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WPI Announces Faculty Promotions and Tenure Awards

Four Faculty Members Achieve the Rank of Full Professor or Teaching Professor

February 28, 2017
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Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) today announced that 19 full-time faculty members have been promoted in academic rank; in addition, 11 faculty members, including 10 of those who were promoted, have been granted tenure.

"On behalf of the WPI Board of Trustees, I congratulate these talented and accomplished faculty members,” said WPI President Laurie Leshin. “We are happy to recognize their scholarship, their innovative contributions as educators and advisors, and their distinguished service to higher education, and to WPI, and to recognize all they do to advance their disciplines and prepare our students to be tomorrow's innovators and leaders.”

Added WPI Provost Bruce Bursten, "We are proud of our colleagues who are receiving their well-deserved promotions. Their extraordinary accomplishments in teaching and scholarship provide amazing learning experiences for our students, and enhance the international impact of the Institute. Their passion and dedication as faculty members reinforce our top rating from the Wall Street Journal in teaching and research and provide distinctive opportunities that are the hallmark of the WPI experience."

Fabio CarreraFabio Carrera has been promoted to Teaching Professor in the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division. A member of the faculty since 1988, he founded WPI’s Venice Project Center and has served as director of that center along with centers in Boston and Santa Fe. In all, he has advised more than 350 projects and supervised project work by more than 1,100 students. He is also the founder of City Lab, an interdisciplinary research laboratory dedicated to urban technology and information systems. His work in these areas has garnered coverage by a number of media outlets, including National Geographic, Technology Review, Smithsonian magazine, and Wired. He earned a BS in electrical engineering and an MS in computer science at WPI and a PhD in urban information systems and planning at MIT.

Joseph CullonJoseph Cullon has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor in Humanities and Arts. A historian who works across the boundaries of early American social, economic, environmental, and technological history, he joined the WPI faculty in 2012 from Dartmouth College, where he had been an assistant professor of history. He has twice served as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow, at the American Antiquarian Society, and with the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture at the College of William and Mary. He has advised a large number of student projects, many of which have been completed in collaboration with the Worcester Historical Museum. He holds a BS in natural resources from Cornell University and an MS in environmental studies and an MA and a PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Corey DehnerCorey Dehner has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor in the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division. She joined WPI in 2012 after working as a public interest lawyer and teaching at Boston College, Suffolk University, and Northeastern University. A specialist in environmental law and social science research, she is director of WPI’s Worcester Community Project Center and co-director of its Massachusetts Water Resource Outreach Center. With research interests in public drinking water policy, differential exposures to environmental hazards, community engagement, environmental justice, and environmental policy, she is a member of the Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative and the American Bar Association’s Environment, Energy, and Resources Section. She received a BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder, a JD from Boston College, and a PhD from Northeastern University.

Thomas EisenbarthThomas Eisenbarth has been granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He joined the university in 2012, having served for two years as an assistant professor of mathematical sciences at Florida Atlantic University. His research in the area of IT security, with a focus on the security of embedded systems and applied cryptology, has resulted in 60 peer-reviewed journal articles, conference proceedings, and workshop proceedings. He has also won more than $1 million in external funding, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. He holds an MS and a PhD in electrical engineering from Ruhr University Bochum in Germany.


Laureen ElgertLaureen Elgert has been granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor of Social Sciences and Policy Studies. A specialist in environmental policy, she joined WPI in 2011 with extensive global experience as a research scientist and field researcher in the areas of health promotion and sustainable development. Focusing on the environment-development nexus, her current research explores how politics shapes global environmental policy, often with a profound impact on local livelihoods. She has advised many student projects in Ecuador, Panama, and London, and was among the major contributors to a new minor in Global Public Health at WPI. 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 EltabakhMohamed Eltabakh has been granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor of Computer Science. An expert in database systems and big data, he joined the WPI faculty in 2011 after completing an appointment as a postdoctoral researcher at the IBM Almaden Research Center in California and graduate internships at Microsoft Research and Google. At WPI, he has published more than 30 peer-reviewed journal articles, conference proceedings, and workshop proceedings in the areas of query processing and optimization, indexing techniques, scientific data management, and large-scale data analytics. 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 EmmertMarion Emmert has been granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. An expert in organometallic catalysis, she has conducted research at WPI on the catalytic oxidation of organic substrates and the separation and isolation of rare earth elements from spent electric vehicle drive units and process waste, including red mud. This work has been funded by more than $1 million in external awards, including single-investigator grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Petroleum Research Fund. She joined WPI in 2011 after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. 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).

