You are here

Provost Message - September 28, 2016

Meet New Faculty in the College of Engineering

Today, we begin the first in an occasional series welcoming new faculty from each college, starting with the College of Engineering.

The following new tenure-track faculty in the College of Engineering are providing expertise in optoelectronic devices, the Internet of Things, micro electro mechanical systems, thermal fluids, visual data sensing, and therapeutic systems to promote healing.

After obtaining a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Canada’s University of Victoria, Aftab Ahmed (Electrical Engineering) spent three years as a postdoctoral researcher at Argonne National Laboratory. Dr. Ahmed has more than four years’ experience as an electric circuit design engineer. His research centers on advancing the physics and engineering of optoelectronic devices and using the knowledge to tackle real-world problems in medical diagnostics, photonics, sustainable energy, and optical/microwave communications.

Perla Ayala (Biomedical Engineering) earned her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco in 2011. For the past four years she has been a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Dr. Ayala’s research focuses on developing therapeutic systems that promote optimal healing. Her research applies a multidisciplinary approach to create engineered tissues and cohesive drug delivery platforms for applications in the clinic.

Formerly a Building Information Modeling (BIM) and project controls specialist at STV Inc., Vahid Balali (Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Management) obtained his Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on visual data sensing and analytics for the AEC industry, virtual design and construction for infrastructure asset management and interoperable system integration, and sustainable infrastructure decision-making.

Navdeep Singh Dhillon (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley. His research focuses on thermal fluids and micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS). He holds an undergraduate degree in ocean engineering and naval architecture from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. Prior to joining CSULB, Dr. Dhillon served as a Shapiro Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-2013) and postdoctoral associate (2013-2016) at MIT.

A postdoctoral research associate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Surajit Roy (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) obtained his Ph.D. from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University in 2014. His current research interests are prognostic models for material aging under harsh environments, reduced-order modeling for structural-wave propagation, non-destructive testing techniques, and data-driven algorithms for structural health monitoring. He will join the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department in Spring 2017.

Hengzhao Yang (Electrical Engineering) will focus his research on high-efficiency energy storage devices and systems for applications in wireless sensor networks, smart grids, and the Internet of Things. He obtained his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2013, then worked as a GeorgiaTech postdoctoral fellow from 2013 to 2015 and a visiting assistant professor at Miami University from 2015 to 2016.

Yu Yang (Chemical Engineering) obtained his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Alberta in 2011, then worked as a postdoctoral scholar at University of Alberta and MIT from 2011 to 2015. His research focuses on the application of process control and optimization theories for the large-scale and complex chemical processes and systems.

CNSM Dean Announcement

After many years of dedicated service Laura Kingsford is stepping down as dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics so that she can focus on the university’s BUILD program.

I first met Laura several years ago while we were both serving as deans of our respective colleges. I have known her to be an outstanding leader and a strong advocate for her college, faculty, staff, and students. We are extremely fortunate to have benefitted from her knowledge, dedication, and guidance.

Dr. Kingsford has served this university since 1980, first as a professor of microbiology and biological sciences, then as chair of the Biological Sciences Department and, finally, as dean of the college since 2003. During her tenure as dean, the college has seen a significant increase in the number of students staying in school and graduating. It has opened two new state-of-the-art buildings – the Molecular Life Sciences Center in 2004 and the Hall of Science in 2011.

Most recently, Dr. Kingsford spearheaded the $24 million, 5-year BUILD award, which is transforming the way we prepare underrepresented students for doctoral programs in health-related careers. It has been a monumental undertaking that has resulted in the development of a research curriculum and the participation of more than 100 students and 85 faculty members.

Dr. Kingsford will continue as dean throughout the academic year while we conduct a search for her replacement. I am sorry to see her step down as dean, but we are very fortunate that she will be overseeing the BUILD award with the other Principal Investigator, Guido Urizar, and serving as a faculty member. Please join me in wishing her the very best.

