May 4, 2022
MSU’s Verboncoeur wins IEEE's Birdsall Award
John Verboncoeur of Michigan State University will receive the 2022 Charles K. Birdsall Award from the Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).
He is the seventh recipient of the prestigious international honor. Only one award is presented globally each year.
Verboncoeur is the senior associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Engineering. He is being recognized by the IEEE NPSS technical community for outstanding contributions. The citation reads: “For pioneering leadership in computational plasma science research, education, student mentoring, curriculum innovation, supportive professional community leadership, and helping to define the field of computational plasma physics.”
“This is especially sweet because Birdsall was my postdoctoral mentor,” Verboncoeur said.
MSU Engineering Dean Leo Kempel called Verboncoeur an exceptional faculty member, who demonstrates invaluable leadership within the College of Engineering and through his IEEE service internationally.
“His technical expertise and vision for the future exemplifies the very best in a senior faculty member,” Kempel said, “especially at an institution that truly values excellence in scholarship and service to our communities, state, region, nation, and world.”
Verboncoeur received a bachelor’s degree in 1986 from the University of Florida, and a master’s degree (1987) and Ph.D. (1992) in nuclear engineering from the University of California at Berkeley (UCB). Following appointments as a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and as a research engineer at UCB, he joined the UCB Nuclear Engineering faculty in 2001. There he founded and chaired the Computational Engineering Science Program 2001-2010.
In 2011, he joined MSU and was appointed a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In 2015, he helped co-found MSU’s Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering and was named a professor in the new department.
His research interests are in theoretical and computational plasma physics and applications. He has authored/coauthored more than 450 journal articles and conference papers, with over 5000 citations, and he has taught 13 international workshops and mini-courses on plasma simulation.
He became an IEEE Fellow in 2013, received the IEEE NPSS Shea Distinguished Member Award in 2018, and the IEEE Plasma Sciences and Applications Committee Award in 2019.
Verboncoeur is past president of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society, past IEEE director, past acting vice president of IEEE Publications, Services, and Products Board. He is the vice president-elect of IEEE Technical Activities, which oversees all 46 IEEE Societies and Councils and around $500 million in revenue.
He serves on the board of directors for the American Center for Mobility national proving ground in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He is associate editor of “Physics of Plasmas,” a peer-reviewed monthly scientific journal on plasma physics. Additionally, he serves on the U.S. Department of Energy Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee.
He has led a number of successful startups, including computerized fitness equipment, digital health systems, and distributed publication software used to produce consumer credit reports for a big-three credit bureau, with a role in the USPS mail forwarding system.
Birdsall was a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, and a pioneering inventor and educator in microwave tubes and plasma physics. His work led to 27 patents and election to Fellow of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) at the age of 36. His contributions to plasma science have made lasting impacts on communications and other technologies. He died in 2012.