SURESH ADVANI has made significant scientific impact through a mixture of research, education, and leadership. Currently serving as the department’s chair, he has mentored over 85 graduate students (41 Ph.D.s and 44 Masters). His leadership in in the Composites Manufacturing area in particular has helped Delaware earn a number of multi-million dollars grants over the last three decades, and has contributed to the success of UD’s renowned Center for Composite Materials. Process modeling tools developed by Advani’s lab are now considered a crucial component to address the challenges and gaps in the advancement of composites. In addition, starting in 2004 he helped establish a fuel cell bus program with Dr. Prasad which has resulted in contributions in fuel cells, batteries, hydrogen generation and storage in addition to testing with a fleet of fuel cell buses on the UD campus.
Advani is a Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers and is the North American Editor for the journal Composites A: Applied Science and Manufacturing. He is also a prolific writer having co-authored nearly 300 refereed journal papers, co-authored or edited six books, and holding three patents. American Society of Composites recently presented him with the Outstanding Research Award for his exceptional contributions.
However, Advani has created an educational legacy as well. During his tenure as department chair, significant improvements have been made to undergraduate education including a renewed focus toward hands-on and interdisciplinary learning accomplished through the creation of the maker space (i.e. the Design Studio), increased department funding for undergraduate researchers, and the integration of other engineering majors alongside mechanical engineering students in our Senior Design capstone course. He was awarded the graduate Student Mentoring Award in 2008 and was recognized as the Educator of the year by the Society of Plastic Engineers in 2015.
THOMAS BUCHANAN is director of the Delaware Rehabilitation Institute, and he leads the NIH Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) on Osteoarthritis Prevention and Treatment at the University of Delaware. He is also coordinator of the Delaware Clinical and Translational Research ACCEL program, an NIH-sponsored strategic partnership with Christiana Care Health System, Nemours and the Medical University of South Carolina.
He has led NIH research grants continuously since 1990—his work primarily addressing neuromuscular and musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis, stroke and sports medicine problems. His research involves biomechanics, medical imaging and neuroscience. As an engineer, he uses computer models to characterize and quantify healthy and pathological tissue, and he models the forces in the human body that can lead to injuries or long-term damage.
Buchanan’s research is focused on developing a better understanding of how muscles compensate for injury or disease. Research interests include knee stability and osteoarthritis, medical imaging and models of muscle coordination.
JENNI BUCKLEY’s research focuses on the development and mechanical evaluation of orthopaedic, neurosurgical and pediatric devices. She is also interested in mechanical testing standards, academic-industry research partnerships, and mentoring practices in engineering.
A graduate of the University of Delaware, she went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked on computational and experimental methods in spinal biomechanics.
She joined the UD faculty in 2011 and now teaches a range of courses as part of the undergraduate curriculum, including the senior design capstone course, in which students collaborate across disciplines to solve a broad range of real problems.
Buckley received UD’s Excellence in Advising and Mentoring Award in 2013, an Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016, and she is the Delaware state leader for Project Lead the Way, which provides hands-on, project-based STEM curricula and high-quality teacher professional development through a network of corporate and community partners.
Buckley is very involved in issues of gender diversity in engineering. She is co-founder and president of The Perry Initiative, a nonprofit outreach sponsor encouraging women to pursue careers in engineering and orthopaedic surgery. In 2015, she was awarded the E. Arthur Trabant Award for Women’s Equity for her work with The Perry Initiative, which was founded in 2009 and now reaches 1,700 young women nationwide annually.
DAVID BURRIS, who joined UD in 2008, now directs the Materials Tribology Laboratory, where the overarching research mission is to better understand how material properties can be tailored to control friction and wear.
Lack of access to the buried tribological interface is one of the primary barriers to progress in this area, and his group specializes in the development of in situ methods to gain more direct access to interfacial processes and phenomena. Their research activities involve instrument design, software developments, materials synthesis, materials characterization and surface analysis. Current areas of interest have applications in health care, national security and energy sustainability.
In 2015, Burris received the American Society of Mechanical Engineer’s Burt L. Newkirk Award, which is given to a person under 40 who has made notable contributions to research or development in the field of tribology. He was cited for “exceptional contributions to his field, particularly in the area of cartilage tribology.” For the past several years, he has investigated the disruption of lubrication in damaged cartilage and its contribution to progressive failure.
Burris, who studied solid mechanics, design and manufacturing at the University of Florida and received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 2007, has several patents in the areas of polymer nanocomposites, wear-resistant solid lubricants and in situ lubrication strategies.
