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With great sadness, I am sharing the news of Dr. Neelkanth G. Dhere, who recently died of COVID while in India. I came to know this news from Dr. Davis. Dr. Dhere was with the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) at UCF and contributed to our MSE program since we started in 2000. He hired many MSE Ph.D. students and taught many MSE elective courses. Many of his students (MSE) are well placed in Intel, Motorola, Applied Materials, and many other solar energy companies. He retired from FSEC several years back and was enjoying his retirement life on Merritt Island. While many of you may not know Dr. Dhere, I thought I would share this news since he really helped our MSE program and was a great colleague of mine and others in the department.

Dr. Neelkanth G. Dhere has worked at FSEC since 1990, where he held the position of Program Director. He was also a Joint Professor at the UCF Departments of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering. At FSEC, he created a world-class lab in the field of photovoltaics, with notable accomplishments including the preparation of CuIn1-xGaxSe2-ySy (CIGSeS) photovoltaic cells by selenization/sulfurization; the preparation of small area CIGSS cells with high-efficiency values (13.73%); the development of 8.64% efficient photoelectrochemical cells using thin-film photovoltaic cells and RuS2photoanodes for the generation of hydrogen by splitting water; and investigations of photovoltaic module reliability under long-term exposure conditions. He was a Visiting Senior Research Scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO during 1986-1990. He was the first in the U.S. to prepare high Tc superconducting thin films (Tc > 80K) based on bismuth in 1988. He worked as a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the Instituto Militar de Engenharia in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during June 1971-1986.

Dr. Dhere was the eldest Ph. D. in the family holding the Guinness Book World Record for most doctorates in a family (all five members, including three brothers and two sisters all born to the same parents). He is a Fellow of the American Vacuum Society (AVS, 2003), as well as the Founder-President (1979-1980) and Emeritus Member of the Brazilian Vacuum Society. He was the Chairperson of the SPIE Reliability of Photovoltaic Cells, Modules, Components, and Systems Conference in 2008 and 2009, Chairperson of the AVS Florida Chapter in 2004, Program Chairperson of the Joint Symposium of the Florida Society for Microscopy and Florida Chapter of the AVS in March 2005, and Co-Chair of the National Thin Film Module Reliability Team since 2002. He received the 2003 UCF Research Incentive Award and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Region 3 Outstanding Engineer Award in 2002.

May his soul Rest in Peace.