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Mingyan Liu named chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Cybersecurity entrepreneur and interdisciplinary researcher named 15th chair of ECE

Mingyan Liu Enlarge

Mingyan Liu, professor and entrepreneur specializing in communication networks and predictive analytics, has been named the Peter and Evelyn Fuss Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), effective September 1, 2018. ECE is one of two divisions in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

“Mingyan’s wide range of academic experiences and achievements will be invaluable,” said Alec D. Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. “I look forward to her innovative and inclusive leadership.“

Prof. Liu conducts research in the broad area of communication networks. Her most recent research activities involve wireless, mobile, ad hoc, and sensor networks; online learning; modeling and mining of large scale Internet measurement data; incentive mechanisms for cyber security; and connected vehicle technologies.

Liu will become the 15th chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan, which offered its first program in electrical engineering in 1889. While the discipline has evolved tremendously, its focus still incorporates both physical science and information science, making it an extremely broad discipline, says Liu.

“Electrical and computer engineering as a discipline has been tremendously successful over the past decades both in terms of pushing the frontiers of fundamental research and shaping our daily lives,” Liu stated. “We are truly the Engineering of Everything.”

Liu’s career has been defined by collaboration and interdisciplinary research. She stepped into the fields of data science and cybersecurity several years ago through a joint project with colleagues in computer science. Though these areas were somewhat of a departure from her previous research, she saw where her background could add value.

She developed with her colleagues a predictive analytics framework that uses machine learning to estimate an organization’s likelihood of having a material data breach in the near future, and seeing real market potential, co-founded the company QuadMetrics in 2014. Within just two years, the company was acquired by analytic software company FICO.

Collaborating with faculty in electromagnetics, Liu developed a smart wireless sensor network to measure soil moisture. Soil moisture is used in all water and energy balance models, weather prediction models, and ecosystem process simulation models. She’s also worked on infrastructure monitoring with her colleagues in circuits and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

She is also PI of a new $6.5 Multidisciplinary Research Initiative Program (MURI) to develop tools to understand and shape online and on-the-ground networks that drive strategic interactions and decision making.

This collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to engineering is core to ECE today, says Liu.

“Our faculty are uniquely positioned and are actively pursuing some of the high-impact applications and emerging problems,” said Liu. “These areas include medical devices, photovoltaic materials, neuromorphic computation, and smart and connected systems.”

“Mingyan is going to be great,” said outgoing chair and Schlumberger Professor of Engineering, Khalil Najafi. “I’m excited to see how her leadership will enhance ECE at Michigan, as well as the broader ECE community.”

A gifted educator, Liu received the College of Engineering Education Excellence Award for her efforts in revamping several courses to keep them industry relevant, relatable to students, and teachable by new faculty. She has served as ECE Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs and ECE Communications Area Coordinator, and numerous College and University committees, including several to support and advance women in engineering,

Liu received the 2018 Distinguished University Innovator Award, a PI Excellence Award from the Department of Homeland Security – Cyber Security Division, a CoE Service Excellence Award, and is a Fellow of IEEE.

After receiving her doctoral degree in electrical & computer engineering from the University of Maryland, Liu joined the University of Michigan Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 2000.

Liu’s appointment concludes a national search.


UPDATE: Mingyan Liu was appointed Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the College of Engineering, effective June 1, 2023.