Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has welcomed more than 30 full-time educators and researchers to its faculty for the 2021-22 academic year.
New faculty members include three with additional roles: Mimi Sheller, dean of The Global School; Rosanna Garcia, Beswick Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in The Business School; and former Ambassador of Ghana to the United States Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, who was named WPI’s first Distinguished Statesman in Residence in the School of Arts and Sciences.
“These talented and highly accomplished individuals possess impressive credentials that will advance the university’s teaching and research agenda,” said Provost Wole Soboyejo. “It is a pleasure to welcome them to WPI’s faculty.”
New members of the faculty:
Taimoor Afzal will be an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering starting in January 2022. He was most recently a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University. Previously, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Afzal’s research interests focus on human movement control, machine learning, and neural engineering. He received a BS from COMSATS Institute of Information Technology in Pakistan, an MSE from the University of Sheffield in England, and a PhD from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Gizem Arslan is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Humanities and Arts. Her research interests include post-World War II literature in German, French, and Turkish; translation studies; migration studies; theories of language; literary-mathematical experiments; and writing systems of the world. Arslan was most recently a lecturer in German at Southern Methodist University. She received a BA from Franklin and Marshall College and an MA and PhD from Cornell University.
Christina Bailey-Hytholt will be an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering starting in January 2022. She most recently was a postdoctoral fellow at Sanofi. Bailey-Hytholt’s research focuses on biomaterials, drug and gene delivery, and diagnostics. Her research seeks to improve the understanding of molecular interactions at the maternal-fetal interface, develop techniques for non-invasive prenatal diagnostics, and formulate therapeutics for conditions impacting women’s health. She received a BS from WPI and a PhD from Brown University.
Brandon Bohrer is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science. Bohrer’s research focuses on formal methods, or the study of software correctness, and programming language theory, with a particular interest in systems responsible for keeping physical things and people safe. Bohrer has been a visitor at the Technical University of Munich in Germany and was most recently a visiting researcher with the National Institute of Informatics in Tokyo. They received a BS, MS, and PhD from Carnegie Mellon University.
Sébastien Bossu is a visiting assistant professor of finance in The Business School. Bossu is also principal at Ogee Group LLC, the hedge fund he founded in 2011, and was previously head of the equity derivatives structuring team at Dresdner Kleinwort (now Commerzbank) in London. He is the author of two textbooks on equity derivatives and has served as adjunct professor at Fordham University, Pace University, New York University Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. Bossu received a BS from Sorbonne Université and MS degrees from HEC Paris, the University of Chicago, and Columbia University. He received his PhD from Université Paris-Saclay.
Grant Burrier is a visiting associate professor in the Department of Integrative and Global Studies. His research focuses on sustainable development, the environment, renewable energy, social welfare, populism, and elections. Burrier’s work has been featured in publications ranging from the journal World Development to The Christian Science Monitor, and he is a past president of the New England Council of Latin American Studies. Burrier received two BAs from Sewanee: The University of the South and a PhD from the University of New Mexico.
Lin Cheng is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. His research interests include physics-informed deep learning and applications for additive manufacturing, and he focuses on data-driven smart manufacturing techniques and intelligent robotic material design. Cheng’s optimization methods have been commercialized by ANSYS Inc. in engineering simulation software, and he is an author of 23 peer-reviewed journal articles. He was previously a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University. Cheng received his BSE from Xi’an Jiao Tong University and his MSE from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, both in China, and his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh.
Nicholas Chisholm is an assistant research professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. Previously a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, Chisholm uses mathematical modeling and simulation to understand problems in fluid mechanics, interfacial phenomena such as the mechanical effects of surfactants on oil-water interfaces, colloidal systems, active matter, and biomechanics. He received a BS from the University of Rochester and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University.
Alireza Ebadi is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. His research interests include experimental fluid dynamics, turbulent flows, and reduced-order modeling. Ebadi received a BS from Sharif University of Technology in Iran and a PhD from the University of New Hampshire, where he worked as a lecturer and researcher before joining the WPI faculty.
Laura Eckelman is an associate teaching professor in the Department of Humanities and Arts. Eckelman is a theatrical lighting designer and production manager who has worked with theatre companies, arts festivals, and colleges. She previously was chair, associate professor, production manager, and resident designer in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Washington College. In 2011, she was a recipient of an S&R Foundation Washington Award. Eckelman received a BA from Middlebury College and an MFA from the Yale University School of Drama.
