Published May 8, 2014
Since arriving at UB nearly 20 years ago, Alexander N. Cartwright has spent countless hours studying everything from optical-based sensors to solar cells.
The result? An impressive body of work, numerous publications, many patents, millions of dollars in grants and a long list of awards.
Add one more honor.
Cartwright, UB’s vice president for research and economic development, has been named a fellow of SPIE, the world’s pre-eminent professional society for scientists and engineers working to advance light-based technologies.
Formerly known as the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, SPIE was founded in 1955 and has grown to roughly 17,000 members in about 155 countries. Of those members, roughly 1,000 are fellows.
A professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Cartwright is one of 76 individuals this year to become a SPIE fellow. He earned the distinction for his work in nanostructured optoelectronic devices used in photovoltaics, and chemical and biological sensing, according to the society.
It cited Cartwright’s contributions toward the “fundamental understanding of ultrafast carrier dynamics in semiconducting nanostructures” and the “resulting design of novel structures to enhance the efficiency of third-generation nanostructured photovoltaics.” Ultimately, Cartwright’s research is helping make solar cells more powerful and less expensive.
The society added that Cartwright pioneered the integration of nanostructured materials in optical-based sensor systems and that he demonstrated how to transfer the nanomaterials’ fundamental physical materials properties to handheld sensor devices. These portable devices have many uses; for example, doctors can use them to sense the microenvironment of a wound and then release healing compounds when needed.
Throughout his career at UB, Cartwright has routinely worked across disciplines. He has collaborated with faculty members from chemistry; physics; biology; civil, structural and environmental engineering; chemical and biological engineering; biomedical engineering; computer science and engineering; and medicine.
“Much of my individual success is due, in large part, to my current and past collaborations with many terrific UB researchers,” Cartwright says.
In addition, the broad collaborative base that Cartwright has established at UB helped lead to his appointment in 2010 as vice president for research, with responsibility for managing the university’s research enterprise. In 2012, he took on the additional duties of managing economic development when the office was reorganized as the vice president for research and economic development.
Cartwright has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, more than 70 conference proceedings and has made more than 40 invited presentations. He has been principal investigator, co-principal investigator or participant in more than $40 million in research support.
Six patents have been issued from his research and several more are pending. Several of the patents have been licensed to external industrial partners.
A particularly impressive recent accomplishment is the method he and Qiaoqiang Gan, UB assistant professor of electrical engineering, developed to produce a rainbow-colored polymer that was named to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ list of 2013 Innovations that Could Change the Way You Manufacture. The device, which can identify the true color of everything from paint to medicine, was one of five awardees internationally that year.
In addition to his academic accomplishments, Cartwright has contributed significantly to the administrative needs of UB. Since 2000, he has served, or continued to serve, in the following positions:
Cartwright’s research excellence was acknowledged externally very early in his career. In his first five years at UB, he received numerous prestigious awards, among them the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) CAREER award and the Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award.
In addition to focusing on research excellence and service to the university, Cartwright also has participated in collaborative community outreach efforts, such as the SUNY Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program.
Currently, he is participating in UB’s Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP), which is led by Joseph Gardella, John and Frances Larkin Professor of Chemistry at UB. Funded by NSF, the initiative is helping to reinvent science education with more hands-on learning.
Cartwright earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Iowa.
He is the fourth UB researcher to become a SPIE fellow since 2005. The others are Chang Wen Chen, professor of computer science and engineering; Venu Govindaraju, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering; and Paras Prasad, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.