Brian Gilchrist Named Interim Chair of EECS

Professor Brian Gilchrist has been named Interim Chair of the EECS Department, effective July 1 2006. Gilchrist, a member of the Radiation Laboratory, and the Space Physics Research Laboratory in the Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences Department, has been Associate Chair for the ECE Division since 2004, shortly after Prof. Munson came to the University as Chair of the EECS Department. Munson has been named Dean of the College of Engineering, effective July 1.

Gilchrist specializes in sensors and technological applications of plasma electrodynamics, principally for space applications. With an interdisciplinary team of colleagues and students in the college, he is co-leading the development of nanoparticle and MEMS-based space electric propulsion and its spin-off applications. This has resulted in a NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) award. He is in the forefront of efforts to develop space tether technology for scientific and technological applications including the development of electrodynamic tethers as a new propellantless space propulsion technology. Other research efforts include in-space measurements, ground-based chamber studies of current collection physics in high-speed plasma flows simulating new tether architectures, and the development of cold-cathode field emission technology for space applications.

Student involvement is one of the best parts of his job, says Gilchrist. He led a team of over 100 students to develop Michigan's first-ever student satellite (called Icarus) for NASA, and is co-faculty lead for a new student space experiment called TSATT (Tethered SATellite Testbed). He has been closely involved with the student Solar Car Team for the past several years, serving as faculty advisor. He is also a faculty advisor for the Student Space Systems Fabrication Laboratory (S3FL). He was awarded the Outstanding Student Group Advisor in 2003 by the College of Engineering.

During this interim period, Brian said he plans to continue moving forward with the mandates called for in the recently-completed departmental Strategic Plan, working closely with senior leadership and staff, particularly Prof. Martha Pollack, Assoc. Chair for the CSE Division. He calls this the year of implementation, and anticipates a steady progression, not missing a beat.