College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota
College of Science and Engineering

UMN College of Science and Engineering welcomes 23 new faculty

The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering welcomes the best and brightest young faculty from around the world

Contacts: Rhonda Zurn, College of Science and Engineering,, (612) 626-7959

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (09/22/2013) — The environment, medical technologies, sensors, big data, and many other topics are the focus of research for new faculty hired this fall within the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering. The 23 new faculty are among the best and brightest young faculty from around the world. They join nearly 400 current CSE faculty, many who are world-renowned in their fields.

Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics

Joseph Nichols - 120Filippo Coletti
Assistant Professor

Coletti received his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Stuttgart in Germany. Coletti worked as Senior Research Engineer at the von Karman Institute and as postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. He has received several awards, including the Italian Ministry of Education Scholarship from the University of Perugia, the Prize for Excellence in Experimental Research from the von Karman Institute, and the Arthur Charles Main Prize from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. His research interest lies in the area of transport and mixing in turbulent and complex flows. 

Filippo Coletti - 120Joseph Nichols
Assistant Professor

Nichols studied at MIT and received his master's degree in mechanical engineering in 2001 and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 2005, both at the University of Washington. He was a postdoctoral research associate at Laboratoire d’Hydrodynamique at Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, and a postdoctoral fellow and research associate at the Center for Turbulence Research at Stanford University. His research focus is to apply high performance computational tools and mathematical theory and analysis to gain better understanding of fundamental fluid dynamical processes to drive the development of fluid technology in meeting tomorrow's energy and environmental needs.

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Brenda Ogle - 120Brenda Ogle
Assistant Professor

Ogle received her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Minnesota. Previously, she was a research fellow and assistant professor at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine prior to becoming a faculty member in 2006 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has performed pioneering research in identifying and monitoring stem cell fusion in vivo, which includes developing innovative microfluidic/microscopy systems. She received an NSF CAREER Award in 2009. Ogle will pursue her research interests in the role of cell fusion in cardiac regeneration and tumor metastasis.

Casim Sarkar - 120Casim Sarkar
Assistant Professor

Sakar received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from MIT and was a postdoctoral fellow in biochemistry at the University of Zurich before he became an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006. Sarkar received an NSF CAREER Award in 2011. His research interests include engineering protein agonists, antagonists, and enzymes; understanding cellular decision making in lineage commitment; and network analysis and cellular programming through synthetic biology. He will continue to pursue those interests along with a new project aimed at re-engineering bacteria for oral delivery of proteins.

Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

Xiang Cheng - 120Xiang Cheng
Assistant Professor

Cheng earned his undergraduate degree in physics from Beijing University in China in 2002. He continued his physics studies in the United States, earning his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2009. Previous to his current position, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the Cornell University Center for Materials Research. Cheng's research interests encompass soft matter physics, colloidal suspensions, fluid mechanics, granular physics, and rheology.

Department of Chemistry

Renee Frontiera - 120Renee Frontiera
Assistant Professor

Frontiera earned her bachelor's degree in chemistry and Chinese at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. and her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California. She is interested in determining the effect of local environments on chemical reaction dynamics, from cellular membranes to proteins to plasmonic materials. Her research involves developing new imaging and spectroscopic techniques to examine reaction dynamics on the nanometer length scale with femtosecond time resolution. She is interested in label-free super-resolution imaging, the role of vibrations in driving electron transfer reactions, and using plasmons to drive chemical reactions.

James Johns - 120James Johns
Assistant Professor

Johns earned his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. His research encompasses developing new experimental techniques that will facilitate a better understanding and subsequent control over charge and exciton transfer at surfaces and interfaces related to energy, photovoltaics, and photocatalysis at unprecedented length and time scales. He also studies the chemistry and physics of new 2-D materials for electronics, and developing experiments that exploit their 2-D nature to elucidate the electronic structure of interfaces commonly used in electronic devices.

Ian Tonks - 120Ian Tonks
Assistant Professor

Tonks earned his Ph.D. in organometallic chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. His research uses inorganic, organometallic and organic synthesis to generate novel catalysts that are studied in depth through kinetic, mechanistic and computational techniques. A large focus of his research is not only on synthesis, but on reaction discovery. He is interested in developing catalysts for the copolymerization of carbon dioxide with olefins to generate new biodegradable polymers, practical and green routes to heterocycles that could be used in novel drug design, and electrocatalytic nitrogen reduction.

Department of Civil Engineering

Lauren Linderman - 120Lauren Linderman
Assistant Professor

Linderman received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include structural dynamics and smart structures technology with an emphasis on wireless sensor technology, vibration mitigation strategies, control algorithm development, vibration-based structural health monitoring (SHM), and experimental testing. She researches the use of wireless smart sensor technologies to limit the vibration response of buildings and bridges. 

Dominik Schillinger - 120Dominik Schillinger
Assistant Professor

Schillinger completed his Ph.D. in 2012 at Technische Universität München in Germany. Previously, he held a postdoctoral research position at the University of Texas-Austin. He studies computational engineering and predictive modeling and simulation. Schillinger works on traditional civil engineering problems, like developing fast methods for simulating structural dynamics to determine the optimal design of wind turbines. He also works on biomedical applications, developing computational tools that find the best position of a hip implant in a patient’s bone or predict pathological liver deformations based on CT scan data.

 Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Dan Knights - 120Dan Knights
Assistant Professor

Knights received his Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Colorado at Boulder, with a certificate in Interdisciplinary Quantitative Biology from the University of Colorado's BioFrontiers Institute. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Ramnik Xavier at Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He will also be working with the University of Minnesota's BioTechnology Institute. 