Zoe Antoinette Eddy is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Integrative and Global Studies. A social anthropologist and archaeologist, Eddy focuses her research on global Indigenous studies, human/environment relationships, and the intersection of material culture, history, and community activism. Her published work has covered topics such as live-action role playing. Eddy received a BA from Bowdoin College and a PhD from Harvard University.
Jeanne Essame is an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Arts. Essame’s research examines the experience of people of African descent in the Americas, with a focus on the movement of people and ideas, cultural productions, gendered experiences, and oral history. She previously was a visiting assistant professor at Bates College. Essame received a BA and MA from Université François Rabelais, and an MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Siavash Farzan is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Robotics Engineering. Farzan’s robotics research focuses on solving challenges for safety-critical underactuated robots so they can operate in unstructured and real-world environments. He brings several years of experience in industry as an embedded systems engineer into the classroom and has co-developed a lab-based online mechatronics course that is hosted on the online platform edX. Farzan received his BS from Shahid Beheshti University in Iran, his MS from the University of Missouri–Columbia, and his PhD from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Torumoy Ghoshal is an assistant teaching professor in the Data Science Program. His research interests involve feature engineering, deep learning, and natural language processing. Ghoshal has been a visiting assistant professor at Lyon College, and he has worked for Dow Jones to develop machine learning models for The Wall Street Journal journalists and advertising employees. He received his BE from the University of Pune in India and his PhD from the University of Mississippi.
Emily Gioielli is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Humanities and Arts. Gioielli specializes in modern European history, particularly Central and Eastern European history, the history of women, gender, and sexuality, and the history of violence and regime change. She was most recently a fellow at Imre Kertész Kolleg in Jena, Germany, and a visiting researcher at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. She received her PhD from Central European University in Hungary.
Sixian Jin is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. His research interests include stochastic calculus, stochastic differential equations, and related applications in quantitative finance. He works in the Malliavin calculus of Brownian motion, fractional Brownian motion, and Lévy processes. Jin received a BS from Beijing University and a PhD from Claremont Graduate University.
Abigail Koo is an assistant teaching professor and director of orchestral activities in the Department of Humanities and Arts. Koo is a solo pianist, chamber musician, orchestral violinist, and conductor who has performed in major concert halls in the United States, Europe, and Asia. She has led masterclasses and lectured across the United States, and previously taught part time at Indiana University and full time at Sahmyook University in Seoul, Korea. Koo has founded two music schools for underprivileged students in Cambodia and Myanmar. She received a BM from the Manhattan School of Music, and an MM, PD, and DM from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Xiaozhong Liu is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and the Data Science program. He previously was an associate professor at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indiana University Bloomington. Liu’s research interests include information retrieval, natural language processing, text/graph mining, deep learning, digital libraries, metadata, and computational social science. He is an author of more than 100 publications and an inventor on 10 patents, and he has served as a director and senior consultant at Alibaba DAMO Academy. Liu received his PhD from Syracuse University.
Alex Maag is an assistant research professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Maag was most recently a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University. His research focuses on processes that use biomass as a source of renewable energy or in the production of more sustainable commodities. He has experience in catalysis, high pressure and temperature process design, surface science, and spectroscopic characterization. Maag received a BS from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a PhD from WPI.
Zhu Mao is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. His research interests include intelligent systems, non-contact sensing, signal processing and uncertainty quantification, and condition-based monitoring for a variety of applications. Mao’s research has been funded by multiple agencies and industry sponsors. He received the 2018 AFOSR Young Investigator Award and the SAGE Publishing Young Engineers Lecture Award in 2019. Mao received his BS from Tsinghua University and his MS and PhD from the University of California San Diego. He previously was a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Solomon Mensah is an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. His research focuses on the role of vascular endothelial glycocalyx in the onset and progression of cardiopulmonary diseases. Mensah previously worked in clinical operations and surgical instrumentation at New York City and Boston medical centers. He also is chief executive officer of Therapeutic Innovations Inc., a company that is redesigning medical devices for use in developing countries. Mensah received a BS from City College of New York and a PhD from Northeastern University.
