New Faculty Lecture Series

Michael Gehm: Taking the Measure of Measurement -- Understanding Modern Approaches to Sensing

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Michael Gehm, Associate Professor in the Duke Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, talks about key aspects of computational sensing.

About Michael Gehm

Michael Gehm joined the faculty at Duke University in Fall 2013, and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He completed his PhD in physics at Duke University in 2003, with a focus on experimental studies of quantum degenerate atomic gases. From 2004-2006 he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at Duke, where he first began his studies of computational sensing. From 2007-2013 he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona, rising to Associate Professor shortly before leaving to join the Duke faculty. He received his MS in physics from Duke and his BS in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis.

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Volker Blum: An Integrated, First-Principles Vision for Materials, Nanostructures, and the Properties They Control

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Volker Blum, PhD, Associate Professor

MEMS Department / Center for Materials Genomics

Volker Blum is  an Associate Professor in the MEMS Department at Duke University. He received his Dr. rer. nat. degree from University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in 2001. From 2002 to 2004, he was a post-doctoral researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, before moving to the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin (2004-2013), where he last held a group leader position.

His research focus is the computational, quantum-mechanics based prediction of materials and molecular properties, covering inorganic nanostructures and interfaces as well as molecular structure and spectroscopy. He is also the coordinator and lead developer of the "FHI-aims" electronic structure package, a globally developed and used computer code for computational materials simulations based on density-functional theory and many-body approaches.

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Galen Reeves, PhD: “Robust Compressed Sensing: How Undersampling Introduces Noise and What We Can Do About It”

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Galen Reeves joined the faculty at Duke University in Fall 2013, and is currently an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Statistical Science.

He completed his PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley in 2011. From 2011 to 2013 he was a postdoctoral associate in the Departments of Statistics at Stanford University, where he was supported by an NSF VIGRE fellowship. In the summer of 2011, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at EPFL, Switzerland; in the spring of 2009, he was a visiting scholar at the Technical University of Delft, The Netherlands; and in the summer of 2008, he was a research intern in the Networked Embedded Computing Group at Microsoft Research, Redmond. He received his MS in Electrical Engineering from UC Berkeley in 2007, and BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Cornell University in 2005.

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Maiken H. Mikkelsen, PhD Assistant Professor, Departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Physics

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Maiken Mikkelsen
Maiken Mikkelsen
Maiken H. Mikkelsen is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics at Duke University. She received her B.S. in Physics from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark in 2004 and her MA and PhD degrees in Physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2007 and 2009, respectively. She did her PhD in the group of Prof. David Awschalom on experimental studies of single electron spins in semiconductor quantum dots. Before joining Duke, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Prof. Xiang Zhang at the University of California, Berkeley doing research in the area of nanophotonics. In 2011 she received the European Physical Society’s PhD Thesis prize from the Quantum Electronics and Optics Division. Her research interests include experimental studies of spin dynamics in solid state systems, light-matter interactions in nanostructures, nanophotonics, metamaterials, and quantum information science.

Michael Zavlanos, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

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Michael Zavlanos
Michael Zavlanos
Michael M. Zavlanos received his diploma in mechanical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece in 2002 and his M.S.E. and Ph.D. in electrical and systems engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, PA in 2005 and 2008, respectively. From 2008-09 he was a Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He then joined the Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, where he remained until 2012. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University. He also holds a secondary appointment in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His current research interests include a wide range of topics in the emerging discipline of networked systems and science, with applications in robotic, sensor, biomolecular, and social networks. He is particularly interested in hybrid solution techniques, on the interface of control theory with the discrete science of networks and graphs. Dr. Zavlanos was a finalist for the Best Student Paper Award at the 45th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control in 2006 and a recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award in 2011.

Guglielmo Scovazzi Associate Professor, Departments of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

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Guglielmo Scovazzi
Guglielmo Scovazzi
Guglielmo Scovazzi received B.S/M.S. in Aerospace Engineering (summa cum laude) from Politecnico di Torino (Italy), in 1998; and M.S. (2002) and Ph.D. (2004) in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. Before coming to Duke, he was a Senior Member of the Technical Staff in the Computer Science Research Institute at Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM), where he received 5 Sandia Awards of Excellence for his work in computational subsurface modeling and computational shock physics. 

Dr. Scovazzi’s research interests include finite element and advanced numerical methods for computational fluid and solid mechanics. His research emphasizes accurate computational methods aimed at reducing the overall design/analysis costs in multiphase porous media flows, highly transient compressible and incompressible flows, turbulent flows, and complex geometry systems in solid mechanics.

His current and recent research work was funded by DOE Office of Science, DOE Advanced Scientific Computing Research, ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company (Houston, TX).

He is a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal on Numerical Methods in Fluids, and a Member of SIAM and the US Association of Computational Mechanics (USACM).

