University of Massachusetts Amherst

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New Faculty

During the 2017-2018 academic year, the College of Engineering has been fortunate to welcome the following talented faculty members...


Chengbo Ai – Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

Dr. Chengbo Ai comes to UMass after serving as a research engineer and a postdoctoral fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology. So far, Ai has ten published articles in scientific journals, nine refereed conference articles, and thirteen technical reports. Ai also has two U.S. patents pending. Ai’s interdisciplinary research focuses on transportation asset and infrastructure management, pavement preservation and pavement management system, geometry design and roadway safety, work-zone safety and mobility, remote sensing and spatial analysis, and underground utility tunnel management. He aims his continuous effort towards establishing a comprehensive, spatially-enabled transportation infrastructure and asset data platform through employing the emerging sensing technologies (e.g., light detection and ranging or LiDAR, computer vision, continuous scanning laser, etc.), and developing computational data analysis techniques (e.g., image processing algorithm, geographic information system or GIS, spatial analysis, etc.). Ai earned a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2013 and a B.S. in Electrical and Computing Engineering from Peking University in Beijing, China, in 2007.


Peter Beltramo – Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering Department

Beltramo’s research is in the area of interfacial soft matter, in which he is the author of 16 papers in scientific journals. The Beltramo Research Group focuses on applying fundamental engineering principles to understand and engineer interfacial processes. “Interfaces are everywhere, so our research has applications ranging from creating biomimetic materials for drug delivery to stabilizing emulsions in the food and petroleum industry,” explains Beltramo. His research group uses well-defined model experiments to duplicate the essential physics of these intricate problems, building in complexity through a bottom-up approach. “In the realm of biophysics,” he says, “we’re interested in how information passes through the cell membrane and how particle/membrane interactions and material properties can be controlled and exploited. In colloid science, we’re imagining how particle size, shape, and surface chemistry can be manipulated to create super-stable emulsions and develop novel nanomaterials.” Beltramo earned his B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Delaware, before doing a Postdoc in Soft Materials at ETH Zürich. 


Xian Du – Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department  

Du was a research scientist at MIT before he joined UMass in January of 2018. Du's research focuses on the scale up of flexible electronics printing processes from lab to industry using high-precision in-line inspection and pattern recognition technologies for large surface quality control. He also works on automatic, high resolution, accurate, and robust imaging tools for medical devices for noninvasive detection and description of biomarkers. Du has published 26 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, 17 conference proceedings, four books and book chapters, and has been awarded two patents. Among his honors, he has been awarded a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Centre National de la Researche Scientifique Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Singapore-MIT Alliance Research Fellowship, and a Guanghua Scholarship. He earned his Ph.D. in Innovation in Manufacturing Systems and Technology from the Singapore-MIT Alliance at the National University of Singapore and at MIT. He also completed his M.S. in Mechatronics Engineering from Shanghai Jiaotong University in China and his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Tianjin University in China. 


Yadi Eslami – Senior Lecturer, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

Dr. Yadi Eslami’s academic experience includes serving as an assistant professor at West Virginia University Institute of Engineering Technology and an adjunct faculty member at the College of Western Idaho Department of Business and Economics. Eslami’s industrial experience includes working as a design engineer at DRAM R&D, Micron Technologies Inc., Boise, Idaho, and as a system design engineer at SciTech AAG, Inc., in Toronto, Ontario. Eslami has a total of 11 articles and presentations in refereed journals and conferences and also holds four patents. Eslami earned a Ph.D. in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto, an M.Sc. from Isfahan University of Technology in Iran, and a B.Sc. from Shiraz University in Iran. Eslami’s research interests are reconfigurable processor architectures, special-purpose processors, digital circuits and systems, and VLSI memories.


