ENG Selects Inaugural Term Distinguished Professors of Engineering

October 8th, 2014 in Awards, Faculty, Recognition

Baillieul, Cassandras, Chen, Unlu and Wong Honored

By Mark Dwortzan

Five College of Engineering professors—John Baillieul (ME, SE), Christos Cassandras (ECE, SE), Christopher Chen (BME), Selim Ünlü (ECE, BME, MSE) and Joyce Wong (BME, MSE)—have been selected as the inaugural set of Term Distinguished Professors of Engineering. Each will carry the title of “Distinguished Professor of Engineering” and receive a stipend of discretionary funds throughout their term. Thereafter, the title will be retained throughout their career at Boston University.

“Each of these faculty members has had a lengthy distinguished record of impact in research and in service to the College of Engineering and their profession,” said Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen.

Professor John Baillieul (ME, SE)

Professor John Baillieul (ME, SE)

John Baillieul

Baillieul’s research focuses on robotics, the control of mechanical systems, and mathematical system theory. He is currently working to extend and apply principles from nonlinear control theory to complex mechanical systems composed of interconnected rigid and elastic components.

Baillieul has published more than 160 peer-reviewed papers, is Fellow of the IEEE, International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) and Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and has received the IEEE Control Systems Society Distinguished Member Award and IEEE

Third Millennium Medal. He served as the Chinese Academy of Sciences T.S. Tsien International Outstanding Lecturer and as a distinguished lecturer at other institutions. His service to the profession includes editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, president and member of the board of governors of the IEEE Control Systems Society, and member of the board of directors of the IEEE.

At the College of Engineering, Baillieul has been chair of both the Manufacturing Engineering and Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering departments, the associate dean for Academic Programs, the director for the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and a founding member of the Center for Information and Systems Engineering. He was the College’s inaugural Distinguished Lecturer.

Professor Christos Cassandras (ECE, SE)

Professor Christos Cassandras (ECE, SE)

Christos Cassandras

Cassandras’ research centers on discrete event and hybrid systems, cooperative control, stochastic optimization and computer simulation, with applications to computer and sensor networks, manufacturing systems and transportation systems.

The author of more than 350 peer-reviewed journal articles and proceedings, five books, Cassandras is a Fellow of the IEEE and IFAC. He has served as the president, vice president for publications, and member of the board of governors of the IEEE Control Systems Society, and on the board of directors

of the American Automatic Control Council. His awards include the IEEE Control Systems Technology Award, the Distinguished Member Award of the IEEE Control Systems Society, the Harold Chestnut Prize, the IEEE Distinguished Lecturer Award, a prize for the IBM/IEEE Smarter Planet Challenge competition, a Lilly Fellowship and a Kern Fellowship. A chair or plenary/keynote speaker at several conferences and guest editor of many technical journal issues, he has served as editor-in-chief (1998-2009) and earlier as editor of the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, and is the senior editor for the Journal of Control and Decision. He has worked extensively with industrial organizations on various systems integration and simulation projects.

At the College of Engineering, Cassandras is Head of the Systems Engineering Division and a co-founder of the Center for Information and Systems Engineering, and was a Distinguished Lecturer.

Professor Christopher Chen (BME)

Professor Christopher Chen (BME)

Christopher Chen

Chen is widely recognized as a world leader in tissue engineering and mechanobiology—the study of how physical forces and changes in cell or tissue mechanics contribute to development, physiology and disease. His research seeks to identify underlying mechanisms by which cells interact with materials and other cells to build tissues, and to apply this knowledge to better understand the biology of stem cells, tissue vascularization and cancer.

The author of more than 130 peer-reviewed publications, Chen is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and a member of the Faculty of 1000 Biology, the board of trustees for the Society for BioMEMS and Biomedical Nanotechnology, and the Defense Sciences Study Group. He is on the editorial board for Science Translational Medicine, Annuals Reviews of Cell, Developmental Biology, and Developmental Cell, and an editor for Journal of Cell Science, BioInterphases, Technology, and Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering.

His many honors include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the Angiogenesis Foundation Fellowship, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, the Mary Hulman George Award for Biomedical Research and the Herbert W. Dickerman Award for Outstanding Contribution to Science.

Professor (ECE, BME, MSE)

Professor Selim Ünlü (ECE, BME, MSE)

Selim Ünlü

Ünlü’s research is concerned with the development of photonic materials, devices and systems focused on the design, processing, characterization and modeling of semiconductor optoelectronic devices, and high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy of semiconductor and biological materials.

The author of 163 peer-reviewed journal articles and an IEEE Fellow, he has served as editor-in-chief of the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics and as former chair of Photodetectors and Imaging, founding chair of Nanophotonics and current chair of Biophotonics technical committees for the IEEE Photonics Society. His awards include the IEEE Lasers and Electro-optics Society Distinguished Lecturer, the Photonics Society Distinguished Lecturer, the Australian Research Council Nanotechnology Network Distinguished Lecturer, the Turkish Scientific Foundation Science Award, and the National Science Foundation CAREER and Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Awards.

