College of Engineering Research

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Engineering Research

The USA College of Engineering is part of a growing research university of over 14,000 students located on the Gulf Coast, in a region experiencing robust economic growth. Current research income in the College is over $2M annually.

The University of South Alabama has Carnegie Classification “Doctoral University: High Research Activity” and is recognized as a National University by USNews.com and by “Washington Monthly”. 

As well as a Doctoral degree in Systems Engineering, the College offers research-oriented Masters’ degrees in Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.

Shelby Hall, a 165,000² state-of-the-art computing and engineering
building completed in 2012, provides an outstanding research and education facility for the College.

Mobile and the eight surrounding counties received one of 12 U.S. Department of Commerce designations as a “Manufacturing Community.” This geographic area contains 1.2 million people within a 60 mile radius, the 11th largest port in the U.S.A., the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley capable of handling aircraft as large as a C-5A Galaxy heavy transport airplane, the largest combined student population between New Orleans, LA and Tallahassee, FL, and over $5B in private investment in the last seven years from Airbus, Thyssen-Krupp & Austal.

Types of Research in the College of Engineering

Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department

▼   Dr. Grant Glover
  • Adsorbent materials including metal-organize frameworks (MOFs), carbons, and composites.
  • Fibers functionalized with nanostructures and quantum dots
  • Surface chemistry
▼   Dr. Carl Knopf
  • Computer-aided process design
  • Supercritical fluid processing
  • Piston-driven/oscillatory mixing
▼   Dr. Silar Leavesley
  • Novel biomedical and clinical imaging and detection methods
  • Illumination technologies in imaging
  • Hyperspectral imaging and analysis
  • Microscopy, endoscopy, and small-animal fluorescence imaging
▼   Dr. Brooks Rabideau
  • Predicting thermodynamic and transport properties of ionic liquids
  • Molecular simulations of biomass dissolution
  • Binary adsorption in metal-organize frameworks using molecular simulation
  • Yield stress determination using squeezing flow
  • Noninvasive imaging of paste extrusion using MRI velocimetry
  • Self-assembly of nanoparticle superlattices
▼   Dr. Nicholas Sylvester
  • Microcontinuum fluid mechanics
  • Multicomponent adsorption
  • Solid-liquid mass transfer
▼   Dr. Sean Walker
  • Power-to-Gas for energy storage, utility services and support for hydrogen vehicle fleets
  • Use of Power-to-Gas to generate synthetic natural gas from landfill gas and agricultural biogas
  • Use of repurposed electric vehicle (EV) batteries for residential and commercial energy storage
  • Applications of game theoretic models to environmental management decision making
▼   Dr. Christy Wheeler-West
  • Effects of molecular scale environment on reactive chemical systems
  • Behavior of reactive chemical systems
  • Synthesis of efficient oxide-supported noble metal catalysts using supercritical fluid deposition
  • Novel quaternary ammonium salts for phase-transfer catalysis and metal recovery
▼   Dr. Kevin West
  • Solution chemistry and molecular thermodynamics
  • Ionic liquids and supercritical fluids
  • Lipidic ionic liquids for separation of nonpolar species
  • Supercritical fluids as solvents
  • Synthesis methods for components of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs)

Civil, Coastal, and Environmental Engineering Department

▼   Dr. John Cleary
  • Post-disaster structural evaluation and investigation
  • Forensic analysis, investigation, and evaluation
  • Construction vibration evaluation and investigation
  • Instrumentation and testing of in-service structures (buildings and bridges)
  • Investigation and analysis of wave loads on bridges and other structures
  • Structural testing of materials and components
  • Concrete testing and experimentation
  • Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) calibration
▼   Dr. Samantha Islam
  • Transportation and infrastructure systems and planning
  • Application of econometric and statistical methods to highway/traffic safety, traffic congestion, transportation economics
  • Highway safety, application of highway safety manual
  • Resilience in transportation systems
  • Quantifying socio-economic benefits
  • Statistical modeling of traffic accidents and resulting injury severities
  • Design and operation of roundabouts
  • Roadway departure accidents
  • Application of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSs)
  • Traffic operations and control
  • Hurricane evacuation
▼   Dr. Min-Wook Kang
  • Traffic operation, safety, and congestion management of highways and intersections
  • Human factor research: driver distraction and fatigued driving
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based optimization for transportation problems
  • Improvements to transportation systems
▼   Dr. Rebecca MacDonald
  • Construction management
  • Forensic engineering
▼   Dr. Husam Omar
  • Durability of reinforced concrete structures
  • Behavior of structures subjected to extreme wind forces
  • Computer modeling of linear and non-linear structures
  • Modeling of space and lunar structures
▼   Dr. Arka Pandit
  • Sustainability of complex-adaptive systems
  • Resilience of interconnected urban infrastructure systems
  • Novel material development for nutrient removal and recovery
  • Use of adsorptive nanoparticles for wastewater treatment
  • Infrastructure design under 'new normal'
  • Application of 'infrastructure ecology' principles for adaptive urban systems
▼   Dr. Stephanie Smallegan
  • Coastal engineering
  • Beach erosion
  • Barrier islands
  • Impacts of waves and surges
▼   Dr. Eric Steward
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Design, analysis, and construction of foundations, slopes, retaining structures
  • Load and resistance factor design (LRFD) of deep foundations
  • Driven pile setup (freeze) prediction methods
  • Soil/structure interaction
  • Trenchless pipeline infrastructure installation and rehabilitation techniques
▼   Dr. Bret Webb
  • Coastal resilience, vulnerability, and adaption
  • Highways and bridges in the coastal environment
  • Natural hazards including coastal storms and sea level rise
  • Nature-based shore protection including living shorelines
  • Coastal mapping, monitoring, and measurement studies
▼   Dr. Kevin White
  • Environmental engineering
  • Water/wastewater treatment
  • Constructed wetlands for wastewater/storm water treatment
  • Onsite and small-community wastewater
  • Micro-pollutants in wastewater and their treatment
  • Storm water management and treatment
  • Low-impact development practices
▼   Dr. Shenghua Wu
  • Asphalt technology and pavement engineering
  • Smart, resilient and green pavement materials characterization and design
  • Advanced laboratory characterization for asphalt binders and mixtures
  • Pavement recycled materials, rehabilitation and maintenance, and sustainability
  • Pavement performance and modeling, mechanistic-empirical pavement design

Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

▼   Dr. Anthony Bessios
  • Digital signals and systems including DSP
  • Digital image processing
  • Communication systems
  • Receiver techniques for reliable data recovery
▼   Dr. Yousef El-Sharkh
  • Smart grid
  • Distributed generation
  • Renewable and alternative energy systems and virtual power plants
  • Integration of renewables with smart grid
  • Phasor measurement units and wide area monitoring systems
  • Multi-agent systems and distributive control
  • Energy storage systems
  • Power system planning and control, power quality, and power electronics
  • Artificial intelligence (intelligent optimization techniques) in power system problems
▼   Dr. Na Gong
  • Intelligent data-enabled computing circuits and systems
  • Viewer-aware mobile systems
  • Multi-level (device/circuit/architecture/application) efficient and privacy-preserving VLSI circuits and systems
  • Energy0efficient computing
  • Embedded vision
▼   Dr. Aurangzab Khan
  • Multijunction super high efficiency solar cells (InGaP/GaAs/Ge/Si)
  • GaAs/InGaP dual solar cells on low-cost Si and Ge substrates
  • Defects in optoelectronic devices
  • Microelectronics, design of integrated circuits, low voltage/low power VLSI, RF, COMS, simulation
  • Radiation-hard electronic materials; nanostructures, nanoelectronics, solid state sensors for space applications
  • Advanced materials for PhotoElectroChemical (PEC) hydrogen production, nanocomposites, carbon nanotubes and nanofibers
▼   Dr. Hulya Kirkici
  • Electrical insulation
  • Pulsed power engineering
  • Breakdown characteristics of dielectrics
  • Compact plasma switches
  • Pulsed plasmas
  • Laser and lidar systems
▼   Dr. Saeed Latif
  • Antennas and sensors for biomedical devices
  • Large-scale antenna arrays for 4G/5G wireless systems
  • Metasurfaces for millimeter wave applications
  • Miniaturized antennas for satellite applications
  • Antennas for radar detection and biomedical imaging
  • Antenna concepts using engineered and low loss materials
▼   Dr. Georgios Lazarou
  •  Wireless and wired network and next generation internet technologies
  • Development of network and cloud management and monitoring software systems
  • Network and future internet architectures
  • Dynamic and adaptable protocols and algorithms
  • Statistical modeling
  • Simulation of network and intelligent automated systems based on machine learning and pattern recognition
▼   Dr. Samuel Russ
  • Embedded systems, including microprocessor-based design, sensors, nanosatellites, and robotic agriculture
  • Consumer electronics including digital video recording and home networking
  • Systems engineering for high-volume electronic manufacturing
  • Signal integrity, design of high-speed digital systems
▼   Dr. Adel Sakla
  • Programmable logic devices (PLDs)
  • Embedded systems 
▼   Dr. Edmund Spencer
  • Space plasma physics and space weather
  • Instruments for space science and space plasme characterization
  • Interaction of solar wind with the earth's magnetosphere 
▼   Dr. John Steadman
  • Bioengineering
  • Medical electronics
  • Electronic instrumentation
  • Environmental monitoring
  • digital electronics
  • Microcomputers 
▼   Dr. Tom Thomas
  • Automated environmental monitoring, including air, water, and soil monitoring for contaminants using chromatographic, spectroscopic or optical instrumentation
  • Robotics and robotic sensors
  • Hyperspectral image processing for target recognition and tracking, environmental monitoring and detection of disease
  • Chemical adsorption, absorption and material separation using zeolite-based materials 
  • Engineering education 
▼   Dr. Daniela Touma
  • Wireless power transfer (WPT) by inductive link
  • Transcutaneous energy transmission (TET)
  • Simulation of electromagnetic effects by finite element method (FEM)
  • Optimization methods, including multi-objective and single-objective algorithms
  • Smart Grids
  • System  automation with programmable logic controllers (PLCs)
▼   Dr. JinHui Wang
  • Very-large-scale integration (VLSI) circuits and systems
  • Three-dimensional integrated-circuit (3D IC) design
  • Neuromorphic computing hardware based on CMOS and emerging devices
  • Hardware-enabled privacy preserving in cyber security
  • Novel memory design including SRAM and DRAM
  • Non-volatile memories based on emerging devices such as memristors
  • Cooling techniques for electronic devices
  • Wireless sensor networks and Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Electronic subsystems for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) 
▼   Dr. Clive Woods
  • Novel microelectronic devices, including optical applications and imaging
  • Models of semiconductor avalanching and electronic devices using avalanche breakdown
  • Phototransistors and bipolar transistors using III-V semiconductors
  • Band-gap engineered devices including multi-quantum-well photodetectors 
  • Acoustic charge transfer (ACT devices and their applications
  • Surface-acoustic wave (SAW) devices for signal processing
  • High-frequency gravitational waves
  • Superconducting devices

