James D. Plummer


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For over 30 years, James Plummer has made significant contributions in three main areas of electronic devices, namely, computer-aided design of silicon devices and fabrication processes, high-voltage power devices and circuits, and novel devices for memory and logic applications.

His early work focused on high-voltage integrated circuits (IC) and high-voltage device structures, including seminal contributions to the insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT), a device that has become a key component of the multi-billion-dollar high-power electronics industry. Dr. Plummer’s work on silicon process modeling led to the development of several generations of the process modeling program SUPREM, which today is the standard process-modeling tool used worldwide. Most recently, Dr. Plummer has worked on nanoscale silicon devices for logic and memory applications.

Serving as dean from 1999 through 2014, Dr. Plummer led the efforts at Stanford to build major interdisciplinary centers to address challenges facing engineering in areas including energy, the environment, and biomedicine. The Precourt Institute for Energy was developed to focus on energy efficiency, distribution, and generation and features researchers spanning the spectrum of engineering disciplines. The Woods Institute for the Environment was created to address issues in environmental sustainability and features environmental engineering faculty. He also established Stanford’s Bioengineering Department, jointly housed in the School of Engineering and the School of Medicine, to apply engineering principles to medical problems and biological systems. The Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering (ICME) was established to teach computational mathematics in the context of engineering and science applications and to provide a school-wide focus on applying computational methods in all areas of engineering and science. Other programs initiated during Dr. Plummer’s tenure include the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, which is known globally for its hands-on, product-centered approach to education, and the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), which has provided resources to boost research in alternative energy. During Dr. Plummer’s tenure, other innovations in the Engineering School include the development of online education courses and technologies, including the “flipped classroom model,” where video lectures are viewed by students at home before the classroom session to allow focus on exercises and discussions while in class, as well as the world’s first massively open online courses (MOOCs) to provide unlimited participation and open access to learning through the Internet. Dr. Plummer’s contributions to Stanford’s School of Engineering have been instrumental in increasing the number of students choosing engineering majors, especially in computer science, product design, and bioengineering.

An IEEE Fellow, he has received numerous recognitions for his work, including IEEE awards, Semiconductor Research Corporation Awards, “best paper” awards, the Electrochemical Society’s 1991 Solid State Science and Technology Award and election to the National Academy of Engineering.