At the College, Ünlü has served as the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs and is now the Associate Dean for Research and Technology Development.

Professor Joyce Wong (BME, MSE)

Professor Joyce Wong (BME, MSE)

Joyce Wong

Wong’s research focuses on elucidating fundamental molecular, cellular and interfacial processes, and applying these principles to guide tissue engineering and develop in vitro engineered model systems to study disease progression.

The author of more than 80 peer- reviewed journal articles, she is a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. She is also the recipient of the Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award, the Japan-American Frontiers in Engineering Award, the Dupont Young Professor Award, the NAS Frontiers in Engineering Award and the NSF CAREER Award. She was elected and served on the board of directors of the Biomedical Engineering Society and served on the Beckman Foundation Scholars Advisory Panel. She also serves on the editorial boards of Regenerative Therapy, Biomatter and Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering.

Wong’s roles at the University includes director of the Provost’s Initiative to Advance Women in STEM, co-director of the Affinity Research Collaborative in Nanotheranostics, and former associate director for the Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology.

BU President Robert A. Brown Honored by Fellow Engineers

October 3rd, 2014 in Awards, Faculty, Recognition

National Academy of Engineering recognizes research, leadership

By Rich Barlow, BU Today

At the NAE award ceremony honoring BU President Robert A. Brown September 26: Pallab K. Bhattacharya, a University of Michigan professor, Charles O. Holliday, Jr., retired chairman and CEO of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Brown, and C. D. Mote, Jr., NAE president. (Photo by Risdon Photography)

At the NAE award ceremony honoring BU President Robert A. Brown September 26: Pallab K. Bhattacharya, a University of Michigan professor, Charles O. Holliday, Jr., retired chairman and CEO of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Brown, and C. D. Mote, Jr., NAE president. (Photo by Risdon Photography)

Before he was an accomplished university president, with even dour bond raters applauding his helmsmanship of BU, Robert A. Brown was an accomplished chemical engineer. His research involved mathematical models that helped produce materials from polymer plastics to the silicon ingredients in microelectronic devices.

Both careers have earned BU’s top executive and professor of electrical engineering and computer science an award from the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Brown received the NAE’s Simon Ramo Founders Award Sunday in Washington, D.C. The award confers a commemorative medal on recipients whose achievements better society.

“I am very honored by this award,” says Brown. The award recognizes his leadership at BU and MIT, where he was provost before becoming president of Boston University in 2005. “I am proudest of my influence on the direction of Boston University and our progress, as we have seen very rapid emergence as a major private research university,” Brown says. “In this sense, the award is shared by the entire Boston University community, as they have embraced and led the significant advances we have made in education and research.”

Brown, an NAE member since 1991, “has exemplified the ideals of the NAE,” says C. D. Mote, Jr., NAE president. “His contributions in chemical engineering research, service to the profession, and his academic leadership are stellar. He is the personification of the Simon Ramo Founders Award.”

Among Brown’s accomplishments, the NAE cited his launch of the University’s strategic plan, drawing “world-class faculty members,” and support for research.

It also applauded his pre-administration life as a scholar. “The underpinning of almost all my research was to use applied mathematics and advanced numerical simulation to explore models of very complex processes,” Brown says. He notes that he is best known for two applications of his work. One is the simulation of viscoelastic liquid flows (“these are liquids composed of very large molecules, such as molten plastics and polymeric coating solutions”). The other is simulating the growth of semiconductor crystals, such as silicon, from the melt.

He attributes his induction into the NAE at the unusually young age of 40, and his 1999 induction into the National Academy of Sciences, to this research.

Before BU, Texas-born Brown spent 25 years at MIT. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering at the University of Texas and a PhD at the University of Minnesota. He was one of two scholars to receive an award from the NAE this year. Siegfried S. Hecker, a Stanford University professor, was given the Arthur M. Bueche Award.

CISE Graduate Students at “Women in Computing Conference”

October 2nd, 2014 in Events, Recognition, Research, Students

By Christina Polyzos

Theodora Brisimi, Yasaman Khazaeni, and Sepideh Pourazarm will represent the Center for Information and Systems Engineering (CISE) at the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) Of Women In Computing Conference on October 8-10, 2014, in Phoenix, AZ. These women will have the opportunity to network, increase visibility in their respective disciplines, engage in discourse with other professionals, and more importantly, learn and be inspired by prominent women who transform the course of technology. CISE encourages and embraces talented individuals by organizing events and workshops to support their research and by sponsoring their participation in conferences such as GHC.

