New Faculty AY12/13

Department of Biology and Biotechnology

Dr. Jagan Srinivasan, Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D., Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, 2003 

                  M.S., Marine Biotechnology, 1995

                  Goa University, India, 1993

B.S., Biological SciencesDr. Srinivasan’s research focuses on how the brain processes external sensory and internal homeostatic signals to enact stereotyped social behaviors and uses neurobiological, molecular, genomic, and functional imaging approaches to study this in the model invertebrate system, Caenorhabditis elegans.  After receiving his Ph.D. in Genetics in the Department of Evolutionary Biology at the Max Planck Institute, Jagan moved to the Division of Biology at the California Institute of Technology where he is currently a Senior Research Fellow. 

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Dirk R. Albrecht, Assistant Professor

Education:        Ph.D. Bioengineering, UC-San Diego, 2005

                        M.S. Bioengineering, UC-San Diego, 2001
                        B.S. Bioengineering, UC-San Diego, 1997
                        B.S. Biochemistry & Cell Biology, UC-San Diego, 1997

Dr. Albrecht’s research is in the area of microtechnology and neuroscience, with a focus on developing quantitative tools to study how neural signals govern behavior. His lab aims to study the molecular and genetic basis of neural circuit function and dynamics, to develop bioinformatic tools to analyze high-content neural data, and to design rapid cellular and whole-organism screens for therapeutic drugs and genetic modulators affecting neural disease.  Dr. Albrecht received a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego. His thesis work developed an electrokinetic method for 3D micropatterning living cells within hydrogels to study cell-cell interactions in liver and cartilage tissues. After obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Albrecht has been a Postdoctoral Fellow with Cori Bargmann in the Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior at The Rockefeller University. His postdoctoral work developed quantitative methods for simultaneous recording of stimulus-evoked behavior and neural responses the nematode C. elegans. These studies were published in Nature Methods, Integrative Biology, Lab-on-a-Chip, and Biophysical Journal. Dr. Albrecht currently holds a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface, and received a Whitaker Foundation Fellowship and Research Awards from the Biomedical Engineering Society and the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC-San Diego.

Dr. Patrick Flaherty, Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D. Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, University of California at Berkeley, 2006

                  M.S. Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, University of California at Berkeley, 2003

                  B.S. Electrical Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology, 2000

Dr. Flaherty’s research is in the area of bioinformatics, with a focus on the study of clinical genomics. After obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Flaherty completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Biochemistry Department at Stanford University. His doctoral thesis studied the synergistic interaction between two cellular membrane receptors on calcium signaling in macrophage cells. His postdoctoral work concerned the detection of very rare single nucleotide variants using DNA sequencing technology. His current research involves the application of statistical machine learning methods to high-throughput genomics data in order to identify causes of human diseases and improve therapeutics.

Department of Chemical Engineering

Dr. Michael T, Timko Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, MIT, 2004

                  M.S. Chemical Engineering Practice, MIT, 2001

                  B.S. Chemical Engineering, The Ohio State University, 1998

Dr. Timko’s research is focused on the use of high-temperature water for conversion of bio-renewables to fuels and chemicals. For his Ph.D., Dr. Timko studied the use of biphasic systems containing water and a liquid carbon dioxide for green chemistry applications.  After completing his Ph.D. studies, Dr. Timko joined Nobel Laureate Dudley Herschbach’s chemical physics group at Harvard University.  Following post-doctoral research, he has worked a small technology development company, Aerodyne Research Inc., first as a Senior Chemical Engineer and then as a Principal Chemical Engineer.   At Aerodyne, Dr. Timko led projects on biofuels, fuel upgrading, instrument development, and combustion emissions characterization.  In addition to his work at Aerodyne, he was a Research Engineer at MIT for the past 2 years, where he was the Executive Director of the Fuels Desulfurization Laboratory.  The objective of this work has been to user heated, pressurized water for crude oil upgrading and heteroatom removal.  His work has resulted in over 20 publications, in journals ranging from fundamental (Journal of the American Chemical Society) to applied (Journal of Gas Turbines and Power), and on topics ranging from fluid dynamics to aerosol characterization.  This broad background will invigorate Dr. Timko’s research and teaching activities at WPI.  Teaching experience include general chemistry, unit operations, and project based engineering courses.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Nima Rahbar, Assistant Professor

Education:    Ph.D. Civil Engineering, Princeton University, 2008

                    M.S. Civil Engineering, Northeastern University, 2003

                    B.S. Civil Engineering, Sharif Institute of Technology, 1998

Dr. Rahbar’s research is in the areas of applied and computational mechanics and materials science, with a focus on the bioinspired design of materials. After obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Rahbar has been an Assistant Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. His thesis was focused on the bioinspired design and interfacial failure of biomedical structures. During the past four years, he has been working on adhesion and interfacial fracture in multilayered structures, viscoelastic toughening mechanisms in ceramic, mechanics of biological and sustainable materials and natural fiber reinforced composites. Dr. Rahbar’s research has been presented in over 25 publications in journals such as Journal of Applied Physics, Acta Biomaterialia, Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, International Journal of Fatigue and International Journal of Damage Mechanics. At The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Dr. Rahbar has taught courses such as Introduction to Finite Element Method, Structural Mechanics, Mechanics of Materials and Design of Reinforced Concrete Structures.

