A Letter to Poudre Teachers from a Former Student

Dear Poudre teachers,

I hope this email finds you well! I wanted to send you an update on what I have been up to these last few years at CU Boulder.

At CU, I have been excelling in my academics. I am first in my class of 154 students in the electrical engineering department -- the only student with a 4.0/4.0 GPA -- and have been awarded the BOLD Gold Academic Performance Medal by the college of engineering all three years I have been here.

Apart from academics, my main focus has been scientific research. While I took on various research opportunities in my Freshman and Sophomore years (including microwave sensing of human body temperature, electromagnetic modeling of hailstones, and design of RF phased microstrip patch antenna arrays), my research really took off the summer before my Junior year when I was offered a position in Professor Milos Popovic's Nanophotonic Systems Laboratory. As a researcher in the group, I am working on redesigning communication links between microprocessors and memory chips using light and silicon photonic devices in place of electrical signals and microelectronic circuits. Specifically, I have, completely independently, developed the very first finite-difference complex-wavevector Bloch solver and have independently broken the world-record for grating coupler efficiency. My work has made a significant contribution, not only on the research being performed by my group, but on the field of optics as a whole.

Over the past two years, I have presented my work at several international conferences and have had my papers published in top scientific journals. Last April, I was awarded first place in the 2014 IEEE Region 5 Student Paper Competition, where I was congratulated on my accomplishments by IEEE International President Roberto de Marca and IEEE USA President Jim Jefferies. (IEEE is the world's largest professional society.) Last spring, I was awarded the 2014 Sigma Xi Undergraduate Research Award in recognition of exceptional research accomplishments and, this fall, I received the OSA Incubic Milton Chang Grant for one of my publications. I have been invited to give talks on my research at several events and was selected to write a feature story in IEEE HKN's The Bridge magazine. Overall, I currently have published 2 journal papers, 7 conference papers, and 5 other publications.

Just recently, I applied to graduate school and have been accepted into the top PhD programs in Electrical Engineering, including MIT, Stanford, and Berkeley. I have been invited by the very-top game-changing professors in the field of photonics (including the inventor of the quantum cascade laser, the discoverer of the modern solar cell limit, and the creator of band structure engineering) to join their research groups.

In addition to academics and my research, I am currently the president of the Electrical Engineering Honors Society where I have organized a complete remodel of our college's student space, multiple soldering seminars for undergraduates in our department, departmental TED talks with industry professionals, career fairs, and a plethora of other events. Additionally, in my sophomore year, I was chosen by the Department Associate Chair to be the Teaching Assistant for the Digital and Analog Electronics course where I taught two weekly lab sections. Finally, I am still taking every chance I get to take dance classes within the professional dance community here in Boulder.

Overall, I hope you know how much of an inspiration you have been to me and how your actions have helped me to succeed. Mrs. Bibbey, your encouragement of me as a woman in the physical sciences has created a lasting impact on me. Mr. Sayers and Mrs. Ecton, your teaching has instilled in me a love and appreciation for mathematics which has guided me to success. Mr. Brown and Mrs. Hunt, your impact on my critical thinking and writing skills is unmatched. Mrs. Crowe, there are no words for the confidence and outlook on life that you have imparted on me -- thank you. I can only hope that my accomplishments, both current and future, will make you proud!

Best,
Jelena Notaros
PHS IB Class of 2011
Webpage: jelenanotaros (dot) webs (dot) com