Pratt People

Authors Daniel A. Vallero, an adjunct professor of engineering ethics at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, and P. Aarne Vesilind, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Bucknell University, have produced a book entitled Socially Responsible Engineering: Justice in Risk Management. In the book, situations that engineers face in their daily work are recast as lessons in "environmental justice." Within the context of engineering, environmental justice raises awareness of the unfair effects that common practices and policies may have on minority and low-income populations. For instance, studies have shown that landfills and hazardous waste dumps are often sited in African-American communities.

Henry Petroski, Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering, spoke on success and failure in design at Harvard University on Nov. 8. His talk was part of the Applied Mechanics Colloquium series sponsored by the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. He also delivered the 2006 Fatigue Lecture in Atlanta on Nov. 14 as part of the proceedings of Committee Week of the American Society for Testing and Materials. This annual distinguished lecture is sponsored by ASTM International’s Committee E08 on Fatigue and Fracture. Petroski spoke on “Some Personal and Historical Perspectives on Fatigue.”

Adrian Bejan, J. A. Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering, gave the invited opening lecture at the day school on “Natural Design: Theory, History, Practice” held on Nov. 11 at the University of Oxford. The title of his lecture was “Constructal Theory.”

Tod Laursen was the co-coordinator of the Short Course "Computational Contact Mechanics" sponsored by the International Centre for Mechanical Sciences (CISM) in Udine, Italy on Sept. 25-29. In addition to organizing the course with Professor Peter Wriggers of Leipniz Universitat, Hannover, Laursen delivered six hours of lectures in this course intended for advanced students of nonlinear mechanics. Laursen also delivered an invited keynote lecture at the International Conference on Multifield Problems, held in Stuttgart, Germany, from Oct. 4-6, and was an invited lecturer and member of the technical committee for the IUTAM Symposium on Computational Contact Mechanics, held in Hannover, Germany on Nov. 5-9.

CEE professor Fred Boadu has been invited to serve on the External Advisory Board at North Carolina Central University on an Initiative for Transforming and Sustaining Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Boadu will also give an invited talk at NCCU entitled "Stability of Unconsolidated Geo-materials: Using Laboratory Electrical Measurements to Obtain the Influential Geotechnical and Petrophysical Parameters," and presented a seminar on "Geotechnical and Petrophysical Properties of Unconsolidated Materials from Spectral Electrical Response Measurements" at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Audrey Ellerbee, Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering, was selected Graduate Student of the Year by the National Society of Black Engineers. She will receive her 2007 Golden Torch Award at the NSBE’s national meeting in Columbus, Ohio, in March. This honor recognizes Ellerbee’s academic and extracurricular contributions. She is president of the Duke Graduate and Professional Student Council, and is a member of Duke’s Latin dance troupe. She also volunteers for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program through the Duke Law School. Ellerbee’s research is focused on optical coherence tomography (OCT) and her work is supported by a NSF graduate research fellowship, the Duke Endowment, a James B. Duke fellowship and the University Scholars Program. Ellerbee earned her B.S.E. in electrical engineering from Princeton in 2001 and taught for a year in Singapore before coming to Duke.

Jennifer Phillips will succeed Tammy Sorrell as executive assistant to the dean. Phillips, who started Nov. 21, came to Pratt from the School of Nursing where she was the manager of the NIH-funded TRAC Center. Prior to that, she was an administrative assistant in the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. She also has served as director of special events for the Department of Athletics. She has a B.A. in political science cum laude from Duke, and a certificate in women's studies. Sorrell moved on to the new Duke Global Health Institute.

Associate BME Professor Warren Grill has been appointed to the editorial board of the Journal of Neural Engineering. This peer-reviewed journal is published by the Institute of Physics and has rapidly emerged as a forum for the interdisciplinary field of neural engineering where neuroscientists, clinicians, and engineers can publish their work. In addition, Grill has been invited to participate in the German American Frontiers of Engineering Program organized by the National Academy of Engineering and the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The symposium will be held next year in Hamburg, and Grill will give a talk on "Brain Stimulation: from Computers to the Clinic."

Dean Kristina Johnson served on a National Science Board panel at Georgia Tech on Retention Rates in Undergraduate Engineering. The workshop was entitled: "Moving Forward to Improve Engineering Education."

Eight members of the Pratt Board of Visitors who will finish their terms this year were honored for their service at the board's fall meeting. They are Norm Cocke of Wayzata, Minn., George Crowell of Orinda, Calif.; Bob Galloway of Nashville, Tenn.; Jeff and Kathy Ix of Geneva, Switzerland; Lee Kenna of Atherton, Calif.; Ed Reefe of Boca Grande, Fla.; and Mike Wheeler of Bonita Springs, Fla.

Steve Cummer, assistant ECE professor, has earned tenure. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1997 and spent two years at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland as a National Research Council postdoc before coming to Pratt in 1999. His research interests include remote sensing, electromagnetic modeling, and complex electromagnetic materials.

Yiquan Wu, research associate in the Center for Biologically Inspired Materials and Material Systems, and his wife are the proud parents of an 8 ½-pound boy, born on Nov. 7. Mother and baby are doing well.

Pratt students are part of four teams that took honors in the first phase of the three-phase Duke Start-Up Challenge. One Pratt undergraduate, sophomore Meredith Estren, is part of the “Green Cooling Group,” which won $750 for the best overall executive summary. And three undergraduates are on the “Wired 2 Achieve,” which won $750 for best overall elevator pitch. They are sophomores Aleksandra Klimas, Andrew Tutt and Kevin Thompson. A company called Onscoscope founded last June by Assistant BME Professor Adam Wax and BME Research Scientist William Brown won the “Most Intriguing Idea” award in the healthcare category of the Phase 1 competition. The Oncoscope team members are BME Ph.D. student John Pyhtila, MEMP student Sylvain Hanssen and two Fuqua MBA students. BME Ph.D. student Amar Chawla is a member of the "3S" team that won the "Most Intriguing" award in the Hi-Tech/IT/Software category. In all, 48 Pratt undergraduate and graduate students are involved in Duke Start-Up Challenge teams. The competition ends in April.

A team from the N.C. School of Science and Math mentored by two Pratt professors has taken regional honors in the nation's top high school science competition. The team's mentors were assistant BME professors Lingchong You and Jingdong Tian. The NCSSM team won the top team prize at the 2006-07 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology at Georgia Tech in Atlanta Nov. 17.

Assistant CEE Professor Claudia Gunsch delivered Savannah Jeanne Gunsch on Nov. 22. She weighed in at 7 pounds 9 ounces and measured 19 ¾ inches.