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Worcester Polytechnic Institute
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WPI Announces Faculty Promotions and Tenure Awards

23 faculty members promoted, including six who were also awarded tenure; 12 achieve rank of full professor or full teaching professor

February 26, 2020
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Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) today announced that 23 full-time faculty members have been promoted in academic rank, including six who were awarded tenure.

“On behalf of the WPI Board of Trustees, I sincerely congratulate these remarkable educators, scholars, and researchers,” said WPI President Laurie Leshin. “Their innovative work is improving the world, and they are preparing a new generation of leaders through their commitment to our students. It is especially gratifying to see promotions bestowed on so many faculty members who work across disciplines and engage with other experts to address the critical issues of our time.”

“Reviewing this year’s tenure proposals gave me the opportunity to pause and rediscover the richness of talent among the faculty at this university,” said Provost Wole Soboyejo. “They are not only leading scholars and academicians pursuing their passions, they are deeply engaged in supporting our students and their growth. Their commitment to this community and to their fields is admirable.”
 

Chrysanthe Demetry has been promoted to professor of mechanical engineering. Much of Demetry’s work focuses on education, teaching, and mentoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), especially as it pertains to girls and women. She directs WPI’s Morgan Teaching and Learning Center, and she co-founded Camp Reach, a summer program for girls that received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Mentoring in 2011. Demetry was named Professor of the Year for Massachusetts in 2011 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In 2002, she received the WPI Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Teaching. More recently, Demetry was part of a team awarded a $1 million ADVANCE grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study WPI’s faculty promotion process. A faculty member since 1993, Demetry earned a BS in mechanical engineering at WPI and a PhD in ceramics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

David DiBiasio has been awarded promotion to professor of chemical engineering. DiBiasio’s research includes project-based learning in chemical engineering and the social context of engineering. His work with WPI colleagues on humanitarian engineering was among 25 initiatives honored in 2016 by the National Academy of Engineering for infusing ethics into engineering education, and an article on the subject was named a top paper at the 2017 American Society for Engineering Education conference. Supported by a National Science Foundation grant, DiBiasio and collaborators also studied the conditions that support LGBTQ+ engineering students at WPI. DiBiasio has served as director of WPI’s Washington, D.C., Project Center, and he was department head of chemical engineering from 2006 to 2015. He joined the faculty in 1980 after receiving BS, MS, and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from Purdue University. DiBiasio is a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

 

Tanja Dominko has been promoted to professor of biology and biotechnology. Dominko’s background spans industry and academia, with a focus on regenerative medicine and wound healing. She studies the molecular mechanisms of cells, with a focus on restoring damaged tissues in the body, and her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the European Commission. She has an affiliate appointment in the Biomedical Engineering Department. Dominko received a DVM and an MS in reproduction and obstetrics from the veterinary school at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. She earned a PhD in endocrinology-reproductive physiology and did postdoctoral research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dominko was a staff scientist at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center, then worked at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester before joining the WPI faculty in 2006. Dominko received the 2013 Slovenian Ambassador of Science award. She is secretary of the WPI faculty.

Joseph D. Fehribach has been promoted to professor. Fehribach is an applied mathematician who studies fundamental questions in mathematics and science. He earned a BA in mathematics and physics at Centre College and MA and PhD degrees in mathematics at Duke University. Since joining the WPI faculty in 1992, Fehribach has obtained grants funding research into mathematical issues in the study of porous electrodes, particularly regarding Kirchhoff graphs. He also has developed and revised mathematics courses, most recently creating a set of tutorial videos for linear algebra. As chair of the mathematical sciences graduate admissions committee, Fehribach has led a restructuring of the department’s PhD program, leading to better candidates and more doctoral degrees. He is the author of a new textbook, “Multivariable and Vector Calculus” (De Gruyter, 2020).

