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Dean of Engineering
Bioengineering
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
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New Professors Lecture

Tuesday, October 15, 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.

Michael Diehl, Associate Professor of Bioengineering
Macromolecular Systems Bioengineering
Many proteins are known to function cooperatively in cells as multi-unit protein complexes. The coupling of proteins in these complexes often leads to sophisticated emergent behaviors that can impact the responses of molecular and cellular pathways. Despite increasing efforts, understanding the molecular basis of collective protein behaviors remains challenging, particularly since methods to investigate the functional properties of these ?macromolecular systems? have advanced much less rapidly compared to traditional single-molecule and bulk proteomic techniques. My laboratory has developed new experimental and computational approaches that allow the coordinated behaviors of proteins within these important functional motifs to be examined with high precision. Our work integrates advances from biomaterials and cellular engineering, chemical biology, synthetic biology and single-molecule biophysics, and has facilitated the development of model protein complexes, cellular platforms, and molecular imaging technologies that provide unique opportunities to interrogate the collective dynamics of proteins and visualize how they function within complex molecular networks. Our use of these systems and approaches for dissecting mechanism underlying the deregulation of intracellular transport processes in neuronal degenerative diseases, and for systems level analyses of regulatory networks governing cell structural transitions implicated in cancer will be discussed.

Rob Griffin, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Characterization of Particulate Matter and its Precursors in the Southern United States
Particulate matter exists in the atmosphere as a result of both primary (direct emission) and secondary (in situ chemical formation) processes. Up to tens of thousands of these particles (in the size range of 1 nanometer to approximately 10 micron) can exist in every cubic centimeter of air. Because the particles influence climate forcing, cause visibility degradation, and impact human health effects associated with poor air quality, it is critical to understand the primary sources, chemical reactions, and physical processes that control their concentration, composition, and size. In the Griffin research group, we pursue such understanding through a combination of laboratory experimentation, computational modeling, and field-based measurement programs. Field-based activities during recent summers in the southern United States will be highlighted in this presentation.

Oleg Igoshin, Associate Professor of Bioengineering
Uncovering Evolutionary Design Principles of Biological Systems: From Bacteria to Stem Cells
Understanding emergent properties of biological systems invokes the same questions as reverse engineering of man-made devices. The first question, “How does the system work?” gives mechanistic understanding of the system of interest. The second question, “Why is the system organized this way?” allows to formulate design principles useful for extrapolating the knowledge to a wider class of systems. In my group, we aim to answer these questions for a wide range of model systems –biochemical networks responsible for bacterial responses to harsh environments, mechanisms of self-organization of microbial communities, and gene-regulatory switches in blood stem cells.

Farinaz Koushanfar, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Customizable and Adaptive Intelligent Embedded Systems
The objective of my research is to create, design, and realize more intelligent embedded computing systems and applications: those that are more secure, better performing, and less energy consuming. The Adaptive Computing and Embedded Systems (ACES) Lab at Rice University focuses on performing adaptive application-specific customization to address contemporary research challenges in the embedded computation area, ranging from the protection of the technology and embedded systems intellectual property against tampering and malicious exploits, to integration of security in networked embedded systems, assimilation of new and emerging technologies, and creating platforms for addressing big data learning problems.

Beatrice Riviere, Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics
What Do Oil Production and Intestinal Edema Have in Common?
The mathematical modeling and analysis of intestinal edema and oil and gas production shares many common features. Intestinal edema is a medical condition referring to the excess accumulation of fluid in the interstitial spaces of the intestinal wall. The main problem for a patient with intestinal edema is that the condition causes ileus, a decrease in intestinal transit due to decreased smooth muscle contractility, which can lead to intestinal blockage. The link between edema and ileus is unknown, and is thus the motivation for developing mathematical and computational tools to explore this phenomenon. A large amount of the oil reserve in the U.S. is deemed unrecoverable by current technol- ogy. Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), by changing the properties of the reservoir and the hydrocarbons, will help produce some of this trapped oil. Miscible displacement is one important technique used in EOR. There is a need for accurate and robust numerical solutions to the miscible displacement problem.

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