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Leading the Way in Women Engineering Faculty

Number of CoE women faculty puts Tech at the top nationally

The relatively low proportion of women in academic science and engineering has been the topic of numerous recent books and reports but as Bob Dylan sang "the times they are a changing."

That holds true when you look at women at Georgia Tech both in the student body and the faculty. "Diversity in front of the classroom is every bit as important as diversity in the classroom," says Gary S. May, dean of engineering and Southern Company Chair at Georgia Tech. "Rapidly changing student demographics requires a faculty that reflects its own demographic trends and diversity of thought. Any profession that does not include half the population will suffer in its creativity."

In 2006, 21% of all GT engineering students were female. As fall 2015 begins, that number rises to 30%. In fact, 41% of Georgia Tech’s freshman class are women. Greeting them will be more than 70 women faculty members, out of more than 400 in the engineering faculty. The College can boast one of the highest numbers of women engineering faculty in the country. Tech has come a long way since its first female faculty member was hired in 1960.

Gender diversity has become more valued among college faculty and the College of Engineering has been aggressive in trying to address women's underrepresentation in the faculty as well as student ranks. The proportion of engineering doctoral degrees earned by women has risen considerably in the past several decades and with it has come opportunities to recruit more women to faculty positions. Today, Tech is the number one producer of women engineers in the country and a leader in female engineering faculty.

Meet some of our "Women in Engineering" faculty members who are changing the world with their research as well as the face of engineering.

  • Dr. Jennifer Hasler

    How would you explain your research?

    My research spans across multiple areas including microelectronics, digital signal processing, integrated circuits, and even bioengineering. My focus is to continue pushing the evolution of device computing by designing smaller, faster, and more efficient devices, all while using less power. The next major jump in technological progress will come from our ability to understand how the human brain computes and to replicate this power in a machine. Building a human-like cortex in something that could use as little as 50 watts of power and is small enough to fit on a desk is possible in the not-too-distant future and would enable what is currently unimaginable in the world of technology.

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    As more efficient, low power devices are created these technologies will impact a variety of areas that touch the general public including sophisticated wearable devices, advances in medicine, more reliable telecommunications networks, and efficient, low-cost power solutions to third world communities.

    What excites you about your research?

    What I do is never boring. It’s a wonderful thing to think about how we can use technology and computing to continue to make progress and impact people’s lives. There are huge opportunities out there and that’s an endless source of excitement and inspiration.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    Georgia Tech students are absolutely wonderful. The potential of our student body is immense and our graduate program is top notch. I can’t imagine working with a better group of students.

    Another strength that in many ways is unique to Tech is that diversity is well respected across the spectrum. The culture here is one of openness and acceptance.

  • Dr. Valerie Thomas

    How would you explain your research?

    I work to find solutions to energy and environmental problems. Sometimes I use detailed quantitative models to optimize an energy system. Sometimes I do in-depth modeling to understand environmental impacts. And sometimes I just work on coming up with new ideas, even simple ones. 

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    From our work on reducing the health impacts of power plants, people will enjoy cleaner air. From our work on ways to provide electricity in developing countries, people will have electricity sooner and at lower cost. And from our work on re-use, recycling, leasing and second-hand-markets, people will increasingly be able to find low cost second-hand goods with low environmental impact. 

    What excites you about your research?

    I love being able to have a new idea, on my own or with a student or a group, and to prove it out and get it into the world. It’s creative and fun, and very intense and challenging. 

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    Georgia Tech is open and collaborative, and is reaching for the absolute highest goals in research, teaching and innovation. It is a place that is both demanding and encouraging. The combination of rigor, creativity, and openness at Georgia Tech is unsurpassed. 

  • Dr. Kari Watkins

    How would you explain your research?

    A multimodal transportation system has inherent advantages in terms of being more efficient, resilient, and sustainable. Therefore, my research focuses on how we can use technology to create better transportation mode choices. This includes improving transit through better information and increasing bike-ability through better infrastructure.