Theodora, whose advisor is Professor Ioannis Paschalidis, will be presenting a poster, “Modeling and Prediction of Heart-Related Hospitalization Using Electronic Health Records” at the conference this year. “I want to better the world by improving the incorporation of data analytics in city and societal general projects,” said Theodora, which is indicative of where her interests lie in the development and application of new techniques in machine learning, optimization, and decision theory. “CISE has been a great source of information and an excellent opportunity to meet with other researchers. Attending CISE seminars, along with CISE’s Women’s Networking Forum and Student Presentation Practice Sessions, has helped me develop my presentation and professional development skills”.

Yasaman, a CISE student working with Professor Christos Cassandras, will be attending the GHC because she anticipates meeting “the women who have made it to the top tier of engineering and computer science field which has been historically dominated by men. I believe I can learn a lot from their experience and achievements”. Yasaman’s work focuses on the development of algorithms and optimization problems that can be utilized in many real world problems such as disaster evacuation and resource allocation.

Sepideh, who also works under the guidance of Professor Cassandras, is currently working in the CODES lab developing an optimal control approach to solve the routing problem in sensor networks and electric vehicles with energy constraints. She believes that CISE has contributed to her education especially with “the weekly seminars, which explore different areas of engineering from diverse majors and schools as well as with the BU Scholars Day.” She will be attending this conference primarily to network and meet the professional women who have contributed to the advancement of technology.

In 1994, Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney co-founded this conference with the vision of bringing women technologists together to celebrate achievements, discuss career interests, and present research. Two decades later, attendees exceed 4,500 participants from 53 countries, 1,900 students from 400 academic institutions, and 2,850 industry professionals. GHC is notably the world’s largest conference for women in technology.

The Grace Hopper Celebration incorporates career sessions with technical sessions, including proposal presentations, mentoring workshops, papers, a PhD forum, panel discussions, and a Poster Session. Conference keynote speakers and presenters are leaders in their respective discipline from academia, government and industry such as DARPA and Microsoft.

This year’s presenters include:

  • Shafi Goldwasser – keynote speaker – (RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT, winner of the 2012 ACM Turing Award),
  • Maria Klawe (President, Harvey Mudd College)
  • Satya Nadella (CEO Microsoft),
  • Dr. Arati Prabhakar (Director of DARPA).

Full list of speakers at Grace Hopper Celebration.  Event Program

Moustakas Named Distinguished Professor of Photonics and Optoelectronics

October 2nd, 2014 in Awards, Faculty, Recognition

Holds ENG’s First Endowed Professorship

By Mark Dwortzan

Professor Theodore Moustakas (ECE, MSE)

Professor Theodore Moustakas (ECE, MSE)

Boston University Provost Jean Morrison has named Professor Theodore Moustakas (ECE, MSE, Physics) as the inaugural Distinguished Professor of Photonics and Optoelectronics, the College of Engineering’s first fully funded, named endowed professorship. Intended to honor and support a BU faculty member with outstanding achievements in research, teaching and service in the fields of photonics and optoelectronics, the professorship will be jointly funded by the College of Engineering, the Boston University Office of the Provost, and the BU Photonics Center.

Upon Moustakas’ retirement, the professorship will be renamed as the Theodore Moustakas Professorship of Photonics and Optoelectronics.The College has begun an unprecedented international search for a senior faculty member in this area of engineering science who will be selected as the inaugural holder of the Moustakas Professorship.

“I am very pleased that Boston University named me as the inaugural Distinguished Professor of Photonics and Optoelectronics,” said Moustakas, who has developed a wide range of  novel optoelectronic materials and devices ranging from diamond thin films to nitride semiconductors. “Photonics and optoelectronics form the backbone of today’s information technology, and the College of Engineering and the BU Photonics Center are world leaders in both domains. The establishment of this Distinguished Professorship will help the University in maintaining its leadership role in these areas.”

Since Moustakas joined BU in 1987, the primary focus of his research has been the development of nitride semiconductors for high-performance optoelectronic devices covering the spectral region from the deep ultraviolet (UV) to terahertz. Such devices include light-emitting diodes (LEDs), photo-detectors and solar cells. He is well known for the development of the nucleation steps for the growth of blue/green LEDs, widely used in flat panel displays on smartphones and televisions as well as for general illumination. He has also developed highly-efficient, deep UV LEDs, which are expected to provide environmentally friendly water and air purification as well as food sterilization and various medical applications.

Moustakas has had a significant impact on his field through 31 US patents, hundreds of invited talks, 350 journal papers, eight co-edited books and more than 11,000 citations in research literature. Selected as the 2010 Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) Innovator Award winner, he has been named a Fellow of the American Physical Society, Electrochemical Society, National Academy of Inventors and IEEE. Intellectual property resulting from his work has been licensed to a number of companies, including major manufacturers and users of blue LEDs and lasers. Moustakas is the co-founder of RayVio Corp., a venture-backed company that makes UV LEDs.