Dr. Aaron Sakulich, Assistant Professor

Education:            Ph.D Materials Science and Engineering, Drexel University, 2009

                            B.S. Materials Science and Engineering, Drexel University, 2009

Dr. Sakulich performs research on sustainable infrastructure materials, with a focus on alternative binders and novel composites. After obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Sakulich spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher in the Advanced Civil Engineering Materials Research Lab (ACE-MRL) at the University of Michigan. Afterwards, he spent two years as a guest researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology under the National Research Council’s Research Associateship Program. His thesis focused on the characterization of alkali-activated slags, environmentally friendly alternative binders produced from mining waste; Part of this research was carried out at the Université Hassan II in Morocco after the receipt of a Fulbright grant. During Dr. Sakulich’s two post-doctoral appointments, he has investigated novel composites for infrastructure applications, including cements impregnated with phase change materials, engineered cementitious composites (better known as ‘bendable concrete’), and systems containing lightweight aggregate. His work can be found in the ACI Materials Journal, Cement and Concrete Research, Construction and Building Materials, and others.

Department of Computer Science

Dr. Dmitry Berenson, Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D. Robotics, Carnegie Mellon University, 2011

                  M.S.  Robotics, Carnegie Mellon University, 2009

                  B.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cornell University, 2005

Dr. Berenson's research focuses on robotic manipulation, motion planning, and collaborative robotics. After obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Berenson was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at UC Berkeley. He has developed motion planning algorithms which enable mobile manipulators, humanoid robots, and medical robots to perform many kinds of practical tasks by generating motion that obeys a variety of simultaneous constraints, takes into account sensor uncertainty in the planning process, and uses previous experience to plan faster. His work has been featured in National Geographic, BBC News, PBS, Scientific American, and Fortune. His current research focuses on combining machine learning and motion planning, manipulating deformable objects, and collaborative medical robotics.

Dr. Krishna Kumar Venkatasubramanian, Assistant Professor

Eduation:  Ph.D., Computer Science, Arizona State University, 2009

                  M.S., Computer Science, Arizona State University, 2004

                  B.S., Computer Science, Webster University, 2001

Dr. Venkatasubramanian will be joining WPI as an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science department from August 2012. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, in 2009. His current research interests include building secure cyber-physical systems (CPS) with focus on interoperable medical devices, body area networks, networked control systems, and vehicular networks. His work involves applying notions of behavioral trust and environmentally-coupled information security as a way to develop more holistic security solutions for CPS applications.

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dr. Yehia Massoud, Professor and Department Head

Education:  Ph.D., Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT, 1999

                  M.S., Electrical and Communications Engineering, Cairo University, 1994

                  B.S., Electrical and Communications Engineering, Cairo University, 1991

Dr. Massoud was most recently head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, as well as the W. R. Bunn Endowed Chair of Telecommunications and director of the UAB Center for Integrated Systems.

Dr. Massoud, whose research spans embedded systems, signal processing, nanotechnology, and biotechnology, says he looks forward to establishing transformational and synergistic, collaborative research programs with various engineering and science departments at WPI and other universities regionally and nationally.

Dr. Massoud received his PhD in electrical and computer engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1999 before becoming a member of the technical staff in the Advanced Technology Group at Synopsys, a world leader in electronic design automation located in Mountain View, Calif. At Synopsys, he received the Special Recognition Award for excellent performance and outstanding contributions to the company's engineering work.

Dr. Massoud began his academic career in 2003 at Rice University, where he was the founding director of the Nanoelectronics Systems Laboratory. He was an assistant professor (2003-2007) and an associate professor (2007-2010), with appointments in the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science departments and the Applied Physics Program.

He was the theme leader for Novel Interconnects and Architectures in the South West Academy of Nanoelectronics from 2006 to 2011. His research was also supported by awards from the National Science Foundation's CAREER program and the National Nanotechnology Initiative. He also received awards from DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the Office of Naval Research, and Texas Instruments.

His research has resulted in more than 190 peer-reviewed journal publications and conference papers. He received best paper awards at the 2007 IEEE International Symposium on Quality Engineering Design and the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Nanotechnology. Massoud is associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Very Large Scale Integration Systems, IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems, and the Journal of Circuits, Systems, and Computers and serves on the founding editorial board of the journal Nano Communication Networks.