Guillermo Sapiro, Professor, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Guillermo Sapiro
Guillermo Sapiro
Guillermo Sapiro was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, on April 3, 1966. He received his B.Sc. (summa cum laude), M.Sc., and Ph.D. from the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, in 1989, 1991, and 1993 respectively. After post-doctoral research at MIT, Dr. Sapiro became Member of Technical Staff at the research facilities of HP Labs in Palo Alto, California. He was with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Minnesota, where he held the position of Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Vincentine Hermes-Luh Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Currently he is with Duke University.

Sapiro was awarded the Gutwirth Scholarship for Special Excellence in Graduate Studies in 1991, the Ollendorff Fellowship for Excellence in Vision and Image Understanding Work in 1992, the Rothschild Fellowship for Post-Doctoral Studies in 1993, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award in 1998, the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientist and Engineers (PECASE) in 1998, the National Science Foundation Career Award in 1999, and the National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship in 2010.

Sapiro is a member of IEEE and SIAM, and is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the SIAM Journal on Imaging Sciences, currently ranked second in impact factor in all applied math.

Jennifer L. West, Fitzpatrick Family University Professor of Engineering

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Jennifer West recently joined the faculty at Duke, after having been the department chair and Cameron Professor of Bioengineering Rice University. Professor West was one of the founding members of Rice’s Department of Bioengineering, building it to a top ten program over the past sixteen years.

Professor West’s research focuses on the development of novel biofunctional materials. Part of her program has developed nanoparticle-based approaches to biophotonics therapeutics and diagnostics. An example of this work is the application of near-infrared absorbing nanoparticles for photothermal tumor ablation. In animal studies, this therapeutic strategy has demonstrated very high efficacy with minimal side effects or damage to surrounding normal tissues. In 2000, Professor West founded Nanospectra Biosciences, Inc. to commercialize the nanoparticle-assisted photothermal ablation technology, now called AuroLase. Nanospectra Biosciences, Inc., located in Houston, TX, is the recipient of a NIST ATP Award and a grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. Professor West is a director of the company. The company has built GMP manufacturing facilities, and AuroLase cancer therapy is now in three FDA-approved human clinical trials.

Professor West has received numerous accolades for her work. In 2010 she was named Texas Inventor of the Year and also Admiral of the Texas Navy (highest honor the governor of Texas can bestow on a civilian). In 2008, The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas honored her with the O’Donnell Prize in Engineering as the top engineer in the state. In 2006, she was named one of 20 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professors, recognizing integration of world class research and teaching. She has been listed by MIT Technology Review as one of the 100 most innovative young scientists and engineers worldwide. Other recognitions include the Christopher Columbus Foundation Frank Annunzio Award for scientific innovation, Nanotechnology Now’s Best Discovery of 2003, Small Times Magazine’s Researchers of the Year in 2004, and the Society for Biomaterials Outstanding Young Investigator Award.

Professor West has authored more than 140 research articles. She also holds 14 patents that have been licensed to eight different companies. She has lectured at numerous institutions, including Harvard, Harvard Medical School, MIT, FDA, and NCI. She was an invited speaker at the 2006 Nobel Symposium. 

Professor West has served as a member of the Bioengineering, Technology, and Surgical Sciences study section at NIH, and has served on numerous other review boards for NIH and NSF. She has also been a member of the Defense Sciences Study Group, a member of the NRC panel on management of university intellectual property, and a member of the AAMC panel on research. Her laboratory receives funding from NIH, NSF, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and DOD.

Wilkins Aquino, Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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Wilkins Aquino
Wilkins Aquino

Wilkins Aquino holds a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Purdue University and, MS and PhD also in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He worked as a consulting engineer in the Engineering Mechanics and Infrastructure Division of SGH, Inc. in Waltham, MA for one year before joining the faculty at Cornell University in 2003. He spent eight  years at Cornell University as an assistant and associate professor, before joining Duke in January 2012. He was member of the fields of Applied Mathematics, Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, and Computational Science and Engineering at Cornell University. His research interests encompass computational mechanics (in general), inverse problems and their applications in engineering and biomedicine, coupled chemomechanical problems, and scientific computing, among others. To learn more about Wilkins, please visit his faculty webpage.

Brenton Hoffman, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering

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Brenton Hoffman
Brenton Hoffman
Brenton Hoffman joined Duke as an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering on January 1, 2012. He received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University and a PhD in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. His doctoral research, conducted under the supervision of Prof. John Crocker, utilized principles and techniques from soft matter physics to study the molecular processes mediating the dynamic nature cellular mechanical properties. After receiving his PhD in 2007, he joined the Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Virginia as a Post-doctoral researcher in the laboratory of Prof. Martin Schwartz. Here he developed a genetically encoded, calibrated molecular tension sensor capable of visualizing molecular force across specific proteins in living cells. He plans to combine these research areas to determine the mechanisms cells utilize to sense and respond to the mechanical nature of their microenviroment. Understanding these processes on the molecular level will aid in the development of novel tissue engineering constructs for use in regenerative medicine as well as help develop new treatments for mechanosensitive diseases, such as atherosclerosis and cancer. For more information about Brenton, visit his faculty webpage.