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Cullen College Welcomes Nine Engineering Professors

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Elena Watts

A combination of nine university professors and industry professionals is joining the Cullen College of Engineering faculty at the University of Houston this semester. The majority are biomedical engineers with expertise ranging from brain-machine interfaces for control of prosthetic limbs to cell membrane research for diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer. Others bring expertise in fields ranging from petroleum engineering to cybersecurity from universities and companies across the country, Canada and right here in Houston.

Joe Francis
Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Francis was assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York before he joined the UH Cullen College faculty. Much of his research has focused on brain-machine interfaces for control of prosthetic limbs, an active area of research at UH. He arrived with a grant for almost $2 million from the National Institutes of Health as well as funding from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and other organizations. He earned his doctoral degree in neuroscience from The George Washington University.

Mohammad Reza Abidian
Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Abidian joined the UH Cullen College faculty on the heels of an assistant professorship in biomedical engineering at Penn State University. His research has focused on translational neural engineering and neural interfaces with funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, among other organizations. He has combined polymer synthesis, cell-biomaterial interaction and micro/nano-fabrication techniques to produce medical devices and technologies for controlling prosthetic limbs and for diagnosing and treating brain injuries and neurological disorders. He earned his doctoral degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Sheereen Majd
Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Majd left an assistant professorship in biomedical engineering at Penn State University to join the UH Cullen College faculty. She has integrated cell and molecular biology, biophysics, biomaterials and micro/nano-fabrication techniques to understand roles of cell membranes in diseases such as cancer for improved diagnoses and treatments. She earned her doctoral degree in biomedical engineering with an emphasis in biomaterials from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Muna Naash
John S. Dunn Endowed Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Naash was an endowed professor of cell biology at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine before she joined the UH Cullen College faculty. Her research has focused on genetic mutations associated with hereditary retinal disorders, and she has earned both national and international recognition for her work on viral and non-viral ocular gene delivery. Over the last two decades, she has built an impressive portfolio of federally-funded research, and she has brought three active National Institutes of Health grants totaling more than $3 million to UH. She arrived with additional funding from the Foundation Fighting Blindness and the Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research. She earned her doctoral degree in biochemistry from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and she also completed her postdoctoral fellowship in the college’s ophthalmology department.

Muayyad Al-Ubaidi
Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Al-Ubaidi was professor of cell biology and vice chair for research at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine before he joined the UH Cullen College faculty. His research has focused on understanding roles of proteins in normal retinal function and ways mutations influence function to develop disease phenotypes. He was the first to publish the genomic sequence of mouse rhodopsin, which served as a stepping stone for others in the production of mouse models of rhodopsin-based inherited retinal diseases. He has also produced transgenic mouse models of the disease. He arrived at UH with funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Foundation Fighting Blindness. He earned his doctoral degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and he also completed his postdoctoral training in molecular biology, transgenesis and vision research at the college.

Lori Hathon
Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular/Petroleum Engineering
Hathon was senior research geologist for Shell International E & P, Inc. before she joined the UH Cullen College faculty. For more than two decades, her work has focused on routine and special core analysis, clastic petrology, reservoir quality analysis and predictive modeling, applications of image analysis to rock physics, organic petrography and thermal maturity analysis. Her experience has also included well-drilling operations and post-well appraisals. She earned her doctoral degree in geological sciences from the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Egor Dontsov
Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Dontsov joined the UH Cullen College faculty after a postdoctoral fellowship in the math department at the University of British Columbia in Canada. He has published multiple papers and delivered numerous presentations relating to his areas of research, including hydraulic fracturing, gradient elasticity, nonlinear ultrasound and acoustic radiation force. He earned his doctoral degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Miao Pan
Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Pan was an assistant professor of computer science at Texas Southern University before he joined the UH Cullen College faculty. His work has focused on cognitive radio networks, cybersecurity and cyber-physical systems, and he served as director of the laboratory devoted to this research in his prior university role. In 2014, he earned the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award. Pan earned his doctoral degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Jiefu Chen
Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Chen served as a scientist for Weatherford International, an oil and gas company in Houston, before he joined the UH Cullen College faculty. His research and development projects have focused on well logging methods including electromagnetic propagation resistivity, azimuthal resistivity and micro-resistivity as well as oil-based mud borehole imaging, acoustic logging, electromagnetic telemetry and electromagnetic short-hop communication. He earned his doctoral degree in electrical and computer engineering from Duke University.

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