Professors Ali Maher and Assimina Pelegri Honored for Faculty Excellence

School of Engineering dean Tom Farris recently honored faculty members Ali Maher and Assimina Pelegri for their achievements in scholarship, teaching, and service at the annual faculty awards ceremony and reception. Maher, director of the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation and civil and environmental engineering professor, was named Faculty of the Year. Maher is a widely recognized expert, often tapped as a resource by industry and government agencies for his expertise in the areas of ground improvement, soil dynamics, infrastructure asset management, nondestructive testing, environmental geotechnology, and new technology vehicles. Pelegri, professor and undergraduate director of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is this year’s Outstanding Engineering Faculty.

“These awards are a source of great pride to the School of Engineering and the awardees are representative of the skills and accomplishments of our faculty,” said Tom Farris, dean of the School of Engineering.  “In addition to recognizing the outstanding educational commitment of our faculty, the awards are also an excellent opportunity to highlight the leading-edge research that is taking place within the School of Engineering and in partnership with industry.”

The Outstanding Engineering Faculty awardees are nominated by a department chair and selected by the School of Engineering Industry Advisory Board. The Faculty of the Year awardee may be nominated by any member of the Engineering community and is selected by a committee which includes previous recipients of the SoE Medal of Excellence and Faculty of the Year Award. Recipients receive an award ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to further their scholarship and research activities.

Faculty of the Year
Ali Maher, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Since assuming leadership of CAIT in 1998, the center has successfully competed three times to maintain its status as a Tier I University Transportation Center (UTC), a network of internationally recognized research and education organizations addressing transportation needs. It was Maher’s vision to develop a center that would promote advancements in heavily utilized intermodal corridors and he was instrumental in forming a service network for members of the transportation infrastructure community at Rutgers. Since CAIT’s inception, Maher has brought in more than $54 million of external research and technology transfer projects.

Maher has been a pioneer in promoting collaboration and building partnerships with other universities and both public and private stakeholders to address our country’s most pressing transportation challenges. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, USDOT, NJDOT, FHWA, DOE, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other federal sponsors. He is actively involved in a number of ASCE, ASTM, and International Society for Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure (ISHMII) committees. Maher serves as president of the U.S. Universities Council on Geotechnical Education and Research.

Outstanding Engineering Faculty
Assimina Pelegri, Ph.D.
Professor and Undergraduate Director, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Since joining the School of Engineering faculty in 1997, Assimina Pelegri has been an active researcher, educator, advisor, and mentor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. With over 70 technical peer reviewed publications, her research interests include composite materials design, properties characterization, novel methodologies in materials modeling, and application of anisotropic material principles in interfacial mechanics. She has developed multiscale material models for characterization of aerospace fibrous composites as well as models for interfacial damage evolution in such materials. Her models have also found applications in biological fibrous materials such as brain neurons and have launched research activities in the fields of traumatic brain injury and degenerative diseases.
Pelegri is a fellow of ASME and an associate fellow of AIAA. She has served as PI for 12 NSF awards, including a CARRER award for studying the Interfacial Mechanics of Anisotropic Materials, and several AFOSR, ONR, and DARPA grants, among many others. Currently she holds the position of chair of the Congress Steering Committee of IMECE and she is an active member of the Inter-Sector Committee on Federal Research and Development task force of the ASME U.S. Government Relations Board. She is a former M. W. Railser Distinguished Teaching Chair and was named the 2016 Rutgers University Career Mentor of the Year.
Other faculty awards for 2016 include the A. Walter Tyson Assistant Professorship Award awarded to Vishal Patel, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Peter Jin, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. Established by A. Walter Tyson ENG’52, this award allows the school to recruit promising junior faculty.

The Mary W. Raisler Distinguished Teaching Chair in Mechanical Engineering was awarded to Stephen Tse, mechanical and aerospace engineering professor.

Promotions and Reappointments        

The following faculty were promoted:

Kristin Dana, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Laura Fabris, Associate Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
Hana Godrich, Assistant Teaching Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Adrian Mann Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
Rohit Ramachandran, Associate Professor, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
Jerry Wei-Jen Shan, Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Qingze Zou, Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
The following faculty members have been reappointed:
Nicole Fahrenfeld, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Janne Lindqvist, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering