Marvin White honored with IISS lifetime 'Pioneering Achievement Award'

Posted: November 8, 2019

Marvin White’s pioneering technological contributions and patents span decades in the field of engineering. Many are still found today in personal cameras, satellite imaging systems; even the Hubble Space Telescope.

An influential professor of electrical and computer engineering at The Ohio State University, White's life work was recently honored with the Pioneering Achievement Award at the 2019 International Image Sensor Society (IISS) conference held this summer in Utah.

ECE Associate Chair Betty Lise Anderson said she is not surprised by the attention White's work earned. 

"Marv is a phenomenal teacher, and really, really cares about students. I know he schedules office hours in classrooms in the evenings to maximize his availability," she said. "Plus he is an expert, not only in solid state physics, but also electronics. And as far as I can tell, remembers anyone he ever met. He’s always telling me stories about interesting people he’s known throughout his career."

Born in 1937 in Bronx, New York, White began his educational journey in the 1940s, during the tail end of the Great Depression. His immediate family had no previous scientists, so he became a first-generation engineer, eventually earning his Ph.D. from Ohio State in 1969. From countless odd jobs as he paid his way through school, to a successful career in both industry and academia, White's legacy in engineering is respected on numerous levels.

The IISS Board of Directors praised White's “pioneering achievements in image sensor technology, judged by at least 10 years of hindsight as a foundational contribution” toward solid state nonvolatile memories in cell phones and other devices.

White joined the Ohio State faculty in 2010 after many years teaching at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, where he was the Sherman-Fairchild Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the Sherman-Fairchild Center for Solid State Studies. He also served two decades at Westinghouse Electric Company, as well as serving stints at the National Science Foundation and Naval Research Laboratory. He has authored or co-authored over 300 technical papers, contributed chapters to four books and has 27 U.S. patents. He has mentored 37 Ph.D. students.

Serving a key role in modern imaging systems, White’s development of the Correlated Double Sampling (CDS) noise reduction technique for image sensors remains essential. He advanced award-winning research used in high sensitivity solid state cameras and imagers, which remain widely applied in consumer and technical applications, and he made major contributions to the progress of semiconductor devices.

White is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, an IEEE Life Fellow, and served as a distinguished national lecturer of the IEEE Electron Devices Society. He has received several awards for his contributions to the development of high-sensitivity, solid-state cameras and imagers and for major contributions to progress in semiconductor devices including the IEEE Electron Devices Society’s 1997 J. J. Ebers Award, and the IEEE 2000 Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award. In 2011, he received Ohio State's Distinguished Alumnus Award.