Rice: Unconventional Wisdom
Lecture/Lecture Series
Dean of Engineering
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Computational and Applied Mathematics
Computer Science
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  New Professors Lecture
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
4:00 PM  to 5:30 PM
McMurtry Auditorium  Duncan Hall

Newly promoted faculty will give 15-minute presentations on their research. A reception will follow the presentations.

Lisa Biswal, Associate Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

"Engineering Soft Matter"
Soft Matter describes a broad range of materials that exist between solids and flowing fluids. Particle dispersions, multiphase systems such as foams, gels, and many biological materials are all common examples of soft matter. These materials are becoming prevalent in commercial applications and new technologies, but understanding and controlling these systems remain a challenge. In this talk, I will describe our contribution to understanding and controlling soft matter in order to engineer new classes of materials. In particular I will highlight our work with directed magnetic colloidal assemblies, foam flow in microfluidic systems, supported lipid bilayer interactions, and porous silicon as a material for lithium ion batteries.

Dan Cohan, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
"Dynamic Responses of Air Pollution to Emissions Changes"
Emerging evidence of air pollution’s impacts on human health and vegetation has prompted tightening of air quality standards. Affordable and effective attainment of those standards depends upon accurately characterizing how air pollution responds nonlinearly to emissions changes. Meanwhile, advances in satellite observations and computational power have enhanced our capability to probe the atmospheric processes involved in air pollutant formation. Our work has developed new approaches for estimating the responses of air pollution to emissions and characterizing the uncertainties of those responses. Linking atmospheric models with observations of pollution from the ground, aircraft, and satellites has enabled us to probe air pollution’s dynamic responses to long-term trends in emissions.

Leonardo Duenas-Osorio, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
“Taming Complex Infrastructure Systems”
Understanding critical infrastructure systems, including their interactions, performance, restoration, and evolution, is one of the most significant challenges for societies today, as built environments age, service demands grow, and resources for their operation and management shrink. Infrastructure systems, such as power, water, and telecommunication networks, among others, exhibit complexities that test the limits of existing performance assessment methods given their distributed nature, large scale, and heightened exposure. In this presentation, some of the salient features of infrastructure systems, starting with their interdependence, are explored from the perspective of their probabilistic response to natural hazards and optimal interface design. The lessons learned from computational and analytical models for performance and restoration assessment, as well as from field observations in the past decade are highlighted, where some of the lessons learned appear counterintuitive. Other insights observed across different lifeline systems show that interdependencies enable optimal functionality of utility systems during normal operation, but also amplify lifeline system loss of performance during disruptive events, or in many cases delay restoration processes. In addition, interdependencies are seen to only be critical for lifeline system performance at specific ranges of hazard intensity levels, while the strategies for controlling interdependence effects propagation must range from a mix of component strength and capacity increases to the modification of the interface that enables different lifeline systems to interact. These intricacies of interdependence are consistent across scenario events and also after convolving hazard with network level fragility at the regional level, thus confirming that interdependencies can steer risk- and resilience-based decision making. Practical examples of the advances in infrastructure engineering and their impact on decision making and resilience will be presented, along with lessons learned from recent earthquake events with evidence of operational, logistical, and geographical interdependence.

Jane Grande-Allen, Professor of Bioengineering
"Faithful Models of Heart Valves"
Heart valve disease afflicts hundreds of thousands of persons worldwide, yet there is only a narrow range of treatment options currently available. To develop new treatments, my lab investigates the mechanobiology of normal healthy valves as well as diseased valves, and is working to generate tissue engineered heart valves. A major focus of our work is replicating the heterogeneous structure and mechanical behavior of native heart valves in our model systems.

Tomas Tkaczyk, Associate Professor of Bioengineering
"The journey toward development of next generation of bio-imaging tools"

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