Two electrical engineering graduate students in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University received awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Antennas and Propagation Society, or IEEE AP-S. Doctoral student Idban Alamzadeh received a 2023 Doctoral Research Grant from the organization, and master’s degree student Cecilio Obeso received a 2023 Eugene F. Knott Pre-Doctoral Research Grant.

The awards are given by the IEEE AP-S to encourage students to pursue careers in electromagnetics, antenna engineering and microwave circuits. Each year, about 10 research grants are given to doctoral students, while about six Knott grants are given to undergraduate and master’s degree students.

Alamzadeh’s project, “Smart Communication Links using Hybrid Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces,” looks to improve radio wave propagations in wireless channels. Wireless communication signals are frequently weakened by objects blocking their paths, resulting in connection losses and data outages. Alamzadeh plans to use reconfigurable metasurfaces made of electromagnetic metamaterials that can redirect the wireless signals to circumvent the blockage, improving wireless data links.

To ensure maximum transmission strength in dynamic radio environments, the metasurfaces must be able to reconfigure based on what they can sense from the surrounding environment and adjust signal direction accordingly. Alamzadeh aims to solve this need.

“IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society Doctoral Research Grants are awarded to only a select few young professionals around the world,” he says. “Being among these few winners is a great achievement in my career. I am both humbled and excited for this award.”

For Obeso’s award, he seeks to develop a portable microwave imaging system for nondestructive evaluation of objects. Plans for the imaging system include making it compact, lightweight, affordable and high-resolution.

Obeso plans to investigate the utility of microwave imaging in monitoring Southwest plants’ moisture levels. Gauging the moisture content provides a look at vegetation health without needing to destroy it by cutting the plants open.

Obeso says receiving his grant is encouraging for his academic career.

“Receiving recognition from such a prestigious institution acknowledges the quality and potential of my research work in the field of antennas and propagation,” he says. “Ultimately, winning this grant is a fantastic boon to my bourgeoning career in research.”

Mohammadreza Imani, an assistant professor of electrical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, mentors both students. Imani, a faculty member in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, part of the Fulton Schools, praised his students as deserving of their awards.

“I am glad their hard work has been rewarded,” he says. “It is also encouraging that our lab’s research efforts have been noticed by the community.”