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    My research has a direct impact on the public, in that my goal is to make their daily trips more pleasant and easier.

    What excites you about your research?

    I love doing research that directly impacts people’s lives on a daily basis, where I can influence transportation systems on an international scale all the way to right in my own backyard.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    Georgia Tech provides the unique combination of the amazing city of Atlanta as an urban case study location paired with the brilliant students who we are training to be the future workforce.

     

  • Dr. Lauren Stewart

    How would you explain your research?

    My research involves developing analysis and design strategies to protect structures (buildings, bridges, tunnels, etc.) from extreme events. These events can range from car impacts to explosive events cause by terrorists or accidental explosions. We use state-of-the-art experimental techniques in my laboratory such as ultra-high speed actuators to conduct research on full-scale structures and components. 

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    My research has direct implications on the safety of the public through the protection of infrastructure. My research group has developed mitigation strategies to protect structures and their occupants from the effects of bomb blasts and other extreme events. Furthermore, we have developed techniques to predict the response of materials and systems so other engineers can design structures that are safe. 

    What excites you about your research?

    My research group gets to simulate impacts and explosive events in the laboratory on a daily basis! We are constantly learning about how structures behave at rates faster than what the human eye can see. It is exciting to see our research be implemented into real structures and know that we are making a direct impact on national security. 

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    Georgia Tech is the best of the best in terms of students, faculty and culture. Because of this, we are able to formulate collaborative teams to approach and solve problems in a nurturing, motivating and fun environment - this makes coming to work and doing ground breaking research a pleasure. 

  • Dr. Enlu Zhou

    How would you explain your research?

    My research deals with how to make optimal decisions when there is uncertainty present. Many problems falls into this scenario, for example, how to make optimal investment in a financial market, how to fly a drone in a noisy environment. My research provides computational tools and methods to solve these problems in an efficient and effective way.

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    How to make decisions under uncertainty is a problem that everyone faces in life and a lot of industry companies face on a daily basis. Algorithms and tools developed in our research may be applied to solve real-life problems, such as portfolio optimization in financial engineering, and inventory control in supply chain systems.

    What excites you about your research?

    The problems we look at are very challenging, because of their scale, complexity, uncertainty, and sometimes dynamics. These problems can be abstracted and studied using mathematical models, which often provide fundamental understanding and powerful tools. I am excited to use beautiful math and theories to solve real applications and to see how new applications in turn motivate the development of theory.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    Georgia Tech has great faculty and students! I enjoy discussing research problems and working together with my colleagues. The faculty in our school work on so many different areas that I can almost always find someone to talk to about a problem of interest. I also enjoy working with Ph.D. students and interacting with undergraduate students. In addition, Atlanta is a fascinating city that offers lots of things to do and has nice warm weather. 

     

     

  • Dr. Patricia Mokhtarian

    How would you explain your research?

    I try to understand people's transportation-related choices, to improve our ability to predict trends, reactions to policies, and adoption of new technologies and services.  For example, can telecommuting make a dent in congestion?  What effect will driverless cars have on traffic patterns?  Does Generation Y ("millennials") live up to its reputation of preferring to live in denser urban neighborhoods and get by without owning cars?  How are on-demand ride services like Uber affecting transit patronage?

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    Improving our ability to predict travel behavior means we'll be better prepared for trends that are "coming down the pike" (like driverless cars).  It may prevent us from "doing what we do, in wrong places", as President Lincoln said (such as heavily promoting a certain technology that the public does not find acceptable). It may help us anticipate and mitigate some negative unintended consequences of policies.
     

    What excites you about your research?

    It combines two of my fascinations -- math, and what makes people tick -- in pursuit of socially useful goals: improving transportation, community livability, and our personal well-being.  There is always some new development that causes us to question everything we thought we knew, so we never run out of exciting new questions to pursue.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    It has such a proud sense of who it is, of tradition and confidence.  It commands such enormous respect in the community at large.  And the partnership between extraordinary students and faculty is constantly catalyzing creative, problem-solving ideas.
     

