ISU engineering chairman appointed to Department of State


David C. Jiles has been selected as a Jefferson Science Fellow as a scientific adviser to the Department of State.

Elizabeth Gray

One ISU professor is trading his desk at Iowa State for a desk in Washington, D.C.

Iowa State’s David Jiles, Anson Mortensen Distinguished Professor and Palmer Endowed Chairman for electrical and computer engineering, has been appointed to be a Jefferson Science Fellow for the U.S. Department of State for the 2016-17 year.

The Jefferson Science Fellowship is an appointed position administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and supported through a partnership with the U.S. academic community, professional scientific societies, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

As a Jefferson Science Fellow, Jiles will work closely with the Department of State as a scientific adviser on foreign policy issues. The fellowship is offered every year to a selected group of university professors.

“Their job as field experts is to study problems, conduct research and discuss solutions to help form policies,” said Arun Somani, associate dean of the electrical and computer engineering department.

The Jefferson Fellows assignments are based in part on current issues at hand and come complete with opportunities to travel to U.S. embassies and research missions overseas.

“I was very happy to hear the news,” Jiles said. “I didn’t think I’d get it.”

Jiles has served as Palmer Endowed Chairman for the electrical and computer engineering department since October 2010. Jiles not only serves as chairman but is also a distinguished professor. His specific expertise is in the field of electromagnetics, and he has written three books, 21 patents and more than 600 scientific papers.

Jiles said he plans to step down as Palmer Endowed Chairman for the upcoming year. He’ll serve as chairman until his appointment starts in Washington, D.C. Once his appointment ends, he will return as a distinguished professor. He will still remain available to the U.S. Government as a consultant for smaller projects after he returns.

The selection process is currently taking place for the new Palmer Endowed Chair position. It is not clear who will replace Jiles after he leaves for D.C.

“This is obviously very prestigious,” Somani said. “For us at Iowa State it is a matter of pride. We are very happy that Iowa State has professors of this caliber to teach with us.”

Jiles is the second professor to have been appointed from Iowa State’s College of Engineering. James Alleman, professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering served as a Jefferson Science Fellow through the 2014-15 year. Alleman was also an ex-department chairman for the College of Engineering.

“I feel very honored to represent Iowa State University as a Jefferson Fellow,” Jiles said.