SEAS welcome 9 new faculty members

by Jane Stoyle Welch

Published September 30, 2020

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences welcomes nine new faculty members this fall, bringing with them renowned expertise in the fields of artificial intelligence, biometrics, computer vision, data visualization and mining, energy harvesting, machine learning, and project and quality management.

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“It gives me great pleasure to welcome the new members to our SEAS community and I look forward to how their expertise will help lead us to even higher levels of innovation, excellence, and impact.”
Kemper Lewis, dean
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome the new members to our SEAS community and I look forward to how their expertise will help lead us to even higher levels of innovation, excellence, and impact,” says Kemper Lewis, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Of the nine, Siwei Lyu and Nalini Ratha join SEAS as SUNY Empire Innovation Professors and both are affiliated with the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Below are mini-bios of each listing their prior degrees, work experience, research interests and other noteworthy information.

Computer Science and Engineering

Siwei Lyu, SUNY Empire Innovation Professor

Siwei Lyu.

Siwei Lyu, SUNY Empire Innovation Professor

Joins UB from: The University at Albany, State University of New York, where he was a professor in the Department of Computer Science and the founding director of the Computer Vision and Machine Learning Lab.

Research interests: Digital media forensics, computer vision and machine learning.

Noteworthy: Lyu has published over 140 refereed journal and conference papers. He received a Google Faculty Research Award in 2019, the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activities in 2018, the IEEE Signal Processing Society Best Paper Award in 2011, and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2010. He currently serves on the IEEE Signal Processing Society's Information Forensics and Security Technical Committee, and is on the Editorial Board of IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security. He is a senior member of IEEE, ACM, Sigma Xi and Omicron Delta Kappa.

Education: PhD, Computer Science, Dartmouth College.

Hometown: Shenyang, People’s Republic of China.

Nalini Ratha, SUNY Empire Innovation Professor

Nalini Ratha.

Nalini Ratha, SUNY Empire Innovation Professor

Joins UB from: The IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, where he was a research staff member.

Research interests: Computer vision, artificial intelligence, biometrics and fairness, and trust in AI.

Noteworthy: Ratha is a Fellow of IEEE and International Association of Pattern Recognition, and an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) distinguished scientist. He received the IEEE Biometrics Council Leadership Award in 2019 and has received several IBM awards including a Research Division Award, Outstanding Innovation Award and Outstanding Technical Accomplishment Award, along with several patent achievement awards. In 2018, he was named as IBM Research Division Master Inventor. During 2011-2012, he served as the President of the IEEE Biometrics Council. He has authored more than 80 research publications, and co-chaired several workshops on the topics of blockchain, biometrics, and fairness and trust in AI, and co-edited several special issues of IEEE publications.

Education: PhD, Computer Science, Michigan State University.

Hometown: Yorktown Heights, New York.

Nasrin Akhter, assistant professor of teaching

Nasrin Akhter.

Nasrin Akhter, assistant professor of teaching

Joins UB from: George Mason University, where she was a PhD student and Graduate Lecturer in the Computer Science Department.

Research interests: Machine learning and computational biology.

Noteworthy: Akhter received the Outstanding Graduate Student award in 2019 and Outstanding Graduate Teaching award in 2017, both from George Mason University. She also serves as a reviewer of IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and PLOS ONE. She was an intern at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for two summers, where she did research in the area of structural bioinformatics in the Information Sciences group.

Education: PhD, Computer Science, George Mason University.

Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Ziming Zhao, assistant professor

Ziming Zhao.

Ziming Zhao, assistant professor

Joins UB from: The Rochester Institute of Technology, where he was an assistant professor, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, where he was a visiting faculty member this summer.

Research interests: Hardware-assisted security, system security, usable security and cybercrime analysis.

Noteworthy: Zhao directs the CyberspACe securiTy and forensIcs Lab (CactiLab) and advises the hacking team Cacti, which participates in hardware and software Capture The Flag (CTF) competitions. He received Best Paper Awards from USENIX Security 2019, ACM CODASPY 2014, and ITU Kaleidoscope 2016, and his research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense.