Brent Hecht - 120Brent Hecht
Assistant Professor

Hecht received a Ph.D. in computer science from Northwestern University. His research centers on the relationship between big data and human factors. A major focus of his work involves volunteered geographic information and its application in location-aware technologies. A recipient of many awards, he has collaborated with Google Research, Xerox PARC, and Microsoft Research, and his work has been featured in the MIT Technology Review, New Scientist, AllThingsDigital, and various international TV, radio, and Internet outlets.

Department of Earth Sciences

Gene-Hua Ng - 120Gene-Hua Ng
Assistant Professor

Ng received her Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research interests lie in understanding how all the components of the hydrologic cycle—including the atmosphere, plants, soil, and groundwater—affect each other. Her research also focuses on statistical methods that merge models with data. These methods allow us to produce more reliable and informative results than could be achieved with either models or data alone.

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Soheil Mhajerzefreh - 120Soheil Mhajerzefreh
Assistant Professor

Mhajerzefreh earned his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Iran’s Sharif University in 2004 and completed his master's and Ph.D. degrees in communication systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Mhajerzefreh pursued further training as a postdoctoral scholar in the Departments of Electrical Engineering of Princeton University and the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests encompass wireless communications, multi-user information theory, bioinformatics, distributed storage, and video transmission.

Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Qie He - 120Qie He
Assistant Professor

He received his bachelors degree in automation from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, a master's degree in control science and engineering, from Tsinghua University, and his Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He brings broad research interests in optimization, algorithms and complexity, graph theory, stochastic systems and meta-heuristics, with applications to supply chain management and transportation. His current research focus is on stochastic and dynamic optimization, mixed integer programming and combinatorial optimization.

Guangwen Kong - 120Guangwen Kong
Assistant Professor

Kong received her bachelor's degree in mathematics from Shandong University, China, a master's degree in operations research from Fudan University, China, and her Ph.D. in operations management from the University of Southern California in 2013. Her research interests are in supply chain management, service operations and e-Commerce, information asymmetry and incentives, behavioral decision-making, game theory and optimization with applications in operations management.

School of Mathematics

Yu-jong Tzeng - 120Yu-jong Tzeng
Assistant Professor

Originally from Taiwan, Tzeng received her Ph.D. in mathematics at Stanford University in 2012, where she received a Gold Ph.D. Thesis Award and an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Before coming to the University of Minnesota, she was a Simons postdoctoral fellow in mathematics at Harvard University. Her research focus is in algebraic geometry, cobordism theory, and enumerative geometry, where she proved an important conjecture on the enumeration of curves with prescribed singularities.

Craig Westerland - 120Craig Westerland
Assistant Professor

Originally from New York, Westerland earned his Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Michigan in 2004. Following postdoctoral positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, Berkeley, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he was a lecturer at the University of Melbourne, Australia since 2008. His research focuses on algebraic topology, particularly concentrating on moduli spaces of curves and connections with algebraic geometry, number theory, and mathematical physics/string theory.

Christine Zamaere - 120Christine Berkesch Zamaere
Assistant Professor

Zamaere received her Ph.D. in mathematics at Purdue University in 2010. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Stockholm University and Institut Mittag-Leffler, Sweden, and MSRI (Mathematical Sciences Research Institute), Berkeley. Prior to her current position, she was an assistant research professor at Duke University. Her research area is combinatorial aspects of algebra and geometry, and includes combinatorial structures in algebraic geometry, representation theory, commutative algebra, and linear partial differential equations, a.k.a. D-modules.

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Peter Bruggeman - 120Peter Bruggeman
Associate Professor

Bruggeman received his Ph.D. in 2008 from Ghent University in Belgium. Prior to coming to Minnesota, he was an assistant professor at the Technical University at Eindhoven, Netherlands. His research focuses on plasma processes for environmental, biomedical and renewable energy technologies. His additional research interests are in plasma chemistry, plasma-liquid interaction and plasma synthesis processes.

Cari Dutcher - 120Cari Dutcher
Benjamin Mayhugh Assistant Professor

Dutcher received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009. She was a postdoctoral student in the Air Quality Research Center at the University of California, Davis from 2009-2013. Dutcher's research interests include the thermodynamics of electrolyte-containing atmospheric aerosols, fluid dynamics and rheology of polymeric solutions, and electro hydrodynamics of colloidal suspensions.

School of Physics and Astronomy

Fiona Burrell - 120Fiona Burnell
Assistant Professor

Burnell earned her Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University. Since 2009, she has been a postdoctoral research fellow in All Souls College at Oxford University. Her research interest is understanding exotic phases of matter. This encompasses topologically ordered phases, such as the fractional quantum Hall states, and symmetry-protected phases such as topological insulators. Her work addresses a range of topics within this sphere, ranging from abstract questions about what types of exotic phases are theoretically possible, to more concrete questions about how to identify these empirically.

Tony Gherghetta - 120Tony Gherghetta

Since 2008, Gherghetta has been a professor and Australian Research Council Federation Fellow in the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne. He has also been a visiting professor in the Physics Department at Stanford University since 2010. Gherghetta earned his Ph.D. and master's degrees from the University of Chicago. He originally joined the College of Science and Engineering's School of Physics and Astronomy as an assistant professor in 2002 and was promoted to associate professor in 2006. Gherghetta’s research is primarily focused on addressing physics beyond the standard model, Large Hadron Collider phenomenology, supersymmetry, extra dimensions, AdS/CFT and holography.


On July 1, 2010 the Institute of Technology changed its name to the College of Science and Engineering.