His most recent work focuses on the development of advanced materials for use in supercapacitors. In one project, he demonstrated the use of graphene films, produced via chemical vapor deposition for this application. Due to their exceptional flexibility and transparency, CVD graphene films have been regarded as an ideal replacement of indium tin oxide for transparent electrodes, especially in applications where electronic devices may be subjected to large tensile strain. However, the search for a desirable combination of stretchability, and electrochemical performance of such devices, remains challenging. Chou and colleagues recently demonstrated the implementation of a laminated ultrathin CVD graphene film as a stretchable and transparent electrode for supercapacitors.
His team also successfully developed stretchable wire-shaped supercapacitors based on continuous carbon nanotube fibers. The emarkable stretchability was accomplished through a prestraining-then-buckling approach. The researchers reported a unique combination of outstanding electrochemical performance and stretchability with this type of supercapacitor. Their findings should facilitate the potential integration of wire-shaped supercapacitors with miniaturized and portable electronic devices.
HEATHER DOTY earned her Ph.D. in physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied the electronic properties
of semiconductor heterostructures at low temperatures and high magnetic fields. She completed a postdoc at UCSB and then worked as a patent examiner specializing in semiconductor devices before coming to UD.
As co-PI on UD’S NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant, Doty’s research explores the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women faculty in STEM fields. As a member of the UD ADVANCE leadership team, she oversees activities that directly
impact faculty (e.g., faculty workshops, panels, mentoring programs).
Doty is faculty advisor to UD’s Women in Engineering Graduate Student Steering Committee and is a member of the College of Engineering’s Diversity Committee. She is the 2017 recipient of UD’s Trabant Award for Women’s Equity. In the mechanical engineering department, Dr. Doty teaches classes that apply physics concepts such as thermodynamics and classical mechanics to engineering applications.
Joseph P. Feser
Using ultrafast lasers, Feser’s lab characterizes heat transfer on femtosecond timescales— and, since heat can’t move very far on short timescales, that also means that heat transfer can be confined to nanoscale distances, where much of the fundamental physics can be observed.
Ultrafast lasers can even be used to detect heat transfer resistance across a single atomic layer. Feser is currently using that capability to investigate how atomic vibrations—called “phonons” because of their similarity to light or “photon” properties—interact at abrupt interfaces between materials. Interfaces are common in high-tech devices like computer chips, next-generation hard drives, and military-grade amplifiers. In many cases, heat dissipation across interfaces represents a performance bottleneck, which Feser’s lab works to address.
He is also developing computational tools to simulate atomic vibrations and their heat-carrying capabilities. These tools can be used to investigate scattering of vibrational energy from nanoparticles in composite materials, with the goal of raising the efficiency of thermoelectric devices.
John W. Gillespie Jr.
JACK GILLESPIE is director of the Center for Composite Materials (CCM), which now involves more than 60 companies and some 200 researchers, including faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, research professionals, visiting scholars and postdoctoral fellows. Under his leadership, CCM has been designated a Center of Excellence by several federal agencies over the past three decades.
Gillespie’s 35-year career at UD is marked by a number of major accomplishments, including the creation and commercialization of new processes, automated equipment, materials and composite structures—leading to $187M in funding as PI/
Co-PI, 19 patents and more than 800 co-authored publications.
Research in Gillespie’s lab has addressed a broad array of areas as composites science and technology have evolved since the mid 80s. Currently, he is the principal investigator on a new award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to create affordable materials and processes with the potential to provide aerospace performance at automotive rates. He also leads a program
funded by the Army Research Lab focused on materials in extreme dynamic environments, as well as two Department of Energy programs focused on lightweight vehicle technologies.
Gillespie is a fellow of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the American Society for Composites and the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering, and he was recently elected to the board of directors of the Composites Division
of the Society of Plastics Engineers.
JILL HIGGINSON leads research aimed at improving understanding of muscle coordination for normal and pathological movements through coupled experimental and simulation studies. Higginson’s group uses state-of-the-art modeling and optimization techniques to develop a cause-and-effect framework that relates muscle impairments to gait deviations. Experiments involve three-dimensional kinematic and kinetic analysis and electromyography (EMG) recording during treadmill and overground gait. Modeling and optimization are used to develop simulations based on experimental data.
Ongoing research projects are related to muscle deficits and subject-specific interventions for post-stroke hemiparetic gait, simulation-based analysis of muscle coordination in healthy and pathological gait, and interactions between cognitive function and gait performance. Recent papers have focused on measurements of propulsion and dynamic structure of lower limb joint angles during walking post-stroke.