Education: PhD, Computer Science, Arizona State University.

Hometown: Sichuan, People’s Republic of China, which is famous for its spicy food and Sichuan pepper.

Engineering Education

Corey Schimpf, assistant professor

Corey Schimpf.

Corey Schimpf, assistant professor

Joins UB from: The Concord Consortium, where he was a research scientist.

Research interests: Agent architecture and AI, design research and design thinking, data visualization, critical studies, data mining, educational technology, case-based methods, research methods, and computational social science.

Noteworthy: Schimpf is the Program Chair-Elect for the Design in Engineering Education Division of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference, and he is a member of the Reviewers College for the International Journal of Social Research Methodology. His research work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council (UK Funding Agency).

Education: PhD, Engineering Education, Purdue University.

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio.

Alice Nightingale, assistant professor of teaching

Alice Nightingale.

Alice Nightingale, assistant professor of teaching

Joins UB from: Nightingale has been serving as an adjunct teaching professor in UB’s Department of Engineering Education, where she taught statics and dynamics.

Research interests: Adaptive-optic control and aero-optics.

Noteworthy: Prior to moving to Buffalo, Nightingale was a contributing member of the Aero-Optics Group at Notre Dame as a Research Assistant Faculty. The group is involved in researching the aero-optic effects and the mitigation of those effects caused by turbulent flows on aircraft-mounted optical devices. Nightingale is also interested in curricular design and preparing students for professional practice as engineers.

Education: PhD, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Notre Dame.

Hometown: Williamsville, New York.

Industrial and Systems Engineering

Cecilia Martinez Leon, associate professor of teaching

Cecilia Martinez Leon.

Cecilia Martinez Leon, associate professor of teaching

Joins UB from: Clarkson University, where she was an associate professor of engineering and management.

Research interests: Quality management, project management and lean systems engineering. Overall, her research interests lie in identifying, articulating, and integrating engineering and management principles for developing effective product development and continuous improvement deployment frameworks for successful and sustained performance excellence.

Noteworthy:  Martinez is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and prior to working in academia, has worked for the automobile and electronics industries. She has served as a process improvement consultant across the different functions of businesses from the manufacturing and service sectors. She recently co-authored a book on improving health care quality, and her last team of capstone students from Clarkson University won first place in the IISE Operational Excellence Student Best Paper Competition.

Education: PhD, Systems and Engineering Management, Texas Tech and ScD, Engineering Sciences, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico.

Hometown: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Jiaoyan Li, assistant professor

Jiaoyan Li.

Jiaoyan Li, assistant professor

Joins UB from: Idaho National Laboratory, where she was a postdoctoral associate.

Research interests: Multiscale modeling from atom to continuum, computational mechanics and high-performance computing, with applications to nano-/bio-/energy systems.

Noteworthy: Li received an Early Career Travel Fellowship to participate in the International Congress of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from the National Academy of Science, and earned the Best Student Poster Award at the 12th U.S. National Congress on Computational Mechanics.

Education: PhD, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, The George Washington University.

Hometown: Shenyang, People’s Republic of China.

Jun Liu, assistant professor

Jun Liu.

Jun Liu, assistant professor

Joins UB from: Liu has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UB, where he worked on mechanoelectrical and photo-tribo-tunneling effects.

Research interests: Advanced materials and nanomechanics for energy harvesting.

Noteworthy: Liu has published 25 papers in high-profile journals such as Nature Nanotechnology, Science Advances, Matter, Materials Horizons and Nano Energy, and has filed one U.S. provisional patent and four invention disclosures. He has received several awards and honors, including the Microsystem and Nanoengineering (MINE2020) Young Scientist Award, Best Scientific Research Award at the 2019 U.S. Nanosymposium on Scanning Probe Microscopy, and has been an invited speaker at several professional conferences including MRS, SPIE, and NENS. The commercialization of Liu’s technology has been supported by the NSF I-Corps program and UB Accelerator program.

Education: PhD, Materials Engineering, University of Alberta.

Hometown: Ganzhou, People’s Republic of China.