The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Dean and Department Head Bios

Jeffrey M. Davis

Department Head, Chemical Engineering

Jeff Davis earned an SB degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he maintained a perfect GPA and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and MA and PhD degrees from Princeton University.  He is a native of Western Massachusetts and joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2003.  His primary academic interests are in fluid mechanics, transport phenomena, and other aspects of physical applied mathematics, with an emphasis on interfacial flows and phenomena, hydrodynamic stability and pattern formation, and biofluid dynamics.  His research utilizes a combination of analytical theory and numerical methods to gain fundamental insight into the underlying physics.  Professor Davis is dedicated to helping students learn and exploits the strong connections between his scholarly expertise and topics in the core undergraduate and graduate curricula in his teaching.  His research and teaching have been recognized by several awards, including an Honorary Teaching Recognition Award from students in Chemical Engineering, the College of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award, the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the NSF CAREER Award, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity. ​

Christopher V. Hollot

Department Head, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Kris Hollot received his BS in electrical engineering from West Virginia University in 1974, an MS in electrical engineering from Syracuse University in 1980 and a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Rochester. He joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UMass Amherst in 1984 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate and full professor in 1992 and 2002, respectively. He served as associate department head from 1994-1996 and 2002-2006. He has been department head since 2006, serving as interim dean for the College of Engineering during 2012-2013 and again in 2019. His research interests are in feedback control theory and it’s applications with recent work in computer networks and biomedical systems. Hollot received an NSF PYI Award in 1988 and was elected an IEEE Fellow in 2004.

Michael A. Knodler Jr.

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Affairs

Michael A. Knodler, Jr. PhD is associate dean for research and graduate affairs for the College of Engineering and a professor in the Transportation Engineering Program of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Additionally, he is Director of the UMass Transportation Center, which includes Baystate Roads, the Massachusetts Cooperative Research Program and the University of Massachusetts Traffic Safety Research Program (UMassSAFE) and Associate Director of the Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory (HPL). His main areas of research and teaching are related to transportation safety, operations, design, and education.

Knodler is active with the Transportation Research Board and the Institute of Transportation Engineers. He is a member of the both the Traffic Control Devices (TCD) Committee and the Highway Safety Workforce Development Subcommittee. Among his responsibilities within the TCD Committee is the annual organization of the Doctoral Student Session on Transportation Operations and Traffic Control. Knodler recently served as current panel member on NCHRP Project 20-5 (Synthesis Topic 44-14: Permanent Signs Mounted on Median Barriers). Knodler is the Past Chair of ITE’s Northeastern District and the Immediate Past Chair of the ITE Education Council.

Sundar Krishnamurty

Department Head, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Isenberg Distinguished Professor in Engineering

Sundar Krishnamurty received his BS in civil engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur; an MS in civil engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has served as professor and head of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at UMass Amherst since 2015, having previously served as interim department head and associate department head. In 2020, Krishnamurty was named the Ronnie & Eugene Isenberg Distinguished Professorship in Engineering, which was created to enhance interdisciplinary teaching and research between fields of management, engineering and science. He is a fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and he is an elected member of the 2020-22 Department Head/Chair of the ASME Executive Committee. His research interests include manufacturing automation, predictive analytics in design and manufacturing, innovation and entrepreneurship, and therapeutic & medical device design. Krishnamurty is the Site-Director for the NSF-sponsored Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) Center for e-Design, Associate Director for the Center for Personalized Health Monitoring (CPHM) with the UMass Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS), and he is a member of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Task Force at UMass Amherst.

Sanjay Raman

Dean, College of Engineering

Raman earned a bachelor’s of electrical engineering degree, with highest honors, from Georgia Tech in 1987 and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1998. He joined UMass Amherst in August 2019 from Virginia Tech (VT) where he was associate vice president for the VT National Capital Region, president and CEO of the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation, and a tenured full professor in their Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). From 2007-13, Raman was a program manager in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Microsystems Technology Office. Prior to his doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, Raman served as a nuclear-trained submarine officer in the U.S. Navy from 1987-92. He is a founding member of the Virginia Tech Multifunctional Integrated Circuits and Systems (MICS) group, focused on innovative research in analog, mixed-signal, and RF/microwave/mm-wave IC designs, optoelectronics, and RF interfaces. Raman is an Elected Fellow of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for leadership in adaptive microwave and millimeter-wave integrated circuits. Raman is also an elected member of the Administrative Committee of the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society.

Paula Rees

Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Paula Rees received her BS in civil engineering from the University of Iowa and her PhD in civil engineering and operations research with a focus in water resources from Princeton University. In addition, she received a certificate in science, technology, and public policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. Her research interests are in the areas of flood hydrology and hydrometeorology, water quality monitoring and modeling, water resources sustainability, and sediment transport. Rees was an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at UMass from 1999–2008. She also served as director of education and outreach for the NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) from 2007–2014 and as director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Research Center, one of 54 National Institutes of Water Resources supported by the U.S. Geological Survey, from 2007–2017. Rees was appointed director of the Diversity Programs Office for the College of Engineering in fall 2011, and assistant dean for diversity in fall 2017. She works with students, faculty and staff to make the college welcoming and inclusive for all, with a focus on recruitment and retention at all levels.

