Faculty Recognition

WPI Community Celebrates Excellence in Faculty Achievement at Inaugural Event
March 02, 2015

Professor Sharon Wulf, between President Leshin and board chairman Phil Ryan, received the Board of Trustees’ Award for Excellence in Teaching.More than 50 WPI faculty members were recognized for their impressive accomplishments in research, teaching, service, and beyond at the 2015 Trustees’ Celebration of Faculty Achievement on Feb. 26. Audience members, including trustees, faculty, staff, and students, were also treated to a timely presentation on cybersecurity education.

The inaugural event, which coincided with an annual meeting of the WPI Board of Trustees, spotlighted faculty successes in 2014—including promotions to full professor and associate professor with tenure; WPI awards for research, teaching, and service; recognitions from government and national organizations and professional societies; publications and editorials, selected distinctions, and patents.

Think of this event as the Super Bowl of academia—and you are all Tom Brady.
  • WPI President Laurie Leshin

In explaining the impetus behind the new tradition, President Laurie Leshin opened the ceremony with a quote from the bookWinning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book, by Jack Welch:

“Celebrating creates an atmosphere of recognition and positive energy. Imagine a team winning the World Series without champagne spraying everywhere. And yet organizations win all the time and let it go without so much as a high five. Work is too much a part of life not to recognize moments of achievement. Make a big deal out of them. If you don’t, no one will.”

“I am starting that tradition of making a big deal of your achievements,” continued Leshin. “Think of this event as the Super Bowl of academia—and you are all Tom Brady.”

The inaugural Faculty Achievement program spotlighted faculty successes for 2014.She praised faculty for both their academic achievements and impacts on students, noting that in the past few years, the WPI faculty body has counted 12 Fulbright Scholars, more than 20 NFS CAREER Award winners, numerous Fellows of professional societies, and multiple endowed professorships.

Just as important, she noted, “Whether our students are tackling first year seminar problems, getting acclimated to the field of robotics engineering, poring over research in Gateway Park, or spending their C-Term in Hong Kong, they rely on your values, your leadership, and your care—they achieve and succeed because you achieve and succeed.”

Offering congratulations and expressing her wish to continue the tradition on a yearly basis, Leshin said, “We can’t and we won’t reach our full potential without leveraging your passion for teaching, your vision of the future, and your undying desire to push the boundaries to make an impact in the world.”

Award winners were called up individually by Provost Eric Overström and received plaques from Leshin and board chairman Phil Ryan. Incoming provost Bruce Bursten was also on hand to applaud the honorees.


Professor Kathi Fisler, who was honored for her promotion to full professor, gave a talk titled “What Cyberattacks Teach Us About Security Education.”As part of the event, Kathi Fisler, director of the WPI cybersecurity program and professor of computer science, was chosen from among the honorees to speak about the impact of her work. Fisler, who was honored for her promotion to full professor, gave a talk titled “What Cyberattacks Teach Us About Security Education.”

Fisler discussed the dangers of using simplified metaphors that frame cyberattacks as purely technical problems to be dealt with by professionals. She gave examples of recent breaches, including the theft of 56 million credit cards from Home Depot, a widespread email leak at Sony, and a case of compromised privacy Facebook—all of which involved factors beyond technical limitations, such as failures in business processes and shifting notions of privacy.

She then described the need for security education to consider technical issues in context, and spoke about how WPI’s distinctive educational model lends itself to this holistic view.

Michael Demetriou, professor of mechanical engineering, was named a 2014 IEEE Fellow.“Balancing policy and innovation, privacy subtleties, and human behavior—we don’t teach any of this stuff in the Computer Science Department. Where do we teach them? The School of Business, Social Science, Humanities and Arts,” Fisler said. “WPI has a real opportunity to leverage our cross disciplinary programs and to become a national leader in providing secure data education for all students.”



Kathryn Fisler, Computer Science

Neil Heffernan, Computer Science

Huong Higgins, Foisie School of Business

Kristen Billiar, Biomedical Engineering

Edward Clancy, Electrical and Computer Engineering

John McNeill, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Germano Iannacchione, Physics

Peter Hansen, Humanities and Arts


Joseph Beck, Computer Science

Greg Fischer, Mechanical Engineering


Luis Vidali, Assistant Professor, Biology and Biotechnology, received the Sigma Xi WPI Outstanding Junior Faculty Researcher Award

Craig Shue, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, received the WPI Romeo Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education

Matt Ward, Professor, Computer Science, named WPI Sigma XI Senior Faculty Researcher Award Winner for 2014–15 (posthumously)

Kristin Boudreau, Associate Dean, Professor and Head, Humanities and Arts, appointed the Paris Fletcher Distinguished Professor of Humanities for 2014

Diane Strong, Professor, Foisie School of Business, received the Board of Trustees’ Award for Excellence in Research

Sharon Wulf, Professor of Practice, Foisie School of Business, received the Board of Trustees’ Award for Excellence in Teaching

Helen Vassallo, Professor, Foisie School of Business, received the Campus Organization Recognition of Excellence (CORE) Award

Terri Camesano, Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor, Chemical Engineering, received the Chairman’s Exemplary Faculty Prize

Chrysanthe Demetry, Morgan Teaching and Learning Center Director, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, received the Board of Trustees’ Award for Academic Advising; received the Denise Nicoletti Trustees’ Award for Service to Community

