Home » Baskin Engineering News » Electrical engineer wins prize for best Ph.D. dissertation in experimental engineering

Electrical engineer wins prize for best Ph.D. dissertation in experimental engineering

Vahid Ganjalizadeh, electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. alumnus.

Vahid Ganjalizadeh, an electrical and computer engineering class of 2023 Ph.D. graduate, has won the Darrell and Elaine Long Prize in Experimental Engineering for producing the best Ph.D. dissertation in experimental engineering. This year’s award amount is $5,000.

Ganjalizadeh’s doctoral research focused on developing new data analysis frameworks for the optofluidic biosensing technology pioneered by his advisor Holger Schmidt, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Baskin School of Engineering. The technology developed in Schmidt’s Applied Optics Lab uses optofluidic chips–small devices that process both light and fluids—to detect biomarkers, or biological molecules that indicate the presence of disease.

Recently, Ganjalizadeh led the efforts to develop a deep neural network to improve the detection rate and accuracy of optofluidic systems for point-of-care diagnostic applications. 

Ganjalizadeh’s novel signal processing and data analysis algorithms address biomarker classification errors due to weak sensor signals, which commonly occur in point-of-care settings. This robust framework can run on portable devices without internet access and can provide results, with up to 99.8% accuracy, in real-time. 

“With an ultra-high-dynamic detection range yet sensitive down to single molecule sensitivity, this unique universal data analysis framework is beneficial for affordable, point-of-care diagnostic devices,” Ganjalizadeh said. 

Photo by Vahid Ganjalizadeh.

Ganjalizadeh recently joined leading optofluidics technology company Fluxus Inc. as an electrical engineer II. Fluxus, founded by Schmidt in 2016 and acquired by Fujirebio Holdings, Inc. in 2022, commercializes optofluidic technology for clinical applications. 

When asked what this prize means to him, Ganjalizadeh said, “This award encourages me to keep working in the field using the skills and knowledge I gained during my dissertation research and reminds me of the belief that I can have a positive impact in developing the technologies we need in clinical research and diagnostics.”

The Long Prize in Experimental Engineering was founded by Baskin Engineering Distinguished Professor Darrell Long and wife Elaine, with the help of friends and colleagues. This summer, Long will be retiring from UC Santa Cruz after 35 years of teaching and research. To honor Long’s incredible contributions to the university, his students, and his colleagues, a fundraising campaign has been launched to create the Darrell and Elaine Long Endowed Chair. Make a gift today.

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