WPI Faculty Achievements

Professor Receives Materials Society’s Highest Honors

Diran Apelian, Howmet Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of WPI’s Metal Processing Institute (the largest industry-university consortium in North America), has received numerous awards and honors over the past year. Among the most significant are the two highest honors bestowed by The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS).

At its annual meeting in March 2006, the society named Apelian a TMS Fellow. There are only 100 living TMS Fellows globally, all honored for outstanding contributions to the practice of metallurgical science and technology. Apelian was recognized for his pioneering research in materials processing.

At the same meeting, he received the 2006 Bruce Chalmers Award, for his outstanding contributions to the science and technology of solidification science. Apelian’s citation noted his primary work in molten metal processing, diffusion solidification, spray casting, and solidification processing of light metals.

Apelian received his BS in metallurgical engineering from Drexel University in 1968 and his PhD in materials science and engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972. He joined WPI in 1990 as provost and led the mission of broadening WPI’s academic programs and research agenda. In 1996 he was appointed head of the Metal Processing Institute, an alliance dedicated to near-net-shape manufacturing with centers in metal casting, powder metallurgy, and heat treating. He has over 400 publications to his credit and has co-edited four books.

First Mathematician Joins Ranks of Jefferson Fellows

Paul W. Davis, professor of mathematical sciences, was one of only six academics named a Jefferson Science Fellow by the U.S. Department of State in 2006-07. Davis is the first mathematician to be selected during the national program’s three-year history.

The fellowship, created in 2003 by the State Department in partnership with the Carnegie Corporation, the MacArthur Foundation, the U.S. science, technology, and engineering academic community, and professional scientific societies, brings senior tenured faculty members in science and engineering to Washington, D.C., to share their areas of scientific and technical expertise with non-specialists within the State Department to help shape U.S. foreign policy.

Davis, whose research interest is the operation and control of electric power systems, is working in the Regional Security Policy Office of the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which is responsible for activities arising from the United States’ commitment to an enhanced partnership with the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN).

As an applied mathematician who has been a member of the WPI faculty since 1970, Davis has written textbooks, developed software to support student-centered learning in mathematical modeling, and consulted for a number of corporations. He has served as secretary for the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and editor-in-chief of SIAM Review. He received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Chemical Engineer Honored for Lifetime of Work

Yi Hua Ma, Frances B. Manning Professor of Chemical Engineering and director of WPI’s Center for Inorganic Membrane Studies, was honored in November 2006 by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the world’s leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, which held two sessions on membrane-based separations in his honor at its annual meeting.

The professional organization recognized Ma’s pioneering efforts in the development and use of inorganic membranes and membrane reactors, and his fundamental studies of reactions in porous adsorbents and catalysts. Ma, who joined the WPI faculty in 1967, served as head of the Chemical Engineering Department from 1979 to 1989. He founded the Center for Inorganic Membrane Studies in 1988. He holds a BS in chemical engineering from National Taiwan University, an MS in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, and an ScD in chemical engineering from MIT. WPI honored Ma with its 1994 Board of Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship; he received the NASA Space Act Award in 1997. See page 31 for more on Ma’s research.

Partnerships Earn Award for Math Department

Balgobin Nandram, Sinclair Professor of Mathematical Sciences, has for the past 10 years been building partnerships with statisticians and scientists at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The ties have resulted in numerous projects and theses for undergraduates and graduate students, as well as internships and research papers.

Nandram’s collaborations were a key factor in the decision of the American Statistical Association (ASA) to present WPI’s Mathematical Sciences Department with the 2006 SPAIG (Statistical Partnerships among Academe, Industry and Government) Award. The honor, presented during the ASA’s annual meeting in Seattle, recognizes out-standing partnerships established between academe and business, industry, and government organizations. Previous SPAIG winners include Duke University, Temple University, and Harvard University.

"The committee is pleased to see WPI students participating in summer internships and thesis writing opportunities, NCHS statisticians helping students to understand public health survey system, and joint authorship of journal papers on many difficult NCHS survey data problems," the SPAIG Committee noted in its announcement. "It is clear that this partnership has been beneficial to both parties. The impressive list of publications shows that the statistical profession has been served very well."

"I am delighted at this honor," said Mathematical Sciences Department head Bogdan Vernescu. "I would like to thank Professor Nandram for developing this partnership and for advising six WPI graduate students, helping them lay the foundation for their thesis work as interns at the NCHS. His work has been outstanding."

Nandram received a BSc in mathematics and physics and a DipEd in mathematics from the University of Guyana, an MSc in statistics from the Imperial College in London, and a PhD in statistics from the University of Iowa. A fellow of the American Statistical Association, he was recently appointed associate editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association, Applications and Case Studies, the world’s premier statistical journal.