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WPI Welcomes 20 New Educators and Researchers to its Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Ranks

They constitute one of the largest and most accomplished entering faculty classes in WPI's history.

One of the largest entering faculty classes in WPI's history, they are the latest product of an unprecedented investment in talent that has brought 74 new tenure-track faculty members to campus over the past five years alone

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has welcomed 20 new educators and researchers to its tenured and tenure-track faculty ranks for the 2012-13 academic year, continuing a historic investment in talent that has brought 74 new full-time tenure-track faculty members to campus over the last five years alone.

"These researchers, scholars, educators, and leader bring an exceptional scope of expertise and experience to our campus," said Eric W. Overström, provost and senior vice president. "With their prestigious research awards, impressive scholarly output, and diverse expertise, they will help WPI meet a burgeoning demand for its undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts and sciences, business, and engineering while they also expand our reputation for education and research that blends theory and practice to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems."


Dirk Albrecht, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, conducts research in biological microtechnology and bioMEMS, neural dynamics and behavior, neuropeptide signaling, and quantitative systems analysis and modeling, among other areas, work that has been has been funded a Career Award at the Scientific Interface from the Burroughs Welcome Foundation and that has been published in several journals, including Nature Methods. He will join WPI in January after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at The Rockefeller University. He holds BS degrees in bioengineering and biochemistry and cell biology and MS and PhD degrees in bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego.

Scott Barton, assistant professor of music in the Department of Humanities and Arts, is a composer, musician, producer, programmer, and instrument builder who conducts research in the broad areas of music technology and perception. His research interests include electroacoustic composition, music cognition/auditory perception, musical robotics, and artificial musical intelligence. He has a BA in music and a BA in philosophy from Colgate University, a Master of Music in Composition from the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, and a PhD in composition and computer technologies from the University of Virginia, where he received the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Year Fellowship.

Dmitry Berenson, assistant professor of computer science and robotics engineering, conducts research on robotic manipulation, motion planning, collaborative robotics. He joins WPI after serving as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of California at Berkeley. His research has been featured in National Geographic, Scientific American, and Fortune and has been covered by PBS and the BBC. He holds a BS in electrical and computer engineering from Cornell University and an MS and a PhD in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University.


Maria Chierichetti, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, conducts research in response and model identification, structural vibrations, structural health monitoring, and innovative structural configurations for aerospace applications. While a graduate student, she received the Amelia Earhart Fellowship from Zonta International; the organization awards 35 fellowships annually to women around the world pursuing doctoral work in aerospace-related sciences and engineering. She earned a BS in aerospace engineering and an MS in aeronautical engineering at Politechnico di Milano in Italy, and an MS and a PhD in aerospace engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Thomas Eisenbarth, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, joins WPI after spending two years as an assistant professor of mathematical sciences at Florida Atlantic University. He conducts research is in the area of IT security, with a focus on embedded systems security, physical attacks and counter measures, and applied cryptology. In 2011 he received a five-year CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation for a research project titled "Practical Leakage Resilience: Provable Side-Channel Resistance for Embedded Systems." He holds an MS and a PhD in electrical engineering from Ruhr University Bochum in Germany.

Patrick Flaherty, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, joins WPI after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in biochemistry at Stanford University. A researcher in bioinformatics, machine learning, and cancer genomics, he is currently engaged in work aimed at improving the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases by applying statistical machine learning methods to high-throughput genomics data.. He received a BS in electrical engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology and an MS and a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California at Berkeley.


Lifeng Lai, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, comes to WPI from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, where he was an assistant professor of systems engineering. In 2011 he received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to support his research in the areas of wireless network security, information theory, and stochastic signal processing. His research has resulted in two best paper awards: at the IEEE Global Communications Conference in 2008 and at the IEEE International Conference on Communications in 2011. He earned a BE and an ME in information science and electrical engineering at Zhejiang University in China and a PhD in electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State University.

V.J. Manzo, assistant professor of music in the Department of Humanities and Arts, was most recently an adjunct professor of Music at Montclair State University and Kean University and a visiting specialist at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. His scholarly interests include algorithmic and traditional composition, interactive music system programming, music theory, music cognition and education, and guitar performance. He is the author of Max/MSP/Jitter for Music: A Practical Guide to Developing Interactive Music Systems for Education and More (Oxford University Press, 2011). He holds a BA in music education from Kean University, a Master of Music from New York University, and a PhD in music education from Temple University.

Yehia Massoud, professor and head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, was most recently W.R. Bunn Head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Massoud's research in embedded systems, signal processing, nanotechnology, and biotechnology has been funded by more than $19 million in awards from the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Office of Naval Research, and other agencies, and has resulted in more than 200 journal and conference papers. An elected member of the IEEE Nanotechnology Council since 2009, he 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. He holds a BSc and an MSc in electrical and computer engineering from Cairo University and a PhD in electrical and computer engineering from MIT.

