Michigan Tech Hires 11 New Faculty in Health and Energy Initiatives

Michigan Technological University has hired 11 new faculty members as part of the University’s most recent Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative (SFHI). The research done by seven of the new hires focuses on the cross-disciplinary theme of Health: Basic Sciences, Technologies and Medical Informatics. The other four new faculty members conduct research in Next Generation Energy Systems.  

A search is continuing to fill additional positions in the Energy initiative focusing on smart grids and hybrid vehicles.

SFHI is an innovative faculty hiring concept pioneered by Michigan Tech in 2007, when the University’s Board of Trustees made a commitment to enlarge the faculty by up to 10 outstanding new teacher-scholars each year, cutting across academic disciplines to focus on a research theme.

The first SFHI in 2007 centered on the theme of Sustainability. Michigan Tech hired six new faculty members and named three professors to endowed chairs in sustainability-related topics. In 2008 the theme was Computational Discovery and Innovation. Six new faculty were hired, and a search for an endowed professor to bridge computer engineering, computer science and entrepreneurship has been reopened.

For 2009 and 2010 SFHI pursued two themes in parallel, one health research-related and the other involving next generation energy systems.  In 2011 and 2012, Michigan Tech is again seeking outstanding new hires in parallel initiatives focusing on Water and Future Transportation Systems

“In both energy and health, we have created some very good momentum and met strategic objectives in four areas,” said Provost Max Seel . They are

  • Energy generation, including renewable energy, biomass and waste streams, and co-generation.
  • Mitigation, involving improved combustion and conversion.
  • Materials such as photovoltaic and battery technologies.
  • Modeling of complex chemical processes in bioenergy production.

On the health side, the initiative added expertise in

  • Development of novel biomaterials for medical applications.
  • Molecular basis of biological functions.
  • Human factors engineering issues.
  • Medical informatics.
  • Neuroethics, examining the ethical dimensions of recent advances in neuroscience.

New SFHI faculty include

Health: Basic Sciences, Technologies and Medical Informatics

Qing-Hui Chen received his PhD from Kagawa Medical School in Japan. He comes to Michigan Tech from the Health Science Center of the University of Texas in San Antonio. In 2009, he was honored with the Recognition Award for Meritorious Research by the Central Nervous System Section of the American Physiological Society. He studies whether and how the intrinsic properties of autonomic neurons in the hypothalamus are modified during the development of salt-sensitive hypertension and congestive heart failure. He has an appointment in Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology.

Tarun Dam, with a PhD from the University of Calcutta, India, comes to Tech from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. His research interests are the molecular basis of glycan (carbohydrate)-mediated biological functions, macromolecular communication and biomolecular thermodynamics.  He has an appointment in Chemistry.

L. Syd Johnson, with a PhD in Philosophy from SUNY at Albany, is a philosopher-bioethicist with a research interest in emergent medical technologies. Her current research is in neuro-ethics. She is investigating the ethical dimensions of recent advances in neuroscience, with a particular emphasis on research in and treatment of disorders of consciousness and traumatic brain injury. Her faculty appointment is in Humanities.

Bruce Lee completed his PhD in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University. Before joining Tech, he was director of new technology at Nerites Corporation, a start-up company in Madison, Wis., where he led a research team in developing novel biomaterials for medical applications, including tissue adhesive and antimicrobial coating. He is particularly interested in combining molecular designs inspired by nature with polymer chemistry and materials science principles in creating advanced biomaterials.  He has an appointment in Biomedical Engineering.

Ranjana Mehta, with a PhD from the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, researches human factors engineering issues. Her work focuses on quantifying the effects of physical and psychosocial risk factors and their relative contributions in the development of workplace injuries.  Her faculty appointment is in Cognitive and Learning Sciences.

Jinshan Tang received post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School and NIH after finishing his PhD at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Before he joined Tech, he was the director of the Image Processing and Bio-imaging Research Lab in the Department of Advanced Technology at Alcorn State University. His research covers medical image analysis, computer aided cancer detection, medical data mining and bio-imaging. He has an appointment in the School of Technology.

Xiaoqing Tang received her PhD from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel in 2003.  Diabetes, obesity, insulin production, secretion, and signaling are her major research areas. Currently she studies the function of miRNAs in glucose-regulated insulin production and secretion in pancreatic beta cells. Her appointment is in Biological Sciences.

Next Generation Energy Systems        

Ezra Bar-Ziv comes to Tech from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. He is internationally known for his research in the areas of advanced energy systems, including coal combustion, gasification, pollution reduction, biomass torrefaction (drying with heat) for the power industry and large stationary systems. He was the chair and founder of the Department of Biotechnology and Environmental Engineering at Ben-Gurion University, the Clyde Chair in Chemical Engineering during a sabbatical at the University of Utah in 2005- 2006, and a professor and associate dean for academic development and research at the College of Engineering Sciences at Ben-Gurion University. He has an appointment in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Seung-Hyun Kim received his PhD from Pohang University of Science and Technology in Korea. His research focuses on modeling of multiscale and multiphysics problems in relation to energy science and technology. His current areas of interest include the modeling of turbulent combustion, pollutant formation  and combustion instabilities; multiscale fuel cell modeling; multiphase flows in porous media; and carbon capture and sequestration. His faculty appointment is in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Joshua Pearce will greatly add to Michigan Tech’s expertise in the area of renewable energy generation and photovoltaic materials. He received his PhD from Penn State in 2004 for research on the development of low-cost solar photovoltaic technology. Since then, he has been recognized internationally for his work in advancing renewable energy. He is working on projects that range from fundamental photovoltaic materials development and device physics to more applied systems design and performance. His faculty appointment is in Materials Science and Engineering.

Wen Zhou, with a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, focuses in his research on using and advancing computational systems biology and engineering to better understand and further improve complex chemical and biochemical processes used to address problems related to bioenergy production from woody biomass and environment protection. He has an appointment in Chemical Engineering.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.