Faculty & Staff


Kristen Billiar
Professor and Department Head, Biomedical Engineering

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5384

Understanding the mechanisms by which mechanical forces regulate the development and healing of connective tissues and the pathogenesis of disease is becoming one of the foremost problems at the intersection of biomechanics and cell biology—it has spawned the field of mechanobiology. In our lab we use precisely engineered, two-dimensional and three-dimensional constructs as model systems to study the effects of external internal (cell-generated) forces on cell behavior, matrix biochemistry, and the biomechanics of soft tissues and biomaterials. We have developed many innovative systems to ...

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Taimoor Afzal
Assistant Teaching Professor, Biomedical Engineering

I joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering in January 2022 as an Assistant Teaching Professor. My research interests lie in human movement control, machine learning, and neural engineering. My PhD research focused on developing a machine learning algorithm based on the notion of muscle synergies for classification of different walking modes. Later in my career, I worked at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston where I examined the feasibility of exoskeletons for assisted walking in patients with neurological disorders. Recently, I was working as a postdoctoral ...

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Diana Alatalo
Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Diana Alatalo is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Her research focuses on engineering solutions for maternal-child health while training the next generation of engineers. She has received several honors and awards including 2020 Editors’ Choice Paper Award from ASME Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, Golden Key 2020 Graduate Scholar Award, Best Paper Award Finalist for 2018 ASME IMECE, 2017 IEEE UT Dallas Student Chapter Volunteer of the Year, and 1st Place Young Engineer Paper Award for Fluid Engineering Division at 2016 ASME IMECE. ...

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Dirk Albrecht
Associate Professor-Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x4859

My research is in the area of microtechnology and neuroscience, with a focus on developing quantitative tools to study how neural signals govern behavior. My laboratory aims to investigate the molecular and genetic basis of neural circuit function and dynamics, to develop bioinformatic tools for analysis of high-content neural data, and to design rapid cellular and whole-organism screens for therapeutic drugs and genetic modulators affecting neural disease. Research in the lab develops an interdisciplinary set of skills in microfabrication, computation and modeling, lab automation/robotics, ...

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Sakthikumar Ambady
Associate Teaching Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5714

I’ve always loved biology from the time I was in middle school. This love encouraged me to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine, followed by a doctorate in molecular genetics and research interests in the field of gene mapping, stem cell biology, and regenerative medicine. One of the unique features of WPI is the close interaction between students and faculty. The university's project-based educational approach aligns very well with my own teaching philosophy, where laboratory-based approaches convey more of an education compared to theory-based approaches. In this age of “kit-based ...

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Funmi Ayobami
Assistant Teaching Professor, Biomedical Engineering

My interest in biomechanics stems from my curiosity at a young age to understand how physics affects performance and injury in sports. This curiosity led me to study biomedical engineering as an undergraduate here at WPI, while a love of writing led to a double-major in Professional Writing. My passion continued as I pursued my doctorate in biomedical engineering, studying how mechanical forces contribute to the initiation and progression of osteoarthritis in the knee. I am excited to be back at WPI, as its project-based educational approach aligns with my passion for teaching and ...

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Jeannine M Coburn
Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering

The overall objectives of my research are to develop clinically translatable tissue regeneration and drug delivery strategies, and three-dimensional, in vitro human disease models using biologically-derived biomaterials. We will utilize techniques from engineering, chemistry and biology to address these research areas, including chemical modifications to alter drug-material interactions, small molecule and macromolecule conjugates to direct cell fate, and multi-cellular tissue/disease systems for paracrine signaling and direct cell-cell interactions. My research is focused on biomaterials and ...

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Songbai Ji
Professor- Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

The biomechanical mechanisms behind traumatic brain injury (TBI) have been an active research focus for more than 70 years. However, the field is still largely focused on impact kinematics or estimated brain responses in generic regions from single head impact to predict a binary brain injury status on a population basis. An important research focus in my lab is to integrate advanced neuroimaging into TBI biomechanics research to understand injuries to functionally important neural pathways. At the same time, we develop techniques to achieve near real-time response feedbacks. This is critical ...