  • Dr. Iris Tien

    How would you explain your research?

    My research is in creating new ways to model and assess the reliability of complex civil infrastructure systems, including water, energy, communications, and transportation systems. The goal is that flexible and sophisticated models combined with data from a variety of sources will help us make smarter decisions in how we manage these systems so they perform better when bad things happen.

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    Infrastructure systems are critical to our everyday lives and to the functioning of society. Taking into account the complexities of these systems, my research will enable these critical systems to better withstand and better recover – in short, be more resilient – under a variety of operating conditions, including infrastructure that is aging and subject to increasing natural and manmade disasters.

    What excites you about your research?

    I love the ability to think creatively about complex systems. There is both an interesting theoretical side, which is like solving a difficult mathematical puzzle where the pieces are constantly changing, and an important application side to improve the functioning of critical infrastructure for the benefit of society.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    I take an interdisciplinary approach to my research, and Georgia Tech is a great place for this. I have found people to be very open, and in my first year here, I have already collaborated with colleagues within my School, within the College, and across Colleges.

  • Dr. Martha Grover

    How would you explain your research?

    We work to understand how assembly at the atomic and molecular scales leads to macroscopic properties.  Both modeling and experiments are used to identify and then control the assembly pathways.  This research is applied to materials assembly, to make flexible and cheap electronics.  Similar questions and approaches are used to understand the origin of life on Earth, as a transition from chemistry to biology.

    How will the general public benefit from your research? 

    Many nanostructured materials with novel properties can be postulated, but it is another challenge to manufacture them on an industrial scale to make commercial products.  Flexible inexpensive electronics are just one example.  And by learning from biology we can design more intelligent materials, having greater robustness and functionality.

    What excites you about your research? 

    I like to build and use mathematical models to tell me something about a complex material system that was not intuitive from experiments alone.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech? 

    There are so many people to collaborate with.  Sometimes it is hard just to know who is here!

     

  • Dr. Cassandra Telenko

    How would you explain your research?

    My lab creates tools for designers and engineers to create more innovative and environmentally sustainable products and systems. For example, one project is testing principles for information feedback and guidance to encourage better user behavior and reduce resource consumption. We also improve measurements of environmental impacts by incorporating models of the usage context in life cycle analysis of products. We model influences related to situations, people, and product design choices to help identify opportunities and make design decisions. For example, estimating a vehicle’s fuel economy by connecting to the lifestyles of consumers and markets.

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    Sustainability is a very complex goal that requires consideration of economic, social, and ecological factors. Creating these tools increases the ability of industry and individuals to make progress towards a healthier world. Tools that focus on the larger systems representation of problems can foster innovative thinking. Designers and industry can use these tools to create new products, services, and business platforms based around sustainability. We are also looking to create tools that consumers and educators can use to make decisions.

    What excites you about your research?

    There are two great points about my research: (1) we get to practice design on a physical level and think about how design happens at a creative and cognitive level, and (2) the science of sustainability is an emerging and interdisciplinary endeavor. Sustainability is an amazing and lofty challenge that really pushes the boundaries of practice.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    Georgia Tech has a very collaborative community of top researchers and students. I get to discuss ideas and work with wonderful and inspiring people at all levels. There is a wealth of expertise from my colleagues on campus, and there are always visiting speakers and experts to learn from as well.

     

     

  • Dr. Julia Babensee

    How would you explain your research?

    The Babensee laboratory at Georgia Tech is doing research that is focused on how the body's immune system responds to implanted biomaterials used in medical devices. She is interested in biomedical device failure mechanism and strategies to improve host responses. Dr. Babensee is developing biomaterial-based approached to direct immune outcomes using key immune cells, namely dendritic cells, to ameliorate autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis or to improve acceptance of insulin-secreting islets for diabetes treatment.  

    How will the general public benefit from your research?‎

    Dr. Babensee's research will lead to an improved understanding of the biocompatibility of medical devices to support development of devices that will be better accepted in the body. Her research will lead to develop of new immunoengineering approaches that can modulate adverse immune situations such as autoimmunity or cell transplant rejection in a personalized, disease-specific manner to treat immune diseases.

