Utah State University.
Kyle Rollins, Ph.D.—Professor of Civil Engineering, Brigham Young University.
Adam Beehler—Lecture Demonstration Specialist for the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Utah.
Debra Spielmaker, Ph.D.—Professor, Utah State University | Project Director, USDA-National Agriculture in the Classroom Program and Team Leader, National Center for Agricultural Literacy.
Lawrence Thatcher—CEO, Thatcher Group.
ENVE Composites—Ogden, Utah.
Robert Baskin, Ph.D.—Supervisory Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Utah Water Science Center.
Dr. Vivian Lee—Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine, University of Utah | CEO, University of Utah Health Care.