Since 2003, Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering has recognized an exceptional electrical engineering doctoral student with the Palais Outstanding Doctoral Student Award.
The award was established through the generosity of Emeritus Professor Joseph Palais and his wife, Sandra Palais, to honor excellence in research and academics.
Palais’ long career with the university began when he joined the engineering faculty in 1964. He was appointed as the electrical engineering graduate program chair more than two decades ago and has watched the university and the Fulton schools grow tremendously.
“What I’ve found is that the quality of the nominated PhD students far exceeds my expectations,” said Palais. “It’s unbelievable the point at which some of these graduates are. Their work could easily be that of a professor submitting a tenure package.”
Zhengshan “Jason” Yu, who successfully defended his thesis and recently received his doctoral degree, has earned the award for his research on record-breaking efficiency for silicon-based solar cells. This has the potential to make solar electricity costs more competitive in the future.
“It’s a tremendous honor to receive this award,” said Yu, an international student from Jinhua, China. “I don’t know how to describe the feeling. It’s a blessing to know my research is well appreciated by the community.”
While living in Shanghai, China, Yu noticed the poor air quality in winter due to vehicle emissions and the burning of fossil fuels as the country’s main energy source.