Engineering college’s new research dean plans to focus on attracting outside funding

Writer: Billy Huntsman

Phillip De Leon

Phillip De Leon has been named associate dean of research and doctoral studies for the New Mexico State University College of Engineering. (NMSU photo by Billy Huntsman)

“I look forward to working with faculty, research staff and student researchers from all the college’s departments to assist them in advancing their research and pursing new opportunities,” De Leon said. “I hope that we can grow a culture of excellence in research throughout the college and share the excitement of pursuing research.”

De Leon joined NMSU in 1996. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in signals and systems, digital signal processing, machine learning and mobile application development. He has supervised the research of more than 35 graduate students, supported in part by federal and industry grants. His current research interests include machine learning, speech processing and time-frequency analysis. He has published more than 70 papers in international journals and conferences and has four U.S. patents.

As the new associate dean of research, De Leon said he will work with the dean of the College of Engineering in trying to get industry and government sponsorship of faculty research, as well as helping faculty with grant proposal preparations and management.

“The quality of our research is critically important to maintaining the college’s excellent reputation and attracting outstanding student researchers and funding to our program. Research is also tremendously important to our teaching mission so that our faculty continue to teach state-of-the-art engineering to our students,” he said.

Attracting funding from external sources is competitive and De Leon said he is committed to making NMSU a more competitive university.

“The college will have to build on its strengths in order to successfully compete,” he said. “I want to work with industry, especially those companies and institutions that recruit our students, in creating opportunities for faculty and graduate research assistants. In particular, I want to work with our industry partners to create and sponsor research assistantships that our faculty can use to pursue research of mutual interest.”

He has served as chair of the University Research Council at NMSU, is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and serves on that group’s Industrial Digital Signal Processing Technical Committee.

He has been a visiting professor at several universities in Europe and most recently, he worked at Sandia National Laboratories as a faculty summer fellow conducting research in the area of deep learning.

De Leon was the first recipient of the John and Tome Nakayama Professorship in Engineering for Teaching Excellence (2012-2015); Foreman Faculty Excellence Award (2014); Bromilow Award for Research (2010); and a Fulbright Faculty Scholar Award from the United States Department of State (2008). He currently holds the Paul W. and Valerie Klipsch Distinguished Professorship in the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NMSU.

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