An elected member of the IEEE Nanotechnology Council since 2009, he was the theme leader for Novel Interconnects and Architectures in the Semiconductor Research Corporation's South West Academy of Nanoelectronics (SWAN) center from 2006 to 2011.

Dr. Thomas Eisenbarth, Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D. Electrical Engineering, Ruhr University Bochum, 2009

                  M.S. Electrical Engineering, Ruhr University Bochum, 2006

Dr. Eisenbarth’s research is in the area of IT security, with a focus on the security of embedded systems and applied cryptology. Topics of special interest include embedded security design, physical security and side channel cryptanalysis, and efficient implementation of cryptographic algorithms. After obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Eisenbarth was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Florida Atlantic University since 2010. Eisenbarth has a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, where he worked as a research associate in the embedded security group of Prof. Christof Paar.

Dr. Lifeng Lai, Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D. Electrical and Computer Engineering, The Ohio State University,


                  M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, Zhejiang University, China,


Dr. Lai’s research is in the area of wireless network security, information theory and statistical signal processing. After obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Lai was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Electrical Engineering Department at Princeton University from 2007 to 2009. Since Aug. 2009, he has been an Assistant Professor in the Systems Engineering Department at University of Arkansas, Little Rock. Dr. Lai was a Distinguished University Fellow at the Ohio State Universtiy from 2004 to 2007. Dr. Lai received the Best Paper Award from IEEE Global Communications Conference (Globecom) in 2008, the Best Paper Award from IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC) in 2011, and the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation in 2011.

Department of Humanities & Arts

Dr. Scott Barton, Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D., Composition and Computer Technologies, University of Virginia, 2012

                  M.M., Composition, Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, 2006

                  B.A., Music and Philosophy, Colgate University, 1998

Ph.D. composition and computer technologies, University of Virginia, anticipated 2012 will defend his dissertation, “Understanding Musical Discontinuity: Perceptual Tendencies and Postmodern Theory” before joining HUA’s music division in August. Music technology and perception have been Scott’s primary interests as a composer, musician, producer, programmer, and instrument builder.  At WPI he will teach music composition, auditory perception, and musical robotics, and he will advise student projects at WICN Radio.

Dr. Jennifer McWeeny, Associate Professor

Education:  Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Oregon, 2005

                  M.A. in French Language and Literature, University of Oregon, 2003

                  Grad. Certificate in Women’s And Gender Studies, University of Oregon, 2003

                  M.A., Philosophy, University of Hawaii, 2000

                  B.A., Biology and Philosophy, The Colorado College, 1998

Ph.D. philosophy, University of Oregon, 2005 joins WPI after eight years of full-time teaching at John Carroll University, where she most recently was Associate Professor of Philosophy.  As an undergraduate she double-majored in philosophy and biology. Her areas of expertise are epistemology, continental philosophy, and feminist philosophy. She is currently writing about embodied cognition. This summer she is participating in an NEH seminar entitled “Investigating Consciousness: Buddhist and Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives.”

Dr. V.J. Manzo, Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D., Music, Temple University, 2012

            Certificate in Algorithmic Composition University of California, Santa Cruz, 2008

            M.M., New York University, 2007

            Kean University, B.A.,  Music Education, Kean University, 2005

Ph.D. music education, Temple University, anticipated 2012 specializes in the development and implementation of technology to facilitate composition, performance, and instruction in theory and musicianship. His dissertation explores the use of technology to allow non-musicians to compose, perform, and learn about music. His book on interactive music technology was published by Oxford University Press.

Dr. John Urang, Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D. German, University of Chicago, 2006

                  M.S., German, University of Chicago, 1998

                  B.A., Languages and Literature, Bard College, 1997

Dr. Urang taught German language, literature, and film at Reed College for five years. His research investigates the culture of Cold war-era Germany, paying particular attention to economies of romance and architectures of domestic spaces. His book, Legal Tender: Love and Legitimacy in the East German Cultural Imagination, was published by Cornell University Press; he is now working on a second book concerning East German films of the 1960s.

Department of Mathematics

Dr. Stephan Sturm, Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D. Mathematics, TU Berlin, 2010

                  M.S. Mathematics, University of Vienna, 2004

Dr. Sturm’s research is in the area of mathematical finance, with a focus on the study of stochastic volatility models. After obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Sturm has been a Postdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer in the Operations Research and Financial Engineering Department at Princeton University. His thesis was concerned with the small-time large deviations of diffusion processes associated with Dirichlet forms. His postdoctoral work concerned applications of stochastic analysis to various questions in mathematical finance such as volatility models, construction of market compatible risk measures and the portfolio selection problem from the fund manager perspective. This work has been already published or in the SIAM Journal of Mathematical Finance, Quantitative Finance or has been submitted to Mathematical Finance and Finance and Stochastics. At Princeton University, Dr. Sturm has taught Financial Risk Management and Asset Pricing courses.

