Five new faculty members have joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MatSE) at Penn State in 2020—three tenure-line faculty, one assistant teaching professor, and one assistant research professor.
“I am delighted that these outstanding faculty have joined the department,” said Susan Sinnott, professor and head of the department. “Their unique expertise will enable the development of novel materials, advance our educational mission, and strengthen materials science and engineering at Penn State.”
Urara Hasegawa is an assistant professor. Prior to joining Penn State, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Kansas State University.
“In my research, I am seeking to develop drug delivery systems for targeted and controlled delivery of therapeutic agents by applying the fundamental principles of polymer chemistry, materials science, biology, and biomedical science,” said Hasegawa. Read more
Darren Pagan is an assistant professor and an associate with the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences. Prior to joining Penn State, he was a staff scientist overseeing the structural materials and mechanics program at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS). At CHESS, he oversaw the design, construction, and commissioning of the Structural Materials Beamline (SMB) and the Forming and Shaping Technology Beamline (FAST).
“I am very excited to start in the department. The rich materials research across campus and Penn State’s long history studying structural materials make the University a great place to join. I’m looking forward to contributing to this strong tradition through my research program. I focus on innovative, data-driven characterizations to design mechanically superior systems and improve the safety and economic use of existing materials systems.” Read more
Wesley Reinhart is an assistant professor and a 2020 Institute for Computational and Data Sciences Faculty Fellow. Prior to joining Penn State, he worked as a research scientist at Siemens Corporate Technology. There, his research initiatives focused on computational geometry, knowledge representation, and exploiting the structure-function relationship in manufacturing contexts.
Reinhart’s research is interdisciplinary by nature and uses a data-driven approach to facilitate the design, manufacture, and maintenance of advanced materials, whose sought-after functions and properties will be derived from their yet-unknown internal structure. This relationship between structure and function is challenging to understand and even harder to predict because it is nonlinear, high dimensional, and results from physical phenomena at many scales. Traditional materials design has relied on human intuition to interpret patterns in known structure-function pairs and infer new materials with similar and hopefully improved properties, Reinhart’s group aims to use a combination of high-performance physics simulation and data science approaches to arrive at efficient representations of materials that will enable true inverse design of micro-structure. Read more
Maria Higgins is an assistant teaching professor. Prior to joining Penn State, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
"Penn State has made history in materials science and engineering through groundbreaking research in ferroelectrics, glasses, carbon-based materials, among many others,” said Higgins. “With my position as teaching assistant professor, I hope I can train students in different laboratory techniques to produce the next generation of pioneers in the field." Read more
André van der Vlies
André van der Vlies
André van der Vlies is an assistant research professor who is currently working on polymer-based solar cells. Prior to joining Penn State, he was at Kansas State University where he developed a high-throughput system to retrieve and isolate bacteria from microwell arrays using photodegradable hydrogel materials.
“In my research at Penn State, I am seeking to design and synthesize light-harvesting materials for use in solar cells,” said van der Vlies. Read more