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 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.

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

2013-14 Preeminent Teams

2013-14 Winning Preeminent Teams

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


Additional Information

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.

Purdue College of Engineering current open searches — Preeminent Teams searches will be listed as the search committees are formed and the search launched.

Please direct questions about faculty hiring at Purdue to Professor Klod Kokini, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, at