Engineering Diversity

Janice Jenkins, Ph.D.

During her 22-year career at the University of Michigan, Janice Jenkins became known for her mentorship and dedication to the development of the next generation of research engineers — and for the fact that she was the first woman faculty member hired in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

“The most unusual part of my academic career,” Jenkins said, “is the fact that I raised five kids and started college when my oldest started college. I was 37. I got my PhD at the age of 46 and was appointed an assistant professor at Michigan at the age of 48. I wasn’t as worried about being discriminated against for being female, as I was worried about age discrimination! I didn’t tell anyone how old I was. I won the NSF Presidential Young Investigator award when I was 52. Probably (without doubt) the oldest Young Investigator ever. I was a grandmother!”

At the time of her retirement in 2002, Jenkins still had an active NSF grant at UM and traveled back to Michigan regularly, supervising the research of two graduate and three undergraduate students. “I haven’t stopped my active professional life,” she said. “I also have a major role in an NIH/SBIR grant and am directing clinical studies at Loyola University Medical Center.”

Professor Jenkins received her BS, MS, and PhD degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1974, 1976, and 1978, respectively. She was an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and of medicine, at Northwestern University from 1979-1980. In 1980, she joined the UM faculty as an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and was promoted to professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and of biomedical engineering, in 1992.

At UM, Jenkins made important contributions to automated arrhythmia analysis using advanced signal processing and computer techniques. She was director of the medical computing research laboratory (1981-2002), and of the digital design laboratory (1983-1998), an instructional laboratory on the design of microprocessor-based systems that she initiated and taught.

In 1991, Jenkins received the UM Sarah Goddard Power Award for her outstanding professional achievements and contributions to the education of women, and the NSF Faculty Award for Women in Science and Engineering. Jenkins is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the American College of Cardiology. She has four patents, and another pending. She has supported, mentored, and graduated 20 PhD students and eight MS thesis students.

Upon her retirement from active faculty status in December 2002, the UM Regents named Janice Jenkins Professor Emerita of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.