William B. Burnsed Jr. Department of Mechanical Engineering

▼   Dr. Melike Dizbay-Onat
  • Natural fiber derived activated carbons
  • Physical and chemical activation methods
  • Physical adsorption
  • Porous materials
  • Bio-based composites
  • Engineering education
  • STEM Outreach
▼   Dr. Kuang-Ting Hsiao
  • 3D printing of polymer composites
  • Carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites
  • Artificial intelligence in advanced manufacturing
  • Void and defect characterization and modeling for polymer composites
  • Micro/nanofluids and suspensions in porous media
  • Functionally graded materials
  • Rheology, viscous flow, ER/MR fluids
  • Transport phenomena in porous media
  • Energy storage and harvesting
▼   Dr. Julia Kar
  • Medical imaging modalities such as mRS, ECG and Spectroscopy
  • Clinical heart failure detection
  • Magnetic resonance sequence (contrast, phase, SPAMM, perfusion, DENSE, T1/T2) development
▼   Dr. Hee Seok Kim
  • Synthesis of materials for conversion of thermal to electric energy
  • Transport phenomena of electrons and phonons in semiconducting materials
  • Material-level characterization: physical properties for high energy conversion and mechanical properties for thermal stability
  • Device-level characterization: design factors, contact interfaces, thermal stability, compatibility, system reliability
  • Development of systems for characterization of material properties to energy conversion efficiency and electric power generation from fully assembled devices
  • Bridging the gap between materials and device technologies in thermoelectrics
  • Flexible, biocompatible power management systems
  • Wearable hybrid smart electronics for physiological sensors
▼   Dr. Richard Kramer
  • Formulation of low temperature solid propellants for long-term residence on Mars
  • Formulation of liquid and hybrid rocket engine power cycles
  • Analytical estimation of aerodynamic coefficients for supersonic vehicles
  • Analysis of combustion in liquid, solid and hybrid rocket engines
  • Conceptual design of throttleable solid rocket motors
  • Conceptual design of scramjet, detonation wave ramjet, and combined cycle engines
  • System engineering of interceptor missiles and launch vehicles
▼   Dr. Todd Lillian
  • Modeling, simulation, and reconstruction of DNA including supercoil dynamics and looping mechanics
  • Compliant mechanism (or flexure) design and analysis
▼   Dr. Carlos Montalvo
  • Dynamic simulation coupled with applied estimation of custom made aircraft
  • Experiment flight testing to improve the performance of autonomous aerospace vehicles
  • Flight dynamics, control and design of unmanned aerial vehicles with a focus on multi-body systems
  • Reconfigurable control laws and multirotor vehicles
  • Rocket ascent dynamics and controls
  • Tethered aerospace vehicles including electrical sails and parafoils
▼   Dr. David Nelson
  • Human thermoregulation and thermoregulation modeling
  • Human thermal comfort
  • Biological effects of non-ionizing radiation
  • Biological effects of millimeter wave exposure
  • Medical device design
  • Heat Transfer enhancement
▼   Dr. Anh-Vu Phan
  • Boundary element methods with applications to dynamic fracture mechanics and moving boundary problems
  • Computational biomechanics
▼   Dr. Joseph Richardson
  • Hypersingular integral equations in heat conduction and stress analysis including fracture mechanics
  • Modeling strain gradient elasticity
  • Modeling functionally graded materials
  • Multipole methods accelerated with fast Fourier transforms
  • Airfoil design and modeling
  • Delaunay triangulations in representing and simulating random structure
  • Nonlinear, unpredictable random number generation
  • Ascent debris transport in supersonic flows
  • Dynamic modeling of space tethers 
▼   Dr. Dhananjay Tambe
  • Monolayer Stress Microscopy
  • Mechanics of cellular monolayers
  • Collective cell migration
  • Mechanics of barrier function
  • Migration of Listeria monocytogenes
  • Mechanics of thin crystalline films
  • Application of analytical and numerical techniques to assess stresses, stability, and kinetics of thin semiconductor films 

Systems Engineering Department

▼   Dr. Robert Cloutier
  • Model-based systems engineering
  • Model-based engineering
  • Digital Thread/Digital Twin
  • System Architecture Patterns
  • Graphical concept of operations (CONOPS)
▼   Dr. Henry Lester
  • Systems modeling, analysis, and optimization
  • Complex operational infrastructure and management systems and processes
  • Systems vulnerable to disruptions
▼   Dr. John Usher
  • Systems simulation, modeling and analysis
  • Design and analysis of production systems
  • Application of artificial intelligence in manufacturing
  • Database design and development