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WPI Welcomes 16 New Educators and Researchers to its Full-time Faculty Ranks - 2010

New faculty class includes the university’s inaugural deans of arts and sciences and engineering and the first dean of WPI’s New School of Business

November 4, 2010

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) welcomed 16 new educators and researchers to its full-time faculty ranks this fall, continuing an historic investment in talent that has brought more than 70 new full-time faculty members to campus over the last five years (WPI added 23 new full-time faculty members to its ranks last year, an all-time record.)

Included among this year’s new faculty “class” are the university’s three inaugural academic deans: Selçuk Güçeri, Bernard M. Gordon Dean of Engineering; Karen Kashmanian Oates, Peterson Family Dean of Arts and Sciences; and Mark Rice, dean of the new WPI School of Business.

With their breadth of experience, the 16 men and women listed below will help the university meet a continuing unprecedented demand by undergraduate and graduate students for programs that span a wide range of disciplines, including engineering, the life and natural sciences, the humanities and arts, business, and the social sciences.

Dhiman Bhadra, assistant professor of mathematical sciences, conducts research on semiparametric regression methodology and its applications. He is currently working on case control studies and quantification of images of children with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and analyzing the spatial distribution of malaria prevalence rates in Tanzania. The latter project is being conducted in collaboration with the University of Florida and the Clinton and Gates foundations. Bhadra received a Bachelor in Statistics from Presidency College, University of Calcutta, in India, a Master in Statistics from the University of Calcutta, and a PhD in statistics from the University of Florida.

Sonia Chernova, assistant professor of computer science and robotics engineering, joins WPI after a one-year postdoctoral appointment in the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab. With research interests in artificial intelligence, robot learning, and human-robot interaction, she addresses the scientific and engineering challenges associated with developing autonomous robots that can learn through interaction with people. Chair of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Robot Learning from Demonstration Challenge, she holds a BS and a PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Robert J. Gegear, assistant professor of biology and biotechnology, joins WPI after serving as a research fellow and research assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His research focuses on evolutionary ecology and behavioral neuroscience, which he studies using a variety of insect models, including social bees and monarch butterflies. Among his more notable findings, he discovered the molecular basis of animal magnetoreception. He holds a BS and a PhD in zoology from the University of Western Ontario.

Domhnull Granquist-Fraser, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, is an expert in neuroscience and optical engineering who has conducted research in remote biometry, biomorphic imaging systems, and sparse aperture imaging systems. He has over 25 years of experience in the conception, design, and fabrication of biomedical instrumentation and has spent more than a decade developing signal and image processing algorithms. He earned a BS in engineering physics at the University of the State of New York, Regents College, and a PhD in cognitive and neural systems at Boston University.

Selçuk Güçeri, who will join WPI in early 2011 as the inaugural Bernard M. Gordon Dean of Engineering, spent the previous 10 years as dean of engineering at Drexel University, leading the nation's largest engineering college among private universities. Under his leadership, Drexel engineering nearly tripled its research funding, significantly increased the number of women faculty and students and the degree of student diversity, and fostered more than a dozen technology-based start-up companies. An accomplished scholar, Dr. Güçeri has authored or co-authored over 100 publications in the fields of engineering education, manufacturing, rapid prototyping, and bio-fabrication. He earned BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering at Middle East Technical University in Ankara and completed a PhD in mechanical and aerospace engineering as a NATO Fellow at North Carolina State University. Before joining Drexel he was professor and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago and served on the mechanical engineering faculty at the University of Delaware.

Melissa-Sue S. John, assistant professor of social science and policy studies, is a social psychologist whose research interests include academic achievement, stereotyping and prejudice, stigma, intergroup relations, and power. Among her numerous honors are a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship Award, a Graduate Student Research Fellowship, and a Pre-doctoral Student Fellowship from the University of Connecticut, and The American Dream Fellowship from the Merage Foundation. She received a BA in psychology from City University of New York at Hunter College and an MA and a PhD in social psychology from the University of Connecticut.

Yeesock Kim, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, joins WPI after serving as a postdoctoral researcher in mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University. He is also president, CEO, and chief scientist at Advanced Structural Control & Monitoring. His research focuses on smart structures, structural health monitoring, and sensor and actuator fault diagnosis. He earned a BE in architectural engineering at Kwandong University and an MS in structural engineering at Yonsei University, both in Korea, and a PhD in structural engineering at Texas A&M.

