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Richard Swanson received his BSEE and MSEE from Ohio State University in 1969 and his PhD from Stanford University in 1974. After completing his PhD, he joined the Electrical Engineering faculty at Stanford. His research investigated the semiconductor properties of silicon relevant for better understanding the operation of silicon solar cells. These studies have helped pave the way for steady improvement in silicon solar cell performance.
In 1991 Dr. Swanson resigned from his faculty position to devote full time to SunPower Corporation, a company he founded. Today, SunPower produces the highest performance photovoltaic panels available.
Dr. Swanson has received widespread recognition for his work. In 2002, he was awarded the William R. Cherry award by the IEEE for outstanding contributions to the photovoltaic field, and in 2006 the Becquerel Prize in Photovoltaics from the European Communities. He was elected a Fellow of the IEEE in 2008 and a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2009. He received the 2009 Economist Magazine Energy Innovator Award. In 2010 he was awarded the IEEE Jin-ichi Nishizawa Medal for the conception and commercialization of high-efficiency point-contact solar cell technology, and in 2011 the Karl Boer Solar Energy Medal of Merit Award.
Dr. Swanson is currently retired from SunPower.