The path to a Ph.D. is known to be lonely, but the singularity of the author “list” on the title page fails to capture the contributions of countless supporters along the way, without whom I would certainly not be here.
It goes without saying that my advisor Olav Solgaard is the most influential person in the completion of this thesis. He has taught me to think more critically and to communicate more clearly in my papers and presentations. On top of the standard advising on the specifics of my research project, in which it does not take long to see the depth of his insight, he has taught me a little bit about the academic ecosystem: funding, collaboration, publication, and other aspects of the world of research. I appreciate his style of advising, in which students are allowed to progress at their own pace and are given considerable freedom to make decisions about their research direction. His intellectual integrity, his respect for his students’ decisions, and his concern for education tell me that his students are in good hands.
I am also very thankful to my other dissertation readers, Jelena Vučković and Mark Brongersma, for being willing to read my dissertation just days before submission—Mark especially, who filled in for a reader last minute, just three days before the deadline. Jelena served on my defense committee despite being officially on sabbatical. I am exceedingly grateful for both of them.
I am also thankful for Roger Howe and Robert Dutton for serving on my defense committee. Roger had been representing our research in semi-annual sponsor review meetings before the program ended, and ensured that the Center on Interfacial Engineering in MEMS (CIEMS) was funded. Bob I have known for a decade now, ever since I declared my major in Electrical Engineering. Through him, I first experienced electronics research in guard rings in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at Stanford. He was my undergraduate advisor, and lent me books from his shelf (which were not all about research), helped me transition into graduate school, and graciously offered me teaching assistantships when I needed funding. EE133, Analog Communications Lab, was a fun experience and I learned a lot. I am also grateful for his having nominated me for a pilot exchange program between Stanford and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, where I met two students—Ximeng and Qiushi—who became my good friends and eventually came to Stanford.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this fine institution, all eleven years of it, and to have sat under the teaching of these professors and other greats. The faculty at Stanford are generally down-to-earth, which oftentimes hides their status as superstars in their respective fields. Having taken classes with the likes of Profs. Olav Solgaard, Jelena Vučković, Mark Brongersma, Bob Dutton, Shanhui Fan, Beth Pruitt, and many others is an experience that I will treasure for life.
The students of Stanford are similarly talented. I am especially grateful for being in the Solgaard group (known by some as the “Solgaardians”). I couldn’t ask for a better group in terms of diversity and dynamics. Like a family, we often ate together, played together, shared frustrations together, and helped each other out. I’ve gotten to know several people from the group very well, and I cherish their friendship, advice, and idiosyncrasies. Chia-Ming, the “Intel officer,” has an answer for every question I throw at him, providing commentary about others’ research, perspectives about academia and industry, opinions about technology, or details about Olav’s lunch habits (I kid, I kid… but not really). I loved our lively discussions and lunches together. Cathy, my
minion (now promoted to apprentice) for almost a year, is always eager to help, though her schedule does not always cooperate. Her willingness to go with me to the cleanroom and to help me with experiments contributed enormously toward motivating me to finish my research in a timely manner. I am very appreciative of her work ethic, curiosity, and generosity (and for always inviting me to social events). Karthik the guru always had some wise advice to dispense. Antonio, his partner in crime as well as my fab friend—fabrication, that is, though he is a fabulous friend as well—is always generous in sharing his findings. Sporting an easygoing manner that can most likely be ascribed to his Caribbean background, he never seems fazed by anything, and has kept me grounded in logic when I was disheartened by disagreeable results. Last, but not least, Insun, who is my own partner in crime, always looks calm and collected, but his quiet nature belies his creativity, especially when it comes to assembly methods. We shared a common bond through similar research problems. Having worked under the same sponsors, we often roomed together at their semi-annual reviews and had a great time traveling. All of these wonderful group members have made coming to the office a joy, and have pushed me to stay on track and to maintain a healthy levelheadedness.
I am also grateful for the rest of the group, both former and present members and associates—Nina, Akil, Sora, Sanja, Il Woong, J, Paul, Young-Ik, Jae-Woong, Kristen, Christy, the Onurs, Evan, Paul, Erin, Nathan, Jon Olav, Anna, Jae-Eun, Sandy, Will—forgive me if I forgot to list your name. Not only did they make this group friendly and fun, but I have benefited from discussions with almost everyone. Outside the group, I have had the pleasure of meeting many other talented students, some of whom are also good friends—Derek, Wonuk (thanks for the Java Chip), Gary, Jesse, Azadeh, Sunil, Chia-Fang, Stephanie, Sangmoo, and others.
