Saif Islam received his B.Sc. in physics from Middle East Technical University in Turkey in 1994 and M.Sc. in physics from Bilkent University in Turkey in 1996, and his M.S. in electrical engineering in 1999 and Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 2001, both from UCLA. He worked for the optical networking research group of JDS Uniphase Corp. and the quantum science research group of Hewlett-Packard Laboratories during 2001–04. In 2004, he joined the University of California, Davis, where he is a professor in the electrical and computer engineering department. He served as department vice chair in 2011–13 and chair in 2017–20. He served as director of the Northern California Nanotechnology Center during 2012–15. Islam co-founded two startup companies based on his inventions with the support of UC Davis, the UC Office of the President and the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization (NIREC).
Saif Islam’s nanotechnology research focuses on synthesizing and incorporating low-dimensional and nanostructured materials and devices with conventional integrated circuit (IC) elements and systems. Unlike the research-based approach of sequentially processing individual nanostructures for device physics studies, his group employs massively parallel and mass-manufacturable nanofabrication to reproducibly fabricate low-cost nanodevice arrays in the areas of integrated nanoelectronics and ultra-fast optoelectronics, data communication, quantum sensing, computing, energy harvesting, disease sensing and prevention, and energy storage.
Islam has authored and co-authored more than 250 scientific papers and chaired or co-chaired 33 scientific conferences and symposiums sponsored by IEEE, MRS and SPIE. He holds 42 U.S. and international patents as an inventor or co-inventor. He has received the National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Award, Outstanding Junior Faculty Award and Mid-Career Research Faculty Award; IEEE Professor of the Year; and the University of California, Davis Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award — the highest teaching honor that UC Davis bestows on its faculty.
Islam has served as a senior editor of IEEE Access and as associate editor of IEEE Photonics Journal and IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), IEEE, the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), The Optical Society (OSA) and SPIE.