Six New Chairs Announced Within Four Illinois Tech Schools

On May 8 Illinois Tech Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Peter Kilpatrick announced the appointment of six new department chairs in four of the university’s eight colleges.

“I am confident that this outstanding slate of new and continuing department chairs can help Illinois Tech advance and help lead our university to enhanced enrollments, higher rankings nationally, and greater flourishing,” says Kilpatrick.

In Armour College of Engineering, Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering Brent Stephens will serve as chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering. Stephens runs the Built Environment Research Group, which is dedicated to investigating energy and air quality in the built environment. His research focuses on the areas of indoor pollutant dynamics, building science measurements and methods, air cleaning and filtration, human exposure assessment, and building energy efficiency and simulation. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and has received over $2.3 million in external research funding, which includes funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers; the Centers for Disease Control through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Filmer Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Jafar Saniie will continue in his role as chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for another five years. Before joining Illinois Tech in 1983, he received his Ph.D. from the School of Electrical Engineering at Purdue University. Saniie serves as the director of the Embedded Computing and Signal Processing Research Laboratory. His research interests include ultrasonic signal and image processing, ultrasonic communications, artificial intelligence for machine vision, smart sensors, Internet of Things, and system-on-chip and embedded computing system design. Saniie served as the Ultrasonics Vice President and Ultrasonics Awards Chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’s Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control Society. He has been recognized as an IEEE Life Fellow for his contributions to ultrasonic signal processing for detection, estimation, and imaging. Saniie received the 2007 University Excellence in Teaching Award.

Yuanbing Mao will join the university to serve as chair of the Department of Chemistry in the College of Science. Mao is currently the interim chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. As a joint professor within UTRGV’s Department of Chemistry and School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences, Mao has focused his research career on designing advanced nanomaterials, exploring desirable properties and functionalities, and tackling complex interdisciplinary material challenges for energy storage and conversion, environmental and agricultural sustainability, and optoelectronics.

Matt Bauer, who currently serves as an associate professor of linguistics and as the director of the Speech Analysis Lab, will lead the Department of Humanities within Lewis College of Human Sciences. Before coming to Illinois Tech, Bauer was a science assistant at the National Science Foundation and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. He received his Ph.D. in linguistics from Georgetown University. His research addresses dialects of English and, in particular, how the position of the vocal organs during speech makes some dialect features more or less likely. As part of a three-year National Science Foundation grant, Bauer studied factors that contribute to dialect changes over time in adolescents. He regularly teaches classes on the sounds of language, language change and evolution, and the organization of words and sentences in language.

Also within Lewis College, Associate Professor of Psychology Frank Lane has been promoted from his position as associate chair to the role of chair of the Department of Psychology. Lane joined Illinois Tech’s Rehabilitation Psychology program in 2006 as an assistant professor and director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Technology program, and became the head of the Rehabilitation Counseling Psychology program in 2010. He earned his Ph.D. in rehabilitation science with an emphasis on behavioral and emotional integration at the University of Florida. His current research focuses primarily on incorporating the perspectives of people with disabilities in the design and development of assistive technology, with an emphasis on human perspectives as a significant component of technology development.

In the School of Applied Technology, Britt Burton-Freeman has been named as chair of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition. As a professor in that department, Burton-Freeman has served as the director of the Center for Nutrition Research at the university’s Institute for Food Safety and Health. Her research is focused on understanding the bio-behavioral intersections of the diet-gut-brain axis in metabolic disorders, with special interest in the pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationship of plant pigments in humans. In 2014 she received the Excellence in Teaching Award for the School of Applied Technology/IFSH, and she was presented with the 2008 Excellence in Research and High Performance–Directors Award from the National Center for Food Safety and Technology. She has served as the editor-in-chief of Nutrition and Healthy Aging since 2012.