 

Destin Heilman has been promoted to teaching professor in the chemistry and biochemistry department. Heilman joined the WPI faculty in 2006 as an adjunct teaching professor after earning a PhD in biomedical sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School; he has a BS in microbiology from Pennsylvania State University and studies animal viruses that kill cancer cells. Heilman was chairman of a committee that overhauled WPI’s chemistry curriculum in recent years to modernize it and emphasize project-based learning for students in chemistry and biochemistry labs. He also worked on an agreement that allows WPI students to undertake Major Qualifying Projects at UMass Medical School and recruited nearly 100 medical school faculty to participate. Heilman is co-chairman of a task force examining the role of non-tenure track faculty.

Xiangnan Kong has been awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor of computer science. Kong’s research focuses on data mining and machine learning, with applications to diverse fields such as neuroscience, autonomous cars, social networks, and mobile apps. He became a faculty member in 2014 and has an affiliate appointment in the Data Science Program. Soon after joining WPI, Kong designed an introductory data science course that all graduate students in data science must master, covering everything from computer programming to statistics and data visualization. Kong earned BS and MS degrees in computer science at Nanjing University in China and a PhD in computer science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

 

Dmitry Korkin has been promoted to professor of computer science. Korkin uses computational approaches to analyze large amounts of biological and clinical data with an aim of understanding complex diseases at the molecular level. He is affiliated with the Data Science Program and WPI’s Neuroscience initiative. Korkin directs the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Program, and he helped develop a PhD program in computational life sciences with UMass Medical School. He has particular expertise in developing virtual reality and “mixed reality” models to allow scientists to visualize complex biological networks, and recently developed a 3D model of the 2019 novel coronavirus. A WPI faculty member since 2014, Korkin previously was an associate professor of computer science at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has BS and MS degrees in applied mathematics from Moscow State University in Russia, and a PhD in computer science from the University of New Brunswick in Canada.

Robert Krueger has been promoted to professor of social science and policy studies. Krueger is a geographer who studies people and their relations with places while focusing on social justice, sustainability, urban environments, and economic development around the world. He joined the faculty in 2001 after earning a BS in political science at Oklahoma State University, an MSL in environmental science and policy at Vermont Law School, and an MA in environmental science and policy and a PhD in geography at Clark University. Krueger directs WPI project centers in Ghana and Worcester, England, and is helping create a new Institute of Science and Technology for Development at WPI. His publications include the book “Adventures in Sustainable Urbanism” (SUNY Press, 2019), which he co-edited.

 

Christopher R. Lambert has been promoted to teaching professor in the chemistry and biochemistry department. Lambert came to WPI in 2005 to help lead an initiative largely supported by the U.S. Army to fund, develop, and commercialize bioengineering discoveries and technologies. He joined the faculty in 2015. His research has included work on molecular films as sensors, antimicrobial surfaces for implanted prosthetic devices, tissue architecture, using light to stimulate retinal neurons, and creating a system to produce red blood cells from stem cells. Lambert earned a BS in chemistry and biochemistry at University College, Cardiff, in Wales, and a PhD in photochemistry and photobiology at the University of Paisley in Scotland. Outside WPI, he has worked with the Amputee Coalition, an advocacy group.

Kyumin Lee has been awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor of computer science. Lee, who has an affiliate appointment in the Data Science Program, focuses on social computing, information retrieval, data science, and cybersecurity over large-scale networked information systems such as the web, social media, and crowd-based systems. Recently, he has studied threats to cyber systems, as well as methods to counter those threats. Funded with a CAREER Award from the NSF, Lee has developed technology to detect malicious activity on crowdsourcing platforms. He earned a BS in computer science and electrical engineering at Kyonggi University and an MS in computer engineering from Sungkyunkwan University, both in South Korea. He received a PhD in computer science at Texas A&M University. Lee was an assistant professor of computer science at Utah State University before joining the WPI faculty in 2017.