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Adam Lammert
Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Adam C. Lammert joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering in August of 2019 in the area of Neuroengineering, and as part of the Neuroscience Initiative at WPI. His research is focused on neural control of human movement, with the complementary aims of understanding the neural mechanisms of sensorimotor control and finding meaningful patterns in movements as a window into the brain and brain health. Work in this area involves the development of novel devices and signal processing algorithms for quantification of human behavior, as well as computational models of cognitive and ...

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Solomon Mensah
Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Understanding the role of the vascular endothelial glycocalyx in the pathogenesis of cardiopulmonary-related diseases is the prime focus of my research. The vascular endothelial glycocalyx layer which covers the luminal side of blood vessels is a good indicator for vascular health. This layer is suspected to be degraded during the onset and progression of cardiopulmonary diseases including acute respiratory distress syndrome and lung cancer. We develop in vitro and in vivo techniques to introduce various mechanical forces to vascular endothelial cells to mimic the vascular ...

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Raymond L. Page
Professor of Practice, Biomedical Engineering

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x4109

For undergraduate instruction, I enjoy relating the fundamentals of individual material properties and biological processes to the engineering of complex systems or processes to produce medically useful products. Coupling engineering principles with the inherent challenges of biological systems to understand and predict system behavior in the context of the capstone design experience is of particular interest. I currently consult for several companies in the area of development of cell and engineered tissue based therapeutic product development and genetic diagnostics.  Where appropriate, I ...

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George D Pins

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x6742

The overall objective of my research is to create bioengineered scaffolds to enhance the regeneration of damaged tissues and organs. Specifically, my laboratory uses biomimetic design strategies and novel fabrication processes to develop three-dimensional constructs that emulate native tissue architecture and cellular microenvironments. We use these scaffolds to characterize the roles of extracellular matrix (ECM) cues and topographic features in modulating cellular functions, including adhesion, migration, proliferation, differentiation, and tissue remodeling. For example, we are ...

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Zoe Reidinger
Associate Teaching Professor-Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

My areas of interest and enthusiasm lie in biomaterial fabrication and tissue engineering. Bringing this enthusiasm to the classroom is easy with WPI’s focus on undergraduate education and project-based learning. My goal as an instructor is to lead students to higher levels of thinking and understanding by slowly increasing the depth of the course to engage more complex learning behaviors. It is my earnest belief that integrating students into open-ended projects, student mentorship, and self-directed work, where they obtain increasing amounts of responsibility for their progress and learning ...

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Marsha Whitney Rolle
Professor- Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x4145

In my research laboratory at WPI, teams of graduate and undergraduate students collaborate with researchers at WPI and the University of Massachusetts Medical School to design, fabricate, culture and analyze cell-based engineered vascular tissue. I enjoy collaborating with students to explore the role of cells and ECM on tissue organization and material properties in health and disease, and working with undergraduate student teams to apply engineering principles to design and prototype bioreactors that impart mechanical stimuli on engineered vascular tissues to simulate the hemodynamic ...

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Karen Troy
Professor- Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x6093

  The ability of our biological tissues to adapt to their mechanical environment, and the ways in which our tissues are well suited for their own mechanical role within the body, is a constant source of wonder to me. I am interested in understanding the mechanical signals that are experienced within the skeleton during different types of physical activity, understanding what features of these signals stimulate bone to adapt its structure, and in developing noninvasive methods to quantify bone strength. One ongoing project examines biomechanical risk factors for bone stress injury in ...

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Catherine Faye Whittington
Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering

My research focuses on combining bio-instructive biomaterials with cells to design 3D tissue-engineered platforms for regenerative medicine, disease modeling, improved predictability of therapeutic outcomes, and as translatable technologies for clinic and industry. Projects aim to: 1) design physiologically relevant microenvironments for single and multi-tissue restoration and reintegration, 2) recreate biophysical and biochemical regulation of signaling pathways for mechanistic study of diseased tissue development, progression, interactions, and therapeutic response, and 3) adapt and/or ...