Ashish Kulkarni – Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering Department

Dr. Ashish Kulkarni comes to UMass Amherst after serving as an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an associate bioengineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Kulkarni obtained a B. Tech. in Chemical Technology from the University of Mumbai and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati. During Ph.D. studies, Kulkarni worked on the design and development of biologically inspired and chemically defined synthetic glycans for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Later Kulkarni joined Harvard Medical School and MIT as a postdoctoral fellow. Kulkarni’s research efforts were focused on the development of structure-activity, relationship-inspired nanomedicine for cancer therapy. As an independent faculty member at Harvard, Kulkarni has been working on the development of platform technologies for immunotherapy applications. Kulkarni is a recipient of the Hearst Foundation Young Investigator Award, Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Career Development Award, American Association of Cancer Research Scholar-in-training Award, American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Young Scientist Award, the Junior Faculty Mentor Award, and the Melanoma Research Alliance Young Investigator Award.


Tingyi “Leo” Liu – Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department

Liu is the head of the Interdisciplinary Interface Engineering Laboratory, which aims to utilize micro and nano fabrication to study diverse interfacial phenomena and to engineer the heterogeneous interfaces for interdisciplinary applications. His lab focuses on tackling scientific questions as well as solving practical engineering challenges. In that capacity, his lab deals with a variety of multidisciplinary topics such as bio-inspired soft robotics, super-repellent (omniphobic) surfaces, anti-biofouling medical devices, and personalized medicine. In addition to development of advanced manufacturing and heterogeneous integration, his lab also explores fundamental studies such as interfacial phenomena, biomechanics, and general complex systems. Before coming to UMass Amherst, Liu did a Postdoc in the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. at UCLA in Mechanical Engineering and his B.E. in Electrical Engineering at Zhejiang University in China. He has published five papers in refereed scientific journals, including one published in the prestigious journal Science, and has nine publications at conference proceedings.


Yeon Sik Noh – Assistant Professor, College of Nursing and Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

Dr. Yeon Sik Noh comes to UMass Amherst with a joint appointment in the College of Nursing and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. In recent years, Noh has published one book chapter and 11 peer-reviewed journal articles in addition to making 10 oral conference presentations and 23 conference poster presentations. Before coming to UMass, Noh was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Connecticut, a senior hardware engineer at Mobile Sense Technologies, Inc., and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Noh’s research expertise is in: wearable personalized health monitoring systems; smart healthcare systems based on sensor and communication networks; and individualized and personalized health management systems based on sports medicine. Noh earned Ph.D., M.S., and B.E. degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Yonsei University in South Korea.


Krish Thiagarajan –Professor & Endowed Chair in Renewable Energy, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department

Professor Thiagarajan is a Fellow of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and leads the Ocean and Marine Engineering Group at UMass Amherst. In that context, he studies: marine renewable energy, including wind, wave, tidal, and thermal energy conversion; hydrodynamics and fluid-structure interaction; marine and offshore platform design; aquaculture engineering; and experimental and computational fluid dynamics. He has published over 125 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and conference proceedings. Professor Thiagarajan earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering. He also has an M.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and another M.S.E. in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering from the University of Michigan. He received his M.Eng. from the University of Newfoundland in Ocean Engineering and a B.Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology in Naval Architecture. Thiagarajan was the guest editor on a special issue on “Offshore Wind Energy” for the Journal of Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering in 2013. He was also the technical co-chair for the World Maritime Technology Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, in 2015. Additionally, he has served as the chair of the Ocean Offshore and Arctic Engineering Division for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the coordinator of the Ocean Renewable Energy Symposium at the International Conference on Ocean Offshore & Arctic Engineering.


Jun Yao – Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

Dr. Jun Yao has garnered 30 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals and is also named on six patents. Before coming to UMass Amherst, Yao served as a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University working on: the synthesis, assembly, and characterization of low-dimensional nanomaterials; integrating nanomaterials for computing systems (e.g., constructing the first nanowire nanocomputer); developing novel mechano/electronic biosensors (e.g., inventing 3D multifunctional cellular bioprobes); and developing implantable biomedical and bioelectronical  systems (e.g., syringe-injectable flexible electronics). Yao earned a Ph.D. in Applied Physics at Rice University, and an M.S. in Physics and B.S. in Electrical Engineering at Fudan University in China.