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Maria Chierichetti, Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D. Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2012

                  M.S., Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2011

                  M.S., Aeronautical Engineering, Politechnico di Milano, 2077

                  B.S., Aerospace Engineering, Politechnico di Milano, 2004

Dr. Chierichetti’s work is in the field of aerospace structures and dynamics and her expertise ranges from static to dynamic structural analysis, both for metallic and composite structures. Her thesis was entitled “Combined Analytical and Experimental Approaches to Dynamic Component Stress Prediction.” Dr. Chierichetti’s future research will focus on the area of structural dynamics and analysis with particular focus on mechanical engineering applications. Her publications have appeared in the Journal of Sound and Vibration; Journal of Multibody Dynamics; Journal of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics and the Journal of Solids and Structures. During her years as a student at Georgia Tech she facilitated research in a collaborative program between the Georgia Institute of Technology and an area middle school. This project investigated the effects of robotics and problem-based inquiry on student learning in the 8th grade to promote STEM studies.

Dr. Cagdas Denizel Onal, Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University, 2009

                  M.Sc., Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey, 2005

                  B.Sc., Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey, 2003

Dr. Onal’s research interest is in the area of building unconventional systems and components to push the envelope in robotics research. His plan is to proceed with his research in four main tracks; soft robotics, printable robotics, control theory and micro/nano-science and technology.

While he was a post-doctoral associate at MIT in the Distributed Robotics Lab in CSAIL, he described his work as unconventional approaches to robotics including fluidic and shape memory actuation of soft materials or mechanisms. His Ph.D. research was at Carnegie Mellon University Nanorobotics Laboratory in the area of micro-nano-robotics and manipulation. Dr. Onal’s publications have appeared in IEEE journals, such as IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology, and the International Journal of Robotics Research. He is a member of IEEE.

Dr. David Medich, Assistant Professor

Education:  Ph.D. Physics: health physics/radiological sciences, UMass Lowell, MA 1997

                   M.A., Physics, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, 1993

                   B. S., Physics, Union College, Schenectady, NY, 1990

Dr. David Medich has studied health physics and the radiological sciences.  As part of his doctoral dissertation, Dr. Medich investigated new methods for determining the uptake and clearance bio-kinetics of nuclear imaging agents.  After graduation, Dr. Medich received a Postdoctoral Research appointment at the University of Virginia where he focused his research into the field of biophysics where he developed and engineered a method to reduce thermal noise interference on a room temperature atomic force microscope cantilevers and he developed instrumentation to measure atomic binding forces in biophysics research.  Dr. Medich was employed at Implant Sciences Corporation in 1999 where he helped to develop the ISC Model 3500 I-125 brachytherapy source and where he performed research in high dose rate brachytherapy treatment efficacy. In 2002, Dr. Medich became director of the University of Massachusetts Lowell Radioactive Materials Program where managed the university’s reactor, accelerator, and byproduct radioactive materials program.  During this time, Dr. Medich developed the UMass Lowell Medical Physics program and continued his research in brachytherapy physics and in nuclear diagnostic imaging.  In August 2012, Dr. Medich joined the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Department of Physics as an assistant professor.

While at UMass Lowell, Dr. Medich has developed and taught approximately ten graduate and undergraduate courses in medical and health physics, advised seventeen graduate students and eighteen undergraduate students.  He has received research grants from the National Institutes of Health, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and from the UMass system primarily for his research in contrast enhanced neutron imaging and to determine the dosimetric properties of Yb-169 brachytherapy sources. He has authored roughly 25 publications, is an “International Expert Consultant” for the International Atomic Energy Agency, and is on a preliminary ISO research panel investigating standardization of the AAPM TG-43U1 Formalism by performing brachytherapy calibration in terms of Absorbed Dose to Water.

New Full-Time Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

Mark Norige, Professor of Practice, BME

Kevin Sweeney, Professor of Practice, BUS

Umberto Berardi, Assistant Teaching Professor, CEE

Pinar Okumus, Assistant Teaching Professor, CEE

Esther Boucher-Yip, Assistant Teaching Professor, HUA

Derren Rosbach, Assistant Teaching Professor, UGS

Dehner, Corey, Assistant Teaching Professor, IGSD

Ralph Sutter, Instructor/Lecturer, IMGD

Zhang, Xuemao, Post-Doc Scholar, MA

Ivon Arroyo, Assistant Teaching Professor, SSPS


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Last modified: September 12, 2012 09:31:16