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Haichong Zhang
Assistant Professor, Robotics Engineering

The research program led by Dr. Haichong (Kai) Zhang focuses on the interface of medical robotics, sensing, and imaging, and to develop a novel biomedical imaging systems that delineates both anatomical and physiological properties of a biological tissue that have been inaccessible. In addition, we will develop robotic assisted imaging systems as well as image-guided robotic interventional platforms, where ultrasound and photoacoustic (PA) imaging are two key modalities to be investigated and integrated with robotics.The scope of innovation includes (1) co-robotic imaging, where a robotic ...

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Collaborative Faculty

Jean Adelina King
Dean of Arts & Sciences,

Dr. Jean King is the WPI Peterson family Dean in the School of Arts and Sciences. She also serves as a Professor of Biology and Biotechnology, affiliate Professor in Biomedical Engineering Department, Professor in the Neuroscience Program and Director, NeuroTech Suite at WPI. Prior to joining WPI, she was vice provost for biomedical research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School; a tenured professor of psychiatry, radiology, and neurology; and director of the university’s Center for Comparative Neuroimaging. She retains a lab and Adjunct Professorship at Umass Medical School, ...

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Sarah D Olson
William Steur Professor & Department Head, Mathematical Sciences

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x4940

At WPI, I enjoy teaching all courses fundamental to applied mathematics, scientific computing, and modeling. I look forward to mentoring students interested in working on areas in Mathematical Biology, Computational Biofluids, and Scientific Computing. I specialize in Mathematical Biology, understanding emergent properties of complex systems. The goals of these models are to understand the underlying biological processes and make predictions. Please visit my website to learn more about recent research projects.

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Holly Keyes Ault
Adjunct Teaching Professor, Integrative & Global Studies

I have enjoyed technical topics since high school, when I was encouraged by my physics teacher to enroll in a pre-engineering course and learned computer programming. I was one of the first women to attend WPI and earned all three of my degrees here, being the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from WPI. Prior to my graduate studies, I worked in industry for several years, both in Massachusetts (Norton Company) and Illinois (Olin Corporation), and was usually the only female engineer in my engineering group. As an alumna, I am proud to be able to pass on the heritage of a ...

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Christopher A. Brown

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5627

Chris Brown has been on the WPI faculty since 1989. In 1983 he completed his doctoral work on machining at the University of Vermont, where he also worked in orthopedics and studied ski injuries. As an undergraduate, he was Vermont’s only walk-on All-American skier. He raced and coached there during the longest regular season undefeated streak in NCAA history and is a member of UVM’s athletic hall of fame. He spent four years in the Materials Department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology studying machined surfaces and then two years as the senior research engineer working on product ...

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Nancy A. Burnham
Professor-Physics, Physics

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5365

Nancy Burnham graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1987 with a Ph.D. in Physics. Her dissertation concerned the surface analysis of photovoltaic materials. As a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Naval Research Laboratory, she became interested in scanning probe microscopy, in particular its application to detecting material properties at the nanoscale. After three years as a von Humboldt Fellow in Germany at Forschungszentrum Julich, she spent another six years in Europe, principally at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, all the ...

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Terri Anne Camesano
Dean of Graduate Studies,
Graduate Studies

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5380

Terri A. Camesano has been the Dean of Graduate Studies at WPI since 2014, and was the inaugural full-time Dean of Graduate Studies. In her current role, she oversees Graduate Admissions, Graduate Student Professional Development, Online Graduate Education, and Professional Education. Dean Camesano is also the primary advocate for our 2000+ graduate students, and oversees Master's, PhD, and Certificate programs in all areas of Engineering, Arts & Sciences, and Business. Dean Camesano is also faculty in Chemical Engineering, and has been at WPI since 2000. 

