The School of Engineering and Applied Science honored five assistant professors for outstanding research and teaching early in their careers at the school’s faculty meeting May 25. Each award includes $45,000 to support the recipient’s research.

E. Lawrence Keyes, Jr./Emerson Electric Co. Faculty Advancement Award

Barbara Engelhardt portraitBarbara Engelhardt

An assistant professor of computer science, Engelhardt is currently a principal investigator on the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) Consortium. Her research interests involve statistical models and methods for analysis of high-dimensional data, with a goal of understanding the underlying biological mechanisms of complex phenotypes and human diseases. Engelhardt plans to use funding from the award to support graduate students in her group working on developing statistical models for online monitoring of clinical data and lab results for hospital patients and developing statistical models to suggest treatment trajectories for patients.

Alejandro Rodriguez portraitAlejandro Rodriguez

An assistant professor of electrical engineering, Rodriguez works in the field of nanophotonics, working to control and manipulate visible and infrared electromagnetic wavelengths (light) using nano-fabricated structures with features at the scale of the optical wavelength. Rodriguez plans to use the award funding to support students working on the application of inverse-design (computer-driven) methods for the discovery of novel photonic structures exhibiting complex and unusual spectral and nonlinear properties. These properties could enable, for instance, realization of materials that radiate millions of times more energy than blackbodies or devices that efficiently convert light from infrared to visible, Terahertz, or ultra-violet wavelengths. Such ideas and devices should find applications in thermophotovoltaic energy generation, novel optical sources of light and quantum telecommunication.

Howard B. Wentz Award

Amir Ali Ahmadi portraitAmir Ali Ahmadi

An assistant professor of operations research and financial engineering, Ahmadi’s research interests are in the theory of optimization and the computational aspects of dynamics and control. He said the funding from the award would be of great help in expanding his research and teaching, particularly helping with research into the early undergraduate curriculum in optimization and the exchange of ideas among experts in the fields of optimization and control.

Ning Lin portraitNing Lin

An assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, Lin is currently integrating science, engineering and public policy to study hurricanes and associated weather extremes (including strong winds, heavy rainfall and storm surge), how they change with climate and how their impact on society can be mitigated. She will use funding from the award to support the research and teaching activities in creating and disseminating this comprehensive hurricane analysis and modeling framework.

Alfred Rheinstein Award

Michael Mueller portraitMichael Mueller

An assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, Mueller’s research focuses on turbulent flame stabilization for high-efficiency combustion. His previous calculations have shown that a laminar flame can couple with auto-ignition chemistry and result in a combustion front with a very high propagation speed compared to the conventional laminar flame. He will use funding from the award to extend this investigation to turbulent flames. In turbulent flames, the velocity and temperature are always fluctuating, so the stabilization point of the flame should vary significantly in time, which has significant implications for the design and control of practical combustion systems. Mueller and his co-researcher will work to understand the statistics and dynamics of the stabilization point and ultimately develop models for these coupled combustion processes that can be utilized in their high-fidelity engineering simulations.


  • Alejandro Rodriguez

  • Ning Lin

  • Amir Ali Ahmadi

  • Michael Mueller

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