Engineering News - George R. Brown School of Engineering

School of Engineering adds twelve new faculty


Pulickel Ajayan
Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Pulickel Ajayan, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, was the Henry Burlage Professor of Material Sciences and Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, N.Y., where he taught for more than 10 years.

Ajayan received his bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering in 1985 from Banaras Hindu University in India and his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University in1989. After three years of postdoctoral experience at NEC Corporation in Japan, he spent two years as a research scientist at the CNRS Laboratoire de Physique des Solides and a year and a half as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow at the Max-Planck-Institut für Metallforschung. He spent one year of sabbatical leave in 2003 as visiting professor at the Université Louis Pasteur’s Institut de Science et d’Ingénierie Supramoléculaires in Strasbourg, France.

Ajayan’s research has focused on various applications of carbon nanotube architecture. In 2006, he was named a Research Leader in Scientific American 50 and was awarded the Materials Research Society Medal. In 1998, Ajayan received a National Science Foundation CAREER early development award.

Andrew Dick
Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Andrew Dick, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, graduated in August 2006 with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland. His dissertation was titled “Advantageous Utilization of Nonlinear Phenomena in Micro-Structures and Macro-Structures: Applications to Micro-Resonators and Atomic Force Microscopy.”

Dick’s research focuses on nonlinear oscillations of micro-resonators, system modeling and signal analysis. As a graduate research assistant, he conducted analysis and characterization of nonlinear behavior of piezoelectric microscale resonators. Dick earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2003.

In 2006, Dick was a National Science Foundation/Japan Society for the Promotion of Science fellow. He also received a Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship at the University of Maryland, where he served as a substitute instructor and teaching assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and as a mentor to an honors student from a local high school.

Illya Hicks
Computational and Applied Mathematics
Illya Hicks, associate professor of computational and applied mathematics (CAAM), started at Rice on Jan. 1. He received his master’s and Ph.D. in CAAM from Rice in 2000. From then until spring 2006 he was assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering at Texas A&M University where he was promoted to associate professor of industrial and systems engineering before coming to Rice. Hicks was also an instructor at the University of Houston in 1999–2000.

Hicks’ research focuses on combinatorial optimization, integer programming, and graph theory. Applications include finding cohesive subgroups in social networks, and cancer treatment.

He serves as a cluster leader for the Rice-Houston Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate Program. The group works to increase the number of underrepresented minority students earning doctorates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Oleg Igoshin
Oleg Igoshin, assistant professor of bioengineering, graduated with a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. His thesis was titled “Modeling of Pattern Formation in Myxobacteria.”

From 2004 to 2006, Igoshin worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Davis, where he conducted research into signaling pathways in Bacillus subtilis. Igoshin received his bachelor’s degree in physics in 1998 from Novosibirsk State University in Russia, and his master’s degree in chemical physics from Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.

Igoshin’s research focuses on signaling and metabolic networks, biophysical modeling of microbiological systems, and bacterial biofilms. He received a Regents Fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley for 2000–01, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellowship Award for 2001–04. He served as a graduate student instructor in mechanics and computers in biology at Berkeley.


Jamie Padgett
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Jamie Padgett, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, received her Ph.D. in civil engineering, with minors in probability and statistics, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in May. Her thesis was titled “Seismic Vulnerability Assessment of Retrofitted Bridges Using Probabilistic Methods.”

Padgett received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida in 2003. Her research focuses on structural and earthquake engineering, with an emphasis on seismic design, analysis and retrofit of bridges; the application of reliability and probabilistic methods for risk assessment of structures; use of smart materials for bridge retrofit; and the protection of critical infrastructure exposed to multiple hazards.

While at Georgia Tech she received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, an Earthquake Engineering Research Institute/Federal Emergency Management Agency National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Graduate Fellowship, and a Georgia Institute of Technology President’s Fellowship.

Krishna Palem
Computer Science
Krishna V. Palem is the Ken and Audrey Kennedy Professor, with appointments in computer science and in electrical and computer engineering.

Previously, he was joint professor in both the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology. He was also the founding director of its Center for Research in Embedded Systems and Technology. He is a Canon Visiting Professor in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and was a Moore Distinguished Faculty Fellow at California Institute of Technology for 2006–07. He was a Schonbrunn Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1999.

Palem’s advisee, Suren Talla, was awarded the Janet Fabri Prize for outstanding dissertation in 2001, and his related work on the foundations of architecture assembly for designing reconfigurable embedded SoC architectures was a nominee for the Analysts’ Choice Awards as one of the outstanding technologies of 2002. Palem has developed novel probabilistic complementary metal-oxide semiconductor technology for enabling ultra-low-energy embedded computing. He focuses on embedded systems and their compiler optimizations and has been named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association for Computing Machinery.

