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Alferness Named Dean of College of Engineering

By ANNA DAVISON

Rod C. Alferness

ROD C. ALFERNESS, currently chief scientist at Bell Labs, has been appointed as the next dean of the College of Engineering. He will assume the chair endowed by Richard A. Auhll, becoming the Richard A. Auhll Professor and Dean of the College of Engineering on Sept 1st, pending approval by UC President Mark Yudof and the Regents.
“UCSB is very proud of our outstanding College of Engineering,” Chancellor Henry Yang said in a statement announcing the appointment. “We are confident that the college will continue to thrive and achieve new heights of excellence under Dr. Alferness’s leadership.”
Alferness is world renowned for his work on optical switching technology and architecture and his research has been central to the development of fiber optic communications systems.
Alferness began work at Bell Labs in 1976, after obtaining a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Michigan. As chief scientist, a position he has held since 2007, Alferness oversees long-term strategy, government and university partnerships, and technical excellence programs. Earlier, as senior vice president of research, he had overall responsibility for the company’s global research laboratories. Alferness also spent several years as chief technical officer for Bell Labs’s parent company, Lucent Technologies, transferring the optical technology he worked on to the business units.
“He has great experience in leading a first-class research organization,” said Larry Coldren, acting dean of the College of Engineering, who also worked at Bell Labs. “He is a very highly qualified and hard-working individual who I have known well for many years. I’m delighted and feel fortunate that he has agreed to take over the reins of the College of Engineering.”
Alferness is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and of the Optical Society of America (OSA). He received the 2005 IEEE Photonics Award and the 2010 OSA Leadership Award, and has served as President of the OSA and of the IEEE Photonics Society. “I think some of his best experience for this job,” Coldren said, “is having served as president of two large international professional societies.”
Coldren has served as acting dean since July 2009. He also holds the endowed Fred Kavli Chair in Optoelectronics and Sensors, as well as appointments in the departments of electrical and computer engineering and materials, where he directs the Optoelectronics Technology Center.
“We are deeply grateful for his dedication and leadership during this interim period,” Yang said.
Coldren said he looks forward “to again being a more normal faculty member in the college, spending more time with my sizable research group, and teaching from the just-completed second edition of our textbook.”