Brown University School of Engineering

Rashid Zia Receives 2017 Philip J. Bray Award for Teaching Excellence

May 1, 2017

Brown School of Engineering Associate Professor Rashid Zia has been awarded the 2017 Philip J. Bray Award for Teaching Excellence in the Physical Sciences. Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards recognize Brown faculty members for sustained and continued excellence in undergraduate teaching, and one award can be made in each of the four major areas of the curriculum: humanities, life, physical and social sciences. Recipients receive a professional development fund of $3,000 for each of two years.

Zia, who is also an associate professor of physics, is a 2001 graduate of Brown with a dual degree in both English and American Literature, and Engineering. Zia received his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University, before returning to Brown in 2006.  He currently teaches courses in electricity and magnetism, photonics and applications, and interfaces, information and automation. He serves as both a first-year and second-year advisor for undergraduate students in engineering.

“Professor Zia has selflessly given his all to make Barus & Holley a special community for its engineering students by simply listening to students and always being around,” said Stephanie Haro ’17, an electrical engineering concentrator. “Last semester he routinely wandered into the computer lab to check in and genuinely listen to students during uncertain times outside of the Brown bubble. Professor Zia exemplifies that being a professor doesn't mean just showing up to lecture at 10 a.m., it means honoring the position with feelings of tremendous responsibility, humility, and care. The entire Brown Engineering family is honored to have Rashid Zia here with us as a faculty member. 

“He was even sitting in the undergraduate electronics lab, on a Friday night, when I got my graduate school acceptance. I doubt very many students can say that this is how they broke the news to their advisor!” Haro said. 

Zia’s research group at Brown works at the interface of electrical engineering, materials science, optical physics, and physical chemistry to study how light interacts with solid-state quantum emitters, including atoms, defect centers, ions, molecules, and quantum dots. For this work, he has previously received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and a Department of Defense nominated Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).  Zia has also served as a Fellow of the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education, and he is the lead PI for an ongoing Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) on Quantum Metaphotonics & Metamaterials sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He was recently named a Fellow of the Optical Society.

Faculty teaching excellence awards are nominated by any member of the Brown faculty, and include the candidate’s current curriculum vitae, a written nomination from his/her chair or director, and summaries of departmental course evaluations from students for courses taught by the candidate over the past three years. Royce Family Professor of Teaching Excellence and Professor of Engineering Allan Bower (2003) and Associate Professor, and current Associate Dean of the Faculty, Janet Blume (1997) are among past School of Engineering professors to have been honored with the Bray Award. The formal presentation of the award will take place on Monday, May 1, at the University Awards Ceremony organized by the Harriet W. Sheridan Center. The ceremony will begin with a reception at 4 p.m. in Pembroke Hall 305 followed by the presentation of awards at 5 p.m. in the same location.