Faculty Highlights – Spring/Summer 2013

From the desk of . . .

Prathima Agrawal, director of Auburn’s Wireless Engineering Research and Education Center, Alireza Babaei, former post-doctoral fellow in the center, and Bijan Jabbari, professor of electrical and computer engineering at George Mason University, have received the best paper award from the Journal of Communications and Networks for their paper, “Capacity Bounds in Random Wireless Networks.” The team will receive the award at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ annual conference on communications June 10 in Budapest, Hungary. Agrawal and her team used a Poisson spatial model, a statistical method that can be used to describe the spontaneous locations of mobile wireless users, to study the desired characteristics of a wireless signal and the user’s effect on the capacity of wireless links. The results provide new insights on the capacity of wireless links in random Poisson networks.

Virginia Davis, Sanders associate professor of chemical engineering, received the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum’s Young Investigator Award at the 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ annual meeting in Pittsburgh. The award recognizes outstanding interdisciplinary research in nanoscience and nanotechnology by engineers or scientists in the early stages of their professional careers. Davis also gave a plenary lecture at the meeting entitled, “Nanocylinder Liquid Crystals: New Materials Meet a 120 Year Old Science.”

David Elton, faculty member in civil engineering, has been named a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Fellow status is attained by professional accomplishments via peer nomination and election. Elton is one of only two ASCE fellows in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, joining Chai H. Yoo who was named a fellow in 2003. He has served at Auburn since 1985 and specializes in geotechnical engineering.

Jeffrey Fergus, faculty member in materials engineering, has been appointed editor of ECS Transactions (ECST), an online publication of Electrochemical Society (ECS) meetings. During the coming year, Fergus hopes to identify new ways to use ECST to expand dissemination of meeting content and enhance scientific discourse in electrochemical science.

Ram Gupta, Woltosz professor of chemical engineering, was recently recognized with the Alabama Academy of Science’s 2013 Gardner Award, which was established for scientist Wright Gardner in 1984 to honor researchers, educators, clinicians and industrialists who perform outstanding work in the state. Gupta was selected by a committee of eminent scholars from premier universities throughout the state. He is a 2008 fellow of the academy.

Marko Hakovirta, director of the Alabama Center for Paper and Bioresource Engineering (AC-PABE) and faculty member in chemical engineering, has received an $88,000 grant from the Auburn University intramural grants program, plus a $55,000 cost share portion from AC-PABE for his project, “Self-assembled nanostructured sensors for detection of gases and biological substances.” This project will explore the development of smart tissues that can be used in sensing applications.

Daniela Marghitu, Auburn University’s AccessComputing coordinator and faculty member in computer science and software engineering, has been awarded an Academic Alliance Seed Fund grant from the National Center for Women and Information Technology and Microsoft Research to establish Computer Science for All Girls. The program works to recruit and retain female middle and high school students in computing disciplines. The first camp will be held in June.

Anton Schindler, faculty member in civil engineering and director of Auburn’s Highway Research Center, has received the 2013 Frank G. Erskine Award from the Expanded Shale, Clay and Slate Institute for his contributions to the use of lightweight aggregate. He is being recognized for leading the development of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) publication, “The Economics, Performance, and Sustainability of Internally Cured Concrete.” Schindler and former Auburn doctoral student Benjamin Byard developed publications to quantify the effect of using lightweight aggregates on the cracking tendency of concrete.

Rich Sesek, faculty member in industrial and systems engineering, has been awarded the Dr. William E. Tarrants Outstanding Safety Educator Award, the highest award granted to safety educators by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). The award recognizes work in both safety-related teaching and research, and is only granted in years when outstanding candidates are submitted for consideration. Sesek will receive the award at the ASSE Professional Development Conference in June.

Alice E. Smith, Reed professor of industrial and systems engineering, has been recognized on ScienceDirect.com as having a top article in reliability engineering and systems safety. Smith’s article, “Multi Objective Optimization Using Genetic Algorithms: A Tutorial,” ranked first among 25 articles. It focuses on methods used to obtain multiple goals in complex engineering problems. Smith collaborated with doctoral students Abdullah Konak, now of Pennsylvania State University-Berks, and David Coit, now of Rutgers University, to compile an overview and tutorial of methods for readers. Smith was also recently elected to serve as a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer’s Computational Intelligence Society Administration Committee, for a three-year term.

Bruce Tatarchuk, Gavin professor of chemical engineering and director of Auburn’s Microfibrous Materials Manufacturing Center (CM3), has received a $120,000 equipment grant from the Auburn University intramural grants program. The grant, “Spatial and Temporal Resolved Studies of Chemically Reactive Surfaces,” supports the acquisition of a new XPS system, which will benefit researchers in chemical engineering and throughout the college. He has received a $300,000 cost share for the project through CM3, the college and the department.

Robert Thomas, professor emeritus of industrial and systems engineering, has been recognized as a fellow of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). This designation is given for significant contributions to the field, and only the top five percent of AIHA membership is considered eligible. Thomas was recognized among the 2013 fellows at AIHA’s conference and exposition in May.

Hareesh Tippur, faculty member in mechanical engineering, and Maria Auad, faculty member in polymer and fiber engineering, are collaborating to continue developing strong, transparent, lightweight and durable blast-resistant materials that can be used to create windshields, goggles, visors, canopies and protective gear for the military as well as the general public. Through a three-year grant from the U.S. Army, they’re exploring polymeric components to develop new devices and improve existing ones by using a wide range of materials synthesized for their various characteristics, such as strength, transparency or durability.

Jin Wang, Redd associate professor of chemical engineering, has earned a $50,000 award from the newly formed Ray C. Anderson Foundation to support her research aimed at reducing energy and chemical consumption at pulp mills. With 17 mills in Alabama, the pulp and paper industry is one of the top manufacturing employers in the state. The foundation also awarded grants to innovative sustainability-related programs at Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Southern Mississippi and Arizona State University.