Faculty Highlights – Fall 2014

From the desk of…

Joshua Batterson, assistant research professor of aerospace engineering, and his contract partners have received more than $2.5 million from NASA and the Department of Defense during the past three years to predict, model and analyze combustion instability in rockets, jet engines and scramjets. Batterson is currently working with industry and government partners in an effort to model the effect of acoustic oscillations on optical and thermal sensors in rocket guidance systems.

Gopikrishna Deshpande, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and researcher at Auburn’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Research Center, has received a grant of nearly $997,000 from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for a project titled “Functional Imaging for Developing Outstanding Service Dogs.” The project aims to perform MRI scans of dogs before and after they are trained to carry out detection tasks in order to identify baseline neural features which predict better detection performance post training. This will enable researchers to scan the canine’s brain before recruitment and determine the likelihood of success, given the capital investments involved in detector dog training.

Mario Eden, department chair and Joe T. and Billie Carole McMillan professor of chemical engineering, has been recognized with the 2014 Outstanding Young Researcher national award from the Computing and Systems Technology division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. The annual honor is awarded to an individual under 40 who has made outstanding and significant contributions to chemical engineering computing and systems technology.

John Evans, professor of industrial and systems engineering, was appointed interim director of the Thomas Walter Center (TWC) for technology management. Evans will lead TWC’s initiatives including the Business-Engineering-Technology program and will develop plans for future programs within the center.

Xing Fang, professor of civil engineering, has been selected as a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a fellow of the Environmental and Water Resources Institute. Fang is honored for his contributions to lake water quality modeling research and education.

Jeffrey Fergus, professor of materials engineering, has been named associate dean for program assessment and graduate studies in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. He will be responsible for managing the assessment and enhancement processes associated with all aspects of the College of Engineering’s mission. In addition to oversight of ABET and SACS accreditation compliance, Fergus will also coordinate the college’s assessment activities with Auburn University’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.
Oladiran Fasina, professor of biosystems engineering, was inducted as a fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. This is the highest honor awarded to members of the society who possess 20 years of active experience in or related to the field of agricultural, food or biological systems engineering.

Pradeep Lall, Thomas Walter professor of mechanical engineering and director of Auburn’s National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics, has been selected as a fellow of the Alabama Academy of Science, the academy’s second highest honor. Lall was also honored with the Exceptional Technical Achievement Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology Society for his contributions to the field of electronics reliability and manufacturing.

Elizabeth Lipke, assistant professor of chemical engineering, has been named among the nation’s brightest young engineers and was invited to attend the National Academy of Engineering’s 20th annual U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium. Lipke, among 82 engineers from around the country, gathered in September at the National Academy’s Beckman Center in Irvine, Calif., to discuss cutting-edge developments in four research areas: next-generation robotics, frontiers in materials for batteries, shale gas and oil, and technologies for the heart. Engineers from industry, academia and government participated in the discussion, which is expected to influence national policies in science and engineering.

Joseph Majdalani, department chair of aerospace engineering, was honored with the Konrad Dannenberg Educator of the Year Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics greater Huntsville section. The award is given to a section member who has exemplified outstanding service to education and promotion of math and science within the community.

Daniela Marghitu, comp 1000 coordinator in computer science and software engineering and founding director of Auburn’s Laboratory for Educational and Assistive Technology, published her sixth textbook on information technology titled “Exploring Microsoft SharePoint for Office 2013.” The book is published as part of the international award-winning Pearson Higher Education Exploring series.

Cheryl Seals, associate professor of computer science and software engineering, has been appointed acting director of the Alabama Power Academic Excellence Program in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Seals is responsible for leading the program’s academic support and professional development activities for students as they transition and adjust to the Auburn Engineering environment.
Anthony Skjellum joined the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering in June as the COLSA cyber security and information assurance professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, and director of the Auburn Cyber Research Center. He comes from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he served as chair and professor in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences since 2003.

Alice Smith, W. Allen and Martha Reed professor of industrial and systems engineering, has authored a paper, “Multi-objective optimization using genetic algorithms: a tutorial,” that is the top cited article in the journal, “Reliability Engineering & System Safety.” The paper, which has been cited in more than 400 publications, focuses on evolutionary methods used to obtain solutions to multiple goals in complex design problems.

Robert Thomas, professor emeritus of industrial and systems engineering, was honored with the William H. Weems Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th annual Alabama Governor’s Safety and Health Conference. Thomas was recognized for his dedicated service to the occupational safety and health industry.

Brian Thurow, W. Allen and Martha Reed associate professor of aerospace engineering, received research grants from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Sandia National Laboratories. Thurow is serving as a co-principal investigator on a $2.7 million grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to study three dimensional shock/boundary layer interactions and is leading an effort to introduce plenoptic camera technology to scientists at Sandia National Laboratories.

Jose Vasconcelos, assistant professor of civil engineering, received the 2014 James M. Robbins National Excellence in Teaching Award from Chi Epsilon, the national civil engineering honor society. He was nominated in recognition of his teaching from Auburn’s chapter of Chi Epsilon and was selected as the Southeast district winner before being chosen from a larger pool of all district winners from across the country.

Weikuan Yu, associate professor of computer science and software engineering, was awarded a grant totaling more than $298,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his big data research. Yu’s project, titled “EAGER: Tadoop: A Dual-Purpose Framework Taming the Bipolarity of Storage and Communication for High-Performance Computing and Data Analytics,” will focus on how to unify bipolarity issues in storage and communication management in data analytics. This is his fourth NSF grant.