Vol. 4, No. 9 Jan. 16, 2003

In this issue:

 


Around Campus

WPI Receives Nanotechnology Grant
Robert Thompson, professor of chemical engineering, Grant McGimpsey, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Nikolaos Gatsonis, associate professor of mechanical engineering, have received a three-year, $622,000 award from the National Science Foundation for work in nanotechnology. The research will focus on the use of "nanochannels" to confine and transport water, alcohols, amines, MTBE and other organic compounds.

The results will provide a better understanding of biosystems that involve flows through nanomembranes and structures, as well as novel phenomena in nanofluids. It will also shed light on environmental processes, multiscale modeling and simulation, and fluid-surface interactions at the nanoscale,

Nanotechnology, a multidisciplinary field that incorporates elements of engineering, biotechnology, physics and chemistry, focuses on structures smaller than 100 nanometers (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter, or about 1/100,000 the width of a human hair). Potential applications of nanotechnology research include new types of biosensors, drugs and medical therapies.

"The new frontier of scientific inquiry is at the atomic and molecular levels," notes William Durgin, associate provost and vice president for research. "This significant NSF grant provides a foundation for a robust research program at WPI in this exciting new field."


People

Orr Becomes Fellow of IEEE
John Orr, professor of electrical and computer engineering and head of the ECE Department, has been named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE.)

Orr received the honor for his contributions to electrical and computer engineering education. The IEEE board of directors confers the grade of fellow upon a person with an extraordinary record of accomplishment in the electrical engineering field. The total number of fellows selected in any year does not exceed one-tenth percent of the total voting IEEE membership.

Vernescu Appointed Department Head
Bogdan Vernescu, professor of mathematical sciences, has been named the new head of WPI’s Mathematical Sciences Department. Vernescu, who joined the WPI faculty in 1991, founded the Center for Industrial Mathematics and Statistics (CIMS) in 1997. The center serves as a resource to industrial partners that face highly technical problems involving sophisticated mathematics.

Under the auspices of CIMS, Vernescu also led the development of the Mathematics in Industry Institute for high school teachers, which seeks to prepare teachers to motivate women and underrepresented minorities to take advanced mathematics courses while in high school and to pursue careers in mathematics, engineering, information technology, finance and economics. The program is supported by the GE Fund. Vernescu’s research interests include partial differential equations, phase transitions and free boundaries, and viscous flow in porous media.

New Minority Affairs Director Named
Calvin Hill has joined the staff of the Student Life Office as director of minority affairs. He comes to WPI after teaching most recently in the Division of Business, Law and Public Policy at Anna Maria College. Hill received a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Bethany College and a master’s in student personnel administration from Emporia State University. He is a doctoral candidate at Howard University.

As director of minority affairs, Calvin will focus on the retention of and quality of life for under-represented students. He will also oversee EMSEP (Excellence in Math, Science and Engineering Program), WPI's retention and academic success initiative focusing on personal, academic and career development and support, and will assist the Admissions Office in its efforts to recruit qualified students of color to WPI.

Faculty Named Journal Editors
Two WPI faculty members were recently named to editorial positions at prestigious journals. Gretar Tryggvason, head of the Mechanical Engineering Department, has been appointed the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Computational Physics. Established in 1966, the journal has played a pivotal role in establishing scientific computing as a major discipline. Pamela Weathers, professor of biology and biotechnology, has been named an associate editor of In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology Plant. .

Pellerin is President of Facilities Organization
Terry Pellerin, associate director of plant services, was recently elected president of the Southern New England Chapter of the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers. Founded in 1914 to assist facilities officers and physical plant administrators at public and private colleges and universities worldwide, the organization promotes excellence in administration, care, operation, planning and construction of educational facilities. As president and executive officer, Pellerin will represent the chapter on regional and national issues, and will preside over chapter meetings, assist in educational programs, and supervise and direct chapter affairs.

Dietrich Receives CASE´s Hebert Award
Robert Dietrich, director of development, has been awarded the Carol and Stephen Hebert Award from District I of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). The award, which will be presented at the annual awards banquet on Feb. 1, is presented to a CASE member who has devoted an extraordinary amount of time and energy to District I, benefiting members professionally and personally. The award honors longtime District I volunteers Steve Hebert, WPI’s treasurer and vice president for administration, and the late Carol Hebert.

Gerrity Appointed to MFUA Board
Timothy R. Gerrity, director of the Bioengineering Institute, has been appointed a member of the board of the Medical Follow-Up Agency (MFUA), a non-profit medical research organization that is part of the National Academy of Sciences´ Institute of Medicine.

The 11-member board oversees the agency´s utilization of medical and other records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense and other federal agencies for medical research, and studies the natural history of diseases and other health outcomes in military veteran populations.

