Meet the New Faces of the Samueli School

Engineering welcomes 10 faculty members across all fields and disciplines

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering is pleased to introduce ten new faculty members, including the appointments of H. Kumar Wickramasinghe, in electrical engineering and computer science, Enrico Gratton in biomedical engineering, William J. Cooper, Chenyang Sunny Jiang, Betty Olson, Jean-Daniel Saphores, and Farzin Zareian in civil and environmental engineering, Ali Mohraz in chemical engineering and materials science, and Benjamin Villac and Yun Wang in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

“The future of our school depends upon attracting high caliber talent, and we are extremely pleased to welcome so many outstanding new faculty members,” said Nicolaos G. Alexopoulos, dean of The Henry Samueli School of Engineering. “The year ahead promises numerous research initiatives for students and faculty, focusing on advancements in all engineering fields through interdisciplinary collaboration and teamwork.” 

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
H. Kumar Wickramasinghe, Ph.D. - Professor and The Henry Samueli Endowed Chair
Prior to joining UC Irvine, Wickramasinghe, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and respected pioneer in nanotechnology, managed nanoscience and technology research at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif.  Holding 70 patents, some of his most significant inventions and contributions to the nano field include the development of the vibrating mode atomic force microscope (AFM) into fully hardened instruments, the magnetic force microscope, the electrostatic force microscope, the Kelvin probe force microscope, the scanning thermal microscope, and the apertureless near-field optical microscope.  Wickramasinghe is an IBM Fellow and a member of the IBM Academy of Technology, as well as a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Institute of Physics, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Royal Microscopical Society.

Department of Biomedical Engineering
Enrico Gratton, Ph.D. - Professor
Under Gratton’s direction as co-founder and principal investigator, the Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics relocated to UC Irvine from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and actively works to promote and share knowledge of fluorescence spectroscopic principles, instrumentation, and applications to the scientific community.  This is the first national facility dedicated to fluorescence spectroscopy. 


 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
William J. Cooper, Ph.D.  - Professor and Director of the Urban Water Research Center
As the new UWRC director, Cooper hopes to expand the Center’s programs, and envisions the future participation of both the School of Medicine and the Department of Education.  Currently, the UWRC brings together faculty from social ecology, engineering, and physical sciences to advance understanding of the urban water environment and to help promote health, improve efficient use of water resources, and protect the environment. 


Chenyang Sunny Jiang, Ph.D. - Associate Professor
Jiang comes from UC Irvine’s Department of Environmental Health, Science, and Policy, and holds joint appointments with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and the Department of Toxicology and Community Medicine.  Her research focuses on aquatic microbiology and ecology, investigating the interaction, fate and transport of microbial pathogens and bacterial indicators in the coastal environment. 


Betty Olson, Ph.D. - Professor
Olson is also from UC Irvine’s Department of Environmental Health, Science, and Policy, and Environmental and Community Medicine, and studies molecular techniques and the microbiology of drinking and wastewaters. Her interests cover the use of molecular biological techniques to optimize wastewater treatment, the study of microorganisms of public health importance in environmental waters, and how microorganisms influence water quality.


Jean-Daniel Saphores, Ph.D. - Associate Professor
Saphores joins civil and environmental engineering from UC Irvine’s Planning, Policy, and Design department, and his research concentrates on infrastructure economics and management, urban and transportation economics, planning, and policy, water resources, waste management, environmental and natural resource economics and policy, and applied econometrics. 


Farzin Zareian, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor
Zareian comes to the Samueli School from Stanford University, where he was a graduate research assistant in the Structural Engineering and Geomechanics Division.  His research interests include analytical and experimental studies in structural and earthquake engineering, with emphasis on performance-based earthquake engineering.

Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
Ali Mohraz, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor

Mohraz was part of a research team at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor that was the first to quantify experimentally how the structural and rheological properties of amorphous colloidal materials are affected by the geometry of the primary particles. His research concentrates on soft polymeric and colloidal matter, as well as advanced materials assembly.

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Benjamin Villac, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor
Villac comes to the Samueli School from the California Institute of Technology where he worked as a postdoctoral scholar in the computer science department, and then joined the Outer Planets Mission Analysis Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2004.  He is interested in spaceflight mechanics and the study of nonlinear dynamical systems with an emphasis on stability analysis, chaotic transport across phase space, and their relation to global optimization and control. 


Yun Wang, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor
Prior to UC Irvine, Wang conducted research at the Electrochemical Engine Center at Pennsylvania State University, and at the State Key Laboratory for Turbulence Research in China.  Wang’s research focuses on multi-scale modeling, heat and mass transfer, micro-flow, two-phase flow, flows in porous media, electrochemistry, parallel computation, experimental design and diagnostics, fuel cells, and turbulent combustion. 

“The Samueli School looks forward to supporting all new faculty in their research projects and fields of study, and I am confident they will continue to grow in their respective disciplines and share their many contributions in both academic and business communities,” Alexopoulos added.

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