The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Dean's Fellows

The Dean's Fellow program recognizes outstanding new PhD students that are entering the College of Engineering. These students have unlimited potential, as shown by their impressive backgrounds. Congratulations to the Dean's Fellow class of 2018-19!


2018-2019 Fellows


Chemical Engineering


Inha Baek

Inha received a BS in chemical engineering division from Chonbuk National University in Korea, and a MS in biomedical engineering from University of Florida. His thesis title for MS was “Hydrogel Glycoarray Platform as a Replacement for Conventional Research Tools to Study Galectin Bioactivity.” His current research interest is functional biomaterials for therapeutic or diagnostic applications.





Stephanie Call

Call has a Bachelor's of Arts in Chemical Engineering with Pre-Medicine Emphasis from the University of Tulsa. She is interested in research that includes drug design and delivery, chemical reaction kinetics, and genetic engineering. She will be researching in Lauren Andrews' lab to genetically engineer and characterize E. coli using CRISPRi. She is also a rower in the local Northampton Rowing Club.





Han Chen

Chen is a first-year PhD student of Chemical Engineering. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in China, and his Master's degree in Columbia University. His previous research experience includes catalyzed organic synthesis using AgNO3 and electrocatalytic performance of supported Pt nanoparticle for HER reaction. He joins the research group of Prof. Wei Fan and will be working on Zeolite synthesis and its application in catalysis.




Ajibola Lawal

Federal University of Technology Minna
Chemical Engineering. Top 1% of graduating class.
Assistant Course Representative Chemical Engineering Students 2016.  

Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant University of Jos. Physical and inorganic laboratory classes for freshman year chemistry students and grading of labsheet. Preparation of reagents and instructions of students on due lab procedures supervision of lab classes.

Intern Under Production Manager at Lower Usuma Dam. Usage of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System to study the process and supply of water through 4 phases of the dam in the capital city of my country. Daily collection of water characteristic and comparison with laboratory water studies. Back washing of filters and control of chemical supply to the treatment section of the plan.  


Shubham Malviya

Shubham joined the university as a graduate student, pursuing PhD in Chemical Engineering. He completed his Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur in 2018. He has had previous experiences in research in the areas of Nanoparticle Synthesis and Molecular Modeling. He has done two research projects and one industrial internship in Honeywell UOP during his undergraduate years. His interests include Computational Modeling and Nanomaterials. Currently, he is working under Dr. Peng Bai and his work focuses on the applications of Machine Learning in Chemical Engineering. Apart from research, Shubham loves traveling and playing soccer.


Prerana Rathore

Prerana has obtained B.Tech. from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and MS from University of Illinois at Chicago in Chemical Engineering. During her undergraduate, she studied the crystallization of triglyceride by means of MD simulation. During her Masters, she studied the interfacial instabilities occurring in many different flows. At UMass, Prerana has joined Dr. Jessica Schiffman’s group where she will work on electrospinning of polymeric nanofibers.




Sarthak Saha

Born and raised in India, Sarthak completed his Bachelor's and Master's (Dual Degree) in Chemical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur. As an undergraduate he was keen about research and gained expertise on "Synthesis and application Copper based Nanowires" as a part of Bachelor's and Master's Thesis. Further during his internship at University of Alberta he focused on "Keratin based Biopolymers for Waste Water Treatment". Alongside the normal curriculum at IIT Kharagpur, Sarthak earned a Micro-specialization in "Micro Fluidics and Nano Patterning". His present PhD work will be based on developing high-throughput microfluidic platforms for protein crystallization and drug discovery. Apart from research Sarthak fancies photography and is an active sports person. He loves swimming and is a member of UMass Water Polo Club.