A professor of electrical and computer engineering since 1987, professor of physics since 1991, and the current associate head of the Division of Materials Science & Engineering, Moustakas took a leading role in propelling the ECE Department’s PhD program into the nation’s top-ranked programs, putting the MSE Division on the national map and helping establish BU as a national center of photonics research. He was the 2011 College of Engineering Distinguished Scholar Lecturer and winner of Boston University’s 2013 Innovator of the Year award.

Prior to joining the BU faculty, Moustakas worked at Harvard University as a research fellow and Exxon Research Corporate Research Laboratories as a senior scientist. He received a BS in Physics from Aristotle University (Greece) and a PhD in Solid State Science and Engineering from Columbia University.

Containing Ebola With Nanotechnology

October 2nd, 2014 in Faculty, Recognition, Research

BU Team’s Device Detects Virus Quickly and On Site

By Mark Dwortzan

NexGen Arrays prototype of SP-IRIS. (Image courtesy of NexGen Arrays)

NexGen Arrays prototype of SP-IRIS. (Image courtesy of NexGen Arrays)

By late January, 1.4 million people in Liberia and Sierra Leone could be infected with the Ebola virus. That’s the worst-case scenario of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa recently offered by scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC warns that those countries could now have 21,000 cases of the virus, which kills 70 percent of people infected.

One of the big problems hindering containment of Ebola is the cost and difficulty of diagnosing the disease when a patient is first seen. Conventional fluorescent label-based virus detection methods require expensive lab equipment, significant sample preparation, transport and processing times, and extensive training to use. One potential solution may come from researchers at the College of Engineering and the School of Medicine, who have spent the past five years advancing a rapid, label-free, chip-scale photonic device that can provide affordable, simple, and accurate on-site detection. The device could be used to diagnose Ebola and other hemorrhagic fever diseases in resource-limited countries.

The first demonstration of the concept, described in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters in 2010 and developed by Professor Selim Ünlü’s (ECE, BME, MSE) research group in collaboration with Professor Bennett Goldberg (Physics, BME, ECE), showed the ability to pinpoint and size single H1N1 virus particles. Now, after four years of refining the instrumentation in collaboration with Associate Professor John Connor (MED) and other hemorrhagic fever disease researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch, the team has demonstrated the simultaneous detection of multiple viruses in blood serum samples—including viruses genetically modified to mimic the behavior of Ebola and the Marburg virus.

Mentioned in Forbes magazine as a potentially game-changing technology for the containment of

In a multiplexed detection configuration, Ebola, Marburg and Lassa antibodies on the SP-IRIS surface capture corresponding viruses specifically. As shown in the images produced by the device, SP-IRIS then identifies and counts each virus particle and classifies it based on its size.

In a multiplexed detection configuration, Ebola, Marburg and Lassa antibodies on the SP-IRIS surface capture corresponding viruses specifically. As shown in the images produced by the device, SP-IRIS then identifies and counts each virus particle and classifies it based on its size.

Ebola, the device identifies individual viruses based on size variations due to distinct genome lengths and other factors. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the research is showcased in ACS Nano.

“Others have developed different label-free systems, but none have been nearly as successful in detecting nanoscale viral particles in complex media,” said Ünlü, referring to typical biological samples in which a mix of viruses, bacteria and proteins may be present. “Leveraging expertise in optical biosensors and hemorrhagic fever diseases, our collaborative research effort has produced a highly sensitive device with the potential to perform rapid diagnostics in clinical settings.”

Whereas conventional methods can require up to an hour for sample preparation and two hours or more for processing, the current Boston University prototype requires little to no sample preparation time and delivers answers in about an hour.

“By minimizing sample preparation and handling, our system can reduce potential exposure to healthcare workers,” said Connor. “And by looking for multiple viruses at the same time, patients can be diagnosed much more effectively.”

Professor Selim Unlu (ECE, BME, MSE) (left) and Associate Professor John Connor (MED) have developed a rapid, chip-scale photonic device that can detect viruses, including Ebola, on site. (Photo by Steve Prue)

Professor Selim Unlu (ECE, BME, MSE) (left) and Associate Professor John Connor (MED) have developed a rapid, chip-scale photonic device that can detect viruses, including Ebola, on site. (Photo by Steve Prue)

The shoebox-sized, prototype diagnostic device, known as the Single Particle Interferometric Reflectance Imaging Sensor (SP-IRIS), detects pathogens by shining light from multi-color LED sources on viral nanoparticles bound to the sensor surface by a coating of virus-specific antibodies. Interference of light reflected from the surface is modified by the presence of the particles, producing a distinct signal that reveals the size and shape of each particle. The sensor surface is very large and can capture the telltale responses of up to a million nanoparticles.

In collaboration with BD Technologies and NexGen Arrays, a BU Photonics Center-based startup run by longtime SP-IRIS developers David Freedman (EE10) and postdoctoral fellow George Daaboul (BME’13), the research team is now working on making IRIS more robust, field-ready and fast—ideally delivering answers within 30 minutes—through further technology development and preclinical trials.