Taskin Padir, Assistant Professor, Robotics Engineering (ECE), received the Kalenian Award


Amity Manning, Assistant Professor, Biology and Biotechnology, received the NIH Pathway to Independence Research Award

Diran Apelian, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, elected to Materials Engineering Peer Committee Chair for the National Academy of Engineers

Karen Kashmanian Oates, Professor and Dean of Arts & Sciences, named the Sigma Xi distinguished lecturer for 2015–16

Joe Zhu, Professor, Foisie School of Business, winner of the Chang Jiang Scholar, awarded by Chinese National Government

Matthew Ward, Professor, Computer Science, received the IEEE VPG Software System Award for his contributions to Multivate Visualization and Visual Analytics Through the Development and Continual Refinement of XmdvTool (posthumously)

Richard Sisson, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, received the Purdue University Outstanding Materials Engineer Award for 2014

Sonia Chernova, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, received the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award

Steve Kmiotek, Professor of Practice, Chemical Engineering, awarded a special recognition from the NE Air & Waste Management Association for “Outstanding Leadership and Contribution” for his work with them and the Environmental, Health, and Safety profession over the last 20-plus years

Diana Lados, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Milton Prince Higgins II Distinguished Professor in Manufacturing, 2014


Pamela Weathers, Professor, Biology and Biotechnology, elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Bogdan Vernescu, Vice Provost for Research ad interim; Professor, Mathematics, invited to represent SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics) in the Joint Data Committee (JDC) of the AMS (American Mathematical Society), ASA (American Statistical Association), MAA (Mathematical Association of America), and SIAM

Suzanne Weekes, Associate Professor, Mathematics, appointed to serve on the SIAM Education Committee (2014–2016); appointed to serve as a member at large in the AMS Committee on the Profession

Diran Apelian, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, awarded the Joan Hodges Queneau Palladium Medal, the Audobon Society’s Award presented through AAES (American Association of Engineering Societies)

Rajib Mallick, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, received a Fulbright Fellowship

Yehia Massoud, Professor and Department Head, Electrical and Computer Engineering, named IEEE Fellow

Jamal Yagoobi, Professor and Department Head, Mechanical Engineering, named 2014 IEEE Fellow

Michael Demetriou, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, named 2014 IEEE Fellow

L. R. Ram-Mohan, Professor, Physics, elected Fellow of the American Vacuum Society

Homer Walker, Professor, Mathematics, appointed to serve on the SIAM Science Policy committee 2014–2016

Brian Meacham, Associate Professor, Fire Protection Engineering, awarded grade of Fellow, Institution of Fire Engineers (UK), elected Vice President, Board of Directors, Society of Fire Protection Engineers

Milosh Puchovsky, Professor of Practice, Fire Protection Engineering, President-elect for SFPE

Diana Lados, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) International Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, 2014

Diana Lados: Metals and Materials Society (TMS) Brimacombe Medal, 2014


Roger Gottlieb, Professor, Humanities and Arts, Political and Spiritual: Essays on Religion, Environment, Disability, and Justice (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014)

Joshua Harmon, Assistant Teaching Professor, Humanities and Arts, The Annotated Mixtape, Dzanc Books, 2014; History of Cold Seasons, Dzanc Books, 2014

David Spanagel, Assistant Professor, Humanities and Arts, Dewitt Clinton and Amos Eaton: Geology and Power in Early New York (Johns Hopkins, 2014)

Wes Mott, Professor, Humanities and Arts, Editor, Ralph Waldo Emerson in Context (Cambridge UP, 2014)

Jennifer McWeeny, Associate Professor, Humanities and Arts, Edited essay collection, Asian and Feminist Philosophies in Dialogue: Liberating Traditions (Columbia University Press, 2014)


Robert Dempski, Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, received $1.4M single Investigator NIH R01 Award

Maxim Bichuch and Stephan Sturm, Assistant Professors, Mathematics, selected to organize the 2015 AMS MRC conference in Snowbird, Utah

David Medich, Assistant Professor, and Germano Iannacchione, Professor and Head, Physics, received major awards from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (more than $1.1M) to support the re-launch of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Program at WPI

Karen Kashmanian Oates, Professor and Dean of Arts & Sciences, named Alumna of the Year for RIT College of Science; elected Member of Board of Trustees at Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences


Craig Wills, Professor and Head, Computer Science; co-inventor of U.S. Patent No. 8,839,443, “Identifying and Remedying Secondary Privacy Leakage,” issued Sept. 16, 2014

Marko Popovic, Assistant Research Professor, Physics; patent on Soft-Robotics licensed by Lockheed-Martin

Glenn Gaudette, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering; patent, “Nanofiber Scaffold Comprising Immobilized Cells”

George Pins, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering; and Kristen Billiar, Professor, Biomedical Engineering; Patent, “Collagen and Fibrin Microthreads in a Discrete Thread of In Vitro ACL Scaffold Regeneration”

Ed (Yi Hua) Ma, Professor, Chemical Engineering; patent. “High Permeance Sulfur Tolerant Pd/Cu Alloy Membranes”

Cosme Furlong, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering; “Insertable Endoscopic Instrument for Tissue Removal.” U.S. Patent number: 8882680, 2014