A message from Dean Wells: remembering Safieddin (Ali) Safavi-Naeini

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

It is with the greatest sadness that I share the news of the passing of our colleague Professor Safieddin (Ali) Safavi-Naeini on Sunday, October 10th after a recent illness. Ali was a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the director of the Centre for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems (CIARS).

As the NSERC/C-COM Industrial Research Chair in Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems for Next Generation Millimeter-Wave Mobile Communications, he was a globally recognized researcher in the field of electromagnetics.

Safieddin (Ali) Safavi-Naeini was an accomplished professor at Waterloo Engineering.

Ali received his BSc degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tehran and his MSc and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ali joined the University of Waterloo in 1996 as a faculty member in our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and was cross-appointed to Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering.

Since the news of his passing, I have heard from many of Ali’s current and former students who spoke of the CIARS research group as a family. They specifically noted that Ali connected with his students beyond the role of research supervisor. Through his compassionate and caring spirit, he strived to be a research mentor and a friend. His dedication to his research and his ability to create a world-leading facility in electromagnetics and wireless technology at the University of Waterloo was an inspiration to many.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ali’s wife, Marzieh, and his two sons, Kasra and Amir, an alumnus of our electrical engineering program. Ali is also survived by siblings Hamid, and Reihaneh and Reza, who both obtained PhDs in electrical engineering at Waterloo.

Details on how we will honour Ali’s life and contributions will be shared as they are made available. 

I know this is difficult news to hear and I want to remind everyone of our employee family assistance program with Homewood Health that you can access for counselling/bereavement services. Details can be found at:


Although these past 18 months have been challenging for all of us, please know that we are all in this together – and remain so as a community. In difficult moments, it’s helpful to reach out and express to those close to you how much they matter. Connect with your friends, peers, and colleagues. Let people know you care and continue to support each other as we process the difficult loss of Professor Ali Safavi-Naeini and all of those who are no longer with us.

Mary Wells, Dean, Faculty of Engineering