Skip to main content



In This Section:

Volume 11, Issue 11
January 14, 2009


In this issue:


Academic leadership appointments announced

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to announce two new leadership appointments in the college: Professor Marjolein van der Meulen in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering accepted an appointment as interim associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering effective January 1. Also, Professor Tsuhan Chen, Carnegie Mellon's associate department head of Electrical and Computer Engineering and co-director of the Industrial Technology Research Institute Laboratory, has been selected to become the new director of Cornell's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Marjolein van der Meulen is an authority on bone mechanics and her work in this area focuses on understanding the connection between tissue mechanical behavior on skeletal structural performance. Recently, her interest has focused on understanding how mechanical forces influence skeletal structure, termed “mechanobiology.” This area is of particular interest to her and her laboratory, working on in vivo models of skeletal adaptation to mechanical stimuli and methods to assess this adaptation.

Before joining the faculty at Cornell in 1996, van der Meulen worked as a biomedical engineer at the Rehabilitation R&D Center of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in Palo Alto, California. She joined the VA after completing her SB at MIT and her MS and PhD at Stanford University with Professor Dennis Carter, all in mechanical engineering.

Van der Meulen, who is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, has received numerous research honors and teaching awards and is an active member of her field, including current responsibilities as deputy editor of the Journal of Orthopaedic Research and  member of the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation peer review committee. She is a co-PI on the NSF-funded CU-ADVANCE program, which is focused on increasing the recruitment, retention, and promotion into leadership positions of women in engineering and the sciences and she will continue her role with CU-ADVANCE.

Tsuhan Chen was chosen to be director of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering after an extensive national search. His term begins this month. Chen succeeds Clifford Pollock, the Ilda and Charles Lee Professor of Engineering, who has been credited with increasing the school’s growth and stature during a term of office that began in 2001. Although Pollock was appointed by former dean Kent Fuchs, I have had many occasions to work with Clif, and I'd like to take this opportrunity to thank him for his dedicated service to both ECE and Cornell Engineering.

Chen brings both extensive experience and a fresh perspective to Cornell ECE. He earned his B.S. from National Taiwan University and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Caltech, all in electrical engineering. After working for Bell Labs for several years, he joined the ECE faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in 1997. There, in addition to research and teaching responsibilities, he served as associate department head and co-director of the Industrial Technology Research Institute Laboratory, a collaborative research program with ITRI in Taiwan. His research group, the Advanced Multimedia Processing Lab, includes postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars as well as other CMU faculty and graduate students. Their work is in the area of visual computing, which includes computer vision and pattern recognition, computer graphics, multimedia coding and streaming, and more.

I am pleased to welcome Marjolein to the dean's office and Tsuhan to Cornell. Both are superb additions to our academic leadership team, and I look forward to working with them.

Best regards,

Christopher Ober
Interim Dean of Engineering


Awards and honors in the Engineering community

Prof. Fred Schneider, CS, has been elevated to IEEE Fellow, effective January1, 2009, with the following citation: “for contributions to trustworthy computing, fault-tolerance and formal methods.”

Prof. Jon Kleinberg, CS, was named in Discover Magazine's list of "The 50 Most Important, Influential, and Promising People in Science" in its December 2008 issue.

Tal Rusak (CS) has been selected the winner of the Computing Research Association's Outstanding Undergraduate Award (male) 2009. The award includes a cash prize of $1,000 and a plaque.

Grad students Lucian Leahu (CS) and Gilly Leshed (IS) were selected through a competitive review process to participate in the ACM Computer Supported Cooperative Work Doctoral Colloquium, which took place in San Diego, November 8-12. The Doctoral Colloquium is a forum in which Ph.D. students meet and discuss their work with each other and a panel of experienced CSCW researchers and practitioners.


Update from the Budget Advisory Task Force

In November Dean Fuchs created a Budget Advisory Task Force to develop recommendations that address our significant budget challenges. This group has been gathering information, learning about the finances of the college, and has identified a number of areas that it believes we should explore as long term opportunities for revenue generation and cost reduction possibilities. The BATF will be focusing on areas that either will have a significant impact or will involve multiple units within the college rather than those budget decisions that will be made within units. We expect our work will continue for a number of months. To help guide us through this process, the BATF established the following principles:

We will:

  1. Continue to support excellence in education and research activities, and invest significantly in the most promising areas for Cornell leadership.
  2. Use change to enhance our competitiveness. We will prioritize investments and reductions in order to emerge from the current financial challenge better positioned than our peers.
  3. Be effective and efficient in all we do.
  4. Value our people by maintaining and supporting their employment whenever possible.
  5. Innovate and be open to creative solutions.
  6. Communicate frequently and honestly.