SP-IRIS devices are now being tested in multiple labs, including a Biosafety Level-4 (BSL-4) lab at the University of Texas Medical Branch that’s equipped to work with hemorrhagic viruses. Other tests will be conducted at BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) once the facility is approved for BSL-4 research. Based on the team’s current rate of progress, a field-ready instrument could be ready to enter the medical marketplace in five years.

Find out more about SP-IRIS in this National Academy of Engineering radio clip.


Tagged ,

Looking Back, Moving Forward

September 30th, 2014 in Alumni, Awards, Events, Faculty, Recognition

ENG 50th Anniversary Celebration Showcases Excellence and Impact

By Mark Dwortzan

At the College of Engineering’s Student-Alumni Team Design Challenge, John Folloni (ENG’60,’72) (from left), Gregg Fischer (ENG’07), Abena Kwakyi (ENG’11), Daniel C. Cole, an ENG mechanical engineering associate professor, Ian Leatherman (ENG’11), and Ben Graham (ENG’16) collaborate on their vehicle. (Photo by Cydney Scott).

At the College of Engineering’s Student-Alumni Team Design Challenge, John Folloni (ENG’60,’72) (from left), Gregg Fischer (ENG’07), Abena Kwakyi (ENG’11), Daniel C. Cole, an ENG mechanical engineering associate professor, Ian Leatherman (ENG’11), and Ben Graham (ENG’16) collaborate on their vehicle. (Photo by Cydney Scott).

With sunny skies overhead and an autumnal chill in the air, College of Engineering alumni from across the country converged on Cummington Mall on September 19 to celebrate the College’s first 50 years. The atmosphere was festive both outside, where cotton candy and popcorn were on offer, and inside various campus buildings, where alumni, faculty and students learned about high-impact ENG research and entrepreneurial achievements, toured new facilities, participated in a design challenge and engaged in spirited conversations about the past and future of the College.

Alumni-Student Lunch Panel

Speaking before an audience packed with current ENG students at the Boston University Photonics Center Colloquium Room, six exemplary alumni highlighted their career paths, how they’ve impacted society and how their engineering education has contributed to their success.

Kathleen McLaughlin (ECE’87) observed that the College’s emphasis on problem- solving skills and systems thinking served as “the perfect underpinning” for all she’s achieved since graduating. That includes a Rhodes Scholarship and two decades with the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, where she served as senior partner, and her current role as president of Walmart Foundation, where she’s responsible for corporate giving and initiatives in global sustainability, healthier food and women’s economic empowerment.

Fellow Rhodes Scholar Jennifer Gruber (AME’99) described a life path that took her from a Nebraska trailer park and childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut, to the BS/MS program at the College of Engineering, to 12-plus years at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Like McLaughlin, she cited her problem-solving mindset, cultivated at the College, as critical to her success as a mission control flight dynamics officer, mission planner and manager serving Space Shuttle and Space Station missions.

“The answers aren’t in the back of the book when you graduate,” said Gruber, who now manages a team tasked to ensure that all items are properly stowed aboard the Space Station. “Being able to not be intimidated by something that sounds difficult is actually a really good skill that you learn [at the College of Engineering] that I’m putting to use right now.”

Other panelists included Kevin Knopp (ECE’94) co-founder and CEO of 908 Devices, which produces handheld mass spectrometers; Kevin Kit Parker (BME’89), professor of bioengineering & applied physics at Harvard University and a leading traumatic brain injury researcher; Amit Jain (ECE’85,’88), president, CEO and co-founder of Prysm, Inc., which manufactures energy-efficient video walls (including the one recently installed in the lobby of 44 Cummington Mall); and George Savage (BME’81), co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Proteus Digital Health, which makes pills that double as medical monitoring sensors.

Reconnecting with Classmates and Iconic ENG Faculty

Alumni also had a chance to share memories with classmates and favorite faculty members at the Engineering Product Innovation Center’s (EPIC) Design Studio. Toting coffee, deserts and hors d’oeuvres and dressed in business casual attire, several graduates from as far back as the Class of 1964 caught up with more than a dozen long-time ENG faculty in the packed room.

Victor Almeida (EE’86), who develops software for Cigna Insurance Company, reconnected with Professor Emeritus David Perreault (ECE), who taught two of his favorite courses in digital logic.

“We talked about how kids today do amazing things we couldn’t imagine back then,” he said, pointing to mobile apps and drones as examples.

For Jose Andrade (CE’85), who has worked on Raytheon’s Patriot Air Missile Defense System for the past three decades, “back then” was a time when his undergraduate computer lab mushroomed from the size of a closet to the size of the EPIC Design Studio.

Michelle Tortolani (EE’87), fellow and past president of the Society of Women Engineers and an engineering program manager at Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, marveled at how quickly time had passed since Commencement. “I’m proud to be an ENG graduate,” she said after conversing with Professor Mark Horenstein (ECE), whose courses in electronics she had taken. “It’s amazing to see how the school has grown.”

