Miami University Professor and Chair Dr. Qihou Zhou wins prestigious award from National Science Foundation for research project

Dr. Qihou Zhou is a professor and chair in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering that recently received an award of $649,900.00 for his work on a project entitled "An Integrated Project on Arecibo Incoherent Scatter Radar Data Processing, Archiving and Investigation of Ionosphere Dynamics, Energetics and Composition." 

Zhou has remained closely associated with Arecibo, since he was a Ph.D student there for an entire year in 1989. He joined the Arecibo staff shortly after in 1991 and worked there until 2002. Even after joining Miami University in 2002, his research activities remain closely associated with Arecibo.

Previously, Zhou has gained expert knowledge on radar techniques, signal processing and ionospheric physics and has managed to shorten the integration time of D-region incoherent scatter observation by two orders of magnitude to 1 minute, which allows the possibility to study D-region gravity waves in much finer details. The majority of Zhou’s 110 publications are dedicated to using the Arecibo radar to study the physics and chemistry of the ionosphere from the D-region to the topside.


Zhou has been taking students to Arecibo’s for study-away trips at the observatory’s workshop since 2015. There have been a total of 77 students who have participated in these workshops, where every participant performed a significant project using the radar data collected at Arecibo, with many of these students working in an area directly related to radar technology after graduating. Unfortunately, on December 1, 2020 the world watched the heart-wrenching collapse of the Arecibo radio telescope, so these workshops are currently not available to students.

This project used three decades of Arecibo incoherent scatter (IS) radar data to study D-, E- and F-region dynamics, energetics and composition. To accomplish the scientific goals of this project, Zhou and his collaborators will process, archive and document the Arecibo IS radar data taken in the last three decades. The data collected and the effort Zhou put into his research will continue to serve the scientific community for decades to come.

Zhou’s project on Arecibo has awarded Miami University with a grant that will support several undergraduate students and a graduate to gain valuable research experience for their future studies. The students will acquire theoretical and practical skills in programming, signal processing, and space sciences through their work on the project.

By Gabby Benedict, CEC Reporter