The overarching goal of the work is to form a scientific rationale for therapeutic interventions to improve movement. Higginson is also co-PI with X. Lucas Lu on an NSF program to provide a biomechanics research experience for undergraduate students on the UD campus each summer.
ZUBAER HOSSAIN joined the ME faculty in Fall 2015. He received his PhD degree in 2011 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining UD, he served as a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include mechanics and physics of heterogeneous materials and structures with applications in electronics and composites.
Currently, Hossain’s team is exploring new ways of designing toughness and strength in nanocomposites. By using material and structural heterogeneity as a set of engineering tools, their aim is to control various quantum and classical mechanical mechanisms that govern mechanical properties at multiple length scales under varied thermomechanical conditions.
Hossain is an active member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Materials Research Society, the American Physical Society, the American Society of Engineering Education, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
GUOQUAN HUANG leads the UD Robot Perception and Navigation Group, where the research efforts are driven by the desire to understand intelligence and develop robots that better serve people—for example, autonomous systems for search and rescue—and augment human capabilities, such as working in dangerous or inaccessible environments. The group’s mission is to enable robots to understand their surroundings so as to navigate autonomously, safely and efficiently in any environment.
To this end, their research has been primarily focusing on probabilistic localization, mapping, estimation and control of autonomous ground, aerial and underwater vehicles. Theoretically, they seek to design and develop robust, efficient, consistent, secure state estimation and control algorithms for various perception and navigation problems.
Huang earned master’s and doctoral degrees in computer science (robotics) from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities in 2009 and 2012, respectively. He joined the UD faculty after serving as a postdoctoral associate with the Marine Robotics Group in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).
He received the 2006 Academic Excellence Fellowship from the University of Minnesota, the 2011 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad, and the 2013 MIT Postdoctoral Associate Travel Award. He recently received funding from the National Science Foundation and the University of Delaware Cybersecurity Initiative for research aimed at achieving attack-resilient, resource-aware, consistent drone navigation.
JOSEPH KUEHL joined the mechanical engineering department in 2017. He was previously faculty of mechanical engineering at Baylor University. He earned doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering and physical oceanography from the University of Rhode Island. His research interests include hypersonic boundary-layer stability, nonlinear vibrations and geophysical fluid dynamics.
He received an AFOSR Young Investigator Award in 2015 for his hypersonic boundary layer stability and transition research, is a member of the National Academy of Science Committee on Advancing Understanding of the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current Dynamics and is a member of the NATO STO AVT-240 working group on Hypersonic Boundary-Layer Prediction.
At UD, Kuehl looks forward to expanding his hypersonic stability and transition research, establishing a geophysical fluid dynamics laboratory and collaborating with colleagues in the College of Engineering; College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, and the Department of Mathematical Sciences.
X. Lucas Lu
X. LUCAS LU and his collaborators are addressing several bioengineering problems. The first is prevention of post-trauma osteoarthritis. Although arthritis is generally associated with aging, it can also result from the type of trauma experienced by young soldiers and athletes. With support from the Department of Defense, Lu has teamed with surgeons and biologists to study the effectiveness of statins in the treatment and prevention of osteoarthritis. Statins are FDA-approved and prescribed to hundreds of millions of people in the US for cholesterol control. Lu’s group is also performing a big data study to analyze the statin use and osteoarthritis occurrence in the Delaware population.
He is also investigating the mechanics and lubrication of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Using novel mechanical technology and finite element simulation, Lu is studying the structure-function correlation of the cartilaginous tissues in the TMJ and its lubrication mechanism. He is also working with a team of oral surgeons to investigate the use of natural polyphenols for the treatment of TMJ disorders.
Another area of interest for Lu is rehabilitation for microfracture surgery to repair cartilage lesions. Young athletes suffering from trauma-induced cartilage loss are often treated with microfracture surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that creates tiny punctures in the bone to stimulate bone marrow growth in the damaged area. Lu is working with physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons to optimize the rehabilitation protocol after surgery and to enhance the deposition and quality of newly repaired tissue at the injury site.
Sustainable Mobility Theme of the Urban Dynamics Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and a Senior Researcher with General Motors Global Research & Development.
The overarching goal of his research is to develop the theory and algorithms for making complex systems able to learn how to improve their performance over time while interacting with their environment. Current applications include connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) with the aim of (1) becoming eco-friendly, (2) realizing the optimum performance and efficiency based on consumer’s needs and preferences, and (3) learning how traffic information can positively impact considerations of the environment, traffic safety and traffic congestion.
