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Faculty and Student Highlights

Faculty Highlights

Lauren Beckingham, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, was named the inaugural recipient of the Emerging Investigator Award from Applied Geochemistry, the Journal of the International Association of Geochemistry. 

Saad Biaz, professor of computer science and software engineering, was awarded the 2021 Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentoring Award by the Computing Research Association.

Natalie Cápiro, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, was awarded a $1.3 million grant by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program for her project “Development of Predictive Tools for Assessment of Natural Attenuation Capacity and Treatment Transition at Chlorinated Solvent Sites.” 

Pengyu Chen, assistant professor of materials engineering, was awarded a $2.6 million Research Project (RO1) Grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a biosensor designed to guide a novel immunotherapy for better treating cancer, specificially leukemia. 

Fa Foster Dai, the Godbold Chair of electrical and computer engineering, and his former Ph.D. student Hechen Wang were issued a U.S. patent for “Radio Frequency (RF) to Digital Polar Data Converter and Time-to-Digital Converter Based Time Domain Signal Processing Receiver.” 

Virginia Davis, the Dr. Daniel F. and Josephine Breeden Professor of chemical engineering, and Robert Ashurst, the Uthault Family Associate Professor of chemical engineering, received a $477,650 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a project titled “Cellulose Nanocrystals: A Versatile Platform for the Detection of Allergens and Emerging Contaminants.”

Mario Eden, the Joe T. and Billie Carole McMillan Professor and chemical engineering department chair, was recognized as the author of one of the top 1% most cited articles by Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a prominent chemical engineering journal. 

Jeffrey Fergus, professor of materials engineering and associate dean for undergraduate studies and program assessment, was named a fellow of ABET, the organization that accredits collegiate engineering programs.

Sa’d Hamasha, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, is principal investigator on an $830,000 award from the Defense Electronics Consortium to develop a comprehensive evaluation system for solder selection to meet specific defense-related requirements. In total, $7 million is expected to come to Auburn over five to seven years. 

Roy Hartfield, the Walt and Virginia Woltosz Professor of aerospace engineering, was named a fellow by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Robert Jackson, the Albert J. Smith, Jr. Professor of mechanical engineering, won a Best Presentation Award at the 2020 International Tribology Research Symposium for his presentation titled “An Investigation of the Elastic Cylindrical Line Contact Equations for Plane Strain and Stress Considering Friction.”

Pradeep Lall, the John and Anne MacFarlane Endowed Distinguished Professor of mechanical engineering, won the IEEE Region 3 Biedenbach Outstanding Engineering Educator Award for 2020. 

Fabricio Leiva, assistant professor at the National Center for Asphalt Technology, received a $228,028 grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation for a project titled “Continuous Asphalt Mixture Compaction Assessment Using Density Profiling System.” 

Shiwen Mao, the Earle C. Williams Scholar Chair of electrical and computer engineering, won the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society’s 2020 Jack Neubauer Memorial Award for the paper titled “CSI-Based Fingerprinting for Indoor Localization: A Deep Learning Approach.” He was also named a distinguished lecturer of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Communications Society for 2021-2022. 

Jack Montgomery, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Frances O’Donnell, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, received a $233,602 grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation for their project titled “Geotechnical Health Monitoring and Assessment of Landslides.”

Frances O’Donnell, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture for a project titled “A landscape-scale approach to wetland mitigation of non-point source agricultural runoff.”  

Anton Schindler, the Mountain Spirit Professor of structural engineering and Highway Research Center director, was awarded the 2021 Delmar L. Bloem Distinguished Service Award from the American Concrete Institute for outstanding leadership of ACI’s Technical Committee on Self-Consolidating Concrete.  

Nima Shamsaei, Philpott-WestPoint Stevens Distinguished Professor of mechanical engineering, is principal investigator on a $3 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration for a project focused on improving commercial air travel through the use of additively manufactured metal components. 

Shuai Shao, associate professor of materials engineering, received the ASTM Young Professional Award in Additive Manufacturing, which recognizes outstanding research contributions to the field of additive manufacturing.

Alice Smith, the Joe W. Forehand/Accenture Professor of industrial and systems engineering, was named a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Ambassador for the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science for her project “Stimulating Participation of Underrepresented Groups in INFORMS Editorial Boards.” Yellowhammer Media also named Smith a 2020 Woman of Impact, which recognizes Alabama women who have made lasting impressions across business, government, medicine and many other industries.

Student Highlights

Nathan Adkins, a junior majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in computer science, was awarded the German Academic Exchange Service Scholarship, or DAAD Rise, to attend Furtwangen University in Tuttlingen, Germany. 

Industrial and systems engineering seniors Caroline Allen, Annie Dorsey and Anne Curtis Giovanelli were the winners of the Southeast Regional Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers’ Technical Paper Competition.

The student chapter of the American Concrete Institute was awarded an Excellent University Award in the 2021 ACI Awards for University Student Activities. This is the sixth year in a row the student organization has earned ACI’s highest university honor.

The Autonomous Tiger Racing team placed in the top 3 among all university teams in the first three rounds of competition of the Indy Autonomous Challenge. The first rounds have included white papers, performance of passenger vehicles and race simulations ahead of the official race Oct. 23, 2021. 

Industrial and systems engineering doctoral students Allison Brown and Mohsen Nikfar place second in a national 3D design competition hosted by Physna, a Cincinnati-based technology start-up, for their design, Space Shuttle Launch. 

Four Auburn Engineering students were chosen to partner with fellows at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution in conducting research and initiatives for the Alabama Innovation Corporation. The students are industrial and systems engineering senior Madeline Ellison, electrical engineering senior Shivam Patel, chemical engineering senior Emily Schramek and mechanical engineering junior Daniel “Trey” Sims.

Christian Fauer, a senior in mechanical engineering, received the Duane Hanson Scholarship presented by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning as one of only seven $5,000 scholarship winners awarded by ASHRAE each year.

Recent graduates Bryana Harris, ’19 chemical engineering, Elizabeth M. Prior, ’19 civil engineering, and Tyler Toner, ’19 mechanical engineering, were awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. 

Andrew McGehee, a senior in software engineering, won the Best Poster Award in the 11th ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology and Health Informatics for the poster “PolyFold: an interactive visual simulator for distance-based protein folding.” Fellow students Sutanu Bhattacharya and Rahmatullah Roche and computer and software engineering assistant professor Debswapna Bhattacharya were collaborators. 

Pooriya Nezhadfar, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, won the best student presentation, beating out more than 55 other students, at the 2020 ASTM International Conference on Additive Manufacturing.

Michael Norwood, a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in Asian studies, was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to undergo study of the Japanese language.

Aerospace engineering doctoral student Roberto Perera and aerospace engineering sophmore Lila Saunders were awarded the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship from the Department of Defense. 

Zac Young, a senior in mechanical engineering, won the concept stage competition and a $25,000 prize in the Alabama Launchpad startup competition sponsored by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama for his business idea called the Wave Timer, a small device that measures sag, tension and the temperature of power lines in a matter of seconds. As owner of Vulcan Line Tools, Young also won Auburn University’s 2021 Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition and the 2020 virtual Southeastern Conference Pitch Competition.