Professor Yilu Liu works on the forefront of smart-grid technologies as the UT/ORNL Governor’s Chair Professor for Power Electronics. Still, she was surprised to learn that she won the 2020 IEEE Power & Energy Society Wanda Reder Pioneer in Power Award.
The research-focused Liu often defers nominations to younger research colleagues, so this award was a mystery at first. This recognition was fueled by Volunteer Spirit, it turned out.
“It took me a while to find out it was cooked up by a bunch of my former UT Knoxville students,” she said. “They never stopped contributing to our Vol family, from their research work when they were here to helping promote UT after they have left.”
The Pioneer in Power award was established to foster more diverse leadership by supporting career advancement, networking, and education of women in the electric power and energy industry. Liu was cited specifically for her innovative contributions and leadership in synchrophasor-based wide-area monitoring and control systems.
The award includes $1,500 and a plaque, and recipients are usually recognized during the society’s awards dinner at their annual meeting. The event will be held virtually this year at a time to be announced, but Liu feels the honor already reinforces her group’s ongoing work.
“It may help the moral of our team and give them more confidence about the important research work they are doing,” she said. Their efforts are supported as part of her appointment as deputy director of CURENT, the Center for Ultra-wide-area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks, and by her connection to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
“Certainly, we could not have done so much without CURENT and ORNL and the funding from Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation,” said Liu. “Support at all levels from UT and ORNL are essential.”