Abbas Ourmazd



Abbas Ourmazd is currently Distinguished Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has held leadership positions on both sides of the Atlantic. These have included academia (Oxford, Göttingen, Brandenburg, Wisconsin), industry (Bell Labs), national laboratories (IHP), entrepreneurial start-ups (Lesswire, Communicant), and professional societies (American Physical Society). His advisory activities have included industry (AT&T, Lucent Microelectronics), national labs (Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Naval Research Lab, National Renewable Energy Lab), government agencies (US Dept of Energy, German Federal Ministry of Education & Research, State Minister of Economic Affairs and Technology), professional societies (the APS Committee on International Scientific Affairs, the Physics Planning Committee, US Congressional Science Fellows), and national funding agencies in the US and Europe (DoE, NSF, the Semiconductor Research Corporation in the US; the German Ministry of Education & Research, and the Volkswagen Foundation in Germany).

In additional to research and administrative leadership, Dr. Ourmazd has raised multi-hundred million dollar institutional and entrepreneurial funds, overseen the design and construction of major new facilities, and launched and managed two companies. He has also led the development and commercialization of high-value intellectual property portfolios, including licensing and cross-licensing arrangements with ASM, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Intel, MIPS, and Motorola.

Dr. Ourmazd’s research interests include electron holography, technologies for broadband mobile communication systems and hotspots, and, most recently, determining the structure of individual biological molecules. He has a strong track record of stimulating and nurturing multidisciplinary work.

Dr. Ourmazd’s publications include more than 150 papers in refereed journals, 10 patents, and over 350 invited presentations at national and international meetings and colloquia. He enjoys teaching over a wide range, from fundamental science and technology to business innovation, and has extensive experience in working with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Dr. Ourmazd’s awards include an Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellowship, and the Johnson-Matthey prize. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society

Dr. Ourmazd is a US citizen, bilingual (English and German), and a graduate of Oxford University.


Develop and apply advanced algorithms with broad impact on physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, and machine learning. Educate the next generation of leaders in computational science.

Professional Appointments

Distinguished Professor of Physics, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM) 2005 – present
Developed and applied machine-learning algorithms to determine the structure of biological molecules, compile molecular movies and energy landscapes of nanomachines from random sightings, and extract femtosecond spectral movies of breaking of chemical bonds from data with 300fs timing uncertainty. Helped secure and co-steer a $25M NSF Science & Technology Center. Trained undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral coworkers in computational science. Published results in Nature, Science, PNAS, and Royal Society journals.
Vice Chancellor for Research, Dean of the Graduate School, UWM 2005 – 2007
Secured increased funding from State, launched research growth initiative, collaborated with industry, established UWM Research Foundation.
Professor of Physics, Brandenburg University, Germany 1995 – 2005
Developed algorithms for secure hot-spot communications, led research in communication technologies.
Scientific Director, Innovations for High Performance Microelectronics, Germany 1995 – 2005
Research Institute with 200 members of technical staff with focus on communications technologies. Licensed and transferred technologies to Intel, Motorola, ASM. Initiated startups, acting as Chairman of two.
Head, Wireless Strategy, Bell Labs 1994 – 1995
Responsible for R&D strategy, including research and transfer of algorithms.
Head, Microphysics Research, Bell Labs 1987 – 1994
Responsible for R&D and technology transfer in materials, devices, and systems.
Member of Technical Staff, Bell Labs 1984 – 1987
Performed fundamental research in condensed matter. Developed algorithms for extracting quantitative information from electron micrographs.
Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, Göttingen, Germany 1983 – 1984
Performed research on dislocations and point defects in solids.
Fellow and Member of Governing Body, Merton College, Oxford University 1980 – 1983
Developed models for the electrical activity of extended defects.

Synergistic Appointments

Member, Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, US Dept. of Energy 2017 – present
Steering Committee, NSF Science & Technology Center “Biology with X-ray Lasers” 2013 – present
Chair & member, Committee on International Scientific Affairs, American Physical Society 2006 – 2010
Oversight Committee, Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory 2005 – 2007
Senior Advisor to Minister of Economic Affairs, State of Brandenburg, Germany 1996 – 2002
Review Board, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 1994 – 1996
US Physics Planning Committee, American Physical Society 1994 – 1996
Senior Technical Advisory Board, Semiconductor Research Corporation 1992 – 1995
Chair, Forum on Industrial & Applied Physics, American Physical Society 1994 – 1995
Advisory Board, US National Renewable Energy Laboratory 1993 – 1995
Editorial Board, Semiconductor Science & Technology 1990 – 2002
Selection Committee, Congressional Science Fellows 1994
Chair, Committee on Applications of Physics, American Physical Society 1993
Chair, Review Board, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 1993
Advisory Board, Naval Research Laboratory 1992
Program Review Board, US Dept. of Energy 1990

Academic Output & Distinctions

Fellow of the American Physical Society
150 papers in refereed journals
10 patents
Over 350 invited presentations at national & international meetings, colloquia, and seminars
Member of numerous organizing committees of international conferences
Winner of Johnson Matthey Prize


Doctorate (D.Phil.), Wolfson College, Oxford University 1976-1980
B.A. Honours in Physics (First Class), Corpus Christi College, Oxford University 1973-1976


No. Patent Title Application /Award Number Filing / Award Date
1 Device Using Ordered Semiconductor Alloy 4,661,829 28.04.1987
2 Method of Controlling the Order-Disorder State in a Semiconductor Device 4,879,256 07.11.1989
3 Insulated Gate Field-Effect Transistor with Pulse-Shaped Doping 5,166,765 24.11.1992
4 Method and System for Remotely Controlling an Interactive Voice Response System 5,850,429 12.15.1998
5 System and method for identifying the location of a wireless terminal 96309118.6-2209 13.12.1996
6 Automated Message System 5,799,066 08.25.1998
7 MOS Transistor, and Production of Layers for that Type of Transistor WO/1998/026456
DE 196 52 417 A1
8 Verfahren zur Herstellung von elektronischen Strukturen DE 198 51 703.3 30.10.1998
9 Bipolar Transistor WO/2003/046947
DE 101 60511 A1
10 Automated Messages System For A Calling Party US 6,381,311 B2 30.04.2002