Faculty Achievements

Ali Rangwala

Fire Researcher Garners


Ali Rangwala, assistant professor of fire protection engineering, received a five-year, $430,000 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the agency's most prestigious award for young faculty members. He will conduct a groundbreaking scientific study of dust-layer ignition and flame propagation in dust clouds to help address a serious industrial fire and explosion hazard. Learn more...

Yi Hua

Issue of Journal Dedicated to WPI Researcher

The May 2009 Issue of the Journal of the Taiwan Institute of Chemical Engineers was published in honor of Yi Hua (Ed) Ma, Francis B. Manning Professor of Chemical Engineering and director of the Center for Inorganic Membrane Studies at WPI. The publication honored Ma's 40 plus years of scientific and professional achievements in the field of inorganic membranes, including his recent groundbreaking work on reactors with palladium membranes that can produce low-cost hydrogen from natural gas, coal gas, or renewable sources.

Five New Fellows

David Adams, professor of biology and biotechnology, was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society. He was honored for distinguished contributions to the field of biology, particularly his successful replication of Alzheimer's disease in a mouse model. Fellowship is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers in recognition of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Anthony Dixon, professor of chemical engineering, was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Fellowship is granted on the basis of outstanding professional achievement, significant accomplishment in engineering, and contributions to the profession of chemical engineering.

Pamela Weathers, professor of biology and biotechnology, was elected a fellow of the Society for In Vitro Biology. Fellowship is reserved for longstanding members who have made outstanding contributions to research, teaching, or administration in their areas of specialization.

John Orr, provost and senior vice president, and David DiBiasio, professor and head of WPI's Chemical Engineering Department, were elected fellows of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). The grade of fellow is conferred upon no more than one-tenth of one percent of ASEE members each year. It recognizes members with extraordinary qualifications and experience in engineering or engineering technology education who have made outstanding contributions to the field and to ASEE.

Another Fulbright Scholar

Kristen Billiar, associate professor of biomedical engineering, received a Fulbright Scholarship to spend the 2009–10 academic year at the National University of Ireland Galway working on research and education related to tissue engineering. Billiar, the 14th member of the current WPI faculty to be awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant, also received a Human Frontiers Science Program short-term fellowship to study in the Netherlands in the summer of 2010.

National Academy Panel Member

Nikolaos Gatsonis, professor of mechanical engineering and director of WPI's Aerospace Engineering Program, has been named to a committee charged with conducting the National Research Council's Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space. The survey will establish priorities and provide recommendations for federally funded life and physical sciences research in microgravity and partial gravity between 2010 and 2020.

Early Career Award Recipient

Diana Lados, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Integrative Materials Design Center, received the 2008 Orr Early Career Award from the Materials Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The award recognizes research excellence in specific areas of materials science. As part of the recognition, Lados received the Orr Best Paper Award for "Fatigue Crack Growth in Metallic Materials: Mechanisms and Design Considerations," which she presented at the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition.

Solo Art Exhibit in Manhattan

Joseph Farbrook, assistant professor of Interactive Media & Game Development, had a solo art exhibition titled Nostalgia for Neverwas at the AC Institute in New York City. Among other recent exhibits, he was invited to have his work featured in Biopolis, an exhibition in Prague created in response to the influence of digital technology on new media art. Farbrook received an honorable mention award for Nostalgia for Neverwas at the prestigious London International Creative Competition, which drew works by 5,000 international artists.

Recognition for Scholarship

In its April 2009 issue, the journal Nature Physics highlighted a paper co-authored by Izabela Stroe, assistant professor of physics, which was originally published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The paper, "A unified model of protein dynamics," suggests that the activity of proteins in a living organism appears to be controlled by the water that surrounds them. Water, the Nature Physics article notes, acts like a puppeteer controlling protein dynamics.

Editors of the journal Cloning and Stem Cells selected a paper by a team of researchers at WPI and CellThera, a company located in the WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center, as one of two "very important" papers published in the September 2009 edition. The team was led by Tanja Dominko, associate professor of biology and biotechnology, and Raymond Page, research assistant professor of biology and biotechnology. The paper, "Induction of Stem Cell Gene Expression in Adult Human Fibroblasts without Transgenes," documents a new way to turn on stem cell genes in human skin cells without the risks associated with inserting extra genes or using viruses.

An article by Dalin Tang, professor of mathematical sciences ("Sites of rupture in human atherosclerotic carotid plaques are associated with high structural stresses; An in vivo MRI-based 3D fluid-structure interaction study") published in the journal Stroke, was a featured article on MDLinx.com, an index of articles for physicians and other healthcare professionals.

Soussan Djamasbi, assistant professor of management, won the Best Paper Award in the human-computer interaction track at the 14th Americas Conference on Information Systems in Toronto for "Generation Y & Web Design: Usability Testing through Eye Tracking."

Notable Appointments

Tanja Dominko was recently appointed to the board of directors of the Rosalind Franklin Society, a national organization that recognizes, fosters, and makes known the important contributions of women in science. Other members of the society, which honors a scientist who helped solve the structure of DNA, include Nancy Andrews, dean and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Duke University Medical School; Janet Rossant, chief of research at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and a member of the National Academy of Sciences; and Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami and Health and Human Services Secretary under President Clinton.

Eleanor Loiacono, associate professor of management, recently completed a term as chair of the Special Interest Group on Human Computer Interaction (SIGHCI) of the Association for Information Systems, the premier global organization for academics specializing in information systems.

Jeanine Plummer, professor of civil and environmental engineering and the inaugural Alena and David M. Schwaber Professor of Environmental Engineering, was recently appointed a trustee in the Water Science and Research Division of the American Water Works Association. In 2008, she was the second WPI faculty member in two years to be named Professor of the Year for Massachusetts by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Robert Norton, Milton P. Higgins II Distinguished Professor, was the 2007 honoree.

Gabor Sarkozy, affiliated associate professor of computer science, was named a doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. A native of Hungary, he is, in addition to his WPI post, a senior research fellow in the Computer and Automation Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy, which presented him with its Publication Award in 2008.

Pamela Weathers, professor of biology and biotechnology, has been named to the board of directors of the Council for Frontiers of Knowledge. Headquartered in Uganda, the council is an interdisciplinary science and technology organization whose goal is to lead the world in defining and developing sustainable science and technology globally. Weathers has also been named to the editorial board of the journal Plant Cell Organ and Tissue Culture.

Michael Gennert, professor and head of the Department of Computer Science, Micha Hofri, professor of computer science, and Robert Lindeman, assistant professor of computer science, were each recently awarded the rank of Senior Member in the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). Lindeman was also elevated to Senior Member in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).