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Alaka Valanju

Obituary for Alaka Valanju

September 10, 1951 - March 8, 2019
Austin, Texas | Age 67

Obituary

Alaka Valanju, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, scientist, engineer, entrepreneur, and wonderful person with great character, intelligence, beauty, poise, and presence passed away peacefully on March 8 in Austin, Texas, USA.

Alaka was born in Mumbai, India. Her wonderful parents raised two daughters with an emphasis on character, kindness, hard work, and a love of life. She imparted the same values to her son and husband. She was a good daughter, sister, and also a great wife, mother, and grandmother. Everyone around her is going to miss the phenomenal support she so selflessly provided to all. She is survived by her husband, Prashant Valanju, son, Jay Valanju, his wife, Sara Valanju, and grandson, Gavin Valanju, her mother Usha Godbole, her sister Vidya Sathe and her family.

Her keen mind, her ability to make good judgment calls, and her willingness to help everyone without looking for fame was noticed by everyone who knew her. She was the pillar on which her family, her business, her colleagues would always depend; but she never wanted to grab the limelight, so while her accomplishments were impressive and numerous, most people know only the tip of the iceberg of her work.

Alaka had a great memory, and a very keen intellect. She loved to solve large crossword puzzles in her mind without pencil and paper. All her life she could tell detailed stories going all the way back to her early childhood. She was a voracious reader, and an excellent storyteller. Her fact-based as well as fiction stories captivated everyone – young and old. She was always on top of all details of the academic centers and the business she started and ran.

Alaka was the first in her family to attend university. She earned a B.Sc. in Physics and M.Sc. in Nuclear Physics from Bombay University, and then two Masters in Physics and Electrical Engineering from UT Austin. Everyone knew her as the most brilliant, beautiful, and poised woman in school, in college, and at the university.

She worked at UT for 25 years (1979 to 2004); first as a student, then as a Research Scientist and Engineering Associate. Later she was a Research Associate and the Associate Director of the Center for Electromagnetic Materials and Devices at UT-Austin. During that time, she published many important papers, gave great talks, won many grants, and was well-known in academics, and in industry.

She was a co-inventor of Metamaterials; now a world-wide materials science discipline pursued extensively by scientists and engineers. For the past 15 years she served as co-founder and co-owner of MetaMaterials Inc., where she served as Chief Operating Officer and Engineering Manager.

Alaka had a wonderful sense of beauty and nature. She could design things that naturally pleased the eyes, and had a wonderful aesthetic. She was an avid gardener, and was a member of Austin Community Gardens for many years where she joyfully produced a variety of crops. For her, gardening was a great way to relax. In addition to gardening, she practiced the Indian classical dance called Bharatanatyam. She also ran for a number of years, competing in Austin's 10K races.

Alaka loved to spend time with her family and friends, especially weekends with her husband, son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. She traveled the world, and enjoyed sharing stories of places she had visited. The stories were as vivid and varied as her life: childhood stories in India, details of the newest batch of vegetables in her garden, or recounting her first days in the US as a graduate student, and soon after, young mother.

This is the beginning of the celebration of her very accomplished, and full life. She positively impacted everyone she met, and everything she worked on. She took the best care of her family right till the end and beyond. We shall never forget her, and the ripples of her impact, both personally and professionally, will be felt for generations.

Donations can be made to Asian Families Support Services of Austin.

Below is a list of her degrees, positions, the important papers she published, the wonderful talks she gave, and the grants she earned for her pioneering work.

EDUCATION:
• B. Sc. Physics. Bombay University, India.
• M. Sc. Physics. Bombay University, India.
• M.A. Physics. The University of Texas at Austin.
• M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering. University of Texas at Austin.

POSITIONS:
• 1980-1983: Teaching Assistant, University of Texas, Austin,TX.
• 1982-1986: Systems Programmer, Burroughs Research Ctr, Austin,TX.
• 1986-2001: Research Scientist/Engineer Associate III. CEMD, University of Texas, Austin,TX.
• 2001-2004: Research Associate, CEMD, UT-Austin
• 1999-2004: Associate Director, CEMD, UT-Austin.
(CEMD=Center for Electromagnetic Materials and Devices at the University of Texas)
• 2004-2019: Co-Owner, Co-Founder, Chief Operating Officer, and Engineering Manager, MetaMaterials Inc.