    What excites you about your research? 

    The ability to work at the interface of biomaterials and Immunology, applying state-of-the-art Immunology concepts to develop new immunoengineering approaches to control immune responses in a biomaterial context. The research interdisciplinary nature is very exciting and rewarding working with immunologists, transplant surgeons and polymer chemists.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech? 

    I am enthusiastic about Georgia Tech because of the support I receive in many different ways to accomplish my research goals - commitment to outstanding research, excellent students at all levels, great facilities and most importantly a collegial and collaborative environment.
     

  • Dr. Katherine Fu

    How would you explain your research?

    My research focuses on how to help designers be more innovative, creative, inspired, and efficient in the work that they do.  I approach this by studying how designers think and work from a cognitive science perspective, and then develop both computational and non-computational tools, methods and theories to support them using that cognitive foundation. Designers can be anyone from a mechanical engineer to someone designing policy for our government - in my opinion, all problems are design problems.

     

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    Contributing to the improvement and advancement of design methods and design tools to aid in inspiration, efficiency, and effectiveness of designers is an impactful charge; whether we are tackling the challenges of getting clean water to developing communities, or attempting to address the complex problem of modernizing power grids and changing energy consumption behavior, we can use the same approach to these problems as we would use to solve any design problem. Good design can make us more efficient, happier, smarter, more responsible, more comfortable.  It can enhance our quality of life.  In order to achieve these remarkable effects of good design, we need good designers.  Good designers come about through inherent talent, the training they receive as engineering design students, and the external environment, information, methods and tools to which they are exposed and use.  This holistic framework for the improvement of design embodies my philosophical approach to my research goals and passions.

    What excites you about your research?

    My research fascinates me.  The questions I get to investigate that have yet to be answered are a thrilling quest for the sake of advancing the state of scientific knowledge and improving the world of design.  Working with students who love design and are excited to explore and understand how it works from a scientific perspective - is the best part of my job.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    I love Georgia Tech for many reasons, but the most exciting part of being here is the people.  The students are beyond excellent, and come in with so much energy and respect for themselves and one another.  The faculty and staff are hard working, collegial, and honest.  Every interaction I have on campus leads me to end my day feeling that I love my job.

  • Dr. Dong Qin

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    Nanomaterials have fascinating properties that are very different from traditional materials in bulk due to their enormous large surface areas with high activity. In turn, one could use smaller amount of materials to replace bulk for the same performance — a good illustration is the use of Pt/Pd/Rh nanomaterials in the catalytic convertors.

    What excites you about your research?

    The amazing science behind the materials at the nanoscale and the ability to develop the fundamental understanding for engineering functional materials for practical applications. 

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    I truly enjoyed my interactions with my students in the classroom to promote their effective learning at the Tech. Tech has the best research environment to cultivate an active research program in which both graduate and undergraduate students would perform research to acquire knowledges from labs beyond classroom learning.

  • Dr. Michelle LaPlaca

    How would you explain your research?

    My research is focused on traumatic brain injury from the cell to the clinical level.  In order understand the amount of physical force a cell can tolerate, we study how brain cells turn that force into a cellular response and when they breakdown.  Ultimately, however, how the cells respond will dictate the overall physiological and behavioral response.  The response to trauma is complex and a better understanding of how the many pathways combine will lead to better ways to diagnosis and treat brain injury.  We are particularly interested in developing better assessment methods for mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion. Currently, the assessment tools do not address the complexity and variety of concussion symptoms and we aim to improve identification of concussion and better monitor recovery.

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    Our research will benefit the general public by refining the ability to recognize brain injury symptoms.  We aim to better understand the injury spectrum, from the injury mechanics and acute assessment to the course of recovery and how this new knowledge can positively influence clinical management.

    What excites you about your research?

