Vladimir Bulović joined the faculty of MIT in July 2000 where he is now a Professor of Electrical Engineering leading the Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory (the ONE Lab) and co-directing the MIT-ENI Solar Frontiers Center. As MIT Energy Initiative council member, Bulović is co-heading the Energy Education Task Force and co-directing the MIT Energy Studies Minor. In 2008 he was named the Class of 1960 Faculty Fellow in recognition of his contributions to energy education, and in 2009 he was named the Van Buren Hansford (1937) – Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT’s highest teaching honor. Read more about Vladimir Bulović.
Vladimir, could you describe the process of building your (amazing) ONE Lab group? — how you select and nurture individuals and smaller sets within the whole; how you balance the research and learning goals (and ‘atmosphere’) of your lab; how you allow for a certain amount of evolution and growth in terms of these goals; how you balance your lab’s existence with the whole of MIT and its multitude of interdisciplinary opportunities. Can you reflect a bit on your history here and where you see things going?
“I like to say that our (student/researcher/teacher) job at universities is to be useful to society, to generate knowledge and knowledgable people. There are many ways in which one can apply himself/herself productively to benefit the world, so we should choose the tasks that motivate and challenge us in ways that make us and others around us grow.
Potent ideas can inspire you to take action, but even more poignant motivator can be actions of colleagues you admire. Surround yourself by those you admire and your own effectiveness will increase.
Accepting a student into my lab is akin to getting a new family member, someone who will for a number of years share challenges and successes of our joint work.
The only requirement I have of my students is to be inspired by their work. If their enthusiasm fades my job is to figure out how to restart in them the excitement I see in every-day discoveries.
During my 11 years at MIT, my students and I launched two new companies QD Vision, Inc., and Kateeva, Inc. that combined presently employ over 100 people. Students who founded these companies take positions as a CEO, CTO, VP of technology, or research engineers. Many others choose to go to academic positions becoming professors with their own research groups. Today our group alums are professors at Columbia U., U. Utah, ETH Zurich, Tufts U., Bar-Ilan University, Mt. Holyoke College, Colorado School of Mines, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Michigan State University, Amherst College, and within next few month two will join MIT faculty in departments of DMSE and Chem. Eng. It is incredibly satisfying for me to see their successes and the vigor with which they pursue their ambitions.”