PUBLICATIONS:
• A. Valanju & R. Walser, "Morphologies & micromagnetic structures of ultrafine,phase amorphous COxBy: (O,Ar) films," Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings, Volume 58, 1986.
• I. S. Jeong, A. Valanju, and R. M. Walser, "Quantitative study of magnetization ripples in Co61B39 amorphous thin films," IEEE Transactions on Magnetics Volume 24, 1725, 1988.
• I. S. Jeong, A. Valanju and R. M. Walser, "High frequency bias-susceptibilities of ultra-soft CoB amorphous thin films," J. Applied Physics, Volume 64 (10), 5679, 1988.
• A. Valanju and R. Walser, "Correlation process parameters with morphology and magnetic properties of Co-based amorphous films," J. Applied Physics, Volume 64, 5443, 1988.
• A. Valanju, and R. M. Walser, "Study of multicomponent magnetic nanostructures with digital image processing technique," Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings, Volume 132, 173-178, 1989.
• A. Valanju & R. M. Walser, "Structural inhomogeneity & magn. properties of amorphous GdCo compositionally modulated films," J. Appl. Phys., 67 (9), 5674, 1990.
• E. Louis, I. S. Jeong, A. Valanju and R. M. Walser, "Bias and frequency response of the permeability of CoZrNb/SiO2 multilayers," J. Applied Physics, Volume 67 (9), 5117, 1990.
• I.S. Jeong, A. Valanju and R. Walser, "Effect of compositional & structural heterogeneities on magnetic properties of amorphous CoZrNb films," J. Applied Physics, Volume 69 (9), 4471, 1990.
• A. Valanju, D. Y. Kim and R. M. Walser, "Soft magnetic characteristics of Co/Zr thin film layered structures," J. Applied Physics, Volume 69 (8), 5367, 1991.
• A. Valanju, D. Y. Kim and R. M. Walser, "Soft magnetic characteristics of Co/Zr thin film layered structures," J. Applied Physics, Volume 69 (8), 5367, 1991.
• R. M. Walser and A. Valanju, "Displacement Eddy Currents in Magnetic Laminates," IEEE Transactions on Magnetics Volume MAG-28, 2280 (1992).
• R. M. Walser, A. Valanju, W. Win, and M. F. Becker, "In-situ, time-resolved kinetics of reactions at CoGe thin film interfaces," Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings Volume 237, 655, 1992.
• R. Banerjee, A.P. Valanju, & R.M. Walser, "Magnetic and electrical properties CoFeSiB:O films near percolation threshold," J. Applied Physics, Volume 79(8/B), 6536 (1996).
• G. Choe, A. Valanju and R.M. Walser, "Magnetic Properties of Sequentially Sputtered Amorphous Fe-Ge Thin Films", IEEE Transactions on Magnetics Volume 32(5), 4538 (1996).
• R.M. Walser and A.P. Valanju, "GHz Ferromagnetic Resonance in Laminated Microscale Objects", (Invited Paper ) J. Applied Physics Volume 81 (8/2B), 5169 (1997).
• A. Valanju, W. Win, E.J. Yun and R.M. Walser, "Microstrip Resonator for GHz Measurements of Microscale Magnetic Objects", J. Applied Physics Volume 81 (8/2B), 4325 (1997).
• R. M. Walser, W. Win, and P.Valanju, "Shape-Optimized Ferromagnetic Particles with Maximum Theoretical Microwave Susceptibility," IEEE Transactions on Magnetics Volume 34, 1390 (1998).
• R.M Walser, and A. Valanju, "Materials Issues in the Applications of Ferromagnetic Films in Tunable High Q VHF/UHF Devices", Materials Research Soc. Symp. Proceedings, Material Issues for Tunable RF and Microwave Devices, Volume 603, pp. 83-94 (2000).
• R.M. Walser, A. Valanju and W. Win, "Nanocrystalline Thin Films for Tunable High Q VHF/UHF Devices", Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings, Material Issues for Tunable RF and Microwave Devices, Volume 603, pp. 95-98 (2000).
• A. Valanju, P.M. Valanju and R.M. Walser, "Lightweight MetaFerrite Collectors: New Enabling Technology for the Square Kilometer Array below 500 MHz,". International Science and Technology Meeting on the Square Kilometer Array, Berkeley, CA, July 9, 2001.
• P.M. Valanju, A.P. Valanju and R.M. Walser, 'MetaFerrites Enabling Material Technology for the Square Kilometer Array," International Science and Technology Meeting on the Square Kilometer Array, Berkeley, CA, July 9, 2009.
• R.M. Walser, A.P. Valanju and P.M. Valanju, "Comment on extremely low frequency plasmons in metallic mesostructures," Physical Review Letters, Volume 87 (11) pp. (Sept. 10, 2001).
• P.M. Valanju and R.M. Walser, and A. Valanju, "Wave refraction in negative-index media: Always positive and very inhomogeneous," Physical Review Letters, Volume 88 (18) pp. (May 6, 2002).
• P.M. Valanju and R.M. Walser, and A. Valanju, Comment on "Wave refraction in negative-index media: Always positive and very inhomogeneous," Physical Review Letters, Volume 90 (2) pp. (January 17, 2003).
• P.M. Valanju and R.M. Walser, and A. Valanju, "Wave refraction in negative-index media: Always positive and very inhomogeneous," Physical Review Letters, Volume 88 (18) pp. (May 6, 2002).

