Building Preeminent Teams

The Preeminent Teams Process

What areas will define Purdue Engineering research in the next decade?  Building Preeminent Teams is a research-centric approach to faculty hiring that asks: How would you put your research expertise and leadership skills to use to form a team (approximately 4-8 current + new faculty) to catapult your research area, or an emerging research area of potential, to international preeminence? What existing faculty expertise and infrastructure exist at Purdue and what is still needed to maximize our potential for success in this area? These investment areas are being developed through a public process akin to that where entrepreneurs pitch a proposal to venture capitalists, and is part of the College’s ongoing theme of bringing characteristics of the entrepreneurial world to the research world. Criteria for the Preeminent Teams competition included:

  1. Strong Leadership in multiple dimensions, including organizational and technical leadership
  2. Promise of preeminence (being in the top 1-5)
  3. Promise of transformative impact
  4. Potential for collaboration
  5. Potential and strategies for sustainable research funding from diverse sectors
  6. Contribution to the education enterprise
  7. Contribution to innovation and entrepreneurship
  8. Leveraging existing strengths and infrastructure

The preeminent team process is part of the college’s strategic growth plan that will add as many of 107 faculty over five years. In addition to the team hiring, other hires are related to strengthening disciplines and taking advantage of opportunities to enhance quality and diversity.

Engineering’s strategic growth plan is part of the Purdue Moves, a range of initiatives designed to broaden Purdue’s global impact and enhance educational opportunities for students.

The 2015-16 Competition

The third Preeminent Teams competition will take place in Fall 2015:

Preeminent Teams Round 1 Pitches - Thursday, September 10, 2015

Preeminent Teams Round 2 Pitches - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The 2014-15 Preeminent Teams

Four 2014-15 teams were selected from 27 teams that competed in a two-stage process conducted in September/October 2014. In the first round, each team presented a 5-minute pitch followed by 5 minutes of questions and answers from the panel of 22 distinguished faculty from the colleges of Engineering, Science, and Agriculture.

9 teams advanced to round 2, where the panel included both internal and external panelists: Purdue faculty from Engineering and outside Engineering and alums who have spent their careers making decisions about future directions, leadership, and investments. Round 2 pitches were 10 minutes plus a 10-minute question and answer session.  Based on the recommendation of the panel, four teams were selected for investment of faculty lines, resources, and space.

Watch a winning team’s pitch from the 2014-15 competition.

Team #3 — Designer Particulate Products

A research center for the manufacture of particulate products including foods and feed, consumer goods, specialty chemicals, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals and energetic materials. The team is led by Jim Litster, a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Industrial and Physical Pharmacy. The work will focus on a model-based process design to produce engineered particles and structured particulate products, develop the understanding of process-structure-function relationships for these products, and build capacity through a highly qualified workforce in particulate science and engineering. The research could impact applications in areas including drug delivery and agriculture. Particle products contribute more than $1 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, and a number of companies are headquartered in the Midwest.

Team Leader:

Jim Litster, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Industrial and Physical Pharmacy

Team Members:

Klein Ileleji, Associate Professor of Agricultural & Biological Engineering
Zoltan Nagy, Professor of Chemical  Engineering
Lynne Taylor, Professor of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy
Carl Wassgren, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Industrial and Physical Pharmacy

Team #5 — Nanomanufacturing

Nanomanufacturing research aimed at creating "aware-responsive" films with applications in pharmacy, agriculture, food packaging, and functional non-woven materials for uses including wound dressings and diapers. The team is led by Ali Shakouri, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and the Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center. Nanomanufacturing can bring advances such as: smart pharmaceuticals that release medications differently for specific patients; food packaging that contains sensors to monitor food quality; and cheap sensors for health monitoring.

