The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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College Welcomes Five New Faculty Members

The College of Engineering welcomes five talented new faculty members to our ranks for the fall semester of 2011: Alice Azadeh Alipour and Caitlyn Butler in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department; Mario Parente and Marco Duarte in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department; and Jessica Schiffman (pictured) in the Chemical Engineering Department. Their research interests include sustainable development, energy efficient water treatment, interplanetary remote sensing, signal, image, and data processing, and desalination and sustainable water purification.

Capsule summaries:

Dr. Alice Azadeh Alipour arrives at the college after a stint as a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Irvine, where she also earned her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. She did her M.S. at the University of Tehran in Earthquake Engineering, and her B.S. in Civil Engineering at KNT University of Technology in Tehran. “My interdisciplinary research aims to provide a comprehensive framework for enhancing the resilience and sustainability of urban systems,” she has written. “I plan to conduct my research on various challenging fields, including: risk assessment of civil infrastructure systems under extreme hazard conditions, study of aging mechanisms using advanced multi-physics computational methods, performance evaluation of various structural systems, and life-cycle engineering and management of civil infrastructures, such as transportation networks and water pipelines.”

Since 2010 Dr. Caitlyn Butler has been serving as an assistant professor in the College of Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering at Notre Dame, after completing her B.S. in Engineering Science at Smith College. As she has noted, “My research objectives focus on developing energy efficient treatment strategies for both water and wastewater treatment. I examine bioelectrochemical systems where biofilms, capable of using either an anode as an electron acceptor or a cathode as an electrode donor, remediate environmental pollutants, and concurrently produce electricity.”

Dr. Mario Parente comes to UMass Amherst from Brown University, where he has been working as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Planetary Geosciences. His research in, among other topics, remote sensing image processing of data from both Mars and the lunar surface followed up on similar research he had done at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California (2003-2010), the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University (2008-present), and the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California (2010 on a consulting basis). He earned his Ph.D. and M.S. from Stanford University, after getting his B.S. and another M.S. from the University Federico II in Naples, Italy.

Dr. Marco Duarte comes to the college from the Department of Computer Science at Duke University, where he has been a postdoctoral fellow since 2010 after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University from 2009 to 2010. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Rice University and his M.S. and B.S. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. His research interests incorporate “signal, image, and data processing using sparse, compressible, and manifold signal models; multi-signal compression, acquisition, and recovery; collaborative and distributed signal processing; approximation theory and computational harmonic analysis; and sparse approximation algorithms.” He is named on four patents.

Dr. Jessica Schiffman was most recently a postdoctoral associate in the Environmental Engineering Program and Chemical Engineering Department at Yale University. Before arriving at Yale, she completed her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at Drexel University. She earned her M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell University and her B.S. in Ceramic and Materials Engineering at Rutgers University. She is interested in incorporating functionalized electrospun nanofibers into novel membranes for desalination and sustainable water purification. Additionally, she will study characterizing the geometry and chemistry of support layers to determine their influence on osmoticflux performance. Her dissertation, entitled “Determination of the electrospinning parameters for biopolyelectrolytes and their modifications,” yielded 12 co-authored publications and one patent. (September 2011)