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Krishnaveni Balakrishnan

Balakrishnan completed her Bachelor's in Civil Engineering from Anna university 2009 and Master's in Structural Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (2011). She worked in L&T Ramboll (India) as a bridge engineer for a couple of years. She joined the National Institute of Ocean Technology worked as a scientist in bringing Offshore Wind Energy for India for about five years. Her research interests are Analysis, Design and construction of Fixed and Floating offshore platforms, Offshore Monopile foundations, Soil Structure Interaction studies for large diameter piles, Wind Resource assessment studies, and Finite element modeling.


Alexandra Bruce

Alexa works in Prof. Casey Brown's Hydrosystems Group and is particularly interested in understanding how we can work to better account for the human dimension of decision making in our analysis of water resource systems.

Prior to coming to UMass, Alexa was a Water Engineer for Arup, a global engineering consultancy based in London. Whilst at Arup, Alexa led the firm's work on the City Water Resilience Framework - a project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to establish a global standard for water resilience assessment.

Alexa also spent 18 months on secondment to the National Infrastructure Commission, an independent body of UK Government that provides long-term strategic oversight of infrastructure planning in the UK. Alexa led the Commission's work on the Environment and Climate Change, a key cross-cutting theme looking across all economic infrastructure sectors, including water, wastewater and flood risk.

Alexa spent 8 years working with Engineers Without Borders UK at all levels of the organization, including a three-year tenure on the Board of Trustees.


Li “Lene” He

MS, Geotechnical Engineering, Chongqing University, China, 2014-2017
BS, Civil Engineering, Southwest University of Science and Technology, China, 2010-2014

Research interest: the application of artificial intelligence in geotechnical engineering






Qing Hou

Qing Hou is a PhD student in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. He obtained his master's degree from Sun Yat-Set University in Intelligent Transportation Engineering in July 2018. He also got a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering before. His research interests include traffic noise analysis in the built environment and artificial intelligence in transportation asset management.





Savannah Wunderlich

Wunderlich is originally from Owatonna, Minnesota. She received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 2016. She's currently working with Casey Brown and Emily Kumpel in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at UMass. Her research focuses on water supplies in Mexico City. The goal of Wunderlich's work is to determine what options households in Mexico City have for their water, other than the piped city water supply, in order to more accurately model water demand in the city.




Electrical and Computer Engineering


Xiang Li

Li got his bachelor's degree majoring in electrical engineering at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi'an, China. He got his master's degree majoring in instrument science and technology at Xi'an Jiaotong University in Xi'an, China. His research interests are hardware security and embedded systems.





June Lukuyu

Lukuyu graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Engineering Science from Smith College and thereafter a Master's degree in Renewable Energy Systems Technology from Loughborough University in the UK. Her current research interests include studying the role of energy access in sustainable rural development in the developing world.





Aggrey Muhebwa

Muhebwa's research focuses on application of deep learning and computer vision techniques on satellite imagery for measuring and monitoring infrastructure systems in developing countries. He works in the STIMA Lab, advised by Prof. Jay Taneja.

He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University - Africa in 2017 with a Master of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a concentration in Machine Learning and Big Data Analytics.

He completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from Makerere University (Uganda) in 2013.


Jinyoung Park

Jinyoung Park received the BS and MS degrees in electrical and computer engineering in 2016 and 2018 from University of Seoul, Seoul, Korea, where he was involved in a project on variation-aware nonplanar advanced CMOS device designs. He is currently working toward the PhD degree in electrical and computer engineering in University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA. His current research interests include electrical neural recording.




Zeal Shah

He received his Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering degree from Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, India (June 2012-June 2016). His undergraduate specialization was in power systems and renewable energy systems. Additionally, he holds an MS in Energy Science, Technology and Policy - ECE concentration from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh (August 2016-December 2017). His education and research at CMU was focused on power systems computations and electricity markets & policies. At UMass Amherst, Shah works on developing sensing and monitoring tools for grids in developing and developed worlds. Additionally, his work focuses on leveraging data analytics and machine learning tools to support planning and development of electric grids to increase energy access.


