Herbert Winful awarded the 2021 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award
Winful is recognized for his decades of outstanding leadership and commitment to developing a culturally and ethnically diverse University of Michigan community.
Herbert Winful, the Joseph E. and Anne P. Rowe Professor of Electrical Engineering and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, has been awarded the 2021 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership in the area of cultural diversity.
“Professor Winful has been a beacon for diversity, equity, and inclusion for over thirty years,” says Prof. Duncan Steel. “He helps as many individuals as possible advance in STEM-based careers — especially those whose opportunity or background has made achieving that goal more difficult — while at the same time building inclusive communities, bridges, and social infrastructure wherever possible.”
During the 1990’s and beyond, Winful served as the Director for Education and Outreach for the Gérard Mourou Center for Ultrafast Optical. In this role, Winful collaborated with organizations such as the African-American Academy and the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) to engage more African-American youth in science. He also ran National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) sites, bringing many underrepresented minority participants to U-M.
For the past twenty years, he has served as the faculty advisor to the Graduate Society for Black Engineers and Scientists. He helps the group recruit and retain STEM graduate students of color. In 2017, the group honored Winful with the Outstanding Mentorship Award for his “relentless dedication” as their advisor and mentor.
Within Electrical and Computer Engineering, Winful founded the Committee for an Inclusive Department and serves as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lead. He also created the Dr. Willie Hobbs Moore Distinguished Alumni Lectureship, which brings minority ECE PhD alumni to campus to speak about their work and to interact with and mentor current students.
Amidst the Black Lives Matter demonstrations last spring, 2020, Winful moderated a Zoom Town Hall for the EECS community in which he shared his own experiences at the hands of police. This fostered solidarity with minority students and helped open the eyes of department colleagues to the pervasiveness of racial profiling and anti-Black police brutality.
During the same time, he proposed and led the organization of the EECS Juneteenth Celebration. The virtual event attracted over 300 participants from all over campus. He also emceed the event, which is now an annual celebration.
Winful acted as the lead for U-M’s role in USAID’s Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development (EHELD) program, which aimed to rebuild Liberia’s engineering and agriculture programs after a prolonged civil war. He developed new engineering curricula, recruited Liberian students for graduate studies, and managed many groups, from undergraduate groups traveling during the summer to graduate students and faculty teaching abroad.
Kelly Askew, collaborator on the project and professor of Anthropology and Afroamerican and African studies, wrote, “Prof. Winful has advanced to an immeasurable degree our STEM collaborations in Africa.” Additionally, because of EHELD and U-M’s participation, the University of Liberia was recently able to start a new College of Engineering separate from its College of Science and Technology.
In 2019, he became the Principal Investigator for the Michigan Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (MI-LSAMP), a multi-year, multimillion-dollar program involving five partner universities and community colleges aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented minorities who graduate in STEM fields.
In the classroom, Winful has established a reputation as one of the finest teachers in the department. In addition to teaching a wide range of Electrical Engineering courses, from undergraduate circuits to graduate nonlinear optics, he was instrumental in developing and team-teaching the interdisciplinary course UARTS250 (Creative Process), which is taken by students from all over campus and has been called one of the university’s most intriguing courses. He has received numerous teaching awards, including the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize and two Professor of the Year awards, voted on by the students.
As a researcher, Winful has made fundamental contributions in many areas, including nonlinear fiber optics, nonlinear optics in periodic structures, the nonlinear dynamics of laser arrays, the propagation of single-cycle pulses, and the physics of quantum tunneling. He received the IEEE Photonics Society Quantum Electronics Award, and is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, the American Physical Society, and Life Fellow of IEEE.
Winful also received the 2018 Raymond J. and Monica E. Schultz Outreach and Diversity Award and a 2021 MLK Spirit Award from the College of Engineering.