Ghana Post Digital Address: GA-018-1233

Herbert Graves Winful

Herbert Graves Winful

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Prof Herbert Graves Winful is a Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, from the University of Michigan, USA. You had your S.B. (Electrical Engineering) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975 and a PhD from the University of Southern California in 1981. From 1980 to 1986 he was a Principal Member of the Technical Staff at GTE Laboratories in Waltham, MA. You joined the EECS department at the University of Michigan as an associate professor in 1987, became a full professor in 1992, and was named a Thurnau Professor in 1993.  In 2019 he was named the Joseph E. and Anne P. Rowe Professor of Electrical Engineering. He was the first to introduce an intensity-dependent refractive index into periodic (distributed-feedback) structures, thus launching the field of nonlinear optical periodic structures.  He predicted such phenomena as optical bistability, all-optical switching, nonlinear spatial resonances, pulse compression, modulational instabilities, self-pulsations, soliton propagation, and tunable optical filtering in these structures.  He also proposed and analyzed distributed-feedback Raman lasers which have now been demonstrated as narrow linewidth (sub-kilohertz) sources with sub-Watt thresholds.  Furthermore, he was the first to analyze the dynamics of coherently coupled semiconductor laser arrays, leading to the prediction and observation of instabilities, deterministic chaos, synchronized chaos, and Spatio-temporal chaos in these systems.  His work also led to the understanding of nonlinear polarization evolution in optical fibres.

At a more fundamental level, Prof Winful resolved a long-standing paradox in quantum mechanics (known as the Hartman effect) in which a particle tunnelling through a potential barrier appears to travel faster than the speed of light.  His work led to the first direct observation of the Gouy phase shift in which a focused beam undergoes an additional 180-degree phase shift as it passes through the focus.  This phase shift plays an important role in the propagation of ultrashort (few-cycle) laser pulses.  As of June 2019, his papers have been cited more than 8400 times on Google Scholar with an h-index of 46. He has made significant contributions to nonlinear fibre optics, nonlinear optics in periodic structures, the nonlinear dynamics of laser arrays, the propagation of single-cycle pulses, and the physics of tunnelling.


As an educator, he has won every possible teaching award at the University of Michigan, including the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize, the State of Michigan Teaching Excellence Award, and the Amoco/University Teaching Excellence Award.  At the invitation of the late Prof. Francis K.A. Allotey, former President of the Academy, you assisted in the establishment of a PhD programme in lasers and fibre optics at Cape Coast University and taught some postgraduate courses in that programme.  His efforts in the area of diversity and inclusion in STEM led to the award of the Raymond J. and Monica E. Schultz Awards at the University of Michigan.


Prof Herbert Graves Winful is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, the American Physical Society, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. His many awards include the 2020 IEEE Photonics Society Quantum Electronics Award, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship, the Amoco/University Teaching Award, the State of Michigan Teaching Award, the College of Engineering Teaching Excellence and Service Excellence Awards, the EECS Professor of the Year Award (twice), the EECS Outstanding Achievement Award, the Presidential Young Investigator Award, and the Tau Beta Pi Distinguished Professor award. He is a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America.  His accomplishments in research, teaching, and service have also been recognized by appointments to two endowed professorships.  

Professor Herbert Graves Winful on account of his industry and important contributions to knowledge in the fields of nonlinear optics and quantum electronics was elected to Fellowship of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences on 01 July 2021.