2018 Outstanding Students

    Date Posted: 
    Tuesday, May 1, 2018

    Each spring, the College of Optical Sciences recognizes incredible students, as nominated by professors and selected by a faculty committee. We would like to congratulate Liliana Ruiz Diaz, Xingzhou Tu, Edward LaVilla, Shu Yang, and Ryan Hamilton as the 2017-2018 Outstanding Students of the Year. All five were publicly recognized during the Ice Cream Social even on May 3, and awarded plaques by Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Programs, R. John Koshel.

    Outstanding Graduate Students

    Two Outstanding Graduate Student awards were given, one went to Liliana Ruiz Diaz (nominated by Bob Norwood) and the other to Xingzhou Tu (nominated by Stanley Pau and Masud Mansuripur). Professor Norwood had to say of Liliana:

    Liliana Ruiz Diaz was the 2017-2018 Outstanding Graduate Student receipient, nominated by Professor Bob Norwood.

    I became her advisor in the Fall of 2014 and since then she has been working on our ARPA-E FOCUS and ARPA-E MOSAIC programs. These are very demanding, milestone driven efforts to build a prototype hybrid CSP/CPV solar energy system (FOCUS) and a high efficiency solar panel system (MOSAIC).

    Liliana joined the effort midway through her first semester and immediately added great energy to our team. She showed herself to be a tireless worker willing to make the extra effort to get key results ahead of critical review meetings and reports; she was largely responsible for enabling the program to achieve one of its major first year milestones (a 95% transmitting concentration module).

    She quickly adapted to changing project responsibilities and embraced the mastery of required software such as LightTools and SolidWorks. Indeed, modeling and simulation work that she performed led our team to winning another ARPA-E program (MOSAIC) during her second year.

    Additionally, Professor Pau and Professor Mansuripur had the following to say of Xingzhou. Professor Pau said:

    Xingzhou Tu was also awarded the 2017-2018 Outstanding Graduate Student Award, nominated by Professors Pau and Mansuripur.

    Mr. Tu is currently one of my Ph.D. students, and has been working in my group as a Graduate Assistant / Associate wince March 2015 when he was only seventeen years old...Besides his outstanding academic performance, he has also been working diligently in research and already published three peer-reviewed articles in Optics Express, with more publications in the pipeline. He is now working on a project to build the first division-of-focal-plane broadband full Stokes polarimeter for an NSF and an industrial funded project. Mr. Tu is twenty one years old and likely will be our youngest Ph.D. student, graduating probably in about a year. He is also one of the best graduate students I have taught and supervised in my thirteen years here.

    Professor Mansuripur said:

    Xingzhou was my student in OPTI 501 during the Fall semester of 2014. He was by far the best student in the class, despite being only 17 years old at the time!...His deep insights (combined with his genuine humility) was truly impressive. The next year (Fall of 2015), I picked Xingzhou as my TA for OPTI 501...I couldn't have asked for a better TA that year. All in all, I believe Xingzhou Tu is one of our best and brightest students.

    Outstanding Undergraduate Student

    The Outstanding Undergraduate Student award was given to Senior student Ryan Hamilton, nominated by John Koshel. Professor Koshel had to say of Ryan: 

    Ryan Hamilton receives the 2017-2018 Outstanding Undergraduate Award from John KoshelRyan defines professional engineer, which is evidenced by his stellar academic record, his research record, and the recognition that he has received during his tenure in the optics undergraduate program.

    He will be graduating this spring from Optical Sciences and Engineering with honors and two minors, Astronomy and Mathematics...Furthermore, he has been recognized by scholarships within the College of Optical Sciences and Highest Academic Distinction within the College of Engineering. Simply, he is a great student who impresses with his innate knowledge, curiosity, and foresight to get his undergraduate degree in optics in his pursuit to know more about space sciences.

    He has pursued positions to learn more about this optics for space applications. Last summer he worked at MIT Lincoln Laboratories in the Space Systems Analysis and Test Group performing trade studies of large mirror telescopes, analogous to the ones that we fabricate on campus. Also, he will be pursuing a M.S. in Optics at the UA next year, and he is already engaged in the area of adaptive optics under the direction of Prof. Michael Hart.

    Outstanding Teaching Assistant

    Two Outstanding Teaching Assistant awards were given, one to Edward LaVilla (nominated by Jonathan Ellis) and one to Shu Yang (nominated by Masud Mansuripur). Professor Ellis had to say of Edward:

    Outstanding Teaching Assistant for 2017-2018 goes to Edward LaVilla.Eddie is a TA for OPTI 415/515: Optical Fabrication, Specification, and Testing Lab. As this is my first semester here at the College of Optical Sciences, I have been extremely fortunate to have Eddie as my TA as he has been instrumental in helping me navigate the lab structure and helping me get organized with the lab equipment.

    Eddie has been present at every lab session and office hours session. This is critical as he has been responsible for running multiple lab sessions with several groups at a time especially on the days when I am traveling and cannot be present in the lab.

    He has a strong rapport with the students. There are times where I have observed him interact with the students where he was not aware that I had arrived in the laboratory yet. The students, in my estimation, feel like they can go to him for support and constructive criticism about their labs without feeling embarrassed that they may have done something incorrectly. Moreover, when he is interacting with the students, his approach is to guide the student(s) rather than just do it for them.

    Eddie has been very supportive and willing to work through the changes I have implemented in the lab. This includes him coming in on nights and weekends to work through the lab changes to make sure they are viable with the equipment on hand or because we have tried to change a lab at the last minute.

    Professor Mansuripur had to say of Shu Yang:

    Outstanding Teaching Assistant for 2017-2018 goes to Shu Yang.Mr. Yang is an excellent teaching assistant. He is highly intelligent, knowledgeable of the subject, hard-working, meticulous, polite, and responsible. I have nothing but praise for his performance as my TA in Opti 501 (Fall semester, 2017). I hereby nominate Mr. Yang for the outstanding TA award.

    Students are generally very happy with Mr. Yang’s performance as their TA. I have heard only praise and no complaints. Mr. Yang has been prompt in grading homework assignments and returning them to the students in a timely fashion. He also held three office hours per week, and his help was very much appreciated by local as well as distance students.

    Congratulations to all of you from OSC. Your dedication to optics education will not be forgotten.