Ashutosh Sabharwal
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Ashutosh Sabharwal, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, director of the Rice University Center for Multimedia Communication and chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering Corporate Affiliates program, received his Ph.D. and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Ohio State University in 1999 and 1995, respectively. He earned his bachelor of technology degree in the same field from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi in 1993.

His research focuses on the theoretical foundations and experimental systems for high-performance wireless networks. He is currently helping to develop a wireless open-access research platform, which open-sources some significant but traditionally proprietary pieces of wireless communications.

Sabharwal was a postdoctoral research associate at Rice from 1999 to 2001, and he worked as a research faculty fellow from 2001–07. He has received major grants from the National Science Foundation, Xilnix and Texas Instruments. Sabharwal is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Vivek Sarkar
Computer Science
Vivek Sarkar, the E.D. Butcher Professor of Computer Science, earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University and has authored more than 100 papers in the areas of parallel processing and optimizing compilers. He worked for IBM for 20 years, most recently as senior manager of programming technologies at the T. J. Watson Research Center, and team lead for the programming model, tools, and productivity areas in IBM’s DARPA-funded PERCS project for high productivity computing.

Sarkar’s work has focused on implementation of parallel languages, starting with his Ph.D. thesis on partitioning and scheduling of single-assignment Sisal programs, the PTRAN project on automatic parallelization, the ASTI project on high-level parallelization and optimization in IBM’s XL Fortran product compilers, the open-source Jikes RVM project on scalable virtual machines, and the open-source X10 language for high-productivity parallel programming.

Sarkar has served on several conference program committees and National Science Foundation panels and as a consultant to the U.S. Army Science Board. He became a member of the IBM Academy of Technology in 1995, and was designated a Distinguished Scientist by the Association for Computing Machinery in 2006.


Laura Segatori
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Laura Segatori, the T.N. Law Assistant Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, earned her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 2005.

Her research focuses on the relationship between protein folding and disease, the molecular determinants of cellular protein folding, and the development of protein engineering strategies to enhance cellular chaperone system and degradation machinery for therapeutic applications. From 2005 until she came to Rice on July 1, Segatori worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology from the Università di Bologna, Italy, in 2000. Between 1999 and 2000, she served as a visiting scholar in chemical engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, where she worked on her undergraduate thesis. Segatori is a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineering and the Society for Biological Engineering.

Junghae Suh
Junghae Suh, assistant professor of bioengineering, earned her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in 2004 at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She did postdoctoral work from 2005 to 2007 in the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California.

Her research focuses on efforts to use the tools of synthetic chemistry and recombinant DNA technology to engineer bio-inspired nanodevices for the detection and treatment of human diseases. Suh received her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, with a minor in biology, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999.

She worked as a graduate research assistant in the departments of biomedical engineering and chemical and biomolecular engineering at Johns Hopkins University. She is a recipient of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Biomedical Engineering Training Grant for 2000–2003, the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Fellowship awarded by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the ARCS Foundation for 2004–2005 and the NIH Postdoctoral Training Grant in Cancer Research for 2005–2006. In summer 2007, Suh worked in outreach programs through Rice’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology, presenting to underrepresented minority high school students in Project GRAD and mentoring a high school science teacher in the Integrated Physics and Chemistry-Nanotechnology Experience for Teachers program.

Tomasz Tkaczyk
Tomasz S. Tkaczyk, assistant professor of bioengineering, received his Ph.D. in applied optics from the Warsaw University of Technology, Poland, in 2000.

While in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona at Tucson, he did postdoctoral work in biomedical imaging between 2001 and 2002 and in applied optics between 2002 and 2003. Before coming to Rice on July 1, he was an associate research professor in the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on biomedical and biological applications using optical engineering. He is interested in early cancer detection and point-of-care technologies and in developing miniature optical and optomechanical systems.

Tkaczyk earned his master’s degree in precise and fine mechanics-optics in 1994 from the Warsaw University of Technology. In 1998 he was awarded a scholarship from the International Society for Optical Engineering, and he received a U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research/Whitaker Foundation grant in 2002. He is a member of the International Society for Optical Engineering and the Optical Society of America (OSA). He is also a member of the OSA Adolph Lomb Medal committee.

Marina Vannucci
Marina Vannucci, professor of statistics, received her Ph.D. in statistics in 1996 and her bachelor’s in mathematics in 1992 from the University of Florence, Italy.

Her research focuses on the theory and practice of Bayesian variable selection techniques and the development of wavelet-based statistical models and their application. Vannucci was the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2001 and was elected a fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2006.

Vannucci joined the Department of Statistics at Texas A&M University as an assistant professor in 1998, became associate professor in 2003 and professor in 2005. While at Texas A&M, she also served as program coordinator for a training program in bioinformatics and as codirector for the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Facility Core of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center for Environmental and Rural Health.