16 new faculty members join the College of Science and Engineering

Robotics, sustainable ecosystems, intelligent transportation systems, and computational neuroscience are just a few research areas studied by new faculty hired this fall within the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering. The 16 new faculty join more than 420 current CSE faculty, many world-renowned in their fields.

Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics

Headshot of Derya Aksaray, CSE faculty memberDerya Aksaray
Assistant professor

Aksaray received her bachelor’s degree from Middle East Technical University, Turkey in 2008. She earned her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, in 2011 and 2014, respectively. From 2014-2016, she was a post-doctoral researcher at Boston University. She was a post-doctoral associate in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2016-2017. Her research interests lie primarily in the areas of control theory, formal methods, and machine learning with applications to autonomous systems and robotics.


Department of Biomedical Engineering

Head shot of Alex OpitzAlex Opitz
Assistant professor

Opitz received his diploma in physics from the University of Tüebingen, Germany, and his Ph.D. in computational neuroscience from the University of Göttingen, Germany in 2014. Prior to joining the Biomedical Engineering Department, Opitz was a research scientist at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research in Orangeburg, New York. His expertise and pioneering work is the development and validation of computational models of electrics fields in brains induced by non-invasive modulation (transcranial magnetic and electrical stimulation).


Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

Head shot of Nathan Mara Nathan Mara
Associate professor

Mara earned his Ph.D in materials science and engineering from the University of California, Davis in 2005. Previously, he was a co-director of the Institute for Materials Science at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), and Thrust Leader for the Nanoscale Electronics and Mechanics thrust at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT). His research focuses on the relationship between microstructure and mechanical behavior at the nanoscale, with an emphasis on structural applications in extreme environments.

Head shot of David Poerschke.David Poerschke
Assistant professor

Poerschke earned his bachelor’s and master’s in materials science and engineering from Case Western Reserve University. He earned his Ph.D. in materials from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was a postdoctoral scholar. His research focuses on the evolution of materials in complex chemical, thermal, and mechanical environments. Combining experimental observations with theoretical models, he develops design-performance frameworks to accelerate the development of new materials offering improved performance.


Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering

Xue Feng, CSE Faculty memberXue Feng
Assistant professor

Feng received her bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University. She then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on understanding the role of terrestrial vegetation on the water cycle to improve the resilience and sustainability of natural and managed ecosystems.

Michael Levin, CSE faculty memberMichael Levin
Assistant professor

Levin received a bachelor of science degree in computer science and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013 and 2017, respectively. He is a recipient of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Fellowship from the Federal Highway Administration and the 2016 Milton Pikarsky Award from the Council of University Transportation Centers. His research focuses on traffic flow and network modeling of connected autonomous vehicles and intelligent transportation systems.


Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Kangjie Lu headshotKangjie Lu
Assistant Professor

Lu earned his Ph.D. in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology. During his Ph.D. study, he worked as a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems (MPI-SWS), and as an intern at NEC Labs America and Samsung Research America. His research interests include security and privacy, program analysis, and operating systems. He is particularly interested in automatically uncovering and addressing important security problems, and securing widely used systems while preserving their reliability and efficiency.

Janardhan Kulkarni headshotJanardhan Kulkarni
Assistant professor

Kulkarni received his Ph.D. in computer science from Duke University in 2015. He is interested in the design of algorithms with provable performance guarantees. His focus in recent years has been to understand theoretical challenges in building efficient data centers. His research involves using concepts and techniques from the fields of approximation algorithms, online algorithms, and game theory. He is also broadly interested in the intersection of online algorithms and online learning theory.


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Head shot of Martina CardoneMartina Cardone
Assistant professor

Cardone received her Ph.D. from Télécom ParisTech (with work done at Eurecom, Sophia Antipolis). She earned her master’s degrees from Politecnico di Torino, Italy and Télécom ParisTech, France as part of a double degree program, and her bachelor’s degree from Politecnico di Torino, Italy. Previously, Cardone was a post-doctoral research fellow in the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of California, Los Angeles from July 2015 to August 2017. Her research interests are in network information theory, wireless networks, security and network coding.

Head shot of Changhyun ChoiChanghyun Choi
Assistant professor

Choi received his Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was also affiliated with the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (IRIM). Previously, he was ​a postdoctoral associate and a research scientist in the Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests are in visual perception for robotic manipulation, with a focus on deep learning for object grasping and manipulation, soft manipulation, object pose estimation, visual tracking, active perception, visual verification, and 3D registration.

Mingyi Hong head shotMingyi Hong
Assistant professor

Hong received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. From 2014-2017, he was an assistant professor with the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, Iowa State University where he served on the IEEE Signal Processing Society Signal Processing for Communications and Networking (SPCOM) Technical Committee. His research interests are primarily in the fields of optimization theory, and its applications in signal processing, wireless communication, and machine learning.


School of Mathematics

Head shot of Hao JiaHao Jia
Assistant professor

Jia received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 2013, where he was a student of professor Vladimir Sverak. From 2013-2016, he was a L.E. Dickson Instructor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Chicago. He spent 2016-17 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.  His research interests focus on the analysis of partial differential equations, concentrating on the Navier-Stokes equations of fluid mechanics and dispersive waves.

Head shot of Ru-Yu LaiRu-Yu Lai
Assistant professor

Lai received her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Washington, Seattle in 2015. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) at the University of Minnesota from 2015-2017.  Her research interests are in partial differential equations and inverse problems arising in geophysics, medical imaging, and condensed matter physics.


Department of Mechanical Engineering

Headshot of Sungyon_Lee_100x122Sungyon Lee
Assistant professor

Lee earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at University of California, Berkeley, and completed her master’s and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After a post-doc at Ecole Polytechnique and adjunct faculty position at UCLA,  she was an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. Her fluid mechanics research group specializes in reducing complex physical phenomena into tractable problems that can be visualized with table-top experiments and solved with mathematical modeling.


School of Physics and Astronomy

Head shot of Patrick KellyPatrick Kelly
Assistant professor

Kelly received his bachelor’s degree in astronomy and physics from Harvard College, and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in physics from Stanford University. His postdoctoral work was in the astronomy department at the University of California, Berkeley. He studies the deaths of stars as supernova explosions, as well as gravitational lensing by massive galaxy clusters. He works to understand the connections between supernovae and their stellar precursors and to measure cosmic distances using thermonuclear supernova explosions. His recent work uses the magnifying power of gravitational lensing to study directly an individual luminous star that existed when the universe was nine billion years younger than its current age.

Head shot of Ke WangKe Wang
Assistant professor

Wang, a condensed matter experimentalist, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Science and Technology of China in 2008. He earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2014. Most recently, he was a post-doctoral researcher at Harvard University, 2014-2017.  Wang is an expert in the experimental manipulation of the electronic properties of two-dimensional semiconductors using electric fields applied via gate electrodes. His research will probe new quantum physics in novel two-dimensional materials and address key challenges toward realizing a quantum computer.