UT Dallas Engineering School Adds 10 New Faculty

New Hires Result From Methodical Approach to Planning School’s Growth

Sept. 4, 2009

The Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas is welcoming 10 new faculty members this semester, increasing its faculty population by more than 10 percent and enhancing its capabilities in key areas.

As a group, the 10 expand the Electrical Engineering Department’s expertise in analog technology and systems, build the young materials science department’s capabilities in organic electronics and advanced materials fabrication, start the first round of hiring for the one-year-old mechanical engineering department and nurture the school’s evolving capabilities in bioengineering.

“With the addition of 10 new faculty, the Jonsson School has reached the 100 mark for the first time,” said Mark W. Spong, dean of the school and holder of the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering. “This outstanding group of individuals will enable us both to expand our research enterprise and to broaden our curriculum. They will also enable us to increase the amount of interdisciplinary research we perform, and I am confident that they will prove instrumental in helping UT Dallas advance toward its goal of joining the nation’s top-tier research universities.”

One of the standouts in the group is Dr. Mathukumalli Vidyasagar, a new professor of mechanical engineering at the school and holder of a Cecil H. and Ida Green Chair in Systems Biology Science.

“Sagar, as he is known, is one of the top people in the world in systems science and engineering,” said Mario Rotea, head of mechanical engineering and another new faculty member. “He has made fundamental contributions in several areas of engineering, and he has recently been working in computational biology. Sagar could have joined any school in the world, but he chose us. He is a superb addition to our faculty, and his insight and experience are instrumental to building one of the best mechanical engineering programs in the nation.”

Here’s a brief look at each of the 10 new faculty:

  • Leonidas Bleris, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, received a doctorate in electrical engineering from Lehigh University in 2006. He also holds a master’s from Lehigh with a focus in control theory. He was previously a postdoctoral fellow with the Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University, and holds an independent expert appointment in the European Commission’s Science, Economy and Society Directorate. His research interests lie at the intersection of synthetic and systems biology, mathematics and control theory.

  • Carlos Busso, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, received his doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California in 2008. He also holds a master’s in electrical engineering with high honors from the University of Chile in Santiago. He was a postdoctoral research associate in USC’s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory from 2008 to 2009. His research interests are in digital signal processing, speech and video processing, and multimodal interfaces. His current research includes modeling and understanding human communication and interaction, with applications to automated recognition and synthesis to enhance human-machine interfaces. He has worked on audiovisual emotion recognition, analysis of emotional modulation in gestures and speech, designing realistic human-like virtual characters, speech source detection using microphone arrays, speaker localization and identification in an intelligent environment, and sensing human interaction in meetings.

  • Nick Gans, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, holds a doctorate in systems and entrepreneurial engineering and a master’s in electrical and computer engineering, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He worked as a postdoc in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Florida, and was also a postdoctoral associate with the National Research Council, conducting research for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base. His research interests include nonlinear and adaptive control, with a focus on vision-based control and estimation, robotics and autonomous vehicles.

  • Fatemeh Hassanipour, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received her doctorate in mechanical engineering from Southern Methodist University in 2009. Her research interests are in the broad area of thermofluids, particularly bio-inspired heat exchangers, phase-change materials and porous media. In addition she has industrial experience in the area of HVAC and refinery piping and is a licensed professional engineer in Texas.

  • Christopher Hinkle, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, holds doctoral and bachelor’s degrees in physics from North Carolina State University. He was previously a research scientist at UT Dallas. His research concerns the growth and characterization of unique semiconductor materials for use in a wide variety of electronic devices. The work is focused on a fundamental understanding of energy applications such as solar cells, low-power transistors and advanced anode materials for next-generation Li-ion batteries for use in hybrid electric vehicles.

  • Hyun-Joo Nam, an assistant professor, received her doctorate in cellular and developmental biology from Harvard University in 1996 for work on crystallographic studies of SH2 and SH3 domains of oncoproteins ABL and SHC. In 1997 she became a postdoctoral research associate in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard, where she carried out research on the structural analysis of phosphatase domains of RPTP LAR and CD45. Prior to joining UT Dallas, she was an assistant scientist in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

  • Kenneth O is a professor of electrical engineering, holder of the Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair and director of the Texas Analog Center of Excellence, or TxACE. He received his doctoral and master’s degrees, both in electrical engineering and computer science, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before joining UT Dallas he was a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Florida, Gainesville. A leading authority in the field of analog electronics, he is perhaps best known in his field for helping make what’s known as RF CMOS the technology of choice for the billions of cell-phone chips now in use. He has also helped expand the application of CMOS semiconductor technology by demonstrating its capability at ever-increasing frequencies.

  • Mario Rotea is the first head of the Jonsson School’s new Department of Mechanical Engineering. He holds a doctorate in control science and dynamical systems and a master’s in electrical engineering, both from the University of Minnesota. He was previously head of mechanical and industrial engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His academic experience includes 17 years on the engineering faculty at Purdue University, punctuated by a year as a senior research engineer at the United Technologies Research Center in Connecticut. He returned to Purdue to focus on topics at the interface between information technology and mechanical and aerospace systems. In 2005, he was selected as the program director for control systems in the Division of Civil and Mechanical Systems at the National Science Foundation, where he helped formulate the national research agenda. After completing his two-year term there he joined the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts System. He was elected a Fellow of the IEEE in 2007 for his contributions to robust and optimal control of multivariable systems.

  • Mathukumalli Vidyasagar, a professor of mechanical engineering, received his doctorate and master’s in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin. He spent 20 years as a professor of electrical engineering at various North American universities before becoming director of India’s new Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in 1989. He built the center into a leading research laboratory consisting of about 40 scientists working in areas such as aircraft control, robotics, neural networks and image processing. In 2000, he joined Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest information technology firm, as executive vice president in charge of advanced technology. In this capacity he created the Advanced Technology Centre, which currently consists of about 60 engineers and scientists working on e-security, advanced encryption methods and bioinformatics. He has also held visiting positions at several universities, including MIT, UC Berkeley, UCLA, the Indian Institute of Science, the University of Minnesota and the Tokyo Institute of Technology. He is the author or co-author of nine books and more than 130 academic papers. Dr. Vidyasagar is an IEEE Fellow, and he is a fellow of both the Indian National Academy of Science and Academy of Engineering. He is also the 2008 winner of the IEEE Technical Field Award in Control Systems and the recipient of the 2000 Hendrik W. Bode Lecture Prize from the IEEE Control Systems Society.

  • Amy Walker, an associate professor of materials science and engineering, holds a doctorate in chemistry and a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Cambridge. Prior to joining UT Dallas she was an assistant professor of chemistry and an inaugural member of the Center for Materials Innovation at Washington University in St. Louis, which she joined in 2002. Before that she was a postdoctoral scholar at Pennsylvania State University, and prior to that she was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests include the deposition of metals and semiconductors on organic thin films, mechanisms of UV and electron-beam patterning of self-assembled monolayers, and construction of complex three-dimensional structures.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Leonidas Bleris   Carlos Busso
Leonidas Bleris   Carlos Busso
Nick Gans   Fatemah Hassanipour
Nick Gans   Fatemeh Hassanipour
Christopher Hinkle   Hyun-Joo Nam
Christopher Hinkle   Hyun-Joo Nam
Kenneth O   Mario Rotea
Kenneth O   Mario Rotea
Mathukumalli Vidyasagar   Amy Walker
Mathukumalli Vidyasagar   Amy Walker

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