By Tom Abate
Stacey Bent, professor of chemical engineering; Kenneth Goodson, professor of mechanical engineering; and Fei-Fei Li, professor of computer science, have been elected to the 2020 class of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).
The trio of Stanford professors number among the 87 researchers nominated and chosen by their peers to join the academy, which is among the highest professional distinctions accorded any engineer.
The NAE cited Bent for developing technologies to deposit atomically thin layers of chemically active materials on the surfaces of semiconductor-like devices designed for applications ranging from producing energy sustainably to furthering the development of next-generation electronics.
Bent, who currently serves as vice provost for graduate education and postdoctoral affairs, is the former chair of chemical engineering at Stanford, the Jagdeep and Roshni Singh Professor in the School of Engineering and professor, by courtesy, of materials science and engineering, of electrical engineering and of chemistry.
Goodson, who served as chair of mechanical engineering before assuming his current position as associate dean of faculty and academic affairs in the School of Engineering, was elected to NAE for his contributions to developing innovative ways to manage the thermal energy generated by microprocessors and for studying the basic physics of heat conduction at nanoscales, including thin films and semiconductor devices.
Goodson, who is the Davies Family Provostial Professor and professor, by courtesy, of materials science and engineering, was also recently elected to the National Academy of Inventors for discoveries and entrepreneurial efforts in thermal science that have been translated to everyday life.
The NAE cited Li for her contributions to building the large databases needed to develop both the foundational principles and useful applications of machine learning, with special regard for her work in the field of visual understanding. In 2019, Li co-founded the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI). Prior to that, she was director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL).
The Sequoia Capital Professor of computer science at Stanford, Li has been a public advocate of “human-centered AI,” which seeks to factor the societal impacts of this technology into early-stage application development. Prior to co-founding HAI, Li brought her scholarly perspective to industry during a 21-month sabbatical and returned with the real-world experience of having served as a vice president at Google and chief scientist of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Google Cloud.
The NAE announcement brings its total U.S. membership to 2,309, now including 110 from Stanford, and the number of its international members to 281. Individuals in the newly elected class will be formally inducted during a ceremony at the NAE’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 4.