Adrienne Hall-PhillipsAdrienne Hall-Phillips has been granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor in the Robert Foisie School of Business. In her research, she studies general consumer behavior, business-to-business marketing, and small business, with expertise in technology, the digital world, consumer decision making, and entrepreneurship. Her specific interests include value, engagement, and loyalty, specifically with regard to user experience and entrepreneurship. She is also interested in how social media influences consumption in online and offline environments. 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. Prior to starting her graduate studies, she worked for Johnson & Johnson as a senior product development scientist.

Joshua Harmon has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor in Humanities and Arts. He is a writer with more than 200 poems, stories, essays, and five books, published or in-press, including the essay collection The Annotated Mixtape, the short fiction collection History of Cold Seasons, and the novel Quinnehtukqut. Before joining WPI in 2012, he was an instructor, faculty member, and writer-in-residence at Hampshire and Vassar Colleges and Bucknell and Cornell Universities and a writer-in-residence at the Portsmouth Abbey School. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and a Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and was a Cabell First Novelist Prize finalist in 2008 and winner of an Akron Poetry Prize in 2012. He holds an MFA in writing (fiction) from Cornell University.

Dmitry Korkin, Associate Professor of Computer Science, has been granted tenure. He joined WPI in 2014 from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he was an Associate Professor of Computer Science. His multidisciplinary research spans the fields of bioinformatics of complex disease, computational genomics, and systems biology. He also uses biomedical data analytics to explore molecular mechanisms underlying such genetic disorders as cancer, diabetes, and autism. His work that has resulted in 35 peer-reviewed journal articles and has been funded by more than $1.6 million in research awards, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. He holds a PhD in computer science from the University of New Brunswick.

Aarti MadanAarti Madan has been granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor of Humanities and Arts. A specialist in Latin-American Studies, her research centers on the ways spatial practices inform the production and consumption of literature, film, and art in Latin America. She is the author of Lines of Geography in Latin American Narrative: National Territory, National Literature (under contract with Palgrave Macmillan). Her numerous honors and awards include WPI’s Romeo Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education, an Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship, and a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship in Portuguese. She holds a BA in English and Spanish from Birmingham-Southern College, as well as MA and PhD degrees in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of Pittsburgh.

Ryan Smith MadanRyan Smith Madan has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor in Humanities and Arts. The director of the WPI Writing Center, his research interests include the politics of language and education, cultures of scholarship and cultures of teaching, and narrative writing pedagogies. He has served as a faculty member for WPI’s Frontiers, a residential summer enrichment program for high school students, and has been active as an advisor in WPI’s Global Projects Program. He earned an AA at Pasadena City College, a BA at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an MA and a PhD at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a Lillian B. Lawler Fellow and received a Distinguished Teaching Award in the English Department.

Sarah OlsonSarah Olson has been granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences. She joined WPI in 2011 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. A researcher in the areas of mathematical biology, computational fluid dynamic, and scientific computing, she received a $400,000 NSF CAREER Award for work aimed at developing new computational tools to understand the complex intertwining of physical and chemical factors that govern the movement of sperm. 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.

Creighton PeetCreighton Peet has been promoted to Teaching Professor in the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division. A specialist in Asian social anthropology, he joined WPI in 2000 after working for several years in international development and humanitarian assistance, international social and environmental education, and anthropological field research. A major contributor to WPI’s Global Projects Program, he is director of the university’s residential project centers in Hong Kong and Namibia. He also made significant contributions to revising and refining ID 2050, an intensive social science research course that prepares WPI students for their global project experiences. He holds a BA in anthropology from Harvard College and an MPhil and a PhD in anthropology from Columbia University.

