UWI awardee credits wife for success

It is said that behind every successful man, there is a woman and this holds true for Dr. M. Jamal Deen, who was recently recognized by the University of the West Indies (UWI) with the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for his contributions to the field of engineering and applied science.

With his wife by his side, he credits her giving up her job and taking on the major responsibility of nurturing and caring for their three sons and him. This allowed him to focus on his passion, family and career.

“When I was young I read numerous books about famous scientists and mathematicians and I was very inspired by the lives they lived,” said Dr. Deen, who hails from La Penitence, Georgetown.

And it would appear that his sons are ‘a chip off the old block’ as they are pursuing careers in the sciences.

Dr. Deen said he is honoured to be recognized by the UWI with the vice-chancellor’s award. “It was a big surprise, I did not even know that I was being considered for this award…,” he told the Camera at the fourth annual UWI Toronto benefit gala held earlier this month at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Toronto.

Despite receiving numerous awards, he is very proud of his contribution to the UWI.  He served as an external examiner for the physics department at the St Augustine campus for six years.

The week leading up to the UWI award, Dr. Deen had a few surprise recognitions.  He received the McNaughton Gold medal in recognition of his pioneering work in semiconductor device modelling.  Mc Master University honoured him with the Engineering Research Award for his exceptional scholarly work, exemplary professionalism and research leadership.

From the University of Guyana, to other tertiary institutions he attended, this simple and humble man is a trailblazer.

While pursuing his undergraduate studies at the University of Guyana, he was the top ranked mathematics and physics student and the second ranked student at the university, winning the Chancellor’s medal and the Irving Adler prize.

After graduating, he taught at the University of Guyana for two years, and subsequently won a Fulbright-Laspau scholarship to pursue higher education in the United States of America.

“The outcome of this is that I had a chance to study for a Masters and a Ph.D. in the US. I was very fortunate to do my Ph.D research in collaboration with scientists at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). It was a very great experience working with top-notch scientists in leading edge problems,” Dr. Deen said.

He completed his Ph.D in electrical engineering and applied physics from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A. in 1985.   His dissertation was on the design and modelling of a new Raman (CARS) spectrometer for dynamic temperature measurements and combustion optimization in rocket and jet engines, and was sponsored and used by NASA, Cleveland.

In 1986, Deen along with his wife and new born son came to Canada with a job offer from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. Then, in 1999, he moved to McMaster University to lead their new electronics and optoelectronics research initiative in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and where he is still employed. He is currently Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering as well as Professor of Biomedical Engineering.   He also serves as Director of the Micro- and Nano-Systems Laboratory, and is Senior Canada Research Chair in Information Technology, McMaster University. His research interests are nanoelectronics, optoelectronics, nanotechnology and their emerging applications in health and environmental sciences.

“We have 60 million dollar plus grant in collaboration with colleagues in seven other universities in southern Ontario in a consortium – the Southern Ontario Water Consortium. This is largest consortium focusing on freshwater research in the world, focusing on the development, testing, and demonstration of water and waste water technologies and services. It has several industrial partners including IBM and I’m the node leader in charge of the development of sensors for monitoring water quality,” Deen said.

He said he has been constantly sharing his expertise in research and education with colleagues and institutions in other countries such as Brazil, China, India, Mexico and the Middle East.

Dr. Deen’s peers have elected him Fellow in an impressive nine national academies and professional societies including The Royal Society of Canada – – The Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada (FRSC) – this is the highest honour for scholars, artists and intellectuals in Canada; The Canadian Academy of Engineering (FCAE); The National Academy of Sciences India (FNASI-Foreign); The Indian National Academy of Engineering (FINAE-Foreign); The American Physical Society (FAPS); the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (FIEEE); and The Electrochemical Society (FECS). In addition, he was elected an Honorary Member of the World Innovation Foundation (WIF) – the Foundation’s highest honour.

For his exceptional scholarly achievements, service contributions and professionalism, Prof. Deen was awarded two honorary doctorates – the degree Doctor of Engineering – honoris causa from University of Waterloo, Canada in 2011 and the degree Doctor – honoris causa from Universidad de Granada, Spain in 2012.