As a board member, Gerrity has also been appointed liaison to the Institute of Medicine/National Research Council Committee on accelerating the research, development and acquisition of medical countermeasures against biological warfare agents.

"Tim came to WPI with a strong reputation in Washington, D.C.," says William W. Durgin, associate provost and vice president for research. "His appointment to the MFUA board further raises his profile in the governmental and nonprofit circles of our nation’s capital, and can only aid in the growth and development of the Bioengineering Institute."

And Baby Makes Three
Jennifer Cluett, senior assistant director of admissions, and her husband, Wayne, welcomed their first child, Michaela Marsha, on Jan. 12.

 

Employment Opportunities
A complete list of currently available positions is posted on the Human Resources Web site.

WPI's Human Resources Office encourages current employees to refer qualified individuals to apply for jobs at WPI. For each person you refer who is hired and who successfully completes six months of active service, you will receive a $500 bonus. The Employee Referral Bonus Program applies to all permanent nonfaculty, exempt and nonexempt positions.


WPI in the News

For summaries of where WPI has been in the news, please visit the official WPI In the News section of the WPI Web site.


Cabinet Meeting Summary

Summaries of Cabinet Meetings are available online to members of the WPI Community on the Cabinet Web site.

 


Colloquia/Conferences/Meetings

Chemical Engineering
Thursday, Jan. 30, noon, "Control of the Cell Culture Environment: Scientific and Engineering Challenges," Ljiljana Kundakovic, MIT, Higgins Labs 218.

Civil and Environmental Engineering
Thursday, Jan. 23, 2 p.m., "An Overview of International Applications of Accelerated Pavement Testing with Discussion Pertaining to the Nature of the Test and Ancillary Tests that are Utilized," Frederick Hugo, Emeritus Professor, University of Stellenbosch and Specialist Consultant in Geotechics, Technology Management and Transportation Engineering, Campus Center, Hagglund Room.

Computer Science
Friday, Jan. 17, 11 a.m., "A Connectionist Model of Sentence Comprehension and Production," Douglas Rohde, MIT, Fuller Labs 320.

Friday, Jan. 24, 11 a.m., "Formal Ontology," Adam Pease ‘89, Program Manager and Director of Knowledge Systems Teknowledge, Palo Alto, Calif., Fuller Labs 320.

Continuing and Professional Education
Wednesday, Jan. 29, 6:30 p.m., IT Information Session, Waltham Campus, 60 Hickory Drive (in Bear Hill Road/Second Avenue business complex, Rte. 128, exit 26). For more information, call 800-974-9717 or reserve your space online at www.ce.wpi.edu.

Thursday, Jan. 30, 6:30 p.m., IT Information Session, MetroWest Campus, 225 Turnpike Road (Rte. 9 West), Southborough. For more information, call 800-WPI-9717 or visit www.ce.wpi.edu.

Faculty Meeting
Thursday, Jan. 23, 3:15 p.m., Olin 107.

Humanities
Friday, Feb. 7, 10 a.m., "African American Attitudes Towards Landscape and Nature," B. Eugene McCarthy, Holy Cross College, Salisbury Labs 105.

Undergraduate Admissions
Monday, Jan. 20, Undergraduate Admissions Open House.


Publications & Presentations

Humanities
Brattin, Joel J. "Big Brother is Watching Jimi-or Vice Versa?," in Jimpress 74, pp. 16-17, Winter 2002/2003.

Menides, Laura J. "Bishop in New York," in The Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin, p. 1, 9:2, Winter 2002.


Worth Noting

WPI Kicks Off Celebration of Powered Flight
Paul MacCready, considered the father of human-powered flight, spoke at WPI on Nov. 11 and received the university’s Presidential Medal. The founder and chairman of AeroVironment in Monrovia, Calif., MacCready is best known as the designer of the Gossamer Condor, the first successful human-powered airplane. His company also developed the unmanned Helios aircraft, which not long ago flew to 96,863 feet, breaking the world altitude record for jet- or propeller-powered aircraft.

MacCready’s talk was an early event in a yearlong WPI celebration of the first century of powered flight. Several other talks and events are in the planning stage. They will constitute WPI’s contribution to a full calendar of events nationwide that will culminate on Dec. 17, the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first successful flight. As another element of WPI’s powered flight observance, the speaker and honorary degree recipients at this year’s Commencement ceremony on May 17 will be chosen for their contributions to aviation and space exploration.

In addition to events, WPI will observe the centennial of the Wright brother’s first flight in the pages of Transformations. In the current issue, mailing this week, the magazine begins a series of articles that tell the stories of contributions to aviation and space technology by WPI alumni, faculty and students. In the current issue, look for articles on Richard Whitcomb ’43, retired NASA engineer who pioneered some of the most important innovations in high-speed flight, and James Dunn ’67, who is developing an electric airplane (with assistance from WPI’s Fuel Cell Center) that may usher in an important technology for the second century of powered flight.

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