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The College of Engineering Welcomes Four Talented and Accomplished New Faculty Members

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.

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. 

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.

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. (March 2018)

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