Jennifer McWeeny, associate professor of philosophy in the Department of Humanities and Arts, joins WPI after eight years of full-time teaching at John Carroll University, where she most recently was an associate professor of philosophy. With research interests in epistemology, philosophy of the mind, phenomenology, Asian and comparative philosophy, and feminist philosophy, she is past executive secretary of the Society for Women in Philosophy. She earned a BA in biology and philosophy at The Colorado College, an MA in philosophy from the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa, and an MA in French language and literature and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Oregon.

David Medich, assistant professor of physics, joins WPI from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he was director of the Radioactive Materials Program and director of radiation safety. With research expertise in brachytherapy physics and nuclear diagnostic imaging, he is a qualified expert and consultant for the International Atomic Energy Agency. Earlier in his career, while a senior radiation physicist at Implant Sciences Corporation, he conducted research on the efficacy of high-dose-rate brachytherapy treatment. He earned a BS in physics at Union College, an MA in physics at State University of New York at Buffalo, and a PhD in physics/health physics/radiological sciences at UMass Lowell.

Cagdas Denizel Onal, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, joins WPI after a three-year appointment as a postdoctoral associate in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT. His research interests include soft robotics, printable robotics, control theory, and micro/nano-science and technology; he is the co-author of Atomic Force Microscopy Based Nanorobotics (Springer, 2012), a textbook, based on his dissertation research. He holds a BSc and an MSc in electrical engineering and computer science from Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey, and a PhD in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Nima Rahbar, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, comes to WPI from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he was an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. His research interests include atomistic simulations, bioinspired design of materials, contact mechanics and adhesion, natural fiber reinforced composites. He has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and a TMS Structural Materials Division Young Leader Award. He received a BS in civil engineering from Sharif Institute of technology in Iran, an MS in civil engineering from Northeastern University, and a PhD in civil engineering from Princeton University.

Aaron Sakulich, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, comes to WPI from the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST), where he was a guest researcher under the National Research Council’s Research Associateship Program. His research focuses on sustainable materials for the built environment, increasing infrastructure durability, applications of scanning electron microscopy in education, and technology in developing nations. He completed part of his doctoral research at the Université Hassan II in Morocco under a Fulbright grant and held a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Michigan. He holds a BS and a PhD in materials science and engineering from Drexel University.

Jagan Srinivasan, assistant professor of biology and biotechnology, joins WPI after serving as a senior research fellow in biology at the California Institute of Technology. In his research, he explores the neural basis of social behaviors and the role of neuromodulation and social experience in mediating social behaviors. He has isolated and characterized a novel family of small molecules that mediate social communication in worms, molecules that are potential therapeutic targets against parasitic nematodes. He holds a BS in zoology from the University of Madras in India, an MS in marine biotechnology from Goa University in India, and a PhD in genetics from the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Germany.

Stephan Sturm, assistant professor of mathematical sciences, was most recently a postdoctoral research associate and lecturer in the Operations Research and Financial Engineering Department at Princeton University, where he taught asset pricing and risk management classes at the Bendheim Center for Finance. Sturm's research is in the area of mathematical finance and stochastic analysis. He received an MS in mathematics from the University of Vienna and a PhD in mathematics from Technischen Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) in Germany.


Michael Timko, assistant professor of chemical engineering, conducts research in bioenergy, biomass conversion, chemical reactor design, and chemical measurements in high-pressure, high-temperature environments, work that has resulted in over 20 publications in peer-reviewed journals. He joins WPI after working as principal chemical engineer in the Center for Aero-Thermodynamics at Aerodyne Research Inc. He holds a BS in chemical engineering from Ohio State University and an MS in chemical engineering practice and a PhD in chemical engineering from MIT and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Dudley Herschbach.

John Urang, assistant professor of German in the Department of Humanities and Arts, taught German language, literature, and film as a visiting assistant professor of German at Reed College for five years before joining WPI. His research focuses on the culture of Cold war-era Germany, particular the economies of romance and architectures of domestic spaces. He is the author of Legal Tender: Love and Legitimacy in the East German Cultural Imagination (Cornell University Press, 2011) and is at work on a new book on East German films of the 1960s. He received a BA in languages and literature at Bard College and an MA and a PhD in Germanic studies from the University of Chicago.

Krishna Kumar Venkatasubramanian, assistant professor of computer science, comes to WPI from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a postdoctoral researcher in computer and information science. His current research interests include secure cyber-physical systems, interoperable medical devices, body area networks, networked control systems, and vehicular networks. His work has been featured on the Discovery Channel website and in ACM Tech News and IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology. He received a BS in computer science from Webster University and an MS and a PhD in computer science from Arizona State University.

Jamal Yagoobi, George I. Alden Professor and Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, joined WPI last winter after serving as professor and former two-term chair of the Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology. He is internationally known for his research on electrohydrodynamics, transport phenomena in porous media, and transport phenomena in the presence of micro-encapsulated phase change materials. Has received more than $11 million in research awards from the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Small Business Administration, and ASHRAE. The author of more than 90 peer-reviewed journal papers and more than 150 peer-reviewed conference publications, he has delivered nearly 70 invited lectures and keynote presentations at conferences and academic, government, and industry meetings globally, and he is named on eight patents. Yagoobi received a BS in mechanical engineering from Sharif University of Technology in Iran and a MS and a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

November 6, 2012