Man in crowd
Higgins Labs 245
+1 (508) 8315000 x5556
Affiliated Department or Office
Ph.D. Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Cornell University 1983
M.S. Applied Mechanics, University of Michigan 1979
B.S. Engineering Science, State University of New York at Buffalo 1978


I have served two past terms as WPI’s Secretary of the Faculty (from 2009 to 2012 and from 2015 to 2018) and am currently serving a third term that began in 2021.  My passion for faculty governance at WPI stems from my passion for the faculty itself. My pride in our faculty governance system is rooted in the longstanding structures in place that encourage every faculty member to express their views, listen carefully to one another, and come to a healthy consensus. I have devoted myself to ensuring that the academic business of the faculty is carried out efficiently, and that the voice of the faculty is heard clearly.    

My teaching is guided by the comfort of clarity, the beauty of simplicity, and the power of comedy.  Clarity doesn't mean that there’s one perfect explanation that will make sense to everyone.  Simplicity doesn’t mean that the concepts we teach aren’t complicated.  And comedy doesn’t mean that teaching isn’t a serious business.  For me, the challenges of reconciling these contradictions lie at the heart of effective teaching. When overcome, they turn even the most passive learning opportunities into active experiences that allow students to absorb and internalize new information without distractions caused by avoidable confusion, unnecessary complexity, and deadly boredom. I encourage my students not to miss class, and in turn I do everything possible to make it worthwhile for them to be there.

My research has been devoted to the study of granular materials, which are assemblies of discrete particles that can flow like fluids or deform like solids depending on how they are pushed around and how they are contained.  Industrial applications range from the compaction of powder metals to the handling of pharmaceuticals to the bagging of potato chips to the automated separating of mail packages by size; geotechnical applications include predicting such phenomena as the runout of snow avalanches and rock landslides. I’ve had a special interest in the vibratory conveying and vibratory sieving of granular materials, and - as an example with profound implications for cost savings and sustainability - have developed theories that predict how to use the least amount of energy to induce the greatest rates of flow. As in teaching, my research has been designed to shed light on complicated phenomena in the simplest and most revealing ways.   

Professional Highlights & Honors
, 1977

, 1978
University of Michigan
, 1979

, 1982
Cornell University
, 1983

, 1988
Pi Tau Sigma
, 1995