Team Leader:

Ali Shakouri, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center

Team Members:

Jan Allebach, Hewlett Packard Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Gary Cheng, Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering
George Chiu, Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Timothy Fisher, James G. Dwyer Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Joe Kokini, Professor of Food Science
Kinam Park, Showalter Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Rodo Pinal, Associate Professor of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy
Arvind Raman, Associate Dean for Global Engineering Programs and Robert V Adams Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Alex Wei, Professor of Chemistry
Jeff Youngblood, Associate Professor of Materials Engineering
Babak Ziaie, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Team #7 — Spintronics: Atoms to Systems

Research into development of new types of computer memory and electronic devices based on "spintronics." The team is led by Supriyo Datta, the Thomas Duncan Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In 2006, the semiconductor industry and the National Science Foundation launched the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI) to look for "the next transistor." Purdue researchers led by the Network for Computational Nanotechnology and the Birck Nanotechnology Center have been a visible and active part of the NRI since its inception. Conventional computers use the presence and absence of an electric charge to represent ones and zeroes in a binary code needed to carry out computations. Spintronics, however, uses the "spin state" of electrons to represent ones and zeros. Purdue could play a leading role in this new field emerging from the confluence of spintronics and nanomagnetics.

Team Leader:

Supriyo Datta, Thomas Duncan Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Team Members:

Joerg Appenzeller, Barry M. and Patricia L. Epstein Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Scientific Director of Nanoelectronics in the Birck Nanotechnology Center
Yong Chen, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Electrical and Computer Engineering
Zhihong Chen, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Ernesto Marinero, Professor of Engineering Practice of Materials Engineering
Anand Raghunathan, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Kaushik Roy, Edward G. Tiedemann Jr. Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Team #11 — Cold Plasmas

Extreme density, low-temperature plasmas for electronics, aerospace, food science and biotechnology applications. The team is led by Sergey Macheret, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics. Low-temperature plasmas (LTP) are weakly ionized gases that are being extensively used in fluorescent lights and in microchip fabrication. New ways of generating and controlling LTP could lead to new applications ranging from medicine and food processing to enhancing aerodynamics and propulsion performance of existing and future airplanes. The ability of plasmas to interact with electromagnetic waves, combined with controllability and "tunability" of plasma characteristics, could enable novel radio-frequency devices. 

Team Leader:

Sergey Macheret, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics 

Team Members:

Alina Alexeenko, Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Sally Bane, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Timothy Fisher, James G. Dwyer Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Allen Garner, Assistant Professor of Nuclear Engineering
Ahmed Hassanein, Paul L. Wattelet Professor of Nuclear Engineering & Head, School of Nuclear Engineering
Kevin Keener, Professor of Food Science
Robert Lucht, Ralph and Bettye Bailey Professor of Combustion in Mechanical Engineering
Dimitrios Peroulis, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

The 2013-14 Preeminent Teams

Four 2013-14 teams were selected from 32 teams that competed in a two-stage process conducted in September/October 2013. In the first round, each team presented a 5-minute pitch followed by 5 minutes of questions and answers from the panel of 13 distinguished faculty from the colleges of Engineering, Science, and Agriculture.

12 teams advanced to round 2, where the panel included both internal and external panelists: Purdue faculty from Engineering and outside Engineering and alums who have spent their careers making decisions about future directions, leadership, and investments. Round 2 pitches were 10 minutes plus a 10-minute question and answer session.  Based on the recommendation of the panel, four teams were selected for investment of faculty lines, resources, and space.

Watch two of the winning teams' 5-minute pitches from the 2013-14 competition.

Implantable Networks of Wireless Nanoelectronic Nodes will Catalyze a Paradigm Shift in Medical Treatment

Team Leader:

Pedro Irazoqui, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Team Members:

Ashraf Alam, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Bill Chappell, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Mark Lundstrom, Don & Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

The team is led by Pedro P. Irazoqui, director of Purdue's Center for Implantable Devices, associate head for research, associate professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. Wireless implantable devices are being developed for various potential applications including monitoring and suppression of epileptic seizures; prosthesis control for injured military personnel; modulation of cardiac arrhythmias; treatment of depression, and gastroparesis, a partial paralysis of the stomach; and monitoring of intraocular pressure and therapeutic intervention for glaucoma. The research calls for a partnership among the Center for Implantable Devices with the National Science Foundation NEEDS (Nano-Engineered Electronic Device Simulation) initiative led by Mark Lundstrom, the Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering; the Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine neurosurgical practice; and the Indiana University School of Medicine. "The key enabling technologies come from nanotechnology," Irazoqui said. "Access to them comes from our partnership with NEEDS, and the clinical impact, which is the overarching goal, happens as a result of our partnership with the hospitals in Indianapolis."

