Washington University in St. Louis


Ralph's Reports 2012


February 23, 2012

Dear School of Engineering & Applied Science Community:

I hope all of you joined in the celebration of National Engineers Week, the annual time that we as an engineering community come together to raise public understanding and appreciation of engineers' contributions to society.

As you all know well, throughout history, engineers have driven some of the greatest achievements of humankind. In the last century alone, engineers were the leaders that developed innovations such as the automobile and airplane, TV and radio, spacecraft, computers and the Internet, medical devices and pharmaceuticals and so much more that we all depend on to function and survive each day. Our School of Engineering & Applied Science played an important role in many of those great achievements, and as we implement the school's new strategic plan, our faculty, students, alumni and partners will undoubtedly contribute toward solving the greatest challenges of the 21st century. This is certainly a great time to be part of the engineering community, and specifically part of our engineering school, as we work to break new barriers and make a meaningful difference to the world! I wish all of you a happy Engineers Week!

In this edition of Ralph's Report, I am pleased to share news about:

  • Agrawal and Weinberger receive 2012 NSF CAREER awards
  • Gill and Pless receive promotions
  • Three new faculty members start in biomedical engineering
  • Engineering student Dani Hoover receives First-Team Academic All America honors
  • Peters named 2012 Outstanding Engineer in Education
  • New staff
  • New website

Please continue to share your ideas, news and accomplishments by writing me at rsq@wustl.edu or visiting engineering.wustl.edu/tellthedean.aspx.

Kind regards,


Agrawal and Weinberger receive 2012 NSF CAREER awards

Congratulations to assistant professors Kunal Agrawal, Ph.D. (http://engineering.wustl.edu/faculty/agrawal) and Kilian Weinberger, Ph.D. (http://engineering.wustl.edu/faculty/weinberger), both in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, for receiving NSF CAREER awards! Kunal's project will study "Provably Good Concurrency Platforms for Streaming Applications," and Kilian's project will research "New Directions for Metric Learning." This award is NSF's most prestigious award and is given "in support of the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization" with the goal of "building a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education." Twelve of our faculty members have received the award since 2005, and nine of the current 20 CSE faculty members (or 45%) have received the prestigious award - a truly remarkable achievement and a significant recognition of the tremendous quality of our faculty.

Gill and Pless receive promotions

On January 1, 2012, Chris Gill, D.Sc. (http://engineering.wustl.edu/faculty/gill) and Robert Pless, Ph.D. (http://engineering.wustl.edu/faculty/pless) were promoted to full professors in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering.

As an undergraduate student at WUSTL studying English and Biology, Chris was a National Merit Scholar. He worked in industry for a number of years before receiving a master's degree from then University of Missouri-Rolla and a doctorate from WUSTL. An NSF CAREER Award recipient, he emphasizes a laboratory-based teaching approach and focuses his research on "assuring properties of distributed real-time and embedded systems in which software complexity, unpredictable environments and heterogeneous platforms demand novel solutions that are grounded in sound theory."

Robert joined our faculty in 2000 and co-founded the Media and Machines Laboratory, which is working on improving "methods to capture, represent, render and interact with models of natural 3D objects." An NSF CAREER Award and Emerson Electric Excellence in Teaching Award recipient, he is currently working to understand statistics of images for medical analysis and images captured simultaneously by thousands of webcams around the world. Robert received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University and his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.

Congratulations to both Professors Gill and Pless!

Three new faculty members start in biomedical engineering

Welcome to three new faculty members who joined us this semester in the Department of Biomedical Engineering:

Jan Bieschke, D.Sc.
Before joining WUSTL, Jan was a research group leader at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany and a postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. His research focuses on the processes of protein folding and misfolding and how these processes can lead to widespread aging-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Jan received his doctorate from the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany.

John Cunningham, Ph.D.
Before joining WUSTL, John was a fellow in Machine Learning at the University of Cambridge (UK) and a research fellow with Christ's College. His research focuses on machine learning and applications to neural systems. John received his Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Kristen Naegle, Ph.D.
Before joining Washington University, Kristen was a postdoctoral associate at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she also received her Ph.D. Her research focuses on computational molecular systems biology, post-translational modifications, signal transduction and proteomics.

Engineering student Dani Hoover receives First-Team Academic All America honors

Dani Hoover, a senior with a 4.0 GPA studying systems science and engineering and supply chain management, was recently named Division III Academic All-America First Team - only the fourth student-athlete in women's basketball history to earn Academic All-America honors. Congratulations, Dani!

Peters named 2012 Outstanding Engineer in Education

Congratulations to Prof. Dave Peters, Ph.D., the McDonnell Douglas Professor of Engineering, for receiving the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers' 2012 Outstanding Engineer in Education award! You can read more about Prof. Peters and all of his many awards and achievements at http://engineering.wustl.edu/faculty/peters.

New staff

Welcome to Laura Barker, Assistant to the Chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science! Before joining the School of Engineering & Applied Science in January, Laura was an administrative assistant in the dean's office in Arts & Sciences.

New website

If you have not visited our school's new website at http://engineering.wustl.edu, I encourage you to do so! In addition to the new look, the site includes a streamlined sitemap, new content and enhanced tools and functionality; watch for additional phases to roll out in the weeks ahead. Thank you to Nick Benassi, Kristen Otto, Ran Jing, Bridget Wiegman and Brook Haley for a job extremely well done on the new site!

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