    Research in general is exciting, but our research in brain injury is particularly exciting because the brain is so complex and I find that challenge to be a driving force.  Studying brain injury brings together many different disciplines and demands collaboration, which is also an interesting aspect of research that continuously spurs new ideas.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    Georgia Tech is a great place to do multi-disciplinary and collaborative research. The students at all levels are fantastic and drive discovery of new knowledge, while maintaining a culture of innovation and technological creativity. 

  • Dr. Melissa Kemp

    How would you explain your research?

    I construct computational models of how cells sense information from their surroundings and propagate these signals by networks of biochemical reactions to initiate gene transcription. These biochemical networks have many operating principles in common with other complex systems that engineers study, such as electrical circuits or traffic patterns. My lab specializes in understanding how features of metabolism skew the way the signals are relayed to influence gene responses.

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    We hope that by first understanding the regulatory principles through computational analysis, we can predict disease outcomes and test through simulation how therapies (e.g. antioxidants) may be best developed depending on cell type. For example, we have found striking differences in metabolism between old and young immune cells that may partially explain why fighting an infection is more difficult as we age. We are starting to relate these characteristics to other decisions that cells make, such as a cancer cell that decides to metastasize or a stem cell that decides to differentiate.

    What excites you about your research?

    I love being at the intersection of many disciplines. Some days I’m immersed in immunology or oncology literature, other days I’m steeped in machine learning or control systems theory. It’s fun for me intellectually to grow in multiple directions. I also find it exciting that my work contributes to the body of biomedical knowledge that is advancing medical breakthroughs and the next generation of therapies.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    I love the energy and can-do attitude that I consistently find among Georgia Tech researchers. Instead of feeling constrained by technical limitations, people here develop new tools so that they can ask and answer the important questions.

     

     

  • Dr. Pamela Bhatti

    How would you explain your research?

    Our lab focuses on improving the quality of life for individuals with sensory loss in the auditory (hearing) system, vestibular (balance) system, or even both. Our approach is to apply techniques from microelectronics to create novel sensors that interact with the nervous system. A direct example is improving electrode arrays used in cochlear prostheses to activate the auditory system. Another approach is to mimic our balance system to capture body motion to replace lost sensory function. We also work collaboratively with Emory to improve quality an outcomes in radiology studies.

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    Our goal is for the general public to benefit directly from our research through improved function with sensory devices as well as improving the quality of radiological studies.

    What excites you about your research?

    The ability to tackle biomedical challenges from an engineering perspective while still being able to ask and address fundamental scientific challenges.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    Georgia Tech promotes a highly collaborative and creative environment. The focus is on making scientific advancements and engaging all the necessary individuals, which includes students at all academics levels, and resources to make it happen.

     

  • Dr. Susan N. Thomas

    How would you explain your research?

    My research is focused on understanding how our bodies use physical cues to communicate information and how these physical cues can be exploited for diagnosis and therapy. We are specifically interested in how the immune system works from a structural standpoint as well as how cancers develop and metastasize. Engineers are contributing to immunology and cancer research by asking questions that biologists don’t consider, such as how the effects of flow (for example, in the blood and lymphatic vasculature or interstitium) in diseased tissues accelerates disease or can be used as a way to identify, diagnose, and treat disease. We are also using these insights to design and innovate new approaches for therapy.

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    The goal of our research is to identify new ways to diagnose, treat, and monitor disease. 

    What excites you about your research?

    I love exploring new or previously overlooked frontiers. I also love asking exciting engineering questions about how our bodies work.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    The culture of openness and innovation.

  • Dr. Mary Ann Weitnauer

    How would you explain your research?

    I am interested in how to harness the power and flexibility of radios distributed over an area or space to achieve new wireless network features and functionality. For example, suppose soldiers or rescue workers are checking a basement and not one of their individual radios has a connection to the others outside the building. Using our techniques, the soldiers’ radios can collectively make a connection to the outside. In wireless sensor networks, our techniques can double or triple the battery life of the network, by balancing energy usage across the network.

    How will the general public benefit from your research? 

