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WPI Welcomes 16 New Educators and Researchers to its Full-time Faculty Ranks - 2011

New faculty class continues a historic investment in talent that has brought nearly 80 new full-time faculty members to campus over the last five years.

November 22, 2011

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) welcomed 16 new educators and researchers to its full-time faculty ranks this fall, continuing a historic investment in talent that has brought nearly 80 new full-time faculty members to campus over the last five years.

"With their diverse expertise—everything from computer and network security, to neural tissue engineering, to sustainable development—these talented men and women will energize our vibrant graduate research enterprise and help continue WPI's nearly 150-year heritage of turning theory into practice to meet some of the world's most pressing needs," said WPI Provost Eric Overstrom. "They'll also play a critical role in helping meet an unprecedented demand for WPI's undergraduate and graduate programs in engineering, the life and natural sciences, the humanities and arts, business, and the social sciences."

Shawn Burdette, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, joins WPI to continue his interdisciplinary research program. The recipient of two major awards from the National Science Foundation, including a CAREER Award, the most prestigious NSF award for young faculty members, Burdette addresses major scientific challenges using techniques in organic, inorganic, polymer, analytical, and biological chemistry. For example, he is currently studying metal ion signaling and homeostasis by developing photochemical tools for introducing zinc into cells. He holds a BS in chemistry from Case Western Reserve University and a PhD in inorganic chemistry from MIT.

Laureen Elgert, assistant professor of social science and policy studies and environmental and sustainability studies, has gained extensive global experience as a research scientist and field researcher in the areas of health promotion and sustainable development. In her research, she studies efforts to improve environmental governance in developing countries, examining the impact of non-governmental organizations, international standards, and decision support systems. She earned a BA in anthropology and international development studies at Trent University in Ontario, an MSc in health promotion at the University of Alberta, and a PhD in development studies at the London School of Economics.

Mohamed Eltabakh, assistant professor of computer science, is an authority on database and information management. In his research, he works to develop new approaches to databases that can keep pace with emerging applications in the life sciences, physics, meteorology, and other areas of science. Eltabakh joins WPI after a one-year appointment as a postdoctoral researcher at IBM's Almaden Research Center in California, and previously completed graduate internships at Microsoft Research and Google. He holds a BS and an MS in computer science from Alexandria University in Egypt, and an MS and a PhD in computer science from Purdue University.

Marion Emmert, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, studies organometallic synthesis and catalysis with the aim of developing chemical processes that use inexpensive, abundant, and nontoxic starting materials, generate less waste, and use less energy. Before joining WPI she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan supported by the DFG (the German Research Foundation) and CENTC, the National Science Foundation's Center for Chemical Innovation. She earned a Diploma in chemistry at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg (Germany) and a Doctorate in organic chemistry at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Muenster (Germany).

Brenton Faber, professor of writing in the Department of Humanities and Arts and a professor in the School of Business, joins WPI after two years as director of analytics and new project development at Canton-Potsdam Hospital in Potsdam, N.Y. He previously held positions at North Carolina State University and Clarkson University. The author of two books on organizational change, he is currently at work on a new book examining the impacts of health care reform and organizational change within hospitals. He received his BA in English and Political Science at the University of Waterloo, Canada, his MA at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, and his PhD at the University of Utah.

Arne Gericke, professor and head of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is a biophysical chemist who studies proteins whose functions are mediated by lipids—work that may point toward new ways to diagnose and treat a wide range of diseases, including cancer. He joins WPI after more than a decade at Kent State University, where he was an associate professor of chemistry and biomedical sciences and graduate coordinator in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Funded by more than $6.1 million in awards from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and other agencies, Gericke's research has resulted in nearly 50 publications in refereed journals. He received undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Hamburg in Germany and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in biophysical chemistry at Rutgers University and the Max Planck Group for Liquid Crystal Research at the University of Halle, Germany.

Karen Hebert-Maccaro, associate dean and professor of practice in the School of Business, has helped lead the launches of innovative blended-learning programs at two institutions, including WPI’s new part-time, technology-focused Innovator’s MBA program, which features a blend of online and in-person classes. Hebert-Maccaro's expertise includes leadership development, management of innovation, talent management, and innovative pedagogy. Before joining the WPI faculty, she was a visiting assistant professor at Babson College. She holds a BA from the University of Massachusetts, an EdM from Boston University, and a PhD from Boston College.

