Lehigh MEM news and highlights
Fall 2022
Packard Lab @ Lehigh University
Dear friends and colleagues:
The Fall issue of our bi-annual newsletter allows us the opportunity to look back on the significant accomplishments of the students, faculty, and alumni of Lehigh's Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (MEM) department.
This year, our faculty secured exciting new research grants (from the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, and National Institute of Health), had their work featured in the media, and won major awards from professional societies. Our students and young alumni are finding success in establishing their careers in academia (four of our recent graduates joining tenure-track faculty positions this Fall), industry, and national laboratories. In the classroom, our faculty create innovative experiential learning opportunities that inspire our students. We highlight those accomplishments in this Fall 2022 newsletter.
This fall, we also welcomed a new faculty member, Dr. Parisa Khodabakhshi, who joined as an Assistant Professor in MEM. Before coming to Lehigh, Dr. Khodabakhshi was a postdoctoral fellow at the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at UT Austin after receiving her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, College Station. Her research focuses on nonlocal mechanics, fracture mechanics, model order reduction, computational mechanics, and multi-fidelity methods. With the addition of Dr. Khodabakhshi, MEM is now proud to have four female tenure-track faculty members.
We are always seeking new ways to connect with alumni and friends of MEM at Lehigh. If you have news to share about at work or ideas for creative educational programs or research collaborations, we would love to hear from you. It has been very exciting for me to lead MEM over the past 1+ year and cheer on our students, faculty, and staff to reach even greater heights. If you are appreciative of our efforts and the direction the department is heading, please consider making MEM your philanthropic priority this holiday season.
I hope your year has also gone well. On behalf of all faculty and staff at MEM, I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
Arindam Banerjee, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, MEM
Lehigh MEM faculty win funding, lead innovative research programs
Professor Eugenio Schuster has been awarded a $1.75 million DOE research grant as part of a $47 million investment by the Department of Energy to accelerate nuclear fusion research and progress toward commercial fusion energy power production. Lehigh's portion of the award will support research at the KSTAR tokamak in South Korea, where Schuster’s Plasma Control Group—together with teams from General Atomics, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL)—will study active control of long-pulse fusion reactions. Read More >>
Assistant Professor Subhrajit Bhattacharya received the NSF CAREER Award for his proposal to use topological abstraction for robot path planning. The goal of this research is to provide robots with algorithms for efficient and accurate motion, with wide-ranging applications in transportation, manufacturing, and health care. Read More >>
Associate Professor Ganesh Balasubramanian, Principal Research Scientist Animesh Kundu, and Professor Helen Chan (Materials Science and Engineering) have been awarded an NSF grant to develop a novel fabrication method for high-entropy alloys that could one day be used in aerospace and other extreme-temperature applications.
Associate Professor Keith Moored is leading a new $7.5M DOD MURI award to study the hydrodynamics of fish locomotion. He sat down to discuss how this research may lead to the design of “schools” of bio-inspired robots that are fast, agile, and stealthy, plus new approaches to renewable energy generation, and deeper insight into the precariousness of the planet’s fish populations. Listen Now >>
Associate Professor Hannah Dailey has been awarded an NIH R21 grant for a project that will use high-fidelity computational models and image data mining techniques to study how mechanical strain between bone fragments limits the healing process after a bone fracture. This new project builds on previous work to develop image-based methods for measuring bone healing. Read More >>
Lehigh MEM in the media
Professor and Department Chair Arindam Banerjee was elected as a Fellow of the ASME for outstanding achievements and contributions to fluid dynamics, including the development of innovative experimental testbeds.
University Fellow, Distinguished Research Scientist, and Director of the Energy Research Center Carlos Romero was elected as a Fellow of the ASME for significant R&D contributions including renewable energy and energy storage.
John Coulter
Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Research John Coulter was elected as a Fellow of the ASME for transformational research on polymer-based manufacturing and a career defined by academic leadership.
Former NASA astronaut and Professor of Practice Terry Hart sat down with WDIY's Teen Scientist podcast to discuss his life and career, as well as all things astronomy – from NASA’s planned Artemis I launch to the recent DART asteroid impact mission.
Lehigh MEM leads in experiential learning
Associate Teaching Professor Christina Haden cultivates a ‘symphony of curiosity’ in her classes and inspires critical thinking in a new generation of engineers. This year, Haden partnered with Melpomene Katakalos, an Associate Professor of Theatre in Lehigh’s College of Arts and Sciences, to design a new course Leonardo da Vinci: the Artist and Engineer. Engineering and non-engineering majors came together to sketch, design, make, and create together in an immersive, hands-on environment. The capstone project -- a kinetic sculpture -- challenged students to discover how art and engineering can collide to beautiful, meaningful effect. Read more >>
This fall, four recent mechanical engineering PhD graduates have started the next stage of their academic research careers as tenure-track faculty members. From left to right above:
Congratulations to our 2022 PhD graduates! Their placements include positions in national labs, Fortune 500 and high-performance startup companies, and research universities:
  • Research Scientist at Sandia National Laboratories
  • Research Scientist at Ames National Laboratory
  • Research Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Research Scientist at Dorabot
  • Senior Hardware Engineer at Infinera Corporation
  • Process Development Engineer at TDK Headway Technologies
  • Software Engineer at Google
  • Postdoctoral Researcher at Oregon Health Sciences University
  • Postdoctoral Researcher at University of Washington
  • And more!
Attention MEM alumni: If you have news to share for a future issue of our newsletter, email us today!
PhD candidate Chris Ruhl '16 '17G first started doing research so he could stay on campus during the summer to train harder for fall season with the Lehigh football team. Today he's a DOE Hydrokinetic Research Fellow looking forward to a research rotation at Sandia National Laboratories funded by the Water Power Technologies Office. Read More >>
PhD candidate John Kershner will continue his work on owl-inspired aero-acoustics to experimentally test bio-inspired designs for aerospace structures at Brandenburg Technical University. Read More >>

Bonus Video: Kershner explains how owl-inspired acoustical design may one day help planes fly quieter. Watch on YouTube >>
We are always seeking new ways to connect with alumni and friends of Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics at Lehigh. If you have news to share, or ideas for creative educational programs or research collaborations, we would love to hear from you.
As the year draws to a close, we ask that you consider giving to directly support our educational and research mission. We are currently fundraising for the following strategic initiatives: summer undergraduate research experiences, doctoral student fellowships, endowed faculty chairs, and more. Thank you in advance for your support!