Nine new faculty members in five departments have joined, or soon will join, the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University.
Chong Xie, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE), earned his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Stanford University in 2011, and served as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard. Since 2014 he has been an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on the use of nanomaterials in biomedical applications, and in applying advanced nanoelectronic devices to various neural systems. He will join the Rice faculty on Jan. 1, 2020, as part of the Rice NeuroEngineering Initiative.
Joey Huchette, assistant professor of computational and applied mathematics (CAAM), earned his B.A. in CAAM from Rice in 2013 and his Ph.D. in operations research from MIT in 2018. He spent the following year as a postdoctoral researcher with Google Research. His work focuses on developing algorithms and software for mathematical optimization, with an emphasis on integer programming. He joined the Rice faculty July 1.
Peter Lillehoj, associate professor of mechanical engineering (MECH), earned his Ph.D. in MECH from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2011. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA until 2012 when he became an associate professor of MECH at Michigan State University. His research focuses on development of microsystems for current and emerging applications in disease diagnosis, health monitoring, biosecurity and food/water safety. He joins the Rice faculty on Jan. 1, 2020.
Jiaozhi (George) Lu, an NIH Pathway to Independence postdoctoral fellow at Caltech, will join the bioengineering (BIOE) department as an assistant professor in January. Lu earned his Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry in 2014 from the University of California at San Diego. His research combines protein biochemistry, synthetic biology and magnetic resonance imaging. Lu is a CPRIT (Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas) scholar.
Lan Luan will join the Rice faculty as an assistant professor of ECE on Oct. 1 as part of the Rice NeuroEngineering Initiative. Presently she is a research assistant professor in biomedical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her Ph.D. in physics from Stanford in 2011, followed by three years at Harvard University as a postdoctoral fellow in physics. Her research focuses on developing a neural interface that combines recording, imaging, and stimulation, with applications in neuroscience and disease modeling.
Kevin J. McHugh, assistant professor of (BIOE) and a CPRIT scholar, earned his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Boston University in 2014. He then served as a senior postdoctoral associate in the Langer Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His main research interest is development of biomaterial microdevices for drug delivery and tissue engineering. He joined the Rice faculty on July 1.
Daniel J. Preston, assistant professor of MECH, earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in MECH from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014 and 2017, respectively. For the following two years he trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. His Preston Innovation Laboratory conducts interdisciplinary research at the intersection of energy, materials and fluids. He joined the Rice faculty on July 1.
Jerzy Szablowski, assistant professor of BIOE and ECE, earned his Ph.D. in bioengineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2015. Since then he has served as a postdoctoral researcher in chemical engineering at Caltech. His research focuses on controlling living cells within deep tissues through ultrasound-mediated delivery and biomolecular engineering. His lab is the Laboratory for Noninvasive Neuroengineering. Szablowski will join the Rice faculty in January 2020 as part of the Rice NeuroEngineering Initiative.
Vicky Yao, assistant professor of computer science (CS), earned her Ph.D. in CS from Princeton University in 2018, and has since worked as a postdoctoral research associate in the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton. Her research focuses on developing machine learning and statistical methods for improving the understanding of the molecular roots of such diseases as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and rheumatoid arthritis. She joined the faculty July 1 as a CPRIT scholar.