Published: Oct. 24, 2019 By

Zoya Popovic with her students in spainPopovic with colleagues and graduate students in Spain (middle). Her host, Prof. Luis Enrique Garcia Munoz from UC3M is third from the right.​

Distinguished Professor Zoya Popovic recently returned from Spain, having lived there as part of a Chair of Excellence Program with the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M).

“It was a really wonderful experience, especially because I was not aware of many of the interesting Spanish customs before I actually lived there,” said Popovic, who is the Lockheed Martin Corporation Endowed Chair of Radio Frequency Engineering in the Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering. “I learned a lot about their history and politics, but also built a lot of connections with students and faculty. These are already proving beneficial through student exchanges and project partnerships.”

During her time at UC3M, Popovic was part of the Department of Signal Theory and Communications. Her research with that group focused on improving sensitivity of room-temperature microwave and millimeter-wave detectors, with applications in radio-telescope receivers for cosmic microwave background observations, high-frequency field measurements, imaging and quantum technology. Popovic said that this research area is not her main research direction at CU Boulder and therefore provided a nice change of pace.

Zoya spent six months in Madrid. During that time she traveled frequently to give lectures and seminars at many universities across Spain. She said the visit has also resulted in a lot of cross-collaboration with researchers she met in the form of papers and faculty exchanges. 

This year, she is hosting two faculty from Spain through Fulbright and Spanish Fellowships and will host several students and postdocs at CU Boulder through research projects. Her CU Boulder students already have several joint papers with students she co-advised in Madrid. She will also receive an honorary doctorate from UC3M in 2020.

The Chair of Excellence program at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid is awarded by nomination and in partnership with Banco Santander, a Spanish multinational commercial bank. To date there have been 11 public calls for candidates, each with a budget between €950,000 and €1,200,000 co-financed by both institutions. This has allowed 10 to 20 researchers of international prestige to spend periods of six months to a year at UC3M. Previous researchers have come from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Cambridge University, to name a few.