Reflecting on his reunions with alumni from the past decade who are now doing everything from completing law school to developing a chain of pediatric hospitals in India, Professor Steven Colburn (BME) observed, “It’s been exciting for me because so many of them are having such good lives!”

Design Challenge Energizes ENG Community

The 50th Anniversary Celebration featured not only talks and conversations but also hands-on activities. Alumni were treated to tours of the College’s newest facilities, including EPIC and the Singh Imagineering Lab, and a design challenge staged at the Photonics Center Colloquium Room, where four teams of alumni, students and faculty competed to design and build a small vehicle that could travel across four long tables under its own power.

Supplied with a bag of popsicle sticks, duct tape, straws, plastic wheels, balloons, batteries, circuit boards and other small parts, each team (representing the Electrical & Computer , Aerospace and Mechanical, Biomedical  and Manufacturing engineering gathered around a table to talk strategy and produce a working vehicle within 45 minutes. As alumni, students, faculty and staff cheered from the sidelines and quadcopters  delivered occasional “care packages” of additional supplies to the tables, the event’s emcee, Associate Professor Glynn Holt (ME), monitored the teams’ progress and interviewed random alumni in the audience.

After multiple test flights, all four teams completed the task, though some had to manually nudge their vehicles toward the finish line. The BME team, whose alumni included Lauren Black (’03,’06), Carissa Black (’01,’03,’06), Michael Young (’85,’89, MED’91) and Frank Salamone (’94), was the first to traverse all four tables. Holt recognized team BME for its performance, ECE for speed, AME for completing the course the most times, and AME for style.

Symposium and Banquet Highlight Research Impacting Society

At a late afternoon symposium at the Photonics Center Auditorium, alumni heard two talks on high-impact faculty research and a third focused on the value of higher education.

Professor Thomas Bifano (ME, MSE), director of the BU Photonics Center, described several photonic technologies that are improving our quality of life. These included Associate Professor Xue Han’s (BME) pioneering use of light to silence and activate neurons in the brain as a means of studying brain disorders and explore potential treatments; Professor Theodore Moustakas’ (ECE, MSE) patented technique to make blue LEDs found in smartphone and flat panel displays; and Bifano’s development of adaptive optics with deformable mirrors that are now being used to image retinal cells—technology that promises to improve clinical research on diabetic retinopathy.

Emphasizing the critical need for robust technologies to address outbreaks of the Ebola virus, malaria, HIV and other major diseases in the developing world, Associate Professor Muhammad Zaman (BME, MSE) asked, “What is it that I, as a BU engineer who is ready to make a positive impact on the world, can do for the world? We need technologies that are portable, low power, inexpensive, easy to use, robust and perform quantitative tests.” He highlighted one such technology, PharmaChk, which he’s now advancing to help reduce the prevalence of substandard and counterfeit drugs, a problem affecting hundreds of thousands of people every year. Field-tested in Africa, PharmaChk can test drugs at the point of care and anywhere along the supply chain.

Dean Kenneth Lutchen presented statistics and analysis showing that despite the buzz about Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), a residential college education—especially in engineering—remains an excellent investment, both in terms of financial success and preparation for lifelong learning and impact. The bottom line? “Go to college,” said Lutchen. “It’s expensive (partly) because it’s very valuable.”

The ENG 50th Anniversary Gala Banquet in the Trustee’s Ballroom capped off the day’s events. More than 200 alumni, friends, faculty and students attended the event, which featured a video presentation that explored the College’s history and some of the current research that promised to make significant impacts on our world. After dinner, Associate Professor Edward Damiano (BME) discussed his efforts to develop a bionic pancreas that could vastly improve the quality of life for people with Type 1 diabetes. Damiano’s handheld system, which automatically manages type 1 diabetes, was recently shown to be as effective as the conventional, manual approach, in which patients periodically check their own blood sugar levels and determine the amount of insulin needed.

Receptions for the ENG Class of 1964 and the ENG National Society of Black Engineers were held the following day on the ENG campus.

Faculty Search- The Division of Systems Engineering (SE)

September 24th, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Division of Systems Engineering (SE) at Boston University (BU) is seeking candidates for a tenured faculty position at the rank of Professor or Associate Professor in the area of Network Systems.  The Division of Systems Engineering is seeking a proven accomplished researcher to provide leadership in the area of network systems and to develop a research program that enhances and complements a number of existing activities that span the ECE and ME Departments. The Division, in conjunction with the Center for Information and Systems Engineering (CISE), has established widely recognized research excellence in areas such as Sensor Networks, Multi-Agent Systems, and Mobile Robotics. These and other areas where Division faculty are active represent instances of a broader emerging class of network systems. Beyond traditional computer and communication networks, this new class is characterized by network structures whose nodes are complex dynamic systems in themselves (wireless physical devices, robots, power supply centers in a smart grid, vehicles in smart cities, factories/warehouse in supply chains, etc). Candidates with research interests that transcend the traditional boundaries of SE are strongly encouraged to apply.  The successful candidate will be given a primary appointment in our Mechanical Engineering or Electrical and Computer Engineering departments as applicable. Additional appointments with other BU departments and the Division of Materials Science and Engineering are available for candidates with appropriate experience and interests.