    The public will benefit because our research enables wireless connections to be made in harsh or challenging circumstances. As an example of the technique’s potential, suppose cell towers are destroyed, as they were in hurricane Katrina. Our techniques would enable text messages to still be delivered. By enabling very low power wireless sensor transmissions to be successful, a sensor network stays alive longer, saving money and in some cases, when sensors are in locations hazardous to humans, such as under a bridge platform or in enemy territory, reducing risk to life.

    What excites you about your research?

    Getting new ideas about how wireless networks can benefit from virtual arrays of radios, and then working with my students to overcome the challenges involved in developing and demonstrating the new ideas.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    I enjoy being involved daily with bright young students. In teaching, I am happy when I see them first grasp and later master each new concept or skill. In research, I love working with my graduate students, who inspire and amaze me with their creativity, intelligence, hard work and dedication to reaching our goals.

  • Dr. Yao Xie

    How would you explain your research?

    My research focuses on detecting change-points from signals and especially in big-data. Change-points are abrupt or gradual changes that indicate either anomaly or something interesting in these recorded signals. It is a fundamental problem in a wide range of real-world applications, including health care (think about data from wearable sensors such as iWatch), industrial manufacture process (multiple sensors to monitor health of an aircraft engine), seismology (change-point in geophone signals are useful for monitoring geo-hazards and finding new oil reservoir), power networks (change-point can indicate an imbalance condition that make lead to a severe power failure), or even social networks (change-point can be due to formation of a new community or a new hot topic). My research aims at developing new change-point detection algorithms for big-data and it is at the intersection of statistics, computing, and machine learning.

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    Change-point detection algorithm lies in the heart of many of these applications. For example, we may build a simple an IPhone app that implements the real-time change-point detection algorithm that we develop to detects change of your life style and provides health recommendations. It can also be integrated into the next generation seismic sensor networks for real-time geo-hazards monitoring and life rescue in extreme situations.  

    What excites you about your research?

    The era of big-data brings a huge opportunity to developing new algorithms for change-point detection: there are many open questions as for how to deal with the large amount, diversity and speed of these data. I am quite excited to see this opportunity, and see that the new algorithms we develop could potentially change many aspects of our lives and make big-data more useful to us. 

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    Georgia Tech provides a unique nurturing environment for my research and teaching. With its nationally top-ranked engineering programs, I can easily find domain experts from other colleagues and first-hand data source; with my collaborators in computer science we implement new algorithms on big data and real sensor networks. Being one of the top public schools in the nation, I also have the brilliant students both in my classroom to disseminate new findings from my research and stimulate their interests, and working  as my research assistants to explore the frontier of the research fields. Recently, my Ph.D. student Yang Cao was selected to receive a Robert Goodell Brown Fellowship for ISyE in recognition of his strong academic and research achievements.

     

  • Dr. Chloé Arson

    How would you explain your research?

    I am a theoretical and numerical expert in damage and healing rock mechanics, thermo-chemo-poromechanics, and underground storage. My group designs and formulates models that link microscopic damage and healing processes to macroscopic rock behavior. For example, we explain how salt grain sliding mechanisms can result in crack propagation and how diffusive mass transfer at grain interfaces can actually heal these cracks. We study crack propagation at multiple scales, in shale for instance, and how crack patterns affect rock strength, stiffness and permeability. We also use principles of micro-mechanics and thermodynamics to understand fragmentation processes in granular assemblies - ballast for example. Recently, I got involved in the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-Inspired Geotechnics, in which I am responsible for the cross-cutting thrust on numerical modeling of coupled Thermo-Hydro-Chemo-Bio-Mechanical processes. In that framework, I am planning to work on the formation of flow porous networks in nature.  I lead multiple networks of scholars interested in salt rock mechanics and I organized multiple workshops and conference sessions on geotechnical education and damage poromechanics. At Georgia Tech, I created the Vertically Integrated Program on Energy Geotechnology undergraduate laboratory and received funding to study ethics and hydraulic fracturing. 

