College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Zaffarano Award presented to Neelam Prabhu Gaunkar

Iowa State University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECpE) graduate student Neelam Prabhu Gaunkar received the Zaffarano Award on April 26 at the Sigma Xi banquet.

Daniel Zaffarano, vice president for research at Iowa State from 1973-88, established the Zaffarano Award. He believed in the value of publishing research and finding solutions to research questions. The purpose of the Zaffarano Award is to “recognize superior performance in publishable research by an ISU graduate student.”

Sigma Xi is an international honor society for research scientists and engineers. The society awards hundreds of grants to student researchers and sponsors a variety of programs in science and engineering, according to its website. Upon receiving this award, Prabhu Gaunkar was awarded a one-year membership into the ISU Chapter of Sigma Xi.

Prabhu Gaunkar’s research involves design considerations for operation of magnetic resonance based sensors in non-uniform magnetic fields. For this, Neelam investigates magnetic field variations produced by permanent magnet geometries and identifies regions of localized uniformity. Test samples should be placed in such uniform regions for detection of magnetic resonance signals. In parallel to this work, Neelam is also designing a portable pulsed magnetic field generation system which can be used in combination with the permanent magnet assembly. Her ultimate hope is to create a complete prototype system for portable magnetic resonance measurements.

Prabhu Gaunkar feels honored to receive this award and looks forward to keep publishing other research findings.

“It is a humbling experience to receive support and encouragement from my professors, mentors, colleagues, the department and the college,” Prabhu Gaunkar said. “I greatly appreciate the initiative by the Zaffarano family to promote graduate students and I hope many more students are recognized through similar platforms.“

Prabhu Gaunkar’s advisor, David Jiles, said she has been one of the most exemplary students he has worked with. Jiles holds the titles of Anson Marston Distinguished Professor, Palmer Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Stanley Chair in Interdisciplinary Engineering.

“Neelam takes initiative, is a self-motivated learner and is deeply motivated towards learning, and approaches her research creatively. On several occasions I have seen her emerge as a leader. These attributes make her a unique and creative thinker and researcher.”

After completing her graduate studies from Iowa State, Prabhu Gaunkar plans to gain more research experience and return to academia.