Much of my work required expertise in the cleanroom, and for that, I am thankful for the SNF staff who trained me, provided advice, and maintained the equipment. I especially want to acknowledge the lithography and ASML staff, who would let me squeeze in during their reservations to run a risky wafer or two. Ping and Makoto from ASML both helped me troubleshoot my process during difficult runs. And of course, I benefited greatly from SNF labmembers, who were generous in their sharing of fabrication expertise.
I am grateful to all the administrative assistants in Ginzton and in the EE department, and especially to Yurika, our friendly group administrator, whom I have gotten to know better these past few years. They take care of many things behind the scenes so that we students can focus on our studies and research.
I would also like to acknowledge Boeing and DARPA (through CIEMS) for funding my research. I would especially like to thank Michael Carralero from Boeing for being a liaison to our group. I enjoyed the lunches and discussions we had, but more than that, I am thankful for his positive and encouraging attitude. The day before I was to fly out to Boeing to demonstrate our first sensor, everything that could go wrong went wrong, but he was not fazed at all and his kind words over the phone helped give me composure to successfully set up a demo the next day. Though all the subsequent visits and teleconferences were preceded by uncertainty and no small amount of stress, in hindsight, they were greatly beneficial in pushing me to make progress. Somehow, breakthroughs were achieved just before each meeting.
I am grateful as well for the staff at the Career Development Center (CDC), whom I have gotten to know better over the years as I worked on the Stanford Alumni Mentoring project and TREE—Tools for Career Readiness, Exploration, and Evaluation. The CDC has been like a second home on campus, a place I could go to when I needed to think about something else. In particular, I’ve gotten to know Marlene Scherer Stern very well. She has been like a mother to me, making sure that I’m making progress in research, that I don’t go hungry, and that I hear words of encouragement. Likewise, Amy, Imee, Jing Jing, Margot, Laura, Kristin and the rest CDC staff have also been greatly encouraging. Their high regard for my work kept me motivated to do my best. I also want to thank Lance for his role in keeping me gainfully employed during a time when I had no funding.
On the personal side, I am blessed to have met so many friends who supported me along the way—Alfred, Mickey, Jessica, James, Wei, Mark, Chinsan, Roy, Ting, Ryan, Lisa, Yichen, Carol, Michelle Brown, Kaori, the 307 College Avenue Guys (we’ve had quite a few people rotate through the house over the five years I lived there)—there is no way to list everyone, so I have to resort to grouping—Korean Central Presbyterian Church, and Fellowship in Christ at Stanford (FiCS). I am immensely grateful for many of their prayers which (thankfully) did not go unanswered.
In particular, I would like to single out Chinsan for special recognition. I met him eight years ago as a member of FiCS, and since then, we have grown very close. He has been an older brother to me, feeding me, driving me, providing me a place to stay when I needed it, helping me move, and buying me food (did I mention that already?). He has been a source as well as an example of generosity, wisdom, morality, and faithfulness, and has stood by me when times were tough, being willing to stay up even till dawn through some very hard times. Having the longest tenure of anyone I know as a Ph.D. student in the EE department, he has also taught me patience, perseverance, and contentment, even though I’m not very good at any of those things. I am deeply thankful for his friendship.
I would also like to thank my family for their love and support—my grandmother along with my aunt and uncle, who raised me the first few years of my life, and my mother and father who took care of me after I came to the States a few years behind them. They ensured that I had everything that I needed for a good education. My mother taught me math when I was little, a subject in which I grew increasingly fascinated, and would faithfully drive me from my high school to the local university for math classes throughout my senior year. They inspired me to pursue excellence, and I daresay I am reaping the rewards. I would also like to thank Sharon, my favorite (and only) sister, who inspires me to be a good role model for her.
Finally, I would like to share a verse from the Bible that I think is quite apropos:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
As an engineer/scientist, I am often tempted to think I “know it already,” that I understand what I see. But digging deeper, I would often find that my assumptions were flawed or overly simplistic. This verse reminds me to be humble, to constantly keep my mind open and evaluate new ideas objectively and with care. Most importantly, however, this verse reminds me of the One whose thoughts are higher than mine, outside of whose jurisdiction, knowledge, and will nothing occurs, yet who condescended to those created in His image such that they may have eternal life with Him. It is His mercy that truly humbles me. He who carried me through my troubles has brought me safe thus far, and He will certainly lead me home.