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College of Engineering Welcomes 8 Talented New Faculty Members

College of Engineering

College of Engineering

This September, the UMass Amherst College of Engineering has the honor of welcoming eight new full-time researchers, academics, and teachers to the ranks of our brilliant faculty, which has generated the top-ranked public engineering school in New England.

The Biomedical Engineering (BME) Department is privileged to greet two new faculty members: Xiaohui "Frank" Zhang, who arrives at the BME department after being appointed a tenured professor at Lehigh University; and Joyita Dutta, who has been serving as an associate professor with tenure at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

The ultimate goal of Zhang’s research is to develop a mechanically switchable nanodevice for targeted drug therapy for ailments such as stroke, thrombosis, and atherosclerosis. Dutta’s research involves developing signal processing and deep learning techniques for biomedical applications, including Alzheimer’s neuroimaging, brain network analysis, and wearables data analytics for sleep and personal health monitoring.

The Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department continues to benefit from the services of CEE alumna Jessica Boakye, who has been serving as a lecturer in the CEE department since 2020 and has now been promoted to assistant professor. In addition, Egemen Okte arrives at UMass Amherst as a CEE lecturer and research assistant professor after earning his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

Boakye also attended UIUC, where she received her Ph.D. after writing a thesis on "Modeling the Societal Impact of Natural Hazards,” in which she conceived a conceptual framework to measure the societal risks that natural hazards pose to us all. While working for his M.S. and Ph.D. at UIUC, Okte studied the impact of autonomous connected vehicles on transportation infrastructure.

The Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department is making way for new faculty member Zhu “Clark” Chen, who arrives from his post-doctoral research at the University of Toronto to take on the position of assistant professor in our ChE department. Meanwhile, Anna Marie LaChance is coming from the University of Connecticut to serve as a lecturer for ChE.

Most recently, Chen joined the research team of Professor Ted Sargent at the University of Toronto in 2020 as a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow focusing on CO2 conversion using renewable processes. While earning her Ph.D., LaChance has been studying “green” polymer coatings at UConn, where she has applied the research group’s clay-based, thin-film coating technology to food packaging, dielectric materials, and construction materials.

The Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department has the honor of welcoming two new assistant professors: Muge Capan and Gina Olson. Capan has been serving as an associate clinical professor of Decision Sciences and Management Information Systems at LeBow College of Business at Drexel University. Olson arrives at the MIE department from her postdoc at Carnegie Mellon University to take over as a core faculty member in the interdepartmental robotics cluster while studying the soft and compliant structures within soft robots.

In addition to the full-time faculty above, the MIE department will also welcome two part-time lecturers: Jacob Lindeman and Nehal Patel.

(September 2022)