Karen Kashmanian Oates, the university’s inaugural Peterson Family Dean of Arts and Sciences and a professor of biology and biotechnology, is a nationally recognized scientist, science educator, and higher education leader. She joins WPI from the National Sciences Foundation, where she was a deputy director of the Division of Undergraduate Education. A biochemist whose early research focused on various chemical and biological aspects of breast cancer and biologic therapies for cancer, she worked as a visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health's Oncology and Hematology Division before joining George Mason University. As associate dean for the new College of Integrated and Interdisciplinary Studies at George Mason, she helped create the New American College environment. She later served as inaugural provost for the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. She holds a BS in biology from Rochester Institute of Technology and a PhD in biochemistry from George Washington University.

Aarti Smith Madan, assistant professor of Spanish, is a scholar of Hispanic languages and literatures whose teaching interests include 19th and 20th-century Latin American and Brazilian literature, foreign language pedagogy, and women writers across the Americas. Her numerous honors and awards include an Andrew Mellon Pre-doctoral Fellowship and two U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships. She holds a BA in English and Spanish from Birmingham-Southern College and MA and PhD degrees in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of Pittsburgh.

Taskin Padir, assistant professor of robotics engineering and electrical and computer engineering, joined WPI in 2008 as a visiting assistant professor after service as an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Lake Superior State University in Michigan. His research interests include modeling and control of robotic systems, reconfigurable, modular robotic platforms, and intelligent systems and vehicles. The inaugural recipient of the Rho Beta Epsilon Award for Excellence in Robotics Education, he received a BS in electrical and electronics engineering from Middle East Technical University in Turkey and MS and PhD degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Purdue University.

Raymond L. Page, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, has extensive experience in regenerative medicine, cell differentiation, and cell therapy. He held senior scientific appointments at PPL Therapeutics, Advanced Cell Technology Inc., Cyagra Inc., and New World Laboratories before cofounding CellThera Inc. With funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), CellThera has worked on cell de-differentiation and wound healing in collaboration with WPI's Center for Regenerative Bioscience and Engineering. Page received a BS and MS in chemical engineering from West Virginia University and a PhD in chemical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Mark Rice, professor and the first dean of WPI’s School of Business, joins WPI from Babson College, where he was Murata Dean of the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business and Frederic C. Hamilton Professor for Free Enterprise. During his 16 years at Babson, the scope of entrepreneurship education expanded dramatically to include technological entrepreneurship, corporate innovation and entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, and, women entrepreneurship. Prior to joining Babson, Dr. Rice was part of the leadership team in the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and director of RPI's Incubator Program and Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship. He has chaired the board of the National Business Incubation Association and the Association for the Advancement of Colleges and Schools of Business (AACSB) Pre-Accreditation Committee. He is co-author of the best-selling book Growing New Ventures–Creating New Jobs. He holds a BS and MS in mechanical engineering and a PhD in management from RPI.

Albert Simeoni, assistant professor of fire protection engineering, conducts research on the basic phenomena that drive the behavior of wildfires, particularly combustion and heat and mass transfer. His goal is to develop scientific tools useful for firefighting and land management. Before joining WPI, he was an assistant professor at the University of Corsica, detached at the University of Edinburgh. He holds a BSc in applied physics from the University of Corsica, an MEng in mechanical engineering from IUSTI in France, an MSc in mechanical engineering from the University of Provence in France, and a PhD in physics from the University of Corsica.

Alexander Smith, assistant professor of social science and policy studies, works in the fields of applied microeconomics, behavioral and experimental economics, and public economics, conducting research in such areas as social capital and heterogeneity, the effect of population heterogeneity on participation in social activities, and generalized trust and the provision of public services by local governments. He twice received the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship. He worked as an economist at the Ontario Ministry of Finance in 2005. He received a BA in economics from York University, an MA in economics from the University of Toronto, and a PhD in economics from the University of Calgary.

Eduardo Torres-Jara, assistant professor of computer science and robotics engineering, arrives at WPI after serving as a postdoctoral associate in the Distributed Robotics Laboratory at MIT and the Microrobotics Laboratory at Harvard University. His research interest is in creating a framework where robots can safely interact with their environment to extract relevant information to perform a task. Before pursuing his PhD, he founded three electronics, software, and telecommunications firms in Ecuador. He earned a BS in electronics and computer engineering at the University Escuela Politecnica del Ejercito in Ecuador and SM and PhD degrees in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT.

Yan Wang, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is a specialist in energy storage whose research has focused on lithium-ion batteries, proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, corrosion, and electrochemistry. He joins WPI after a postdoctoral appointment at MIT, where he participated in the design of a lithium-ion microbattery. To support his graduate and postgraduate studies, he received a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad. He holds a BE and an MS in chemical engineering from Tianjin University in China and a PhD in engineering materials from the University of Windsor in Ontario.