Three UCLA faculty members — Dariush Divsalar, Rong Fu and Jonathan Stewart — have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest professional honors granted to American engineers. Academy membership recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice or education.

UCLA’s newest honorees are among 114 members and 21 international members elected to the 2024 class, the academy announced today.


Dariush Divsalar

Divsalar, an adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering who is a senior research scientist and fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was elected for his “theory and practice of channel codes that impact deep-space communications.”

Since 1978, Divsalar has worked at JPL on advanced deep-space communications systems for NASA missions, primarily through the development of coding and signal modulation techniques. His breakthroughs include extending the range and capacity of these systems and protecting the transmitted data’s integrity. Some of his advances have also been incorporated in modern wireless communications applications.

Divsalar’s many honors include NASA’s Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Alexander Graham Bell Medal from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; he is also a fellow of the institute.   

At UCLA, Divsalar has frequently taught classes on digital communication systems and has served on several doctoral dissertation committees. He is also an alumnus of UCLA Samueli, having earned his master’s, engineer and doctoral degrees from the school.

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Rong Fu

Fu, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences in the UCLA College and director of UCLA’s Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science & Engineering, was elected for her work on “methodologies that use satellite remote sensing to characterize and predict precipitation over land.”

The joint institute, a collaboration between UCLA and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, looks to better understand climate change and predict what regional climates and environments will look like in the future. Nearly 40 UCLA professors and researchers are members of the institute, which Fu has headed since 2021.

She also leads the WAVE (Water, Atmosphere, Vegetation, and Extremes) Research Group at UCLA, which studies the global atmospheric water cycle and its role in climate, with a focus on the interconnections between oceans and land.

Fu’s honors include the American Meteorological Society’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Biometeorology. She is an elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Meteorological Society.

Fu joined the UCLA faculty in 2016.

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Jonathan Stewart

Stewart, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UCLA Samueli and co-director of UCLA’s Natural Hazards Risk and Resiliency Research Center, was elected to the academy for developing “improved understanding of soil-structure interaction, earthquake ground motions, site response, and soil liquefaction.”

One of the most recognized earthquake engineers, Stewart focuses his research on geotechnical earthquake engineering and engineering seismology, with emphases on seismic soil-structure interaction, earthquake ground-motion characterization, seismic ground failure and the seismic performance of structural fills and levee embankments. Findings from his research have been widely utilized in engineering practice, including through the National Seismic Hazard Model, produced by the U.S. Geological Survey, and the American Society of Civil Engineers’ guidelines for building new structures and retrofitting existing ones. 

A member of the UCLA Samueli faculty since 1996, Stewart is also a co-principal investigator of the Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance Association, a global volunteer organization supported by the National Science Foundation that sends research teams to major disaster areas to collect time-sensitive data.

Stewart’s many honors include the Bruce Bolt Medal, a global award presented by the Seismological Society of America, the Consortium of Organizations for Strong-Motion Observation Systems and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. The award recognizes individuals who have led the transfer of scientific and engineering knowledge to improve seismic safety designs and practices. Stewart has also been recognized with UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

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Founded in 1964, the National Academy of Engineering is a private, independent, nonprofit institution. It is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, with more than 2,600 peer-elected members and international members, comprising senior professionals in business, academia and government who are among the world’s most accomplished engineers. The academy provides expert advice to the nation on matters involving engineering and technology.