Geoffrey Pfeifer has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor in Humanities and Arts and Undergraduate Studies. A member of the faculty since 2011, he is a philosopher whose research focuses include contemporary continental philosophy, social and political philosophy, global justice, and development ethics. His many publications include two books: Phenomenology and the Political (Roman and Littlefield International, 2016, with S. West Gurley) and The New Materialism: Althusser, Badiou, and Žižek (Routledge, 2015). In addition to teaching philosophy and international studies courses, he is an instructor in WPI’s Great Problems Seminar, a project-based interdisciplinary program for first-year students. He earned a BA from the University of Colorado at Denver, an MA from the University of New Mexico, and a PhD from the University of South Florida.

Ali RangwalaAli Rangwala has been promoted to full Professor of Fire Protection Engineering. A member of the faculty since 2006, Rangwala directs the Combustion Laboratory, where he conducts a wide range of research aimed at developing better understanding fire phenomena. His work has resulted in more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and has been supported by nearly $9 million in external funding, including a five-year NSF CAREER Award to explore the physics of dust explosions and multiple awards from the Department of the Interior to study the challenges of burning spilled oil in place on ice or in water. That research led to the development of the patented Flame Refluxer technology, which may revolutionize how oil spills in open water are cleaned up. He is the founder of Global Fire Products, established to commercialize the Flame Refluxer and other innovations that have emerged from his research. He earned a BS in electrical engineering at the Government College of Engineering in Pune, India, an MS in fire protection engineering from the University of Maryland, and a PhD in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of California, San Diego.

Craig ShueCraig Shue has been granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor of Computer Science. An expert in cybersecurity, computer networking, and distributed systems, he joined the WPI faculty in 2011 after serving as a cybersecurity research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. With his current work focused on building network architecture and Internet-scale measurements to identify security weaknesses in under-provisioned systems, he has published more than 30 journal articles and proceedings, and has earned one patent with four additional patents pending. As principal investigator or co-PI, he has procured more than $6 million in external funding, including sole-PI grants from the NSF and the Department of Homeland Security. In 2014 he received WPI’s Romeo Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education. He earned a BS in computer science at Ohio University and an MS and a PhD in computer science at Indiana University.

Ken StaffordKenneth Stafford has been promoted to Teaching Professor in Undergraduate Studies, Robotics Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. After 21 years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force, he served for five years as commander of the Air Force ROTC program at WPI and head of the Aerospace Studies Department. He then joined the WPI faculty as adjunct assistant professor and manager of academic initiatives, and was later director of robotics, director of the Robotics Resource Center, and, starting in 2010, associate director of WPI’s Robotics Engineering Program. He was appointed an Associate Teaching Professor in 2011. In addition to teaching and advising numerous student projects, he has been the campus leader for WPI’s FIRST Robotics competitions and helped develop and direct the Sample Return Robot Challenge, the first NASA Centennial Challenge run by a university. He holds a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Oregon and an MS in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.

Andrew TrappAndrew Trapp has been granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor in the Robert Foisie School of Business. He completed his PhD in industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh in 2011, where he was supported through a doctoral Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) fellowship in sustainable engineering. His research focus is on using advanced analytical techniques, in particular mathematical optimization, to find optimal decisions to problems arising from a diverse cross-section of sectors, such as humanitarian operations, sustainability, data mining, and healthcare. He develops new theory, models, and computational solution approaches to tackle such problems. He has published in leading optimization journals such as Operations Research, European Journal of Operational Research, INFORMS Journal on Computing, Annals of Operations Research, IIE Transactions, and Discrete Optimization..

Qi WenQi Wen has been granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor of Physics. An experimental biophysicist who is interested in applying physical methods to understand biological phenomena. he spent five years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania before joining WPI in 2011. With a joint appointment in biomedical engineering, his highly multidisciplinary and collaborative research has resulted in more than 30 refereed publications in such areas as biopolymers, the cell cytoskeleton and ECM mechanics, and mechanotransduction. He received a BS in semiconductor devices and microelectronics and an MEng in microelectronics at Lanzhou University in China, and an MS in physics and a PhD in biological physics from Brown University.

Media Contact

Michael Dorsey

Phone: +1.508.831.5609
mwdorsey@wpi.edu