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    Multiple organizations implement our coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical models into Finite Element Method programs to assess the long-term performance of energy geotechnolog processes such as hydraulic fracturing, compressed air energy storage, and geological carbon capture. The application of my group's research to energy, along with our involvement in engineering ethics and cross-disciplinary education, is hopefully going to have an impact on the design of safe and sustainable energy infrastructure, the management of water resources, the storage of ultimate waste and environmental policies on mineral resources. Our research on damage and healing is also expected to be useful to understand fault dynamics and predict seismic events.

    What excites you about your research?

    I have always wanted to be a professor. At the age of 14, I knew that I wanted to get a Ph.D. to become a researcher. The topic of my studies changed a few times in the course of my curriculum, because of the people I met. I got inspired by continuum mechanics and its applications to environmental issues. In reality, I like research for research's sake and I am equally driven by my will to improve technology to protect our planet than by my purely academic dream to reinvent a theory of damage and healing mechanics. What excites me the most about my research is to create thought models and develop a language to teach and improve these models. I am truly inspired by the team work I do with my Ph.D. students. There is something magic about creating something new that only we can understand - at least for a few minutes. The complicity and the intellectual growing process during that very moment is a unique experience.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    Georgia Tech is just the perfect environment for me. The campus is populated by bright, enthusiastic and energetic scholars. I have received a lot of advice from mentors who have been generous of their time with me. Every day on campus, one can feel the energy of the busy bees building the nest of innovation. I have got the chance to work with very interesting and interested students, and I discovered that nothing is really impossible at Tech. During my interview, I finished my seminar by a quote from J-J Cousteau: "Only the impossible missions are the ones that succeed". All the signs I have received since then are "Yes, that is why we hired you." I like Georgia Tech because this institution dreams the impossible.

  • Dr. Laurie Garrow

    How would you explain your research?

    I model how individuals make travel-related decisions, particularly within the aviation sector.  For example, but understanding which passengers are most likely to show for their flights, I can build better forecasting models and reduce the number of passengers who are denied boarding on a flight that is oversold.  I am particularly interested in looking at how non-traditional data sources, such as credit card purchase records, can be used to improve our understanding of travel patterns and travel behavior.

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    My research helps produce better forecasts of travel demand, which allows firms to better match supply to customer demand.  Some of my research also informs policy discussions, for example I am working on models that will enable me to quantify if and how consumers have benefited or been harmed by recent airline mergers.

    What excites you about your research?

    I enjoy working with industry partners and mentoring students.

    Based in Atlanta, home to the world’s largest hub airport!

  • Dr. Nga Lee (Sally) Ng

    My group focuses on understanding the formation and health effects of aerosols (or particulate matter, PM) in the atmosphere. These tiny particles are either emitted directly or formed from complex chemical reactions in the atmosphere. They can be produced from a variety of sources such as emissions from human activities (e.g., vehicle emissions, power plants, etc), as well as naturally occurring emissions from trees. We perform well-controlled laboratory experiments (http://www.coe.gatech.edu/news/air-we-breathe) and ambient measurements to study how these particles are formed, how they continue to evolve chemically, and their effects on human health.

    How will the general public benefit from your research?

    Particulate matter (PM) is classified as carcinogenic to humans by the World Health Organization and is estimated to cause ~4 millions of premature death worldwide per year. Aerosols also play an important role in Earth’s climate.  A better understanding of the formation and chemical composition of aerosols in the atmosphere would provide the fundamental data for formulating more effective policies to protect human health and the Earth’s climate.  

    What excites you about your research?

    The tiny aerosol particles are made up of hundreds and thousands of compounds (so many for such tiny particles!) and this itself is fascinating. As an engineer, I always think about what I can do to help the environment and reduce air pollution. I am excited about our research because it can lead to a better understanding of the effects of aerosols on human health and climate, which can benefit everyone in the society.

    What makes you enthusiastic to be at Georgia Tech?

    Georgia Tech provides excellent support for junior faculty and it is very collegial. There are so many great people to collaborate with and explore exciting research opportunities together.