College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

ECpE’s Ajjarapu, Dickerson, Kamal recognized with professorship appointments

Venkataramana Ajjarapu has been awarded the title of Thomas Whitney Professorship. Ajjarapu previously held the title of David C. Nicholas Professor of Electrical Engineering before receiving the title of Thomas Whitney Professorship.

The Thomas Whitney Professorship supports retention and recruitment of a faculty member who provides leadership in developing Iowa State University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECpE) academic and research programs, promotes communication and interaction with industry and the academia, and maintains high standards of excellence for building an innovative academic and research program. Donna L. Whitney established the Thomas M. Whitney Professorship in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1999, in memory of her late husband. Whitney was an electrical engineering alum who earned all three degrees from Iowa State University and was the inventor of the first handheld scientific calculator.

Ajjarapu’s research areas include systems and controls, electric power and energy systems, power system security, voltage stability, wind and solar energy integration, real-time control of power and power electronics systems and distributed resources impact on the electric grid.


Julie Dickerson has been awarded the David C. Nicholas Professorship.

In 1997, the ISU Foundation and the Department of ECpE established the David C. Nicholas Professorship to support the activities of an electrical engineering professor. The professorship was created with a portion of the royalties from a patent for fax technology that Nicholas (BSEE ’67; MSEE ’68; PhDEE ’71) developed when he was a graduate student at Iowa State. Nicholas invented the digital encoding process for fax machines that led to the development of the first generation of low-cost fax machines, making the machines commercially viable. Nicholas passed away on Jan. 14, 2021.

From 2017 until 2019, Dickerson was also named a Northrop Grumman Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Dickerson’s research interests include human-computer interaction, bioinformatics and computational biology, communications and signal processing, systems biology, bioinformatics, pattern recognition, data visualization and real-time sensor networks.


Ahmed Kamal has been awarded the Willard and Leitha Richardson Professorship. This professorship supports research and graduate students for an ECpE faculty member.

In 2002, Willard Richardson (BSEE ’34) and his wife, Leitha, made a gift of $500,000 to endow the first faculty professorship in electrical and computer engineering, the Richardson Professorship.

Kamal has research areas surrounding computing and networking systems, communications and signal processing, high-performance networks, optical networks, wireless and sensor networks and performance evaluation.

“Their academic accomplishments and contributions to the department are truly deserving of this recognition,” said ECpE Professor and Palmer Department Chair Ashfaq Khokhar.