University of Utah electrical and computer engineering professor Florian Solzbacher, who has been with the University of Utah since 2004 and was associate chair of the department, has officially assumed the position of department chair beginning Wednesday, Nov. 1.

Solzbacher replaces outgoing chair, Gianluca Lazzi, who has taken a position as Provost Professor of Ophthalmology and Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California. Lazzi was chair of the department since 2009.

Solzbacher joined the U in 2004 as an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering after earning a doctorate in electrical engineering at Technische Universität Ilmenau in Germany. He was named an associate professor at the U in 2009 and a full professor in 2012. He was named the associate chair for the department’s academics and special initiatives in 2016. He also is co-director of the Utah Nanotechnology Institute at the University of Utah and was director of the Utah Nanofabrication Laboratory.

He has adjunct appointments in materials science and engineering as well as bioengineering at the U. His research focuses on harsh environment microsystems and materials, including implantable, wireless microsystems for biomedical and healthcare applications, as well as on high temperature and harsh-environment-compatible micro sensors.

“It is a great honor and a pleasure to be given the opportunity to help set the best possible boundary conditions for students, staff and faculty so that we can continue to develop the department,” he said. “The department has made tremendous strides from when I joined 14 years ago. Under Gianluca’s leadership, we have more than doubled our faculty, rejuvenated our program, and been fortunate enough to bring on an outstanding tier of new faculty.”

Solzbacher also has launched or been involved in several businesses, and is founder, president and chairman of Blackrock Microsystems Inc. in Salt Lake City, which provides tools for neuroscience, neural engineering and neuroprosthetics research. He is author of over 190 journal and conference publications, five book chapters and 16 pending patents.

As the department’s new chair, he wants to ensure continued faculty and student success and look for even more opportunities for commercializing research.

“We are the place that originated many innovations such as computer graphics, internet, advanced semiconductors and biomedical and implantable devices,” he said. “We have to be the leaders of the future generations of breakthrough initiatives that inspire our students, faculty and the world around us.”