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Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering Introduces New and Promoted Faculty

PITTSBURGH (September 27, 2019) ... With expertise from biomaterials and autonomous sensing to cyber-physical systems, neural networks and renewable energy, 14 new faculty joined the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering this fall.

"Here in the Swanson School, we have established our transformative purpose to create new knowledge for the betterment of the human condition. I’m excited that these outstanding new faculty will contribute toward that interdisciplinary pursuit," noted James R. Martin II, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering.

"Our new faculty bring incredible skill-sets that will help us address 21st-century challenges. In particular, the United Nations has outlined 17 sustainable development goals as a call to action for global socioeconomic and environmental sustainability by 2030. And we’re using those goals to track our own progress and inform our transformative purpose. I look forward to these new faculty joining in that important endeavor.”

The new faculty include:

Department of Bioengineering

Elisa-CastagnolaElisa Castagnola, Research Assistant Professor
Dr. Castagnola received her PhD in robotics, neurosciences and nanotechnologies at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) and continued her postdoctoral research on neurotechnologies at IIT in the departments of Robotics Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and the Center for Translational Neurophysiology for Speech and Communication. Prior to Pitt, she was a senior postdoctoral researcher in bioengineering at the Center for Neurotechnology (NSF-ERC) and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at San Diego State University.

For the last 10 years, Dr. Castagnola’s work focused on combining research in material science and new microfabrication techniques for the development of innovative neurotechnology, advancing state-of-the-art implantable neural devices and bringing them to a clinical setting. She is now conducting research with Dr. Tracy Cui, Professor of Bioengineering, in the Swanson School’s Neural Tissue Engineering (NTE) Lab. She is currently working on the development and in-vivo validation of innovative neural probes with superior capability in neurochemical and neurophysiological recordings. Her main interests are in material science, electrochemistry, neurochemistry and microfabrication.

Mangesh-KulkarniMangesh Kulkarni, Research Assistant Professor
Dr. Kulkarni received his bachelor degrees in medicine and surgery from Grant Medical College, University of Mumbai, his MTech in biomedical engineering and science from the Indian Institute of Technology, and a PhD in biomedical engineering and science from the National University of Ireland, Galway.

While pursuing his PhD he served as a graduate research fellow at the University of Ireland’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials where he developed spatiotemporally controlled gene delivery system for compromised wound healing.  He then joined The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, MR Division, Institute of Cell Engineering as a postdoctoral fellow where he was involved in development of MRI based non-invasive system to track the pancreatic islets transplants, and later was a postdoctoral scientist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Department of Biomedical Sciences and Regenerative Medicine Institute where he worked to unravel molecular signatures in corneal regeneration. At Pitt Dr. Kulkarni works with Dr. Bryan Brown associate professor of bioengineering and core faculty member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Dr. Kulkarni’s research interests focus on the development of biomaterials-based delivery systems; molecular diagnostics and therapeutics (particularly involving non-coding RNA); and cell-free therapeutic strategies such as stem cells secretome therapy.

Ionnis-ZervantonakisIoannis Zervantonakis, Assistant Professor
Dr. Zervantonakis  received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, master of science in mechanical engineering from the Technical University of Munich, and PhD in the lab of Dr. Roger Kamm at MIT, where he engineered an array of microfluidic devices to study the tumor microenvironment. For his postdoctoral studies, he joined the lab of Dr. Joan Brugge at Harvard Medical School and developed systems biology approaches to study drug resistance and tumor-fibroblast interactions. He is a recipient of a 2014 Department of Defense Breast Cancer Postdoctoral Fellowship and a 2017 NIH/NCI Pathway to Independence K99/R00 award.

In his Tumor Microenvironment Engineering Laboratory, Dr. Zervantonakis employs a quantitative approach that integrates microfluidics, systems biology modeling, and in vivo experiments to investigate the role of the tumor microenvironment on breast and ovarian cancer growth, metastasis and drug resistance. His research interests include cell and drug transport phenomena in cancer, mathematical modeling of cell-cell interactions, microfluidics, and systems biology of cell-cell interactions.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Amir-AlaviAmir H. Alavi, Assistant Professor
Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Alavi was an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Missouri. Dr. Alavi’s research interests include structural health monitoring, smart civil infrastructure systems, deployment of advanced sensors, energy harvesting, and engineering information systems.

At Pitt, his Intelligent Structural Monitoring and Response Testing (iSMaRT) Lab focuses on advancing the knowledge and technology required to create self-sustained and multifunctional sensing and monitoring systems that are enhanced by engineering system informatics. His research activities involve implementation of these smart systems in the fields of civil infrastructure, construction, aerospace, and biomedical engineering.