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Ted Clancy

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5778

Research Interests: Smart Prosthetics, Biomedical Signal Processing/Modeling, Assistive Technology, Wearable Sensors, Biomedical Instrumentation, Medical IoT. I am interested in applying engineering and science skills to problems in medicine and human health. Currently, I am focusing on understanding the electrical activity of human skeletal muscles (EMG) for applications including the control of powered prostheses (e.g., prosthetic hands, elbows, and legs), the clinical diagnosis of neuromuscular diseases, and worker safety/ergonomics. Over the course of my career, I have been involved in ...

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Tanja Dominko
Professor-Biological Science, Biology & Biotechnology

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x4108

Our lab investigates the molecular basis of phenotype switching in human fibroblasts that can be modulated using defined extracellular stimuli. We evaluate the role of oxygen and growth factor FGF2 isoforms independently and in combination in order to identify key molecular mechanisms and pathways, some of which closely mimic mechanisms described in human embryonic stem cells.  Extended lifespan of these cells in culture also offers us a model for investigation of molecular mechanism that are regulating cell cycle in the context of both aging and cancer. Chromatin modifiers from arginine ...

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Loris Fichera
Assistant Professor-Engineering, Robotics Engineering

My research interests are in the application of robotics and computer science to enhance medicine, and particularly surgery. What gets me out of bed in the morning is the prospect of helping doctors save lives and improve the quality of life of their patients. My students and I work side-by-side with clinical collaborators to create technology that presents a tangible clinical value – for instance, making an existing surgical procedure more accurate or enabling new procedures that are not feasible with current instrumentation. Close interaction with medical doctors is a fundamental component ...

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Gregory S. Fischer

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5261

Professor Fischer is the William Smith Dean's Professor and a faculty member in Robotics Engineering with a appointments in Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at WPI. He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2008 from Johns Hopkins University, where he was part of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Computer Integrated Surgery. At WPI he has been an integral part of developing the Robotics Engineering program and teaches primarily junior-level and graduate courses in Robotics. He is the founding director of the Automation and Interventional Medicine (AIM) ...

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Yuxiang Liu

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x4829

The overarching theme of my research is light-matter interactions and their applications in microscale and nanoscale. Particularly, my research interests include optical trapping, optofluidics, nanophotonics, cavity optomechanics, and fiber optic sensing systems, with an emphasis on optical actuation, damping, and sensing of mechanics in micro-/nano-scale structures and biological specimens. The potential applications of my research include on-chip disease diagnosis, in vivo disease treatments, motion detection in consumer electronics, health monitoring, and biomechanics. My research has been ...

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Reinhold Ludwig
Professor and Associate Head, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Phone: +1 (508) 8315315

I started at WPI as an Assistant Professor after graduating from Colorado State University. My research focus has been electromagnetic and acoustic nondestructive evaluation (NDE), and for the past 15 years the development of anatomically shaped coils for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). As director of the Center for Imaging and Sensing (CIS), I have concentrated on the exploration of energy/media interactions with emphasis on inspecting critical industrial materials and biological structures. CIS has developed NDE sensing technology as well as Radio Frequency (RF) coils and electronic ...

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Susan Celia Roberts
Professor and Department Head, Chemical Engineering

To me there is nothing more exciting than watching a student learn and develop and there is no greater privilege than having the title of professor. My favorite part of my job is being able to mentor and teach students in a research context – be that in a biochemical engineering course or laboratory, through supervising undergraduate IQP/MQP projects or by advising doctoral students in their thesis work. There is no greater satisfaction than to watch a timid, insecure student gain confidence through knowledge and practice. I chose WPI because it is the ideal environment to support faculty and ...

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Brian James Savilonis
Professor-Engineering, Mechanical & Materials Engineering

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5686

The project mode of education is a significant tenet of WPI; project based courses are common, along with the required Interactive Qualifying Project and Major Qualifying Project. Managing this close knit intellectual activity has m any parallels to coaching sports; watching individuals " light up" is tremendously rewarding. The recent addition of the Great Problems Seminar allows strong interaction with the freshman class as well. The thermofluid area is critical to world sustainability and extends beyond technical expertise to socio- political and economic context.

