Electrical and Computer Engineering Department welcomes new faculty, announces faculty promotions

The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department welcomes two new faculty members, and congratulates three faculty on their promotions. The new and promoted faculty include:

Matthew Alonso joins the ECE faculty as a visiting clinical assistant professor and the visiting director of Engineering Learning Center and Student Success. His research interests are solar thermal energy storage, food drying, biological, multi-material, and micro additive manufacturing systems. His participation in the NSF Innovation Corps program and several business competitions helped shape his teaching style around entrepreneurship and idea generation. He co-founded Sun Buckets, an organization dedicated to solving the global cooking problem by developing a portable solar thermal energy storage system without fuel, fire, or emissions. He completed a PhD in agricultural engineering and a master’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is co-teaching ECE 396, Senior Design, and ECE 458, Electromechanical Energy Conversion.

Mesrob Ohannessian joins the department as an assistant professor. His research interests are broadly in machine learning, statistics, and information theory, and their applications. He is currently interested in two main problems, designing learning algorithms that adapt to structure in data, and making non-discriminatory algorithmic decisions both computationally feasible and aware of their long-term societal impact. Ohannessian was previously a research assistant professor at the Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago (TTIC), a postdoc at the University of California San Diego, a visiting scholar at the Simons Institute at the University of California at Berkeley, a postdoc at MSR-Inria, a public science and technology institution dedicated to computational sciences, and an ERCIM Marie Curie Fellow at the Université Paris-Sud. He received his PhD from MIT, at the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS). He is teaching ECE 341, Probability and Random Processes for Engineers.

Igor Paprotny was named associate professor. He runs the Micromechatronic Systems Laboratory, and is a member of the Air-Microfluidics Group, a research consortium including Argonne National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkley. Paprotny’s research Interests include microelectromechanical systems, microrobotics, air-microfluidics, energy systems sensing, energy harvesting, and physical computing paradigms. He received his PhD from Dartmouth College.

Junxia ‘Lucy’ Shi was promoted to associate professor. She runs the Advanced Semiconductor Materials and Devices Laboratory, which focuses on  the modeling, design, fabrication, and characterization of high-performance compound semiconductor devices. Shi’s research interests include wide bandgap semiconductors, compound semiconductor materials and devices, high-voltage high-efficiency switching devices, power amplifiers, quantum-well photodetectors, optoelectronic devices, semiconductor nanostructures, two-dimensional (2D) transition metal dichalcogenides, 2D nanoribbons for sensing, first principle DFT simulations and MD simulations, and energy generation. Shi received her PhD from Cornell University. She is teaching ECE 540, Physics of Semiconductor Devices.

Daniela Tuninetti has been named interim department head for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She is a member of the Networks Information Communications and Engineering Systems (NICEST) Laboratory, and her research interests include Information Theory, Communication Theory, and biomedical AI. She is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Tuninetti has many ideas for the department, including growing the size of the faculty, developing a strategic vision for moving the department forward, and creating teams to work on interdisciplinary projects. One of the greatest opportunities Tuninetti sees is collaborative, or convergence research, where complex societal problems are addressed by integrating various disciplines such as engineering, health sciences, the humanities, law, and more. Read more here.

Three faculty members have accepted new appointments; they include Clinical Associate Professor Vahe Caliskan, who will serve as the interim director of undergraduate studies, Professor Danilo Erricolo, who is the director of graduate studies, and Associate Professor Zhichun Zhu, the department’s director of graduate admission and recruitment.