BUILDing an Innovative Research Program

Two years after CSULB received a $24 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant—the largest award we have ever received—the university is well on its way to establishing an innovative research program that helps prepare underrepresented students for doctoral programs in health-related fields. The impact that the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity, or BUILD, program is having on both students and faculty is far reaching. The program has seen the following accomplishments.

  • A research curriculum has been developed that includes five courses currently going through curriculum review and general education certification. The courses, which range from Research Exploration in Science, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Health Disparities and Scientific Research Communication to Advanced Research Methods and Advanced Biomedical Research Methods, will be open to all undergraduates who have met the prerequisites.
  • More than 85 CSULB faculty were recruited to become BUILD Trainee Research Mentors. Forty-five of them have completed training and are currently serving as mentors to students.
  • Research support had been provided for 17 individual or collaborative pilot projects from the BUILD award and subsequently approved by NIH. This funding is anticipated to help faculty be more competitive for external funding from various funding agencies such as NIH.
  • Additional internal funding for seven small equipment and computer awards went to faculty to increase their individual or collaborative research capabilities and large equipment or research space in the colleges of Engineering, Health and Human Services, Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences and Mathematics targeting their unique needs for programmatic research capabilities.
  • Levels of training have been set up for students:
    • Associates for sophomores who are exploring whether they want to pursue a career in research, and
    • Scholars ‘Year 1’, and scholars ‘Year 2’, who receive more exposure to research and present their research at professional conferences.

More than 100 undergraduates have been selected as associates and scholars.

Additional information on what BUILD has accomplished and upcoming opportunities is available on the website.

Apply for BUILD Research Stimulation Grants, Mid-Size Equipment Program

Applications are being accepted for the following research stimulation grants and mid-size equipment grants, funded through the BUILD program.

The Collaborative Research Stimulation Grant (CRSG) provides support to develop research collaborations between CSULB faculty and well-established, successful researchers (e.g., with NIH R01 or similar-level funding) at a research intensive university (e.g., UCI, USC, UCLA).

It is anticipated that one to two proposals of up to $40,000 will be funded for the 2017-2018 academic year to support a one-year health-related research pilot project. Applications Due: Monday, November 14 by 5 p.m. View the request for proposals.

The Research Stimulation Grant (RSG) Program provides support to stimulate research project development and preliminary data generation with the objective of enhancing competitiveness and external research funding.

It is anticipated that one to two proposals of up to $30,000 for the 2017-2018 academic year will be funded to support a one-year health-related research pilot project. Applications Due: Monday, November 14 by 5 p.m. View the request for proposals.

The Mid-Size Equipment Program provides the opportunity for BUILD faculty mentors to acquire equipment valued at less than $25,000 (with a $5,000 minimum) that is justified on the basis of direct benefit to the BUILD student training. Applications Due: Monday, November 14, 2016 by 5 p.m. PT. View the request for proposals.

Poster Session and Resource Fair: Inclusive Excellence in Teaching, Learning

The CSULB Faculty Center for Professional Development will host a Poster Session and Resource Fair to showcase faculty pedagogy and research, along with campus services and support for Inclusive Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

The event will take place in the Karl Anatol Center, AS 119, on October 18 from 2-4 p.m. All CSULB faculty and staff are invited to drop-in between 2 and 4 p.m. to view posters and visit resource tables. Light refreshments will be served. No RSVP is necessary.

Funding Available for Ethics Teaching, Research

Teaching Ethics in the Classroom

Faculty are invited to submit proposals for Ethics Across the Curriculum pedagogical stipends. Twelve $3,000 stipends will be provided by the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership to support the development of ethics modules in courses that faculty teach.

Applications must be submitted to Dr. Kathleen Lacey at by November 14.

Ethics Research

Faculty are invited to submit proposals for ethics research stipends. Two $5,000 stipends will be provided by the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership to support faculty ethics research and contributions to the body of knowledge.

Applications must to be submitted to Dr. Brenda Freshman at by November 14.

For additional information, visit the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership.