Courtesy of Steve Geringer

Mark Reed, Harold Hodgkinson Professor of Electrical Engineering & Applied Physics and the current director of undergraduate studies for electrical engineering, died on May 5.

Reed, who was in the midst of teaching “Advanced Electron Devices” and additional small-group projects this semester, earned a doctorate in physics from Syracuse University in 1983 and came to Yale in 1990. His research focuses on nanotechnology and is the recipient of multiple awards, including the 2002 Yale Science and Engineering Association Award for Advancement of Basic and Applied Science and the 2007 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Pioneer Award in Nanotechnology. Reed is also known for coining the term “quantum dot,” which describes nanoparticles that behave differently than larger particles due to quantum mechanics. From 2007 to 2015, he was Associate Director of the Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering.

“During his thirty years on the Yale faculty, Mark Reed’s groundbreaking innovations led to new possibilities for the use of nanotechnology,” Tamar Gendler, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, wrote in an email to the News. “[He] exemplif[ies] the university’s values and ambitions.”

Reed’s death was announced to students in the electrical engineering major in a Thursday morning email, where Department Chair of Electrical Engineering Leandros Tassiulas wrote, “We all share a deep sense of loss while remembering Prof. Reed’s many contributions to our lives.”  

In interviews with the News, five students emphasized this sense of loss and Reed’s impact on their college trajectory and life. 

Eugene Thomas ’22 previously took EENG 200, “Introduction to Electronics with Reed,” and, in an email to the News, described him as “one of the most knowledgeable teachers I’ve ever had.”

“As a Black queer person in engineering, I suffer heavily from imposter syndrome,” Thomas added. “However, Mark Reed treated me with kindness, respect, and, most importantly, as if I were a student that deserved to be in his class. He always treated me like an equal to my peers, which is not always a given. He wasn’t only one of the most accomplished professors on this campus, but one of the best.”

Adam Wolnikowski ’21, who also took Reed’s EENG 200 course, credits him for his decision to make electrical engineering his major.

In an email to the News, he described Reed — who was also his advisor — as “loving and caring,” with an ability to make even the most banal topics “relentlessly interesting.” Wolnikowski added that Reed also had a habit of wearing comically large belt buckles to class every day.

“Personally, he inspired me to get my academics back on track after a bit of a slump my first two years of Yale, and he shared with me invaluable wisdom on planning a career in electrical engineering,” Wolnikowski wrote. “He will be dearly missed, and this is truly a great loss for the engineering community at Yale.”

Co-chair of Yale’s student branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Tamar Geller ’23 echoed Wolnikowski’s sentiment about Reed’s advising abilities. Reed advised the Y-IEEE.

Geller, who was deciding whether or not to start the electrical engineering major or take Directed Studies during her first year, told the News that Reed sat down with her and mapped down the next three years of her life with both paths in mind.

“Only with Professor Reed would this happen,” Geller wrote to the News in an email. “Since that meeting, he became an important teacher and mentor to me, supporting me whenever I needed help or guidance.”

Daniel Bacheschi ’22 considers Reed his professor, mentor and advisor. He worked in Reed’s research lab for two years and was his student for three.

In an email to the News, Bacheschi described Reed as able to balance both gravity and lightheartedness — a kind mentor but also a “veritable genius with an incisive mind and perspective.”

“[He was] down to earth despite his immense successes over the years, accessible, and unafraid to provide one with the honest feedback that can always make a difference,” he added.

The Electrical Engineering Department is currently planning an online memorial and tribute wall for Reed.

Madison Hahamy is a junior from Chicago, Illinois majoring in English and in Human Rights. She previously wrote for the Yale Daily News and served as Senior Editor for The New Journal.