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Erin Solovey
Associate Professor, Computer Science

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x6936

My research is in human-computer interaction. One focus of my research is on next-generation interaction techniques, such as brain-computer interfaces, physiological computing, and reality-based interaction. My students and I design, build and evaluate interactive computing systems that use machine learning approaches to adapt and support the user’s changing cognitive state and context. I also investigate novel paradigms for designing with accessibility in mind, particularly for the Deaf community. Much of my work also explores effective human interaction with complex and autonomous systems ...

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Elizabeth Jeanne Stewart
Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering

My research utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to explore and exploit the physical properties of biological soft matter systems. Through investigating the biophysical properties of cells, multicellular communities and their microenvironments, my group seeks to reveal connections between the physical properties of living systems and their disease states and to utilize these findings to develop biological control strategies, therapeutics and diagnostics. We are particularly focused on using our soft matter approach to address bacterial infection prevention and control. My approach to ...

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John M. Sullivan

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5199

Teaching is the most important aspect of my profession. I have strived to teach the full spectrum of college offerings addressing freshman students through Ph.D. students. The project philosophy is a fundamental pillar of the WPI education. I encourage and promote this ideal in all of the projects that I advise. Students who bring a project to fruition gain more knowledge and understanding than most conventional instructional modes. I am committed to MQP and IQP activities. Students completing their projects under my advise have received dozens of awards and honors in the forms of ...

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Dalin Tang

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5332

I have been teaching and conducting research at WPI since 1988. Teaching is a lot of fun since it involves interactions with students, and we can pass our knowledge and experiences to students for their better future. I have been conducting research for cardiovascular modeling in the past 30 years and has made various contributions, especially in using image-based modeling for vulnerable plaque progression and rupture investigations. I collaborate with faculty from many universities, including Harvard, MIT, University of Washington (Seattle), Washington University (St. Louis), Emory ...

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Pamela Weathers

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5196

Prof. Weathers is an internationally recognized expert on Artemisia annua and artemisinin, having worked with the plant and its phytochemicals including the antimalarial drug, artemisinin, for >25 years. She is a Fellow of AAAS and SIVB, won many awards, given many national and international presentations, reviews manuscripts for many journals and proposals for many national and international funding agencies. She is an Associate Editor for multiple journals. Her lab was the first to genetically transform A. annua. Of her > 130 peer-reviewed papers, about a third focus on bioreactors and ...

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Qi Wen
Associate Professor, Physics

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x6057

Professor Wen is an experimental biophysicist who is interested in applying physical methods to understand biological phenomena. By measuring the mechanical properties of living cells and the mechanical interaction between cells and ECM, he aims to understand how cells convert external mechanical signals to internal biochemical signals that govern cellular function, including cell morphology, migration, and differentiation. His research will help to design novel materials for wound healing, tissue engineering, and tumor treatment. Professor Wen is leading a research group with students from ...

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Eric Mosher Young
Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering

Phone: +1 (508) 8316398

My research is in the broad, interdisciplinary field of synthetic biology, which applies engineering principles to biology. Within this field, we apply chemical engineering tenets to reprogram the DNA of yeasts, bacteria, and fungi so their metabolism produces interesting molecules. By treating these cells as "chemical factories," we can approach and solve problems in biofuels, biomaterials, and biosensors from a chemical engineer's point of view. Our strengths are in the disciplines of metabolic engineering, protein engineering, and systems biology, which we use to construct novel synthetic ...

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Yihao Zheng

My research focuses on medical and manufacturing innovation. I apply manufacturing science and technology to enhance healthcare. I contribute fundamental knowledge of tissue mechanics and imaging properties, provide novel computational modeling methodologies to simulate and understand manufacturing and surgical processes, and develop medical devices and clinical manufacturing systems to tackle unmet clinical needs. “Intuition makes an engineer outstanding. Passion is the foundation for instruction.” These two statements, which define my expectations for my students and for myself, ...

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