Energetic Materials: Science, Engineering, Sensing, and Detection for Defense and Security Applications

Team Leader:
Steve Beaudoin, Professor of Chemical Engineering

Team Members:
Bryan Boudouris, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
Charlie Bouman, Showalter Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Wayne Chen, Professor or Aeronautics and Astronautics and Professor of Materials Engineering
Jeff Rhoads, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Steve Son, Professor of Mechanical Engineering

New methods to study energetic materials, including explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics, for applications largely focused on national defense and security. The research team is led by Stephen Beaudoin, a professor of chemical engineering. Researchers are working to characterize, detect and defeat existing and emerging energetic materials and to develop new and improved materials for military applications. The primary driver is in homeland security environments, work that aims to transform the way that explosives screening is performed, allowing the implementation of arrays of complementary sensors designed to detect and track explosives when they are at large distances from intended targets. Some technologies being developed will analyze the spectrum of light shining through vaporized samples. Others will analyze solid residues. The research includes work focusing on detecting traces of explosives, characterizing homemade explosives so that their threat can be better assessed, and using CT and other scanners to detect and identify bulk explosives in containers such as luggage and cargo cases. "The work we do aims to improve screening for explosives at airports, sea ports and other public venues like football arenas and the civilian infrastructure," Beaudoin said.

Flexible and Efficient Spectrum Usage

Team Leader: 
David Love, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Team Members:
Bill Chappell, Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Ed Delp, Charles William Harrison Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Jim Krogmeier, Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Techniques to more efficiently use the increasingly congested radio spectrum for communications in commercial, military and emergency services applications. The growing number of mobile devices in operation threatens a coming spectrum crisis. Advances are needed to ensure reliable communications to reduce dropped calls and slow downloads and to ease congestion over the airwaves. The research team is led by David Love, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and University Faculty Scholar. The effort dovetails with a recent national focus on the problem. Congress approved a national broadband plan in March 2010. The White House announced a $100 million investment in spectrum initiatives earlier this year, and efforts also involve multiple government agencies including the National Science Foundation and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The research aims to help reduce interference in radio communications and allow high-priority radios for the military and disaster-relief to operate with minimal disruption and loss of life, Love said. Researchers are developing advanced models and mathematical theory to better analyze and understand radio transmissions.

Quantum Photonics

Team Leader:
Vlad Shalaev, Robert and Anne Burnett Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Team Members:
Chris Greene, Distinguished Professor of Physics
Andy Weiner, Scifres Family Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Collaborators:
Alexandra Boltasseva, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Yong Chen, Associate Professor of Physics
Gary Cheng, Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Young L. Kim, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Evgenii Narimanov, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Minghao Qi, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Xianfan Xu, James J. and Carol L. Shuttleworth Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Quantum photonics, which could make possible future quantum information systems far more powerful than today's computers. The research team is led by Vladimir M. Shalaev, scientific director of nanophotonics at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center and the Robert and Anne Burnett Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The technology hinges on using single photons – the tiny particles that make up light – for switching and routing in future computers that might harness the exotic principles of quantum mechanics. The quantum information processing technology would use structures called "metamaterials," artificial nanostructured media. The metamaterials, when combined with tiny optical emitters, could make possible a new hybrid technology that uses quantum light in future computers. Computers based on quantum physics would have quantum bits, or qubits, that exist in both the on and off states simultaneously, dramatically increasing the computer's power and memory. Quantum computers would take advantage of a strange phenomenon described by quantum theory called entanglement. Instead of only the states of one and zero, there are many possible entangled quantum states in between one and zero. "Other important quantum information applications include, for example, a quantum internet, secure information, quantum simulators, atomic clocks, ultra-powerful sensors, quantum cryptography and teleportation," Shalaev said.

Additional Information

On November 12, 2014, the College of Engineering announced the faculty hiring aimed at creating preeminent teams in 4 areas. See the press release.

On November 7, 2013, The College of Engineering announced the faculty hiring aimed at creating preeminent teams in 4 areas. See the press release and presentation at the President's Forum.  

Faculty searches are under way.

Please direct questions about faculty hiring at Purdue to Professor Klod Kokini, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, at coeacademicaffairs@purdue.edu.