Lina Muñoz Márquez is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Humanities and Arts. Her teaching and research focus on Latin American cultures and literature, exploring the links among culture, race, mobility, politics. She also concentrates on the films and audiovisual production of Latin American indigenous people, with an emphasis on the Andean region. Muñoz Márquez received a BA from the University of Antioquia, an MA from the University of Arkansas, and a PhD from the University of Kansas.
Abby Pekoske Fulton is an assistant research professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. Her research focuses on mathematical biology, dynamical systems, and computational mathematics, and she uses deterministic and stochastic immersed boundary methods to study the energy landscape of DNA knots and links. Pekoske Fulton received her BA from Carthage College, her MS from Oregon State University, and her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh.
Benjamin Pollard is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Physics. Pollard’s research concentrates on teaching and learning in laboratory courses. He is a core organizer of The Access Network, a network of student-led programs working toward a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) community. Pollard received a BA from Pomona College and an MS and PhD from the University of Colorado Boulder, where he was also a postdoctoral researcher.
Jessica A. Rosewitz is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering. Her research interests include project management and construction materials and methods, engineering education, modern design of concrete materials and repair methods, and restoration of historic art and structures. Rosewitz received her BS, MS, and PhD from WPI. She worked as a structural engineer for several years and has taught as an adjunct professor at WPI and Assumption University.
Mahamadou Lamine Sagna is an associate professor in the Department of Social Science and Policy Studies. The author of three books, his research focuses on financial behavior, the sociology of poverty, monetary and financial practices in relation to economic innovation, and the dynamics of social trust and risk. Sagna has taught at Princeton University, the American University of Nigeria, and Schiller University of France. He has been a research fellow at University Paris Sorbonne-Paris VII and a visiting professor at the University of Maryland. He received BA and MA degrees from the University of Lyon, an MBA from Ecole des 3A, and a PhD from the University of Caen.
Ben Schneider is a professor of practice in the Interactive Media and Game Development (IMGD) program. Schneider is a video game writer and designer with 20 years of experience in the games industry. He has created content for games such as “Empire Earth,” “Titan Quest,” “Dawn of War,” “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” and “Lord of the Rings Online.” His creative interests include procedural narrative systems, conventional prose, folklore, and experimental interactive narrative. Schneider received his BA from Columbia University.
Michael Smith is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. His research interests include geometric analysis and partial differential equations, in particular the Ricci flow, a quasilinear parabolic evolution in time for Riemannian manifolds, as well as applications of mathematics to the growing field of theoretical computer science, and in particular the theory behind deep learning. He received a BS from WPI and a PhD from the University of California Berkeley.
Adrien Stoloff is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Humanities and Arts. He has taught courses on Asian religions, religion and sexuality, and philosophy of religion. His research focuses on Chinese religious beliefs and practices from the late Warring States Period to the Western Han dynasty, and the classical Daoist idea of wuwei, or effortless action. He received a BA from St. John’s College, an MA from Columbia University, and a PhD from Brown University.
Shahin Tajik is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Tajik joined the WPI faculty in 2020 as an assistant research professor, and previously was on the faculty at the Florida Institute for Cybersecurity Research at the University of Florida. His research focuses on noninvasive and semi-invasive side-channel analysis, Physically Unclonable Functions, machine learning, field-programmable gate array security, and designing anti-tamper mechanisms against physical attacks. Tajik received a BS from K.N. Toosi University of Technology and an MS and PhD from Technical University of Berlin.
Shubbhi Taneja is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Computer Science. Taneja focuses her research on energy-efficient computing and big data systems, and she collaborates with researchers at national laboratories and others who are working on pedagogical research and disciplines such as computer architecture, machine learning, and cloud computing. Taneja was previously a faculty member at California State University Sonoma. She received a BS from Maharishi Dayanand University and a PhD from Auburn University.
Walt Yarbrough is a professor of practice in the IMGD program and executive producer at MassDigi. He previously taught at Becker College, where he was a visiting digital fellow who revised and expanded the production curriculum for interactive media degrees. Yarbrough has extensive executive experience in video game development and consults in the industry. He received his BS from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Qiao Zhuang is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. His research interests include stochastic and deep neural networks for moving boundary problems and interface problems governed by Navier-Stokes equations. Zhuang received a BSc and MSc from Shandong University and a PhD from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.