Within the capacity of his previous positions, Andreas has developed several initiatives with the goal to investigate how we can use scalable data and informatics to enhance understanding of the environmental implications of CAVs and improving transportation sustainability and accessibility.
Next year, Andreas will be teaching an undergraduate-level course, Vibration and Controls, which covers the fundamental principles of controls, and a new graduate-level course on Optimal Control.
IOANNIS POULAKAKIS’ research interests are in the area of dynamics and control with application to bio-inspired robotic systems, specifically legged robots. He is also interested in problems related to the dynamics of collective decision making in multiagent systems.
Supported by a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation, Poulakakis is investigating ways to regulate the cyclic motion of legged robots so they can perform tasks such as surveillance or exploration, jobs previously reserved for wheeled systems.
Poulakakis and his team are focused on providing the necessary robotics science and technology to create dexterous, highly mobile legged robots that can autonomously plan actions in human-centric environments. They are working to develop real-time planning algorithms that can bridge the gap between a robot’s platform controls and higher-level motion planning objectives.
If successful, this research will bring highly mobile and versatile robot platforms like legged machines closer to real-life applications in industry, agriculture and emergency response. For example, in supply chain management systems, legged robots could help companies rapidly reconfigure their production or assembly lines to adapt to changes in demand or new product designs.
Similar to their counterparts in nature, small- and large-legged robots operate differently. The researchers are working with robots of different types and sizes so they can study the effect of scale on their approach.
AJAY PRASAD’s leadership in the field of automotive fuel cells for transit applications has had worldwide impact and attracted significant interest from industry. He has devoted a major portion of his career to clean energy research. Other research interests include wind and ocean current energy, lithium-ion batteries, thermoelectric devices, vehicle-to-grid technology and solar thermal energy.
As the founding director of the UD Center for Fuel Cell Research (currently the Center for Fuel Cells and Batteries), he facilitated coordination among some 20 UD faculty members working in the area of clean energy, as well as companies involved in fuel cells and hydrogen infrastructure activities. He also led efforts to improve Delaware’s hydrogen infrastructure activities as director of UD’s Fuel Cell Bus Program, which currently operates hydrogen fuel cell-powered transit buses on the UD campus.
Prasad’s lab is focused on improving the performance and durability of fuel cells for automotive applications. His fuel cell research spans the full range from the development and characterization of novel component materials—including membranes, catalysts, gas diffusion layers and bipolar plates—to system-level modeling, simulation and experiments, as well as accelerated stress testing. He has also made original contributions to renewable methods for hydrogen generation using solar-powered thermochemical cycles and solid-state materials and systems for automotive hydrogen storage.
Prasad serves on the University of Delaware Energy Institute’s Council of Fellows and on the steering committee of the Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration, and chairs the UD Gamesa Wind Consortium Research Committee. He has played a vital role in the development of clean energy technologies at UD, and the promotion of clean energy in the state of Delaware.
R. Valery Roy
Many natural and technological processes involve phenomena that take place over widely differing scales of time and space. Such multi-scale problems pose considerable difficulties. Porous media—which abound in modern technologies, such as drug delivery substrates, membrane reactors and chemical sensors, batteries and fuel cells—are a typical example. These heterogeneous systems involve multi-physics phenomena, such as diffusional or convective transport, and electrochemical conversion.
VALERY ROY’s research focuses on the modeling and simulation of porous media and, more generally, on multi-scale systems. He uses a combination of mathematical modeling, continuum theories and advanced computational techniques. One such mathematical technique consists of devising pre-treatments of the multi-scale system so as to make the smallest scale vanish, leaving effective macroscopic, homogeneous models, which are much simpler to simulate.
Roy has also conducted research in the area of interfacial phenomena, nonlinear dynamics and stochastic dynamics. He teaches sophomore and graduate-level courses on engineering dynamics and an advanced course in applied mathematics. He recently published undergraduate and graduate textbooks in engineering dynamics and is working on a new book project on the modeling and simulation of multi-scale systems.
Roy joined the UD faculty in 1989 after earning his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Rice University.
MICHAEL SANTARE joined the UD faculty in 1986. He was a founding member of UD’s Orthopedic and Biomechanical Engineering Center (now called the Center for Biomechanical Engineering Research) and served as its director from 1993 to 1998 and again from 2014 to 2017. He was also a founding faculty member of the nationally ranked interdisciplinary Biomechanics and Movement Science graduate program at the University.
