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Nelson Tansu ’98, PhD’03

As a young boy growing up in Indonesia, Nelson Tansu knew that someday he wanted to be a professor of science and engineering in the United States. At age seventeen, he enrolled at UW-Madison, and recently he became the youngest tenured professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

March 01, 2010

2010 Forward under 40 Award Honoree

UW Major: Applied Math, Engineering and Physics; Electrical Engineering
Age: 32 | Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Associate Professor, Lehigh University

"Our graduates should be proud of the tradition of excellence at UW-Madison."

As a young boy growing up in Indonesia, Nelson Tansu knew that someday he wanted to be a professor of science and engineering in the United States. At age seventeen, he enrolled at UW-Madison, and recently he became the youngest tenured professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

Tansu praises the UW physics and electrical and computer engineering (ECE) faculty for propelling him to the top of a profession he loves. As an undergraduate, he had the opportunity to work with several research groups, and the experience steered him in the direction of applied physics for his doctoral studies working with his PhD adviser, Professor Luke J. Mawst. "I truly feel that UW-Madison was one of my best decisions in life," Tansu says.

With several job offers in the United States and abroad after graduating from Wisconsin, Tansu became the youngest tenure-tracked professor at Lehigh University at age 25. He was tenured in May 2009 at age 31.

Tansu is committed to working with undergraduate and graduate students, "the next generation of high quality researchers and academics in the fields of nanotechnology and energy applications."

His research group at Lehigh focuses on nanotechnology-based approaches to improving energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, which Tansu believes has great potential for achieving energy independence for the United States and the world.

"We apply fundamental knowledge derived from physics to solve some of the important challenges in engineering with technology impact. The commitment to achieve excellence in applied physics research requires rigorous academic and research trainings in multidisciplinary topics in physics and engineering," Tansu says. "Our group members at Lehigh are truly committed to contribute for the advancement in many exciting research topics in applied physics and nanotechnology areas for energy applications."

Tansu also believes strongly in the ethics of social responsibility. He works with the Indonesian government and educational leaders to develop new models for research universities, which he believes will boost its technology-based economy and have "tremendous impact for improving the quality of life in Indonesia."

He credits his wife, Adela Gozali Yose '03, whom he met at Wisconsin, for her continuous support, and his late parents, Iskandar Tansu and Auw Lie Min, for his values and inspiration.

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