$100 Million Chancellor’s Research Initiative Recruits 4 Top Scholars

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System
$100 million Chancellor’s Research Initiative recruits four top scholars, national academy members to Texas A&M Engineering

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A $100 million fund at The Texas A&M University System known as the Chancellor’s Research Initiative (CRI) is credited for successfully attracting four world renowned scholars and researchers to elevate the engineering research portfolio: Christodoulos A. Floudas, professor of engineering and applied science, Princeton University; E.N. Pistikopoulos, professor of chemical engineering, Imperial College of London; Alan Needleman, professor of materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering, University of North Texas; and Peter M. Rentzepis, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, University of California at Irvine.

“These are superstars in the academic community in engineering research, respected by their peers as members of the prestigious national academies, and the caliber of scholar that every university aggressively courts,” said Chancellor John Sharp. “The CRI seeks to find outstanding researchers who can not only produce amazing work, but also bring in some much needed funding to support that work.”

Leveraging vast experience in developing and implementing large, multi-investigator, federally funded programs, each brings strength in key areas: Floudas and Pistikopoulos in the area of process control and optimization; Needleman in computational materials and Rentzepis in ultrafast spectroscopy and x-ray lasers.

“The impact that these scholars will have on our program is far-reaching,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of Texas A&M Engineering. “Each brings expertise in key research areas, which will attract other influential scholars and high quality students to our program. The CRI is an investment in our future that will pay enormous dividends in ways we cannot even calculate at this point.”

Dr. Christodoulos A. Floudas will join the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University as a chair professor in February 2015. Also, he will be appointed as the director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute. Dr. Floudas is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Floudas is among the top leaders in the world in the area of process control and optimization, and conducts interdisciplinary research including contributions in energy, healthcare and other areas relevant to the Texas economy.

“Dr. Floudas will anchor our efforts to create an excellence cluster in multi-scale systems engineering for energy and the environment,” said Dr. Nazmul Karim, head of the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering. “Building this excellence cluster will require hiring several faculty with specific expertise in addition to Dr. Floudas and one of these senior faculty has been identified as Dr. E.N. Pistikopoulos, who is currently a faculty member at Imperial College in London.”

Dr. E.N. Pistikopoulos is also among the top leaders in the world in the area of process control and optimization, and conducts interdisciplinary research including contributions in energy and healthcare. He will join the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering in November 2014 as a chair professor. Dr. Pistikopoulos is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

“Their presence in the department will elevate its stature in the academic community, making the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering one of the best departments in the country, and perhaps in the world. Their presence will attract the very best students to the campus and the intellectual conversation will be elevated to levels not seen before,” said Karim.

Dr. Alan Needleman will join the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University as a tenured chair professor with a joint appointment as distinguished research professor in the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station in 2015. Dr. Needleman is an internationally known researcher in the area of computational modeling of materials, dislocation dynamics, structure mechanics and theoretical and applied mechanics. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

“Dr. Needleman’s accomplishments and agenda are synergistic with several strategic initiatives at Texas A&M: national security, transportation and energy, which have been identified among the Grand Challenge areas for the university,” said Dr. Ibrahim Karaman, materials science and engineering department head. “In addition, Dr. Needleman’s emphasis on computational materials science with strong links to the materials genome initiative will take Texas A&M’s high performance computing environment to new horizons.”

Dr. Peter M. Rentzepis joined the department of electrical and computer engineering at Texas A&M in May 2014 and holds the title of professor and holder of the TEES Distinguished Research Professorship. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has many honors to his credit including The Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical Physics. Rentzepis is a pioneer in the field of ultrafast spectroscopy, especially its use in the study of transition states in chemical and biological reactions including photosynthesis. He also developed an ultrafast table-top X-ray laser which will have numerous applications to biology, chemistry, and material science.

“We are fortunate to have Dr. Rentzepis join our faculty, as he brings tremendous experience and leadership from his tenure as department head at Bell Labs and presidential chair and professor of chemistry and electrical engineering at the University of California, Irvine,” said Chanan Singh, interim head of electrical and computer engineering. “His wealth of knowledge and experience from industry and academia will greatly enhance our research efforts in lasers and life sciences.”