Santare’s research focuses on the mechanics of materials and structures. He combines analytical and experimental studies to understand and predict the relationships among microstructure, mechanical response and material failure, with specific applications in the areas of fuel cells materials, composite and functionally graded materials and orthopedic biomechanics.
His most recent publications have focused on mechanics of soft tissue damage and characteristics of polymer electrolyte membranes for fuel cell applications. He is a member of the mechanical engineering department’s Center for Fuel Cells and Batteries. Santare is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and consults with private companies and law firms in addition to his academic research.
Key initiatives include experimental and theoretical research in processing, characterization and predictive modeling of nanocomposites. A major focus is on the development of novel and industrially scalable approaches for hybridizing nanostructures with traditional fiber reinforcements.
Working at the microscopic scale, his team is tailoring the local stiffness, strength, toughness and other properties through control of the fiber orientation, type and volume fraction. Recent advances in producing nanostructured materials with novel material properties have stimulated research to create macroscopic engineering materials by designing the structure at the nanoscale.
Thostenson’s work is highly cited in the literature, and he has received a number of awards and honors, including a National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award and a Young Investigator Program Award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
He is also the recipient of the Elsevier Young Composites Researcher Award from the American Society for Composites, which recognizes researchers who, early in their careers, have made a significant impact on the science and technology of composite materials through a sustained research effort.
Thostenson performed his master’s (Mechanical Engineering) and Ph.D. (Materials Science) research at UD’s Center for Composite Materials.
LIAN-PING WANG’s work in cloud physics bridges the fields of engineering multiphase fluid mechanics and atmospheric science. He collaborates closely with the climate science community, spending six weeks every year in residence at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
He joined UD in 1994 and is currently studying the growth of cloud droplets in a turbulent environment, work that is enabled by recent advances in computational research tools and fine-scale instrumentation. He and his team have found that air turbulence can significantly enhance the growth of cloud droplets by collision-coalescence, the merging of two droplets into one larger droplet.
While visible clouds may extend over distances up to hundreds of kilometers, individual water droplets in a cloud are typically only 10–40 microns in diameter. The phase transformation between water vapor in the air and the liquid water in the droplets taking place at the droplet scale introduces bulk buoyancy effects that drive cloud-scale motion of 100 meters and larger.
Wang and colleagues began studying these complex multiscale and multiphase problems more than a decade ago, prior to the cloud physics community’s broad acceptance of the quantitative impact of cloud turbulence on warm rain formation. Today, new parameterizations developed by his team motivate researchers to study the interactions of turbulence and inertial particles from a variety of perspectives.
Wang also works with clinicians at Christiana Care to investigate the effectiveness of exercise in improving bone health in Type 1 diabetic patients, who are at increased risk of sustaining fractures. Wang continues to investigate the effects of diabetes on the vascular health as well, and in particular, how the disease alters the way that the inner lining of the vessel responds to forces caused by blood flow.
Wang’s research activities have provided rich training opportunities for undergraduates, graduates, and postdoctoral students. More than 50 undergraduates students have participated in undergraduate research in her laboratory. Wang also serves as Co-Director of the Cytomechanics Core, a shared facility to assist research in cell mechanics. She is a member of the Center for Biomechanical Engineering Research in UD, Orthopedic Research Society, American Society of Bone and Mineral, Biomedical Engineering Society, American Society of Engineering Education, and International Chinese Musculoskeletal Research Society.
BINGQING WEI’s recent work focuses on the synthesis, processing, characterization and physical properties of carbon nanostructures and carbon nanotube nanocomposites. In particular, he has been exploring the feasibility of using carbon nanotubes for energy storage applications, such as supercapacitors.
He has achieved a tunable means to couple or decouple the mechanical, electrical and electrochemical properties of carbon nanotube macro-films through mechanical buckling. His current work focuses on further improving the energy density of these materials and enhancing charge/discharge cyclability.
This research offers significant potential to impact new energy technologies, such as deformable energy storage devices. Beyond traditional electronics, potential stretchable applications include biomedical, wearable, portable and sensory devices, such as cyber-skin for robotic devices and implantable electronics.
Wei and his team have also recently discovered a “sticky” conductive material that may eliminate the need for binders in lithium-ion batteries. Their discovery that fragmented carbon nanotube macrofilms can serve as adhesive conductors, combining two functions in one material, could reduce both the cost and the environmental impact of lithium-ion batteries.
Wei received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Tsinghua University in Beijing and joined the University of Delaware in 2007 after spending four years at Louisiana State University.