Anjana Jain, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, joins WPI after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Georgia Institute of Technology. In her research, she develops nanotechnology-based techniques that could be used to repair injuries to the central nervous system. In addition to her fellowship in Georgia, she has held an NIH Training Fellowship in the Program in CNS Injury and Repair at the University of Miami and a GAANN (Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need) Training Grant Fellowship for Neural Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. She holds a BS in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University, an MS in biomedical engineering from Case Western, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from Georgia Tech.

Sarah Olson, assistant professor of mathematical sciences, joins WPI after three years as a postdoctoral fellow at Tulane University, where she was sponsored by a Vertical Integration of Research and Education (VIGRE) in mathematical sciences grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). A researcher in the areas of mathematical biology, computational biofluids, and scientific computing, Olson has developed mathematical and computational models for the dynamics for sperm and other "swimmers" in viscous fluids. She recently received a three-year, $100,000 NSF award to study mechanisms of marine invertebrate sperm chemotaxis. She holds a BA in mathematics and biology from Providence College, an MS in mathematics from the University of Rhode Island, and a PhD in biomathematics from North Carolina State University.

Adrienne Hall Phillips, assistant professor in the School of Business, conducts research on consumer behavior, business-to-business marketing, and small business. She is currently studying customer loyalty in the financial services industry, factors influencing small business start-ups, and small business disaster recovery. A paper she authored received a best paper award in the selling and sales management track at the 2009 American Marketing Association Summer Conference. Prior to starting her graduate work, Phillips worked for Johnson & Johnson as a senior product development scientist. She received a BS in chemical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University and an MS and a PhD in consumer behavior from Purdue University.

Craig Shue, assistant professor of computer science, is an expert on computer and network security, with a focus on detecting and preventing online deception and fraud. He is currently studying how compromised computers systems can form into groups, called botnets, and how these groups interact with a targeted organization's systems. Before joining WPI, he was a cyber security research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He was also program chair for the 2010 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security Workshop on Insider Threats. He earned a BS in computer science at Ohio University and an MS and a PhD in computer science at Indiana University.

LTC Ciro Stefano, professor and head of the Department of Military Science, joins WPI with 27 years of experience gained at every level of command and staff assignments in the U.S. Army, including assignments in Asia, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East and four tours of combat. Most recently, he was the executive officer to the general responsible for all operations in the United States Army Europe Headquarters. An airborne Ranger and senior Army aviator, he is an expert trainer and leader who has received the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award, the Army’s highest award for leadership. LTC Stefano earned a BS in aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a BS in business administration at Texas A&M University, and an MBA at Webster University.

William Stitt, professor of practice in the School of Business and executive director of WPI's new Innovator's MBA, joins WPI after a 16-year full-time career teaching technology-intensive creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship, most recently as a senior lecturer at Babson College. He was the recipient of multiple student-based and faculty-based teaching awards at Babson and at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he was director of the Center for Technological Entrepreneurship. Stitt was a member of management team that created a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He earned a BS in mechanical engineering at Rensselaer and an MBA at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.

Andrew Trapp, assistant professor in the School of Business, joins WPI after completing a doctoral fellowship in sustainable engineering at the University of Pittsburgh through the U.S. Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program. His research interests include discrete optimization, stochastic (integer) programming, and application of operations research techniques in biomedicine and health care, sustainability, renewable energy, and the environment. He holds a BS in applied mathematics from Rochester Institute of Technology, an MS in computer science and operations research from Bowling Green State University, and a PhD in industrial engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.

Qi Wen, assistant professor of physics, studies the mechanical properties of cells and biological polymer networks and the ability of cells within tissues to sense mechanical stimuli. Prior to joining the WPI faculty, Wen spent five years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, where he conducted research on the rheology of polymer networks and the mechanics of tissue cells. Earlier, he received a Galkin Foundation Fellowship, awarded annually to an outstanding senior graduate student in physics at Brown University. He received a BS in semiconductor devices and microelectronics and a MEng in microelectronics at Lanzhou University in China, and an MS in physics and a PhD in biological physics from Brown University.

Keith Zizza, professor of practice in Interactive Media & Game Development, joins WPI following a 16-year career in leading-edge video game audio technology, design, and production, most recently as audio director for Tilted Mill Entertainment and Sierra On-Line. An audio director on more than 30 commercially released video games, including Sim City Societies (Electronic Arts), Deadliest Catch (Discovery Channel), and The Oregon Trail (MECC), he seeks to optimize the technical and aesthetic qualities of a game's soundscape (music, sound effects, and dialogue) to help players suspend their disbelief and make gameplay more immersive and engaging.