To apply and for further details, please visit and follow application instructions online at


Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  Preferred deadline for full consideration is December 31, 2014. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to apply early.

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. We are a VEVRAA Federal Contractor.



BU-Brigham & Women’s Hospital Partnership Celebrates First Year

September 16th, 2014 in Faculty, Graduate Student Opportunities, News-ISS, Research, Research-ISS

Joint Research Focused on Medical Imaging and Image-Guided Interventions

By Mark Dwortzan

Researchers from Boston University and Brigham & Women's Hospital are collaborating to improve medical imaging and image-guided interventions. (Images courtesy of Brigham & Women's Hospital)

Researchers from Boston University and Brigham & Women’s Hospital are collaborating to improve medical imaging and image-guided interventions. (Images courtesy of Brigham & Women’s Hospital)

Boston University College of Engineering Assistant Professor Darren Roblyer (BME) and Brigham & Women’s Hospital radiologist Srinivisan Mukundan are exploring a strategy that combines a new optical imaging device developed by Roblyer with emerging magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to probe malignant brain tumors during chemotherapy treatment. Their research could enable clinicians to monitor the effectiveness of chemotherapy over the course of treatment and implement changes to chemotherapy drugs and dose levels as needed.Sept. 12 present_ 2_WEB_READY

The project is one of five now receiving funding through an ongoing partnership between Boston University and Brigham & Women’s Hospital. On September 12 at the BU Photonics Center, Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen and Dr. Steven Seltzer, Chair of the BWH Department of Radiology, announced the second year of the partnership, which has already provided one year of seed funding to projects ranging from image-guided cancer drug delivery to early detection of heart disease.

“The goal is to leverage synergies between Brigham & Women’s Hospital’s Radiology Department in imaging and image-guided interventions with the College of Engineering’s strengths in developing new materials and technologies as well as novel techniques for processing images and large data sets,” said Associate Professor Tyrone Porter (ME, BME, MSE), who is coordinating the partnership. “The hope is to stimulate research collaborations between the two campuses and develop a National Institutes of Health training program in clinical imaging and image-guided interventions.”

The brainchild of Lutchen and Seltzer, the BU-BWH partnership brings together world-class expertise and equipment from Boston University entities such as the BU Photonics Center and the BU Center for Nanoscience & Nanobiotechnology, and from the BWH Department of Radiology, home to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Image-Guided Therapy and the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating Suite (AMIGO). Joint research between the two campuses could result in less invasive, more accurate medical imaging and image-guided interventions.

“There’s no question that in so many dimensions, imaging is at the foundation of a tremendous amount of potential breakthroughs in medical discoveries and practice, but there are huge challenges from a scientific and technical point of view,” said Lutchen. “We’ve got tons of interested students and faculty here that need and want to use imaging technologies to address interesting and important questions.”

First-round projects include the engineering of a new “molecular imaging” MRI contrast agent for detecting early calcification of the aortic valve; the combination of ultrasound and MR data to evaluate the elastic properties of tissues, which are associated with pathological indicators of disease; a clinical decision support system for patient-specific cancer diagnosis and management; and ultrasound-guided delivery of chemotherapy drug-laden nanoparticles to metastasized lung cancer cells in the brain. Applications for second-round projects are now underway.

All projects involve at least one principal investigator from each of the partnering institutions, who jointly advise a doctoral student on a project that could positively impact clinical practice. Participating ENG faculty include Professors Joyce Wong (BME, MSE), Paul Barbone (ME, MSE), Venkatesh Saligrama (ECE, SE) and Yannis Paschalidis (ECE, SE); Associate Professor Porter; and Assistant Professor Roblyer.

“The fields of biomedical imaging and bioengineering have been converging and collaborating for decades, and that collaboration continues to get closer and closer,” said Seltzer, noting a burgeoning clinical need for advanced technologies in functional and molecular imaging; information technologies ranging from data mining to image processing; and minimally-invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures guided by high-technology imaging techniques.

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ENG Prof Wins NASA Early Career Faculty Award

September 12th, 2014 in Alumni, Awards, Faculty, Grants, News-EP, Recognition, Research

Given for developing deep space communication technology

By Amy Laskowski, BU Today

Jonathan Klamkin, an ENG assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, says photonic integrated circuits will “soon fly into deep space and send large amounts of data back to Earth.” Photos by Cydney Scott

Jonathan Klamkin, an ENG assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, says photonic integrated circuits will “soon fly into deep space and send large amounts of data back to Earth.” Photos by Cydney Scott

Ready to view deep space in high-def?

