Dennis M. Freeman named Henry Ellis Warren (1894) Professor of Electrical Engineering

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Monday, July 17, 2017 - 3:00pm

Dennis M. Freeman has been appointed to the Henry Ellis Warren (1894) Chair in Electrical Engineering. 

The appointment recognizes Freeman’s leadership in cochlear mechanics research, his outstanding mentorship and educational contributions, and his exception service to the Institute.

The Warren Chair is designated for "interdisciplinary research leading to application of technological developments in electrical engineering and computer science, with their effect on human ecology, health, community life, and opportunities for youth.” It was established in memory of Henry Ellis Warren, who was one of the Institute’s first graduates in electrical engineering. Warren was best known for the invention (among his 135 patents) of the electrical clock and its associated self-starting synchronous motor; he was also noted for convincing power companies to more tightly regulate the frequency on their nominally 60Hz waveform, which eventually allowed the interconnection of regional power systems to form today's continental-scale power grids. Professor Louis D. Braida is also a Warren chair holder, and Professor George C. Verghese held the chair as well until his recent transition to professor post-tenure status.

Freeman has been active in undergraduate teaching since joining the faculty in 1995. His early teaching focused on Signals and Systems (6.003) and on Quantitative Physiology: Cells and Tissues (6.021). He has contributed to the development and teaching of Introduction to EECS I (6.01), which more than 3,000 students have taken.

He helped develop SuperUROP (6.UAR) and has co-taught the subject since the program’s inception in 2013. He also developed and currently teaches the Mens et Manus freshman advising seminar, in which students use modern prototyping methods (such as 3D printing and laser cutting) to make devices that build on required subjects such as calculus, mechanics, and electricity and magnetism.

Freeman’s numerous teaching awards include the Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Distinguished Teaching, the Irving M. London Teaching Award, and the Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has been a MacVicar Faculty Fellow since 2006, and has three times been selected by students as the best academic advisor in EECS.

He has served as EECS Education Officer (2008-2011), EECS Undergraduate Officer (2011-2013), and MIT Dean for Undergraduate Education (2013-2017). He has also served on or chaired many Institute committees, including the Committee on the Undergraduate Program, the Committee on Curricula, the Task Force on the Undergraduate Commons, the Committee on Global Educational Opportunities for MIT, the Educational Commons Subcommittee, the Corporation Joint Advisory Committee, the Task Force on Planning, and the Task Force on the Future of MIT Education.

Freeman’s research group in the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) has pioneered the use of advanced optical methods to measure sound-induced nanometer motions of cells and accessory structures in the inner ear, revealing the critical role of the tectorial membrane in transforming sound to the motions that stimulate the inner ear’s sensory receptor cells. Recognition for this work includes his election as a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. He is also a member of the IEEE, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Engineering Education, the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, and the Biophysical Society.

Freeman received a BS in electrical engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in 1973, and an SM and a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT in 1976 and 1986, respectively.