Feng Sun

09/2015-06/2018: Fudan University, Shanghai, China
School/Department: School of Microelectronics
Major: Microelectronics and Solid State Electronics
Degree: Master of Science

09/2011-06/2015: Shandong University, Jinan, China
School/Department: School of Physics
Major: Microelectronics
Degree: Bachelor of Science

Develop miniature, implantable micro-electrode arrays that can analyze complex brain activity of animals in real time.


Tian Zhou

BE degree in Computer Science and Technology from Xi'an Jiaotong University (XJTU), China in 2012.
Current research interest is the theory and applications of distributed computing.






Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Pieter Boersma

UMass Dartmouth, 2012-2016, BS
UMass Amherst, 2016-2018, MS
UMass Amherst, 2018-Current, Pursuing PhD

Pieter's research interest lies in nonlinear dynamic systems found in aeroelasticity and non-Newtonian fluids. His focuses are numerically and experimentally simulating continuous airfoil flutter and numerically simulating cylinders in flowing non-Newtonian fluids.



Nino Figliola

Nino Figliola holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Tufts University. From 2013 to 2018, he worked as a biomass cookstove design engineer for Burn Manufacturing, spending two years at the company's design office in Seattle, Washington, and over two years at its factory in Nairobi, Kenya. Nino also completed an internship at Calfee Design in Santa Cruz, California, where he focused on bamboo bicycle frame manufacturing methods. His research interests include design, additive manufacturing, smart manufacturing, materials, and biomimicry.



Shahrayr Mooraj

Mooraj received a BSc from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a double major in Physics and Mathematical Sciences. While there, he participated in a few research projects in Professor Ram Seshadriís group studying metal-insulator transitions by doping in different metal alloys to adjust the charge carrier concentration in their crystal structure. He is currently working towards his PhD in the Mechanical Engineering department under Professor Wen Chen and his research interest is in exploring how to use Direct Ink Writing to engineer hierarchical structures into various materials to adjust their properties. He is currently working on a project to print polymer derived ceramics, to be able to prepare ceramic structures at lower temperatures than is traditionally done while still maintaining their useful characteristics of high strength and low thermal conductivity.


Umang Patel

Patel has completed a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering in 2016 from Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, India. He received his Master's in Mechanical Engineering in 2018 from University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. Fluid Mechanics and Computational Fluid Dynamics were his concentrations during Master's. Currently, he is a PhD student at University of Massachusetts Amherst and working as a Research Assistant at Fluid-Structure Interactions Lab.

His research interests are Fluid-Structure Interactions, Computational Fluid Dynamics & Numerical Methods. Patel's current research focuses upon non-Newtonian Fluid-Structure Interactions of a Flexible Shell with non-zero Gaussian Curvature and thin spots in order to understand the behavior of typical aneurysmal wall in blood flow.


Jie Ren

Jie Ren is a PhD student from Mechanical Engineering. She works in Professor Wen Chen's lab, the Multi-scale Materials and Manufacturing Lab. Her research interest is in the laser additive manufacturing and mechanical characterization of high entropy alloy.






Samuel Roach

Sam completed his BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin in 2017. He is interested in all aspects of wind energy and plans to spend his career and life developing effective, reliable, and economical ways to generate wind power. His current research interests include floating wind turbines and airborne wind energy devices.





Qingyang Sun

BS Huazhong Univ. of Sci. and Tech., China, 2012-2016
Department: Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering
Senior Design: Environmental Analysis Calculation of Structrues Platform under Underwater Explosion

MS University of Colorado at Boulder, 2016-2018
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Master’s Defense: Bio-inspired Robotics based on Liquid Crystalline Elastomers and Flexible StimulatorsPh.D. University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2018-

Current research interests: interdisciplinary field regarding of mechanical, electrical and biological engineering. Based on techniques of lab-on-chips and MEMS, he aims to develop non-intrusive implantable devices used for bio-signal sensing and reacting with soft bio-friendly materials employed.