Faculty Highlights – Fall/Winter 2013

From the desk of . . .

Sabit Adanur, faculty member in polymer and fiber engineering, gave a talk on higher education in the United States and participated in a panel discussion as part of a workshop at Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 6. The workshop, “Restructuring of Higher Education: Opportunities and Solutions,” featured enhancements that could be made to Turkey’s higher education system.

Maria Auad, faculty member in polymer and fiber engineering, has been awarded a $100,000 National Science Foundation grant to study green polymers and composites based on natural resources. Her project, “Pan American Advanced Studies Institute on Polymer and Composite Materials from Renewable Resources and Biorefinery: from Chemistry to Applications,” will include collaboration with researchers from Centro Nacional de Alta Tecnologia (CeNAT) in San Jose, California.

Prabhakar Clement and Joel Hayworth, faculty members in civil engineering, have completed a preliminary field study showing that tar balls and tar mat fragments found on Alabama beaches after Hurricane Isaac slammed the coast on Aug. 28 have the same chemical makeup as BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil. The team found that these tar mat fragments are likely fragmented from tar mats buried offshore. The concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the post Hurricane Isaac samples are not substantially different from PAH concentrations in emulsified oil that first arrived on Alabama’s beaches three years ago.

Allan David, John W. Brown assistant professor in chemical engineering, recently joined the Auburn engineering faculty. He holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland. His research focus includes the structure-property relationship of nanomaterials; elucidating and controlling the interaction of nanomaterials with biological systems; drug delivery; “smart” nanomaterials; theranostics; nanocomposites; and the hierarchical structure control by self-assembling nano-systems.

Oladiran Fasina, faculty member in biosystems engineering, has received more than $200,000 for his project, “Naval Stores Chemicals Productions from Southern Forests by Innovative Treating,” as part of the Alabama Innovation Fund’s Renewal Program. Through collaborations with Auburn University’s Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts, Fasina’s team will work to develop new collection and processing systems of chemical byproducts and products from Southern pine trees, called naval stores, which are less labor-intensive than traditional tapping and collecting methods and use existing timber-harvesting equipment with minimal modifications.

Sean Gallagher joined the industrial and systems engineering faculty in January. He received his doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from Ohio State University in 2003. His research involves establishing the physical demands associated with work in underground coal mine environments, as well as human factors and ergonomics projects.

Roy Hartfield, Walt and Virginia Woltosz professor in aerospace engineering, gave a talk on supersonic and hypersonic air breathing propulsion to engineers at Korea’s Agency for Defense Development in Daejeon in July. Hartfield discussed ramjet and scramjet engine performance, design and evaluation as part of a visiting foreign professionals program. The Korean agency is responsible for planning and conducting defense acquisition, including research, development, testing and evaluation.

Marko Hakovirta, director of Auburn University’s Alabama Center for Paper and Bioresource Engineering (AC-PABE) and a faculty member in chemical engineering, has received more than $140,000 for his project, “Intelligent Control Solution for Smart Manufacturing and Energy Reduction in Pulp Mills,” as part of the Alabama Innovation Fund’s Research Program. Through collaboration with R.E. Hodges LLC and Tuskegee University, the project could create considerable energy savings for pulp mills, improving their competitiveness as well as helping to retain and grow jobs in Alabama and throughout the region.

Joel Hayworth, faculty member in civil engineering, is leading a team of Auburn researchers to assist the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) in evaluating the state’s current solid waste management procedures and requirements for new solid waste landfills, as well as encouraging recycling, waste reduction and converting waste to energy. The Auburn University Solid Waste Management Research Team and ADEM are holding a series of public meetings across the state to discuss Alabama’s current solid waste management procedures. The public input will be compiled into a final report and presented to the Alabama Legislature.

Pradeep Lall, Thomas Walter professor in mechanical engineering and director of the NSF Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics, has been ranked in the top 100 out of a million engineering researchers and publications by Microsoft Academic Search. Lall has published 146 journals and papers and has collaborated with 183 co-authors from 1990 to 2011. His work has been cited in 881 publications. Lall’s research interests include algorithms and theory, electrical and electronic engineering, and software engineering.

Fadel Megahed joined the industrial and systems engineering faculty in August. He received his doctorate and master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech, and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the American University in Cairo. His research includes creating new tools to store, organize, analyze, model and visualize large heterogeneous data sets associated with modern manufacturing and service environments.

Paul Swamidass, director of Auburn’s Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management and the Business-Engineering-Technology Program, has published a new book, “The Early Phases of Technological Innovation for Engineering and Business Students.” Designed for engineering and business students unfamiliar with the elements of technological innovation, the book attempts to make the seven-stage process of technological innovations easier to comprehend.

Bruce Tatarchuk, faculty member in chemical engineering, has received more than $200,000 for his project, “Ultra High Thermal Conductivity Catalyst Carriers,” as part of the Alabama Innovation Fund’s Research Program. His team is working to commercialize high thermal conductivity catalyst carriers and pilot test them for reactions that can convert relatively small volumes of coal, biomass or natural gas into useful fuels and chemicals.

Levent Yilmaz, faculty member in computer science and software engineering, has been named vice president of publications by the Society for Modeling and Simulation International (SCS). Yilmaz was also recently recognized at this year’s International Summer Simulation Multiconference, held July 8-11 in Genoa, Italy. He received the SCS Distinguished Service Award, an honor that represents an individual’s contributions to the profession through editorial service and as an executive officer, as well as a best paper award for his research, “Scholarly Communication of Reproducible Modeling and Simulation Research using e-Portfolios.”

Weikuan Yu, faculty member in computer science and software engineering, has received more than $68,000 for his project, “Smart Network Backplane for Fast Analytics of Big Data,” as part of the Alabama Innovation Fund’s Renewal Program. He is working with department chair Kai Chang to accelerate network-based data movement for the analysis of big data in various computing environments.