James Rinderle

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs

Jim Rinderle received a BS in 1976, an MS in 1979, and a PhD 1982 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been on the faculty of the University Massachusetts Amherst since 1993. As associate dean for undergraduate studies and curricular innovation his focus is on developing and facilitating the undergraduate academic mission of the college, including chairing the college undergraduate curriculum committee; overseeing major academic innovations, e.g. maker-spaces; monitoring and improving pedagogy; and initiating cross departmental/college course activity.

His principal research interest is in the area of design theory and methodology. He served as associate head and undergraduate program director in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering from 2007 through 2016.


Russell Tessier

Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Operations

Russell Tessier received his BS in computer and system engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his MS and PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been a professor at the University Massachusetts Amherst since 1999. Previously, he was a founder of Virtual Machine Works, a company that makes integrated circuit testing equipment. The company is currently owned by Mentor Graphics. He has also previously worked for Altera Corporation (now part of Intel). As associate dean for graduate studies and operations, Tessier supervises the college's graduate degree and on-line learning programs.

His principal research interests are in the areas of reconfigurable computing and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). He has published over 100 papers and articles on the design and implementation of topics in these areas. Tessier is currently head of the Reconfigurable Computing Group at UMass.

Thai Thayumanavan

Department Head, Biomedical Engineering

S. “Thai” Thayumanavan received his BS and MS in chemistry from The American College at Madurai, India. After receiving his PhD in Chemistry with Peter Beak from the University of Illinois in 1996, he went to Caltech as a postdoctoral fellow working with Seth Marder. He joined the faculty at Tulane University in 1999 and then moved to the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2003, where he is currently a professor of chemistry. Winner of the NSF’s Career award and Research Corporation’s Cottrell Scholar Award early in his career, Thai is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. The Chemical Research Society of India bestowed its CRSI Medal for excellence in chemical sciences in 2016. He has received the campus’ highest recognition for excellence in research, Conti Award. He was also anonymously nominated twice by students for the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award. In addition, the College of Natural Sciences also recognized his contribution to the greater community through the Outreach and Service Award. He has served and continues to serve in advisory boards of chemistry-based journals, research centers and international organizations. Thai’s research interests revolve around developing fundamentally new molecular design guidelines for self-assembling macromolecules that predictably respond to external cues. Thai is the scientific founder of a start-up company (Cyta Therapeutics) that is based on a novel IntelliGel platform developed in his group. He is currently serving as the director of the Center for Bioactive Delivery in the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS).

John Tobiason

Department Head, Civil and Environmental Engineering

John Tobiason received his PhD from the Johns Hopkins University in 1987, his MSEVE. from the University of North Carolina in 1979, and his BSCE. from the University of New Hampshire in 1976. He began his academic career at UMass in 1987. Tobiason has over 30 years of research and professional experience in water treatment with emphasis on particles in water, coagulation, and water filtration. In 2019, he received the Charles R. O’Melia Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors Distinguished Educator Award. Tobiason has served in national positions of leadership on important committees, including as president of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, on the Editorial Board of the American Water Works Association, and on important National Academy of Sciences panels. He has published some 65 journal articles and book chapters, 50 conference proceedings papers, 26 technical reports, and he has given 78 invited presentations. Since its inception in 2004, Tobiason has also served as the faculty advisor for the Engineers Without Borders - UMass Student Chapter, a student-run organization dedicated to helping local and international communities create sustainable, community-driven solutions in order to improve their quality of life.

Mary-Knight "MK" Young

Assistant Dean for Development

Mary-Knight “MK” Young graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Art History. As assistant dean for development in the College of Engineering, her responsibilities include creating, implementing, and executing a strategic plan designed to increase private support for the college.MK joins our leadership team following 19 years of fundraising in the Philadelphia, PA region and a successful track record securing leadership level gifts, corporate and foundation gifts and planned gifts. In her most recent post MK spent 6 years leading a team at the University of Pennsylvania Health System as senior director of development. In addition to overseeing a team of fundraisers, she was personally responsible for securing significant funds for a portfolio including Healthcare Innovation, Health Economics, Medical Ethics and Health Policy, and population health priorities within the Division of Endocrinology. Prior to this tour at UPenn, MK was a development officer at Temple University; director of special projects at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Arts and Sciences; an advancement officer at The Franklin Institute; and she began her career at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. The roles that MK has held over the last decade have sparked in her an interest in engineering and the role that engineers play in solving the world’s greatest problems.