New Faculty Enhance Engineering Reach

The School of Engineering welcomes nine new faculty members who bring diverse expertise that will complement our research, academic and professional missions.  We are pleased to introduce them here.

The Chemical, Materials & Biomolecular Engineering (CMBE) Department welcomes four new faculty members in the Chemical Engineering Program and Materials Science Program.  Joining the department as an assistant professor in the Chemical Engineering Program is Dr. Kristina Wagstrom, who recently completed a three-year post-doctoral position at the University of Minnesota, where she studied the air quality impacts resulting from biofuels using a full lifecycle analysis approach and a detailed air quality model. Dr. Wagstrom received her Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009. Her current research focuses on improvements and novel applications of modeling to understand the impacts of air pollution to human health.

During the 2012-13 academic year, Dr. Wagstrom will divide her time between UConn and her appointment as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  In her advisory role, Dr. Wagstrom will evaluate current science and policy relating to air pollution and climate, and contribute to EPA’s funding priorities to encourage research in areas aimed at filling the gaps in our current knowledge. Learn more about Dr. Wagstrom here.

Also joining the CMBE Department, as an Assistant Research Professor in the Chemical Engineering Program at UConn’s Avery Point campus, is Dr. Kevin Brown.  His primary research interests include complex systems, networks systems biology, and biomolecular signaling pathways.  Dr. Brown received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Cornell University in 2003. He completed two postdoctoral appointments, first in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University (2004-07) and subsequently in the Department of Physics and Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies (ICB) at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2007-11). He remained with the ICB as an Assistant Project Scientist until joining UConn.

Dr. Avinash Dongare joins the Materials Science & Engineering Program in the CMBE Department as an assistant professor.  He will also be associated with the Institute of Materials Science.  Dr. Dongare received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia (UVA), Charlottesville, in 2008.  He went on to serve as a National Research Council Research Associate for the U.S. Army before working as a visiting research scientist at UVA.  Most recently, Dr. Dongare held a position as Senior Research Associate at North Carolina State University.  His current research interests focus on the use of large-scale materials modeling methods across multiple scales to design materials with superior properties for the next generation of high-tech applications.  Read more about Dr. Dongare here.

Another new faculty member joining the Materials Science & Engineering Program in the CMBE Department is Dr. Serge Nakhmanson.  Dr. Nakhmanson received his Ph.D. in physics at Ohio University, Athens, OH in 2001.  He continued his research as a post-doctoral research associate at North Carolina State University (2001-04) and Rutgers University (2004-06).  Most recently, Dr. Nakhmanson was an Assistant Scientist in the Materials Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory.  He has published 35 scholarly papers in peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Physical Review Letters and Physical Review B, among others, and written two book chapters. His research interests include ferroelectric materials, electronic structure calculations using density functional theory, and the cooperative Jahn-Teller effect. He will also be associated with the Institute of Materials Science. 

The Civil & Environmental Engineering Department welcomes Dr. Karthik Konduri as an assistant professor specializing in transportation systems, with interests in travel behavior and time use analysis, travel demand modeling and forecasting, transportation planning and policy, integrative modeling of land use and transportation, econometric and statistical modeling, transportation engineering, traffic simulation, and related activities. Dr. Konduri earned his Ph.D., and recently completed post-doctoral research in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, at Arizona State University, Tempe. He has published extensively in Transportation Research Record, Transportation, and other respected journals, and was a co-recipient of the 2012 Transportation Research Board’s Pyke Johnson Award for the best paper in the field of transportation systems planning and administration.

Two new faculty members join the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department as assistant professors: Drs. Ali Bazzi and Omer Khan.

Dr. Bazzi, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in December 2010, brings expertise in the power engineering area.  He has gained industrial experience working at Delphi Electronics & Safety for the past year. His research interests include power electronics design, control, optimization, and reliability modeling in motor drives and solar photovoltaic applications. Dr. Bazzi is also interested in renewable energy integration in micro-grids, and real-time control and optimization of energy systems in general. His teaching interests include power electronics, electrical machines, and motor drives.  Read more about Dr. Bazzi here.

Dr. Khan will join the ECE Department in the area of computer engineering.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2009 and was most recently a Research Affiliate in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His teaching and research expertise spans the general fields of computer architecture, digital system design, and VLSI, with particular interest in scalability of on-chip memory, networks and communication in future multicore architectures; hardware/software co-design; VLSI and digital systems design; and simulation and construction of architecture prototypes. Learn more about Dr. Khan here.

The Mechanical Engineering Department welcomes Dr. Pinar Zorlutuna for the fall 2012 term.  Dr. Zorlutuna received her Ph.D. degree in biotechnology from a joint project between Middle East Technical University and Queen Mary University of London.  She held a post-doctoral appointment in the bioengineering department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2009-11).  Since 2011 she has served as a member of the research staff in biomedical engineering at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.  Dr. Zorlutuna’s expertise is in the area of tissue engineering including stem cell culturing and growth on engineered tissue scaffolds. She brings significant strengths to the Department’s research and education in biomechanics and bioengineering and will enhance collaborations with the UConn Health Center.

Also joining the ME Department, in fall 2013, is Dr. David M. Pierce.  He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering with minor in mathematics from Stanford University.  Since then, Dr. Pierce has been on the faculty of the Institute of Biomechanics at Graz University, Austria. His research interests include computational mechanics, finite element methods, solid mechanics, applied mathematics, continuum (damage) mechanics, fatigue analysis, development of analysis/design tools and related computer programming/software.  His current research projects are in the area of cartilage biomechanics and mechanical modeling of complex structures and tissues.


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