Celebrating the women faculty of Mechanical Engineering

The School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University features 16 women faculty members. They are experts in fluid mechanics, robotics, sustainability, acoustics, structural monitoring, human-machine interaction, turbomachinery, computational engineering, heat transfer, and much more. In honor of Women's History Month, let's meet these amazing women.


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Arezoo Ardekani

Arezoo is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, with a courtesy appointment in Mathematics. She studies the fundamental properties of complex fluids and multiphase flows of Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids, with applications in biological systems, biomedical devices, energy applications, and environmental remediation. Her research of biofilms at air-water interfaces showed why microbes were attracted to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She is an ASME Fellow, a Purdue University Faculty Scholar, and has received early career awards from both the NSF and President Barack Obama.

Laura Blumenschein

Laura is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering.  She finished her PhD at Stanford, after an MS and BS from Rice University.  Her research interests involve soft robotics, from the fundamental (classification of soft actuators) to the functional (robotic construction, wearable robotics, etc.).  She has created soft growing robots that emulate plants; wearable robotics that incorporate haptic feedback; and obstacle sensing mechanisms to study how robots interact with their environment.

Rebecca Ciez

Rebecca is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Environmental & Ecological Engineering. She got her BS from Columbia, and PhD from Carnegie Mellon. Her focus is on sustainability, at the intersection of energy technologies, economics, and decision-making process to minimize the cost of transitioning to new, decarbonized energy systems. She has worked on new energy storage systems, transportation alternatives, and industrial decarbonization.

Patricia Davies

Patricia is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, with a courtesy appointment in Psychology. She is an authority in the world of acoustics, with a particular focus on how noise impacts human comfort and perception (health, productivity, sleep disturbance, etc.) From 2005 to 2019, she served as the director of Herrick Labs, and oversaw its $30 million expansion in 2013. As part of the expansion, she helped to design its Perception-Based Engineering lab, a collaboration between psychologists and engineers. She is heavily involved in acoustics societies, serving as Past President of the Institute of Noise Control Engineers (INCE), and helping to organize acoustics conferences around the world.

Xinyan Deng

Xinyan is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, with a focus on bio-inspired robotics. Her hummingbird robot uses just two actuators to hover and fly using unsteady aerodynamics, navigating in tight spaces where drones can't go. She has also built robots that emulate fish and dragonflies, modeling both their aerodynamics and their control systems.

Shirley Dyke

Shirley is a professor of both Mechanical Engineering and Civil Engineering. In her Intelligent Infrastructure Systems Laboratory, she brings technological advances to building design and structural monitoring. She designed a system that uses deep learning to automate rapid analysis of disaster damage. Her latest initiative is the Resilient Extra-Terrestrial Habitats Institute (RETHi), a $15 million NASA-funded Space Technology Research Institute that determines how future habitats on the Moon or Mars can be made resilient to multiple dangers.

Beth Hess

Beth is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Mechanical Engineering. After getting her MS, BS, and PhD from Purdue, she worked for Med Institute in West Lafayette, helping to guide medical devices through clinical trials. Now she teaches undergraduate classes like Thermodynamics and Machine Design, and is consistently one of the highest-rated instructors by undergraduate students.

Neera Jain

Neera is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Her research focuses on dynamic modeling and control theory, applied to such wide-ranging systems as thermal management, manufacturing, and transportation. She works with Tahira Reid Smith on human-machine trust, designing systems that measure how much human beings trust machines, and adjusting the machines' responses appropriately. She also works with Greg Shaver on tractor-trailers that autonomously platoon to save fuel. She is a frequent contributor to Forbes, on the topic of human-machine interactions. 

Nicole Key

Nicole is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, with a courtesy appointment in Aeronautics & Astronautics. She is also Associate Head for Graduate Studies. As a researcher, she focuses on high-speed turbomachinery, specifically the effects of blade row interactions on compressor performance and durability in both axial compressors and centrifugal compressors. She helped to develop a system that senses miniscule vibrations to diagnose the health of a gas turbine engine. She also recently opened two new test cells at Zucrow Labs, the largest academic propulsion lab in the world.

Marisol Koslowski

Marisol is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and also serves as the school's Assistant Head for Engagement and Partnerships. Her research focus is on computational engineering, modeling the solid mechanics of micro- and nano-structured materials. She is currently working with the Purdue Energetics Research Center on the fracture of polymer explosives.

Tian Li

Tian is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering.  After her BS from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, she finished her PhD at University of Maryland. Her research interests are naturally nanostructured materials; energy, water, and wearable technology; and manufacturing. She has worked with materials on the microscale, nanoscale, and sub-nanometer scale, including novel formulations of wood to perform radiative cooling and thermal insulating.

Min Liu

Min Liu is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Tsinghua University; currently, she is also a visiting assistant professor at Purdue, working with Karthik Ramani. She teaches the ME444 Toy Design class, guiding students through computer-aided design and prototype creation, using toys as the main subject. Her current research interests are in geometric processing of 3D shapes for manufacturing applications, pattern recognition and feature analysis in 2D/3D images.

Nina Mahmoudian

Nina is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Her field of expertise is robotics, particularly autonomous robots that operate in challenging environments. She has developed an underwater glider with increased maneuverability in shallow and deep water, able to silently survey the seas for months at a time. She is the leading innovator of adaptable, portable, autonomous underwater docking systems, which enables underwater vehicles to autonomously recharge their own batteries.

Amy Marconnet

Amy is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. At her Marconnet Thermal & Energy Conversion (MTEC) Lab, she studies heat transfer, energy conversion, and material science. She has examined how the components of lithium-ion batteries are affected by heat, and studied polymer fabrics with the same thermal conductivity of stainless steel. She also collaborated with Tahira Reid Smith on the thermal properties of curly hair.

Monique McClain

Monique is a Research Scientist in Mechanical Engineering, scheduled to become Assistant Professor in summer 2021.  After a BS at the University of California San Diego, she finished her MS and PhD at Purdue.  Her research focuses on additive manufacturing, including quality control, dissimilar material 3D printing, and additive manufacturing of energetic materials.  She collaborated with Jeff Rhoads, George Chiu, Emre Gunduz, and Steve Son to develop a method to print extremely viscous materials, including solid rocket fuel.

Tahira Reid Smith

Tahira is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Her research focuses on design, specifically integrating human-centered considerations into the design process. She has applied these principles with Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and as a Visiting NASA Scholar. She has collaborated with Amy Marconnet to study the thermal properties of curly hair, and collaborates with Neera Jain on using bio-sensors and eye-tracking to gauge human-machine trust.