 

Yuxiang Liu has been awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor of mechanical engineering. Liu studies light-matter interactions at micro and nanoscales to develop novel tools, including “fiber optical tweezers” to differentiate cancer cells for disease diagnosis, fiber optical sensors for manufacturing process control in the food industry, and endoscopic probes for disease treatments. Liu is one of the core faculty members establishing the Lab for Education and Application Prototypes (LEAP) at WPI and has affiliate appointments in the Physics, Biomedical Engineering, and Robotics Engineering departments. He joined the faculty in 2013 after postdoctoral research at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Liu earned BE and MS degrees at the University of Science and Technology of China and a PhD in mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Anita Mattson has been promoted to professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Mattson researches new methods in organic chemistry, the design of small molecules known as catalysts, and synthesis of bioactive molecules. She has secured more than $2 million in grant funding, including a $1.7 million Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2017, to develop catalysts to synthesize organic compounds that could treat drug-resistant cancers. Mattson earned a BS in chemistry at Northern Michigan University and a PhD in organic chemistry at Northwestern University. She was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was an associate professor of chemistry at Ohio State University before joining the WPI faculty in 2016. Mattson is the associate department head and graduate program coordinator for WPI’s chemistry and biochemistry department.

 

Stephen McCauley has been promoted to associate teaching professor in the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division (IGSD). McCauley is a geographer and co-director of WPI’s Global Lab and co-director of WPI’s project center in Melbourne, Australia. He studies how cities change and adapt for the future, with a special interest in environmental issues. His research has included mapping extreme heat areas in Worcester as part of a project supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. McCauley, who became a faculty member in 2013, received a BA in economics at Loyola College, an MA in geography at the University of Maryland, and a PhD in geography at Clark University.

Dean O'Donnell has been promoted to teaching professor in the Interactive Media and Game Development Program (IMGD). O’Donnell is a writer, game developer, and founding faculty member of the IMGD program whose work emphasizes the role of narrative in gaming. His plays have been produced across the country and he wrote “Legwork,” a 2002 short film. At WPI he organizes a master class that brings video game industry veterans to campus to work with students, and he has coordinated “Showfest,” a display of games created by students. He also designs and oversees the installation of the annual IMGD Escape Room. O’Donnell earned a BS in physics at WPI and an MFA in dramatic writing at Brandeis University. He joined the faculty in 1993.

 

Pradeep Radhakrishnan has been promoted to associate teaching professor of mechanical engineering. A faculty member since 2014, Radhakrishnan has an affiliate appointment in the Robotics Engineering Department. His research interests are in automated design, entertainment engineering, and design education. Radhakrishnan was honored for teaching excellence in 2019 with the department’s Russell M. Searle Instructorship in Mechanical Engineering. He received a BE in mechanical engineering at PSG College of Technology in India and MSE and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

Angel Rivera has been promoted to professor of humanities and arts. Rivera is a novelist and academic author who researches 19th- and 20th-century Spanish-Caribbean literature and literary theory as it relates to cultural limits or borders. His most recent books are “Ciencia ficción en Puerto Rico: Heraldos de la catástrofe, el apocalipsis y el cambio” (La Secta de los Perros, 2019) and the novel “El veneno de la serpiente: Vida y muerte de Ernesto Lowenthal” (Disonante, 2018). A faculty member since 1994, Rivera is the modern language coordinator for the humanities department and has an affiliate appointment with the International and Global Studies Program. He earned BA and MA degrees in Spanish at the University of Puerto Rico and a PhD in Spanish at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

 

Carolina Ruiz has been promoted to professor of computer science. Ruiz’s research is in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data mining, and their applications to medical domains including sleep, stroke, obesity, and cancer. Ruiz and her research group have developed machine learning methods that have discovered novel patterns in sleep data, increasing understanding of the interconnections between physiological and behavioral aspects of sleep. Ruiz has also worked on interdisciplinary research at the intersection of computational thinking and education. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation. Ruiz is associate department head of Computer Science and is founding and core member of  the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Data Science, and Neuroscience programs. She became a faculty member at WPI in 1997. Ruiz earned BS degrees in computer science and mathematics and an MS in computer science at the University of Los Andes in Colombia, and a PhD in computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Purvi Shah has been awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor in the Foisie Business School. Her research focuses on the deletion of products and brands by firms and the disposal of products by consumers. She also investigates how product deletion can be integrated with efforts to create lean and sustainable supply chains. Shah earned a BCom degree in economics and an MMS in marketing at the University of Mumbai in India; and an MBA in marketing and international business and a PhD in marketing, both at Texas Tech University. She has diverse industry experience in marketing/brand management of mid-size to large corporations in the consumer goods, retail, and real estate industries.

