CU Professor Zoya Popovic can trace her interest in electromagnetics back to her late father, Branko Popovic, who taught electrical engineering at the University of Belgrade, Serbia for some 40 years. She took his course in electromagnetics as part of her Dipl. Eng. degree there and went onto become a world-renowned expert in microwave antennas and circuits.
"The EE department at the University of Belgrade was very strong," Popovic says, noting that one of her former classmates, Dragan Maksimovic, now teaches electrical engineering at CU-Boulder as well. Her two sisters also went to the University of Belgrade and both are electrical engineers, the youngest a professor at McGill University.
Popovic came to the United States and earned her PhD at Caltech in 1990, just as her native country entered a period of severe ethnic conflict and political fragmentation. She joined the faculty at CU-Boulder, where she has developed several undergraduate and graduate electromagnetics and microwave laboratory courses, and established a strong, active research group.
The Microwave Antenna and Circuits Group designs new antennas and circuits that work in the microwave and millimeter-wave range for applications in wireless communications, radar, and optical communications and processing. Popovic holds several patents for innovations in the field.
"Writing a book with my father was a wonderful experience," Popovic says. "He was a very popular professor and he loved students. He gave me a lot of good tips about how to work with students."
Popovic holds the Hudson Moore Jr. Professorship in Engineering. She is an IEEE Fellow and the recipient of several prestigious awards for teaching and research. Among these are the National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellow Award, the American Society for Engineering Education Frederick E. Terman Gold Medal, the International URSI Issac Koga Gold Medal, and the Eta Kappa Nu Professor of the Year award from her students.
She has twice won the IEEE Microwave Prize for best paper of the year published in the IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, most recently in 2004 for her journal paper on "Recycling ambient microwave energy with broadband rectenna arrays," written with colleague Regan Zane and their students.
Popovic's husband, CU physics Professor Dana Anderson, often collaborates with her on research as well, and their three daughters all know how to solder and have built their own radios.