Preeminent Teams

Catapulting Research to International Preeminence 

One way that Purdue Engineering is shaping the future of research is through preeminent teams. Complementing traditional hiring in the disciplines, we are hiring faculty and providing support to build preeminent teams in research areas with the greatest potential for world-changing impact. Building “preeminent teams” is a research-centric approach to faculty hiring that asks: 
 
What would it take to catapult your high-impact research area to international preeminence?
 
The effort is part of the College’s strategic growth plan that will add as many as 107 faculty over five years. 
 
The teams are building on existing strengths within the College. In the inaugural competition in 2013, four teams were selected from 32 that competed in a public process akin to an entrepreneur’s pitch to venture capitalists. In 2014, four teams were selected from a pool of 27, bringing the total to eight as of academic year 2014-15.
 
Each team receives a strategic investment of faculty lines, resources, and space.  Preeminent teams must demonstrate:
 
  • Strong leadership 
  • Promise of transformative impact
  • Promise of preeminence
  • Potential for collaboration
  • Potential for diverse sources of research funding
  • Contribution to the education enterprise
  • Contribution to innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Leveraging of existing strengths and infrastructure

History of Preeminent Teams

We held the first preeminent teams competition in fall 2013. Mirroring the energy, responsiveness, and agility of the entrepreneurial world, 32 teams competed in a public process akin to an entrepreneur’s pitch to venture capitalists. Four teams were selected to receive a stra­tegic investment of faculty lines, resources, and space

From 2003 to 2013, Purdue Engineering organized much of its faculty hiring and research around signature areas — multidisciplinary initiatives that cut across Purdue’s engineering and related disciplines. These signature areas have addressed, and continue to address, priorities and exciting opportunities for field-defining research, educational innovation, and intellectual property spin-offs.

The signature-area model has evolved. While Preeminent Teams may be multidisciplinary, for example, it is not a requirement.

The Teams

2014-15

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 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: Carl Wassgren, Professor of Mechanical 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

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. 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

Spintronics: Atoms to Systems

Research into development of new types of computer memory and electronic devices based on "spintronics." 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

Cold Plasmas

Extreme density, low-temperature plasmas for electronics, aerospace, food science and biotechnology applications. 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

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

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."

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

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

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.

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

Flexible and Efficient Spectrum Usage

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.

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

Quantum Photonics

Quantum photonics 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.
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