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New COE faculty have broad interests

Each year, new faculty join the College of Engineering, bringing with them exciting ideas and new areas of expertise. Here are several brief profiles on some of the most-recent additions to the college's ranks.

Julie A. Jacko

Julie A. Jacko (large image)

After earning her PhD from Purdue University in 1993, Julie A. Jacko served on the faculty of The College of New Jersey and then Florida International University. She has also worked as a staff consultant to Andersen Consulting of Chicago.

Now an assistant professor in the college's Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Jacko's research interests include human-computer interaction, universal access to information technologies, interface design for people with disabilities, temporal aspects of usability of computing systems, human factors engineering, evaluations of human task performance and productivity.

As the recipient of a 1997 National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Jacko received funding for a research project titled "Universal Access to the Graphical User Interface: Design for the Partially Sighted." Findings will be integrated into undergraduate courses. They will also enhance the development of graduate courses on the design of advanced technologies.

David A. Nembhard

David A. Nembhard (large image)

Assistant Professor David A. Nembhard comes to the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering from Auburn University, where he had been on the operations management faculty since 1994. He holds a PhD from the University of Michigan, and also spent three years as an analyst and land transportation technology center specialist for the Dow Chemical Company.

Nembhard's research interests include heuristic search algorithms, hazardous materials transportation, data mining, and learning/forgetting curves in a population of workers.

In one study, Nembhard found that by viewing operational data as an "analog signal" it is possible to create mathematical descriptions of the patterns in the data. "Since these descriptions are much simpler than the raw data they describe, they can be visualized in fewer dimensions," he explains.

Harriet Black Nembhard

Harriet Black Nembhard (large image)

Assistant Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor Harriet Black Nembhard comes to UW-Madison from Auburn University, where she had been on the faculty since 1994, the same year she received her PhD in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

She has held technical positions with General Mills, Inc., American Airlines Decision Technologies (now Sabre Decision Technologies), Dow Chemical and Pepsi-Cola.

Her research involves designing models to determine process adjustment policies for manufacturing systems during a transient phase. "Some new research activity has led to policies that reduce the length of the transient period, decrease the number of adjustments required, and lower product output variation," she explains.

Nembhard was recently awarded an NSF grant to work with industry on developing simulation models to gain insight into statistical control.

Wendy C. Crone

Wendy C. Crone (large image)

Assistant Professor Wendy C. Crone will begin her appointment in the Department of Engineering Physics this January. She comes from the University of Minnesota, where she completed her PhD in engineering mechanics in October.

Her studies will focus on plasticity, fracture mechanics, and characterization of the behavior of modern materials such as shape memory alloys and metallic single crystals.

Additionally, Crone is interested in the mechanics of biomaterials, especially those used in medical devices. In particular, she will be researching nickel-titanium, which is commonly used in catheters and dental archwires. "I intend to investigate the mechanical behavior of this material, especially as it relates to existing and new biomedical applications."

Susan C. Hagness

Susan C. Hagness (large image)

Assistant Professor Susan C. Hagness comes to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering from Northwestern University, where she received her PhD earlier this year. She is affiliated with both the Biomedical Engineering Center for Translational Research and the Biomedical Engineering.

Hagness is developing large-scale computational simulations of electromagnetic wave phenomena. Her work results in some of the most powerful tools available for analyzing complex electromagnetics problems.

"My research also involves applying these rigorous numerical techniques to design innovative devices and systems," she says. For example, she is creating numerical models of micrometer- and nanometer-scale integrated optical devices which may serve as building blocks in high-density photonic integrated circuits for future optical communications networks. In another area, Hagness is studying the effects of electromagnetic waves interacting with biological tissues. The results are being used to design a microwave sensor for detecting early-stage breast cancer.

Thomas M. Jahns

Thomas M. Jahns (large image)

Thomas M. Jahns, Grainger Professor of Power Electronics and Electrical Machines, comes to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering from GE Corporate Research and Development in Schenectady, N.Y., where he worked for 15 years as a researcher and technical manager. He received his PhD from MIT in 1978 and returned to the Boston area during 1996-98 to conduct a two-year research sabbatical in MIT's Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems.

Jahns has research interests in several areas, including power semiconductors, switching circuit topologies, electric machines and actuators, digital real-time control, and sensors. He is particularly interested in novel approaches for combining new developments in these constituent technologies into attractive system solutions for real-world applications.

Jahns believes that "major opportunities for power electronics in key consumer markets--such as automobiles and home appliances--will be fulfilled only if the associated technology can be sufficiently improved to meet demanding cost and reliability requirements."

He is looking forward to his participation in the new Center for Power Electronics Systems (C-PES), sponsored by the National Science Foundation, as a unique opportunity to pursue these objectives.

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