PRESENTATIONS:
• R.M. Walser and A. Valanju "Processing Technology for Antenna Loading Matls", California Microwave Inc., Oct. 4, 1996.
• R.M. Walser and A. Valanju, Invited Presentation, "Loading Materials for Conformal Multiaperture Antennas, " B2 Division, Northrop-Grumman, Pico Rivera, CA, Oct. 16 (1996).
• R.M. Walser and A. Valanju: Presentations to Industry Advisory Board, Center for Electromagnetic Materials and Devices, UT Austin: "Executive Summary of Center for Electromagnetic Materials and Devices", October 21 (1996). "Super Refractive Index Matched Microwave Composites". "Magnetic Nanoflakes".
• A. Valanju and R. M .Walser, "UHF properties of multilayer CoFe/NiFe films", 37th International Conf. Magnetics and Magnetic Materials and INTERMAG, Jan. 1998.
• A. Valanju and R.M. Walser, "Metamaterials," Presented at Industry Advisors Meeting, Ctr for Electromagnetic Materials and Devices, May 29 (2002).
• R.M. Walser and A. Valanju, "Metamaterials," Presented at Northrop-Grumman, Oct. 20 (2004).
• A. Valanju and R.M. Walser, "MetaConductors," Presented at Boeing Phantom Works, Oct. 27 (2004).
• A. Valanju, "Overview of MetaMaterials," Industry Associates Meeting Northrop-Grumman,Oct. 11(2005).

FUNDING WON:
• R. M. Walser and A. Valanju, Advanced Electromagnetic Materials, DARPA, Oct. 1, 1983 - Oct. 31, 1987.
• A. Valanju, Electromagnetic Interactions in Microstructural Magnetic Particles and Ensembles, ONR, 1984-5.
• R. M. Walser and A. Valanju, Nanoscale Magnetic Information Storage Technology, State of Texas Advanced Technology Program,1987 – 1989.
• R. M. Walser & A. Valanju, Study of Nanoheterogeneous Amorphous Magnetic Thin Films, AFOSR, 1987 - 1991.
• R. M. Walser and A. Valanju, "Industrially Relevant Research on Electromagnetic Materials and Devices", Industry/UT-Austin Cooperative Research Center, ( Sponsors: Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon/TI Systems, General Electric, Northrup-Grumman, General Atomics, McDonnell-Douglas, Tracor ) 1994-1998.
• R.M. Walser and A. Valanju, "Metamaterials," Industry Advisors , UT Center for Electromagnetic Materials and Devices, (2002 - 2005).
• A. Valanju & R.M. Walser, "Materials for Low Profile Antenna Design", DARPA & Lincoln Laboratory, 1997-98.
• R. M. Walser and A. Valanju, "Antenna Loading Materials" California Microwave, Inc. 1996-1998; 1999-2000.
• R. M. Walser and A. Valanju, "Deposition of Near Net Shape Nanoscale Objects", Texas Technology Development and Transfer Project, 1998-2000.

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