School announces new department chairs, associate deans, five faculty appointments


The School of Engineering has announced the appointments of two department chairs, two associate deans, and five new faculty members. The appointments are effective July 1, 2013.

Douglas Adams has been named Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Adams comes to Vanderbilt from Purdue University where he was the Kenninger Professor of Renewable Energy and Power Systems in the School of Mechanical Engineering. He succeeds George M. Hornberger, Craig E. Philip Professor of Engineering, who continues to serve as professor and director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment.


Professor Kane Jennings has been appointed chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Jennings, who joined the chemical engineering faculty in 1998, also serves as co-director of graduate studies in the ChBE department. He succeeds Peter Pintauro, H. Eugene McBrayer Professor of Chemical Engineering, who continues to serve as professor.

George E. Cook, professor emeritus of electrical engineering, who has served the School of Engineering as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, is now special assistant to Dean Philippe Fauchet.


Fauchet announced that Peter Cummings, John R. Hall Professor of Chemical Engineering, has been appointed Associate Dean for Research. Duco Jansen, professor of biomedical engineering, is Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.

“We are pleased to welcome our talented new faculty members to the School of Engineering, and we look forward to their research making an impact on new discoveries,” said Fauchet. Jules White, computer science; Yevgeniy Vorobeychik, computer science; Leon Bellan, mechanical engineering; Brett Byram, biomedical engineering; and John Wilson, chemical engineering, join the School of Engineering as assistant professors.


Douglas Adams also is the director of the new Laboratory for Systems Integrity and Reliability at Vanderbilt. The lab will illuminate the complex ways in which materials and machines degrade in order to prevent failure. Adams’ research areas are mechanics and vibrations, and solid mechanics.

Adams specializes in nonlinear vibration and wave propagation based methods of structural diagnostics/prognostics, specifically structural health monitoring and damage prognosis for automotive and aerospace systems. Many of his discoveries have been implemented by industry for improving the reliability of engineered systems. Adams also is the author of a textbook:  Health Monitoring of Structural Materials and Components.  Adams has won numerous awards for research and teaching, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.


Jules White, assistant professor of computer science, will continue his research in cyber-physical systems as well as deployment and configuration optimization, mobile computing, model-driven engineering, distributed systems and cloud computing, and autonomic computing. White previously was an assistant professor of computer engineering at Virginia Tech, and he was a research assistant professor at Vanderbilt from 2008 to 2010. He received a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt in 2008 and his M.S. in 2006, both in computer science. He earned a B.A. in computer science from Brown in 2001.


Yevgeniy Vorobeychik, assistant professor of computer science, comes to Vanderbilt from Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif., where he was a senior member of technical staff. Vorobeychik’s research interest is artificial intelligence His work focuses on simulation-based game theory and mechanism design, algorithmic game theory, network economics, and machine learning. He received a Ph.D. in 2008 and a M.S.E. degree in 2004 in computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan, and a B.S. degree in computer engineering from Northwestern University.


Leon Bellan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, served as a postdoctoral researcher in the Langer Lab at MIT before joining Vanderbilt. His research focuses on developing novel biomaterials and biodevices – created with non-traditional, scalable fabrication techniques – that replicate and augment the functionality of natural tissue. He is currently developing techniques using sacrificial cotton candy to produce 3D microfluidic networks that may be used as artificial vascular systems in engineered tissue. He received his B.S. in physics at Caltech in 2003 and his Ph.D. in applied and engineering physics at Cornell in 2008.


Brett Byram, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, works in the area of ultrasound, specifically beamforming, motion estimation and other related signal processing tasks. His lab at Vanderbilt – Biomedical Elasticity and Acoustic Measurement Laboratory (BEAM) – will pursue ultrasonic beamforming and elasticity solutions to clinical problems. Byram comes to Vanderbilt from Duke where he was an assistant research professor in biomedical engineering. He earned a biomedical engineering and math from Vanderbilt in 2004. He received the Ph.D. degree in biomedical engineering in 2011 from Duke.


John Wilson, currently adjunct assistant professor of chemical engineering, will join the faculty as assistant professor of chemical engineering Jan. 1, 2014. Wilson was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington from 2009 to 2013. The Wilson lab will bring together expertise in colloid and surface engineering, advanced polymerization techniques, and cellular engineering and drug delivery to develop molecularly engineered materials that target and regulate the delivery of immunomodulatory drugs to organs, cells and intracellular pathways of the immune system. He received a Ph.D. in bioengineering from Georgia Tech in 2009, and a B.S. degree in bioengineering from Oregon State University in 2002.