Lihong V. Wang, who earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering while working with two Nobel Laureates at Rice University, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NEA).
The NEA cited Wang for his “inventions in photoacoustic microscopy enabling functional, metabolic, and molecular imaging in vivo.” He is the Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, and is among the 83 new NEA members announced Jan. 7.
While at Rice, Wang worked with Robert F. Curl, now a University Professor Emeritus, Pitzer–Schlumberger Professor of Natural Sciences Emeritus, and professor of chemistry emeritus at Rice, and the late Richard E. Smalley, the Gene and Norman Hackerman Professor of Chemistry and a professor of physics and astronomy, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1996. His research adviser was Frank K. Tittel, the J.S. Abercrombie Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and professor of bioengineering.
“I remember Lihong as a highly motivated, hardworking and very gifted graduate student. It’s clear he was the most intelligent and creative student I’ve had the pleasure to work with in my 50 years at Rice,” Tittel said.
Wang earned his B.S. and M.S. in optics from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China in 1984 and 1987, respectively. After receiving his Ph.D. from Rice in 1992, Wang worked for more than four years at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, followed by a decade in biomedical engineering at Texas A&M University, and another decade at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2017 he joined Caltech, where he is director of its Optical Imaging Laboratory.
Wang has pioneered the field of photoacoustic imaging, which permits the noninvasive examination of biological tissues. Earlier this year, Wang was the recipient of the Michael S. Feld Biophotonics Award from the OSA (The Optical Society). In 2015, he was awarded the Senior Prize of the International Photoacoustic and Photothermal Association, and the Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award from SPIE, the International Society for Optical Engineering.
In 2013, Wang received the National Institutes of Health’s Director’s Transformative Research Award. He is the author of more than 480 journal articles and holds more than 40 patents. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of OSA, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
In 2016, Wang received the Outstanding Engineering Alumnus award from the Rice Engineering Alumni. Tittel said of his former student: “Lihong’s training by two Nobelists and myself at Rice made him an exceptionally intensive, creative and focused scientist.”