SEAS Appoints Two New Professors

Cambridge might be getting colder, but that clearly isn’t an issue for Evelyn L. Hu or David R. Clarke, who will be leaving the sunny beaches of California for the soon-to-be icy paths of Harvard Yard.

“I really miss the seasons,” Hu said. “I don’t mind the cold.”

Hu—currently a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)—was recently appointed a professor of applied physics and electrical engineering in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Clarke, also at UCSB, is currently a professor of materials and mechanical engineering, and was recently appointed a professor of materials in SEAS.

Both appointments—which were announced earlier this month—are effective on New Year’s Day.

Venkatesh “Venky” Narayanamurti, the previous dean of SEAS who similarly came to Harvard from UCSB, praised Hu and Clarke as “outstanding appointments.”

“The culture where they come from is highly interdisciplinary,” said Venky, who worked with Hu and Clarke while he was still in California. “I think they’re going to be wonderful for our younger faculty as role models.”

Hu’s research focuses on nanophotonics and using biological processes to “craft new materials onto old techniques.”

“When you confine light to nanostructure dimensions and create artificial optical environments for the photons, interesting things happen to the photons,” Hu said.

Hu mostly works with semiconductors, solid materials with electrical conductivity widely used in electronic devices like cell phones and computers.

“By playing around at the nanoscale we have the potential to create new kinds of even more efficient optical sources,” Hu said. “Someday we may have integrated optical circuits.”

Venky said Hu was a “real pioneer”, fabricating tiny structures and electrical devices before nanoscience was even a field.

“Given the future growth and evolution of SEAS and the University’s increased commitment to spurring multidisciplinary research, we are extremely fortunate to have someone of the caliber of Evelyn Hu on board,” Frans A. Spaepen, interim dean of SEAS, said in a press release.

Clarke’s research on ceramic materials focuses on their electrical properties and piezospectroscopy, a technique he developed to measure stress in materials.

“Professor Clarke’s world-renowned expertise in materials science, in particular ceramics and semiconductors, will perfectly complement SEAS’s current presence in this field,” Spaepen said in the press release.

Clarke did not wish to comment on his appointment.

Both Hu and Clarke have also worked outside of academia—Hu at Bell Labs and Clarke at IBM—and both Venky and Spaepen believe these experiences will benefit their colleagues at SEAS.

—Staff writer Alissa M. D’Gama can be reached at