Student Researchers Recognized with Wylie Dissertation Fellowships

Fourteen Clark School students pursuing their Ph.D.s in engineering have been awarded Ann G. Wylie Dissertation Fellowships by the University of Maryland Graduate School.

Dissertation fellowships provide support to excellent UMD doctoral candidates who are in the latter stages of writing their dissertations; the specific goal of the fellowship is to provide students with time to focus on writing and completing their dissertation in order to reduce time-to-degree, increase degree completion, and enhance the quality of the graduate student experience.

Hulya BilerHulya Biler, Aerospace Engineering
Advisor: Anya Jones, Associate Professor

Research focus: Improve the understanding of fundamental flow physics behind the unsteady force production during transverse gust encounters and to develop a physics-based low-order aerodynamic model that is capable of quickly predicting unsteady loads, which will provide valuable information for robust flight control algorithms, novel flow control techniques, and more accurate flight simulators for pilot training.

Ashley ChapinAshley Chapin, Bioengineering
Advisors: Reza Ghodssi, Herbert Rabin Distinguished Chair, and William Bentley, Robert E. Fischell Distinguished Professor and Director, Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices

Research focus: An ingestible micro device that can measure and assess serotonin produced in the gut to better understand its neurological effects in conditions as diverse as mood disorders and auto-immune diseases. Her video explanation of this research won the University of Maryland Three-Minute Thesis competition in 2020. Chapin went on to represent Maryland in the international finals. View her video, “Demystifying the Gut-Brain Axis.”

Miranda CostenobleMiranda Costenoble, Aerospace Engineering
Advisor: James Baeder, Samuel P. Langley Professor

Research focus: Existing low-order design tools cannot accurately model co-rotating coaxial rotors, since such rotors have closely spaced (and thus aerodynamically coupled) rotor blades. This research aims to fill this gap: Using automated computational tools previously developed by Costenoble that allow for 2D airfoil interactional data to be rapidly developed—this data, when coupled to low-order design tools, will allow for improved modeling accuracy and better design practices for these rotors.

Weiping DiaoWeiping Diao, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Michael Pecht, George E. Dieter Professor and Director, Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering

Research focus: Lithium-ion batteries often exhibit a transition to a more rapid capacity fade trend when subjected to extended charge-discharge cycles. This transition is characterized as a knee point and indicates the onset of a rapid deterioration of the performance. This research aims to investigate the roles of battery components during the nonlinear degradation process, and predict when the knee point will occur.

Usman FiazUsman Fiaz, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisor: John Baras, Lockheed Martin Chair and Distinguished University Professor

Research focus: Robotics, control, and machine learning; his dissertation topic is “Assured Autonomy in Multi-Agent Systems with Safe Learning.” Fiaz has worked with ABB Future Labs, Nokia Bell Labs, Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs, and CERN. He is a current graduate research assistant in the Maryland Robotics Center. He is also the recipient of the Maryland Graduate School’s 2021 Michael J. Pelczar Award for Excellence in Graduate Study, and won a University of Maryland Outstanding Graduate Assistant Award in 2018.

Christos MavridisChristos Mavridis, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisor: John Baras, Lockheed Martin Chair and Distinguished University Professor

Research focus: Design for a universal learning architecture based on well-established architectural abstractions of the processing system of the auditory and visual cortex of humans, and learning the intrinsic laws of complex networked systems, ranging from animal flocks to social networks. Mavridis won the Clark School Distinguished Graduate Fellowship, University of Maryland Outstanding Graduate Assistant Award, the Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant Award, and Future Faculty Fellowship in 2017, 2020, 2020, and 2021. He completed internships at Nokia Bell Labs and Xerox PARC.

Sai RambhatlaSai Rambhatla, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisor: Rama Chellappa, College Park Professor

Research focus: Developing algorithms for training computer vision models using imperfect data supervision, which can occur due to unconstrained and ambiguous data collection efforts. Rambhatla’s primary focus has been on designing novel algorithms to improve video-based person retrieval, object discovery, and sub-action discovery; his current research attempts to develop algorithms to train machine learning models using missing annotations and detect falsified media. His research has far-reaching practical implications, such as deploying computer vision systems in the real world and detecting fake news.

Shikha RedhalShikha Redhal, Aerospace Engineering
Advisor: Kenneth Yu, Professor and Director, Advanced Propulsion Research Laboratory

Research focus: Studying the fundamental nature of rotating detonation engines (RDEs) and the effect of dynamic interaction between propellant injection and the detonation wave inside RDE combustors. RDE is a continuous detonation engine consisting of an annular chamber where the reactants are injected axially, and the detonation wave propagates along with the chamber. The outcome will help design RDE sub-components, predict practical performance measures of RDEs, and eventually lead to the development of practical RDEs.

Setare Ghahri SaremiSetare Ghahri Saremi, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Advisor: Dimitrios Goulias, Associate Professor

Research focus: The quality assurance (QA) process in highway infrastructure is critical to ensuring durable, safe, and economical transportation operations. Non-destructive testing (NDT) has been proven to provide simple and quick evaluation of materials and structures. The main focus of this dissertation is evaluating the accuracy and precision of available NDT such as UPV, pulse echo, resonant frequency, and GPR in identifying the strength of concrete or defects in concrete elements to be implemented in QA programs.

Emily SchulmanEmily Schulman, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Advisor: Dongxia Liu, Associate Professor

Research focus: Providing solutions to the limitations currently precluding methane upgrading from being implemented industrially, as the large-scale use of this reaction system could significantly contribute to curtailing the detrimental effects of climate change and global warming. This involves creating innovative catalyst technologies and enabling novel reaction pathways that tackle the fundamental thermodynamic and kinetic barriers that exist in methane gas-to-liquid (GTL) conversion to valuable chemicals and fuels.

Bongsub SongBongsub Song, Bioengineering
Advisor: Gregg Duncan, Assistant Professor

Research focus: Engineering biomaterials and advanced lung tissue culture models for understanding airway mucus clearance in asthma.

Eric VanarsdaleEric Vanarsdale, Bioengineering
Advisor: William Bentley, Robert E. Fischell Distinguished Professor and Director, Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices

Research focus: The use of redox-based synthetic biology and electrochemistry to access and control biological communication. These efforts include the use of electrochemistry to access biological signals, “electrogenetic” control over gene circuits in microorganisms, and materials design for bidirectional information storage. This research could be used in many fields, including biomanufacturing for coordinating metabolic activities and product formation, as well as in bioelectronic medical devices such as artificial organs or probiotic capsules that require user-controlled functionality.

Rui XuRui Xu, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Arnaud Trouvé, Professor

Research focus: With the goal of increasing the accuracy of combustion and radiation models used in computer-based fire simulators, this research focuses on a theoretical and computational study of the combustion and thermal radiation behavior of buoyancy-driven turbulent flames relevant to fire safety applications. The products of this research are directly available to practicing fire safety engineers through the implementation of the models in an open-source fire simulation software called FireFOAM.

Jiaxun ZhangJiaxun Zhang, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Advisor: Chunsheng Wang, Professor, R.F. & F.R. Wright Distinguished Chair, and Director, Center for Research in Extreme Batteries

Research focus: The design of next-gen, non-flammable electrolytes for high-energy density, ultra-safe batteries. Making use of the developed revolutionary water-in-salt electrolyte system, this research aims to shed light on both the safety and economy of the highly concentrated aqueous electrolyte system. Taking advantage of the nonflammable all-fluorinated electrolyte to form a robust CEI on cathode, this research will further enhance the energy density of lithium-ion battery systems and push towards industrial application.

Published May 18, 2021