Dr. Alavi has worked on research projects supported by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Missouri DOT, and Michigan DOT. He has authored five books and more than 170 publications in archival journals, book chapters, and conference proceedings, and has received several award certificates for his journal articles. Recently, he was selected among the Google Scholar 200 Most Cited Authors in Civil Engineering, as well as Web of Science ESI's World Top 1% Scientific Minds. He has served as the editor/guest editor of several journals such as Sensors, Case Studies in Construction Material, Automation in Construction, Geoscience Frontiers, Smart Cities, ASCE-ASME Journal of Risk and Uncertainty in Engineering Systems, and Advances in Mechanical Engineering. He received his PhD in civil engineering from Michigan State University.

Alex-StevanovicAleksandar Stevanovic, Associate Professor
Dr. Stevanovic previously served as an associate professor of civil, environmental and geomatics engineering at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU)., where he was also the director of the Laboratory of Adaptive Traffic Operations and Management (LATOM) and the Program Leader in Infrastructure Systems within the FAU Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE). At Pitt, he teaches courses in transportation and traffic engineering, transportation planning, and operations research and conducts research in a variety of subjects including traffic signal control systems, intelligent transportation systems, multimodal and sustainable operations, transportation simulation modeling, etc.

Although Dr. Stefanovic’s main research interests emphasize arterial operations and traffic signal control, he is best known for his contributions in Adaptive Traffic Control Systems (ATCS). He is the sole author of the NCHRP 403 Synthesis Study – Adaptive Traffic Control Systems: Domestic and Foreign State of Practice and has been invited to present and teach about ATCSs, both nationally and internationally. He has published more than 150 journal and conference papers and presented at more than 80 international, national, and state seminars and professional meetings. He has been principal investigator on 31 research projects for a total of ~ $3.9 million in funding and has authored more than 30 technical reports for various transportation agencies including TRB/NAS, NSF, UDOT, UTA, FLDOT, NJDOT, and others. He is a member of TRB AHB25 Committee for Traffic Signal Systems and he is also a member of ITE, TRB, and ASCE.

He serves as a paper reviewer for 30 scientific journals and conference proceedings, has advised more than 35 graduate students and five post-doctoral associates, and has served on PhD committees of several international university graduate programs. He has been awarded a position of Fulbright Specialist, in the area of urban network traffic control, for 2018-2021. He earned his bachelor’s in traffic and transportation engineering at the University of Belgrade (Serbia) followed by a master’s and PhD in civil engineering at the University of Utah.

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Mai-AbdelhakimMai Abdelhakim, Assistant Professor
Dr. Abdelhakim received her PhD in electrical engineering from Michigan State University (MSU) and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electronics and communications engineering from Cairo University. Her current research focuses on securing cyber-physical systems by leveraging machine learning, networks design, stochastic modeling and information theory.

Following her PhD, she was a postdoctoral research associate at MSU where she worked on developing reliable communication networks and distributed decision making in sensor networks and high-speed communication systems. She later was a research scientist at OSRAM research center working on Internet of Things applications, security mechanisms, wireless optical communications and indoor positioning systems. Prior to her appointment at the Swanson School, she was a faculty member in Pitt’s School of Computing and Information. Her research interests include cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, machine learning, wireless communications, networks design, stochastic systems analysis and information theory.

Mohamed-BayoumyMohamed Bayoumy, Assistant Professor
Dr. Bayoumy received his bachelor's degree in electronics and electrical communications engineering and a master's in engineering physics from the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University. He then joined the Swanson School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as a graduate research and teaching fellow, and received his doctoral degree in 2019. His research features the development of optical fiber-based sensors for monitoring harsh environments. He is a recipient of the Swanson School of Engineering Dean’s Fellowship and multiple research and teaching awards. Since 2016 he has been appointed to the Postgraduate Research Program at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) administered through Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).

Theodore-HuppertTheodore Huppert, Research Associate Professor
Dr Huppert received his bachelor's in biochemistry and genetics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and PhD in biophysics at Harvard University and the A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging of the Massachusetts General Hospital on the topic of statistical analysis models for multimodal brain imaging and models of the cerebral neural-vascular unit. Prior to joining the Swanson School, he served in the School of Medicine Department of Radiology and worked as one of the core MRI physicists in the MRI Research Center.

Dr Huppert’s lab develops data analysis methods for brain imaging including near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and functional MRI with a focus on multimodal analysis and data fusion approaches. His lab also supports the NIRS brain imaging program at Pitt, which currently has over two dozen funded projects and more than a dozen different labs on campus working on projects ranging from infant development to gait impairments in the elderly. His lab also authored several open source data analysis packages for NIRS, with more than 1,400 users worldwide, and is a founding member of the Society for NIRS.   

In-Hee-LeeIn Hee Lee, Assistant Professor
Dr. Lee received his PhD degree in electrical and electronic engineering from the University of Michigan and served there as a postdoc and research scientist. His research interests include low-power energy-efficient circuit design to develop millimeter-scale energy-autonomous sensing/computing systems for biomedical, ecological, and industrial applications.

In addition to publications and presentations, Dr. Lee holds six patents on technologies including analog to digital conversion, switched capacitor circuits, resistance detection and ultra-low-power temperature current sourcing.

Amr-MahmoudAmr Mahmoud, Visiting Assistant Professor
Dr. Mahmoud received his bachelor’s in electronics and electrical communications engineering and master’s in engineering physics from Cairo University, and a PhD in computer engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests include, but are not limited to, machine learning, especially deep learning for image processing; memristor-based neuromorphic computing systems; and video prediction using generative adversarial recurrent neural networks. He has published five conference papers, one book chapter, and one journal paper in prestigious conferences and journals, including IEEE EMBC, ACM-DATE, IEEE IJCNN, and IEEE TNANO.

Nathan-YoungbloodNathan Youngblood, Assistant Professor
Dr. Youngblood received his bachelor’s in physics from Bethel University and master’s and PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota, where his research focused on integrating 2D materials with silicon photonics for high-speed optoelectronic applications. Following, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford developing phase-change photonic devices for integrated optical memory and computation. His research interests include bi-stable optical materials, 2D material optoelectronics, and photonic architectures for machine learning.

At his Photonics Lab, his research combines unique optoelectronic materials with nanophotonics to create new platforms for high-efficiency machine learning and high-precision biosensing. Principal to this is a fundamental understanding of light-matter interaction at the nanoscale and use of advanced nanofabrication techniques to address major challenges facing these disciplines.

Department of Industrial Engineering

Hyo-Kyung-LeeHyo Kyung Lee, Assistant Professor
Dr. Lee received her bachelor’s in information and industrial engineering from Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, master’s in industrial and systems engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and. PhD in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research investigates healthcare analytics, data-driven decision support, and operational planning and management in the context of clinical data and practice. She has experience collaborating with medical professionals in UW Health, Mayo Clinic, Baptist Memorial Health System, SSM Health, and Dean Medical Group. She is the recipient of the Grainger Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship from the College of Engineering at UW Madison.

Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Nikhil-BajajNikhil Bajaj, Assistant Professor
Dr. Bajaj earned his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD in mechanical engineering from Purdue University, and has held research assistant positions on several projects in the areas of nonlinear dynamics, control systems, sensing and machine learning, computational design, and heat transfer. He has held a summer research position with Alcatel-Lucent Bell Laboratories and has also served as a consulting mechatronics engineer with two startup technology companies, in the areas of force sensing in gaming devices and the control of multi-actuator haptics. His research interests include nonlinear dynamical and control systems, and the analysis and design of mechatronic systems, especially in the context of cyber-physical systems—in particular making them secure and resilient.

Tony-KerzmannTony Kerzmann, Associate Professor
Dr. Kerzmann received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Duquesne University followed by a bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. Following his PhD, he was an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Robert Morris University where his research focused on developing alternative vehicle fueling station optimization simulations. He advised student groups that won regional and international awards; the most recent team won the Utility of Tomorrow competition, outperforming 55 international teams. Additionally, he developed and taught thirteen different courses, many in the areas of energy, sustainability, thermodynamics, and heat transfer. He served as the mechanical coordinator for the Engineering Department for six years and was the Director of Outreach for the Research and Outreach Center in the School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science.


Additionally, several faculty received promotions and named professorships and fellowships:

Faculty Promotions
Bryan Brown, Associate Professor
Tamer Ibrahim, Professor
Spandan Maiti, Associate Professor
Warren Ruder, Associate Professor

Chemical & Petroleum
Giannis Mpourmpakis, Associate Professor
John Keith, Associate Professor

Civil & Environmental
Julie Vandenbossche, Professor

Electrical and Computer
Wei Gao, Professor

Mechanical & Materials Science
Markus Chmielus, Associate Professor
Albert To, Professor

Professorships and Fellows
William Kepler Whiteford Professors
Albert To (MEMS)
Anne Robertson (MEMS)
Lance Davidson (BioE)
J. Karl Johnson (ChemE)   
Julie Vandenbossche (CEE)

William Kepler Whiteford Fellows
Warren Ruder (BioE)
Chris Wilmer (ChemE)

Bicentennial Board of Visitors Faculty Fellow
Susan Fullerton (ChemE)

CNG Faculty Fellow
Guofeng Wang (MEMS)

Wellington C. Carl Faculty Fellow
Vikas Khanna (CEE)