 

Gillian Smith has been awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor of computer science. Smith focuses on the emerging field of computational craft, bringing together computer science, traditional crafts, textiles, games, and artificial intelligence. She also explores issues of social justice and feminism in her work. Smith co-created Threadsteading, a strategy game played on an embroidery machine, in collaboration with Disney Research Pittsburgh. She joined the faculty in 2017, is a core faculty member in the Interactive Media and Game Development Program, and is affiliated with the Learning Sciences and Technologies Program. Smith received a BS in computer science at the University of Virginia, and MS and PhD degrees in computer science at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She previously was an assistant professor in the college of computer sciences at Northeastern University.

Elisabeth Stoddard has been promoted to associate teaching professor in undergraduate studies. A faculty member since 2014, Stoddard is co-director of the International Development, Environment, and Sustainability Program. She also directs WPI’s Farm Stay Project Center on a 58-acre farm in Massachusetts, teaches in the Great Problems Seminar, and is affiliated with the Social Science and Policy Studies Department. Stoddard co-edited and contributed to the book “Project-Based Learning in the First Year: Beyond All Expectations” (Stylus Publishing, 2019). Her research focuses on the intersection of nature, society, food, and social justice. Stoddard earned a BA in history at the University of Vermont, an MS in animals and public policy at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, and a PhD in geography at Clark University.

 

Ralph Sutter has been promoted to senior instructor/lecturer in the Interactive Media and Game Development Program. A member of the faculty since 2012, Sutter has a BS in media arts and animation from the New England Institute of Art. He is a 3D artist for the game, film, and 3D collectible industries, and he has produced 3D models for theme park rides, medical animation, and 3D print production. Sutter previously worked as a medical animator/modeler for Argosy Publishing, where he was involved in creating an interactive, animated 3D model of a beating human heart for the “Visible Body” application. At WPI, he is collaborating on the development of a technical art concentration for undergraduates and an animation program.

Zhongqiang Zhang has been awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor of mathematical sciences. Zhang’s research focuses on numerical analysis, a branch of mathematics concerned with devising methods to find approximate solutions to problems and analyzing the results. His research has been funded by the Army Research Office. He is co-author of the book “Numerical Methods for Stochastic Partial Differential Equations with White Noise” (Springer, 2017) and has helped organize WPI seminars on numerical methods, the Finite Element Circus conference and New England Numerical Analysis Day. Zhang joined the faculty in 2014. He earned a BS in mathematics at Qufu Normal University in China; an MS in computational mathematics and a PhD in mathematics at Shanghai University in China; and a PhD in applied mathematics at Brown University, where he also did short-term postdoctoral research.

 

Huili Zheng has been promoted to associate teaching professor of humanities and arts. Zheng leads WPI’s foreign language program and is affiliated with the International and Global Studies Program. She has redesigned WPI’s curriculum for courses in Chinese language and studies, and she created a Chinese tutoring program. Zheng’s research focuses on late imperial Chinese literature and culture. Previously a lecturer at Emory University and a visiting assistant professor and coordinator of the Chinese language program at Saint Vincent College, she joined the WPI faculty in 2014. Zheng has a BA in Chinese language and literature and an MA in traditional Chinese literature from Nanjing University in China, an MA in East Asian studies from the University of Toronto in Canada, and a PhD in East Asian languages and literature from the University of California, Irvine.

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About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a purpose-driven community of educators and researchers, has been the global leader in project-based learning for 50 years. An impact maker for higher education and the world, WPI prepares confident, competent problem solvers with a project-based curriculum that immerses students in authentic, real-world experiences.

Media Contact

Andy Baron
Associate Director of Public Relations
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, Massachusetts
(508) 831-5916 (office)​
ajbaron@wpi.edu