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Welcome to Our Five New Faculty Members

milad-130Over the past year, five new faculty members have joined the CBE faculty ranks. All are assistant professors and all have established themselves as outstanding researchers in pioneer areas of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

Dr. Milad Abolhasani received all his degrees in Mechanical Engineering. He earned his B.S. from Sharif University of Technology in Iran and his M.S. from the University of British Columbia. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, where he worked on an interdisciplinary project focused on development of microfluidic strategies for fundamental and applied studies of carbon dioxide (CO2) interactions with solvents, catalysts, and chemical reagents.

Prior to joining CBE, Dr. Abolhasni was a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT. In our department Dr. Abolhasni plans to combine his expertise in microscale technologies, transport phenomena, and nanomaterials engineering to study how physicochemical properties of light-absorbing nanomaterials affect the energy efficiency of light-energy conversion in solar cells and CO2 recovery.

hsiao-130Dr. Lilian Hsiao earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, then her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan. She joined the department after completing two years as a postdoctoral associate at MIT.

Dr. Hsiao studies the mechanics of non-Newtonian fluids and soft matter, particularly in the design of viscoelastic and mechanical properties based on the fundamental understanding of their microscopic origins. Her research is in the design of complex, structured soft materials. Specifically, she intends to generate biomimetic lubricants in order to revolutionize artificial hips and knee implants using viscoelastic structures that cannot be generated with conventional isotropic materials like spherical building blocks.

keung-130Dr. Albert Keung earned his B.S. degree from Stanford University and his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, both in Chemical Engineering. Prior to joining CBE he received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and was a postdoctoral fellow at Boston University and MIT.

Dr. Keung has published research papers and review articles in a wide range of areas, including stem cell engineering, cell mechanics, neurobiology, biomaterials, yeast biology, synthetic biology, and systems biology. His research draws upon interdisciplinary approaches in engineering, biology, and physics to develop molecular technologies to expand and unlock new ways to control, understand, and harness chromatin. Chromatin is a complex of DNA and proteins that forms chromosomes within the nucleus of eukaryotic cells.

These technologies could be used to reveal the mechanisms of human developmental transitions and diseases. They could also be exploited to create synthetic “biological circuits” useful in applications such as antibody production and cancer-killing cells .

menegatti-130Dr. Stefano Menegatti, a native of Ferrara, Italy, earned his B.Sc. and M.Sc.degrees in Chemical Engineering at the Università di Bologna. No stranger to CBE, Dr. Menegatti earned his Ph.D. degree in this department as a member of Dr. Ruben Carbonell’s research group. His thesis topic was Design, Selection, and Development of Novel Peptide Ligands. After graduating from NC State, Dr. Menegatti completed a two-year postdoctoral research experience in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

At present, the Menegatti research group focuses on two main areas of biologics technologies: bioseparations and bioprocessing, and drug delivery. The bioseparations and bioprocessing research topics include affinity purification with stimuli-responsive peptide ligands, truly continuous downstream bioprocessing, multiple gradient chromatography, and non-woven affinity membranes. Drug delivery projects include scheduling and synergism in drug delivery, and transdermal vaccination. Dr. Menegatti’s other research interests include stem cell manipulation and peptoid models for polymer science.

san-miguel.130Dr. Adriana San Miguel earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. After earning her doctorate, she was awarded an NIH K99 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institute of Aging to study the mechanisms regulating synaptic plasticity and aging in the nematode C. elegans, (a simple multicellular model organism useful for studies ranging from development to neuroscience and aging). She conducted that work as a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Tech.

As a faculty member, her expertise is focused on developing experimental platforms that enable high-throughput automated extraction of biological data, mainly from images of subcellular biological features in a live organism. The platforms are made possible by combining microfluidics, automation, custom designed external hardware and image processing. In this way, it’s possible to obtain large multivariate data sets in an unbiased manner, enabling experimentation and understanding of biological phenomena from a systems perspective. These multi-parametric data sets will enable advances in the science and engineering of systems biology.

Finally, we’re very pleased to report that Dr. Fanxing Li was promoted to the rank of associate professor, effective with the 2016 Fall semester.