Duane H. and Dorothy M. Bluemke Professor
Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor
My academic degrees are all in nuclear engineering, starting with a B.S. from Penn State in 1980, and an M.S.E and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) in 1983 and 1985, respectively. My Ph.D. advisor once told me that for landing a good job, the subject of your thesis is not so critical as doing it really well, keeping your skills current, and paying attention to the value of networking. Certainly something like that seems to have worked out for me, since I’ve ended up with a job that I love, but in the field of electrical engineering instead of nuclear engineering.
Part of the story of how I started in nuclear and ended up in electrical engineering is that during my last two years of undergraduate studies, I became fascinated by the topic of nuclear fusion as a future energy source. My undergraduate advisor and cherished mentor, Professor Ed Klevans, recommended that if this was the direction I wanted to take, I should pursue graduate studies and earn a Ph.D., since there was a great deal of research yet to do before nuclear fusion could be harnessed for practical electrical power production. At the University of Michigan, I followed Ed’s advice and studied experimental plasma science under the terrific mentorship of Professors Ron Gilgenbach (Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences Department) and Ward Getty (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department). Following graduation in 1985, I took a post-doc position at the University of Maryland, College Park, researching magnetically confined hot ion plasmas under the mentorship of Professor Rick Ellis. After a year, the opportunity arose to join an exciting new research project under Professor Vic Granatstein, studying sheet-electron-beam free electron lasers as sources of high power millimeter waves. Three years on this project combined with my prior experience left me looking more like a blend of applied physics and electrical engineering, and in 1990, I accepted an offer to join the UW-Madison ECE Department. Currently I am Chair of that Department, the Duane H. and Dorothy M. Bluemke Professor of Engineering, and a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of the UW-Madison. A recent copy of my CV can be found here: booske_public_vita_april_18
My research interests are fairly broad. The common thread between them is that somewhere you’ll find an electric, magnetic, or electromagnetic field. Over the past 30+ years I’ve enjoyed experimental and theoretical research of rf sources and their applications, where I use the term “rf” loosely (spanning 0.001 – 1,000 GHz in frequency). And I still enjoy research in basic and applied plasma science. Meanwhile, during the past 10 years I have developed an interest in bio-electrics and bio-electromagnetics (applications of electric and electromagnetic fields in biology and biomedicine). I enjoy working on problems in materials as well. Although I am not a deep expert in biology, medicine, or materials, I have enjoyed fruitful partnerships with other scientists and engineers whose expertise in such areas complements mine.
One of the things driving my passion for research is the thrill I derive from those “aha” moments of sudden new understanding. I equally enjoy helping students experience those moments. (I enjoy helping others thrive, in general, but I suspect I’m more effective at helping as a professor than I would be through other professional options). In short, I love my job as both a teacher and a student. I derive great satisfaction from experimenting with new approaches to teaching and learning, and am especially gratified for the generosity of Duane and Dorothy Bluemke for their support of my Professorship which recognizes success and commitment in teaching as well as research. I am extremely enthused to be Director of a brand new venture, the Wisconsin Collaboratory for Enhanced Learning (WisCEL). WisCEL is a combination of new pedagogies, learning space design and instructional technology deployment that will result in more personalized and humanized learning experiences, will improve learning outcomes and will better prepare students for a globally-competitive, 21st century knowledge economy. Keep an eye out for more information to come in the near future!