Jonathan Klamkin is working to make it possible. A College of Engineering assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and a member of the ENG Division of Materials Science & Engineering, Klamkin was recently awarded a NASA Early Career Faculty Space Tech Research Grant for his work developing new and faster ways to send data using integrated laser transmitter technology, which could aid NASA in sending high-definition video of space back to Earth. The grant is given to “outstanding researchers early in their careers” engaged in the development of space technology that has been deemed of high priority for NASA.

Last October, NASA completed the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration, the first mission to demonstrate two-way, high-rate laser communication from lunar orbit aboard the Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). Using traditional methods, it would take the NASA spacecraft 639 hours to download an average-length high-definition movie. But using this new technology, downloading takes fewer than eight minutes. As NASA prepares future trips to Mars, it has granted Klamkin up to $600,000 over three years to develop technologies that can be used in future space missions.

“Technology drives exploration, and these researchers will provide fuel for NASA’s innovation engine,” says Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate, of this year’s NASA early career grant winners. “Sustained investments must be made to mature the capabilities required to reach the challenging destinations that await exploration, such as an asteroid, Mars, and outer planets. These investments help to assure a robust university research community dedicated to advanced space technology development.”

Klamkin says he was thrilled to learn he had been selected for the honor, which was awarded to only seven university-based researchers nationwide. “This grant not only allows my research group to interact with NASA and develop technologies for future space missions,” he says, “but will also assist us in developing relationships with leading research institutions conducting optical communications research for NASA, including the MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.”

Klamkin leads BU’s Integrated Photonics Laboratory, where he and his team research how to consolidate several photonic functions onto a single chip.
Klamkin leads BU’s Integrated Photonics Laboratory, where he and his team research how to consolidate several photonic functions onto a single chip.

“These NASA early career awards are incredibly competitive,” says Kenneth Lutchen, dean of ENG. “Professor Klamkin is advancing highly creative photonic principles and technologies that can transform our ability to communicate efficiently into deep space. It is wonderful to have such a creative young faculty member impacting these challenging problems.”

Klamkin came to BU last year from the Scuola Superiore Sant’ Anna in Pisa, Italy, where he was an assistant professor and director of the Integrated Photonic Technologies Center. Prior to that, he was a member of the technical staff at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. In 2013 he received an ENG Dean’s Catalyst Award, granted to faculty to support promising early-stage projects, and he was recently named a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

At BU, Klamkin heads up the Integrated Photonics Laboratory, where his team researches optical communications, microwave photonics, and sensing. Photonic integration consolidates several photonic functions onto a single chip. Klamkin’s research focuses specifically on specialized data delivery that relies on laser transmitters.

Thinking of new and faster ways to transmit data is critical, he says, because existing radio frequency systems have low data rates. Laser transmitters are able to send data to Earth through space, similar to how internet traffic is sent over fiber-optic cables.

“Deep space communication requires very high performance, but there is less space and power available on spacecraft,” and thus traditional lasers aren’t practical, he says. “Photonic integration, therefore, could be an enabler for reducing the size, weight, and power of laser transmitters for future missions.” The hope is that the photonic integrated circuits will “soon fly into deep space and send large amounts of data back to Earth.”


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A Computer Engineering Approach to Synthetic Biology

August 20th, 2014 in Faculty, News-CE, Publications, Research, Research-CE

By Donald Rock (COM’17)

Assistant Professor Douglas Densmore

Assistant Professor Douglas Densmore

A reader picking up Nature Methods would not expect to see an article about computer engineering. ECE Assistant Professor Douglas Densmore and BU researcher Evan Appleton have just changed that notion by publishing a paper on automated DNA assembly, which offers a computer engineering approach to synthetic biology.

The researchers’ novel methodology may profoundly affect the field of synthetic biology. If utilized, this software can help biologists build genetic constructs at greater efficiency and scale so that organisms can be more efficiently altered to act as biosensors to detect harmful chemicals in the environment or act as biotherapeuthics to produce low cost drugs for patients, or as biomaterials, such as specialized silks.


BU Researcher, Evan Appleton

BU Researcher, Evan Appleton

The paper entitled “Interactive Assembly Algorithms for Molecular Cloning“ describes how software can provide optimized assembly plans for genetic constructs made from numerous DNA segments. Once assembled, these DNA segments can be introduced to living organisms to alter their behavior. The software not only provides optimized plans to build these constructs, but in the event of an assembly failure, it also offers alternative plans that reuse much of the original plan. Additionally, the software allows for assembly “standards” to be followed which democratize the process across the field.

Professor Densmore is not a newcomer to interdisciplinary research. He serves as the director of BU’s Cross-disciplinary Integration of Design Automation Research (CIDAR) group. His CIDAR team works to develop computational and experimental tools for synthetic biology.

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