We expect to hear from the University in late January what the College budget will be for FY2010 (which begins July 1, 2009). Budgets for FY10 will be due toward the end of March, so there will be a relatively short time frame within which to finalize our plan. We have proceeded under the assumption that the overall multi-year targets will be significant (in the range of a reduction of 10%) and will need to be realized within two-three years. These budget adjustments are structural – changes need to be made to the base and result in permanent savings/new revenue. We are committed to developing an effective and fair approach to the forthcoming budget and to sustaining and enhancing excellence in our educational activities, research, and support of human resources.

Please continue to submit your ideas for revenue enhancement/budget reductions to our Web site, or contact any member of the BATF if you have comments. We will continue to keep you apprised.

BATF members:

  • Cathy Dove, Chair
  • Julie Delay
  • Dawn Esposito
  • Himani Mewar
  • Chris Ober, ex officio
  • Tom O’Rourke
  • Clif Pollock
  • Mike Shuler
  • Les Trotter
  • Andy Vail



CCMR announces JumpStart awards

Two of the three New York state small businesses selected to receive JumpStart awards with the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR) this spring will be working with Engineering faculty members. Crysta-lyn Chemical of Binghamton will collaborate with Assoc. Prof. Warren Zipfel, BME, to analyze the company’s library of dyes. Taylor Concrete Products of Watertown will work with Prof. Ken Hover, CEE, to optimize the use of post industrial materials in concrete masonry. The third, Sock Science of Walton, will work with Prof. David Feathers, Design and Environmental Analysis, to develop protective and ergonomic garments for wheelchair users.


Looking for special students to feature

Do you know some special students? Please tell us about them! We have two opportunities to highlight students: the Cornell Chronicle is soliciting nominations for seniors to profile in their May Commencement issue and Engineering Communications and Media Relations is looking for sophomores and juniors for updating our online student profiles.

In both cases, we're looking not necessarily for your top academic performers (although we certainly want students in good standing); rather, we're seeking students with good human interest stories: unusual interests, research projects, personal backgrounds, motivations, or personalities.

For examples, see last year's senior profiles in the Chronicle and ECMR's current online student profiles.

If you have students to nominate, please send us their names, majors, and a description that explains why this student would of interest to the community. We need as much specific detail as possible to make good choices when winnowing down the list, and we would like to have good representation across fields, gender, and ethnicity as well.

Send senior nominations to Anne Ju, Cornell Chronicle
Send sophomore and junior nominations to Bob Emro, ECMR

Nominations due January 30. Thanks for your help!


Staffing updates

Christa Downey, associate director of Co-op and Career Services and manager of the Engineering Co-op Program, has left the College of Engineering to assume the position of career services director in the College of Arts and Sciences, where she will join the two current staff to enhance the career services operation there. The position also includes some admissions duties.

Jill Twohig, assistant for student and office operations / receptionist in Co-op and Career Services since August, recently departed Engineering to pursue her primary interests in school and community affairs counseling.


Guest speakers and seminars

CAM Colloquium
Fridays, 3:30 PM, 655 Rhodes Hall; refreshments at 4:30 in 657 Rhodes

23 Jan: Bernd Krauskopf, University of Bristol, “Experimental continuation of periodic orbits through a fold"


TAM Seminars

Wednesdays, 4:30 PM, 205 Thurston Hall; refreshments at 4:15 PM in 206 Thurston

21 Jan: Cynthia Reinhart-King, Cornell BME, "Mechano-chemical regulation of cell adhesion"

4 Feb: Xin-Yan Deng, Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware, TBA


Submitting announcements to Information Update

Please send your news notes to engr_info_update@cornell.edu. Announcements will be published no more than twice and should be limited to about a hundred words or less. The next issue of Information Update, published biweekly during the academic year and monthly in the summer, will be July 10, 2013. The deadline for submissions to this next issue is Friday, July 5, 2013 at 5 p.m. Information received after the deadline will be published in a future issue if appropriate.