Michigan Tech News

Three ME-EM Faculty Members Appointed to Henes Associate Professorships

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By Marcia Goodrich


Last Modified 10:24 AM, February 5, 2014

Left to right, Fernando Ponta, Gregory Odegard and Reza Shahbazian-Yassar, the new Henes Associate Professors

January 16, 2014—

Three faculty members in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics have been appointed to associate professorships endowed by Richard '48 and Elizabeth Henes.

After graduating from Michigan Technological University, Richard Henes earned a law degree and went on to become a successful entrepreneur in Arizona, both through his Henes Manufacturing Company and as a real estate developer. His generous gifts to the University have included additional endowed faculty positions, lab renovations and student scholarships.

Gregory M. Odegard has been named the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Associate Professor in Computational Mechanics. Odegard earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Denver in 2000. Prior to joining Michigan Tech in 2004, he was a staff scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center. In 2013 he was a Fulbright Research Scholar at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Among his honors, he has been named  an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and has received the 2011 Society of Automotive Engineers Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, the 2008 American Society for Engineering Education Ferdinand P. Beer and E. Russell Johnston Jr. Outstanding New Mechanics Educator Award, the 2008 Michigan Tech Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award and the 2005 NASA HJE Reid Award. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Materials and has published 53 journal articles that have been cited over 2,400 times in the literature. Odegard has graduated four PhD students and 15 MS students and is currently advising six PhD students and four MS students. He has received over $3 million in external funding. Odegard's research is focused on multiscale modeling of aerospace composites and biological tissue. He has served two terms each as chair of the Materials Technical Committee of AIAA and of the Structures and Materials Technical Committee of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Fernando Ponta has been named the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Associate Professor in Wind Energy. Ponta earned his PhD in Engineering Science at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2000. Prior to joining Michigan Tech in 2007, he was a tenured assistant professor at the University of Buenos Aires, from 2002 to 2007. From 2001 to 2004 he was a postdoctoral fellow in theoretical and applied mechanics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received a Gold Medal for the Best Scientific Paper at the Fifth Renewable Energy Congress (Florence, Italy, in 1998) for work in innovative wind-power concepts. He has published 27 journal papers and two book chapters. He has graduated three PhD students and 10 MS students and is currently advising two PhD students and two MS students. He has been awarded a 2010 Faculty CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation on research to reduce the uncertainties related to wind turbine blade dynamics. He has received over $900,000 in external research funding. Ponta's current research is in theoretical and computational continuum mechanics, vortex dynamics and advanced numerical methods for fluid-structure interaction analysis, especially as they apply to the study of wind-turbine aerodynamics and other energy systems using renewable-energy sources.

Reza Shahbazian-Yassar has been named the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Associate Professor in Nanotechnology. Shahbazian-Yassar earned his PhD in Materials Science from Washington State University in 2005. Prior to joining Michigan Tech he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems at Mississippi State University. He is on the editorial boards of Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A and the Journal of Nanotechnology and Smart Materials. He was a guest editor for two special issue journals: Journal of Materials Research (2011) and Materials Science and Engineering A (2008). He has published 52 journal articles and four book chapters. He has graduated four PhD students and two MS students and is currently advising eight PhD students and one MS student. He has received over $2 million in external research funding. Shahbazian-Yassar's current research is focused on nanotechnology and applications of nanomaterials for energy, electronics and biocomposites. In energy applications, his work is on piezoelectric nanogenerators, rechargeable Li-ion and Na-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. He is on the steering committee of the ASME Nanoengineering for Energy and Sustainability Group and is the materials science director on the Executive Council of the Midwest Microscopy and Microanalysis Society.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries around the world. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our beautiful campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.