Message from President Berkey

Purposeful research and the passions that inspire it

Each year, this research report gives me the opportunity to share the remarkable work of WPI faculty and students with our friends and colleagues. It also allows me to take stock of WPI's body of research and its impact on the world.

One pattern that has been evident since we launched this publication—indeed since WPI was founded 145 years ago—is the underlying focus on research that provides intellectual challenge while also focusing on important problems. The academic and research culture at WPI has always been one of purposeful achievement. This year is no exception. In this report you will read about research that is addressing many of the most significant challenges of our times—improving the security of the data we rely upon, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of health care, and harnessing the wind to generate electricity.

Yet there is another pattern equally evident in the WPI culture—the enthusiasm of individuals who are pursuing new knowledge and innovative solutions. Time and again, I am impressed by the relentless drive of our faculty and student researchers. Often, they are motivated by a passion born early in their lives. For many, it was a faculty member or colleague who lit the spark that ignited their curiosity, or an event that inspired them to find solutions to problems they had witnessed personally. Whatever the origin, it has led these gifted individuals to resolutely follow a path toward making  a positive difference in the world.

The stories in this edition of Research at WPI provide some insight into this creative and intellectual passion. They also demonstrate how WPI does its best to support its community’s natural enthusiasm, whether by encouraging collaboration between departments or creating spaces that facilitate productive interactions among researchers. As a new feature, we are sharing profiles of alumni who graduated from our PhD programs, so you can see where their creativity and talents are taking them.

One last story I relate to you with particular warmth and pride is Diran Apelian’s election to the National Academy of Engineering. Diran’s lifetime of work includes profound contributions to the field of metallurgy, to his many colleagues around the world, and to the students he mentors. His accomplishments are deservedly gaining increasing national attention. As this report goes to press, Diran is starting another chapter in his book of achievements by helping found the first national center dedicated to saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by recovering and recycling materials.

"Time and again, I am impressed by the relentless drive of our faculty and student researchers."

I hope you enjoy reading about this purposeful research and the passions that inspire WPI faculty, students, and alumni. It is a privilege to be among these talented men and women and to share just a few of their stories with you.