New Faculty Bios

It is our great pleasure to introduce you to just a few of our newest faculty:

Bethh PruittBeth Pruitt joined the Department as a Professor in April 2018. She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with an S.B. in mechanical engineering. She was in Navy ROTC at MIT where she learned sailing, leadership, and perseverance. She received an M.S. in Manufacturing Systems Engineering from Stanford University then served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, first at the engineering headquarters of the nuclear program then as an instructor teaching Systems Engineering (and offshore sailing in the summer) at the U.S. Naval Academy. She earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University where she specialized in MEMS and small-scale metrologies for electrical contacts and was supported by the Hertz Foundation. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) where she worked on polymer MEMS. She started the Stanford Microsystems Lab focused on small-scale metrologies for interdisciplinary micromechanics problems in mechanobiology, biomechanics and sensing. As a visiting professor in the Lab for Applied Mechanobiology in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH, Zurich in 2012 she worked with Viola Vogel's lab on biophysical measurements of cells and proteins. She has been recognized by the NSF CAREER Award, DARPA Young Faculty Award, Denice Denton Leadership Award and is an elected Senior Member of IEEE, and a Fellow of the ASME and AIMBE.
Professor Pruitt was on the faculty at Stanford for 15 years, in the departments of Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering before she moved to UCSB in 2018 to join the faculty of Mechanical Engineering, BioMolecular Science and Engineering, and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. Her interests lie at the intersection of mechanobiology, microfabrication, engineering and science and her lab specializes in engineering microsystems and biointerfaces for quantitative mechanobiology. Here at UCSB, Prof. Pruitt’s research group is excited to collaborate across science and engineering and to develop and apply fundamental technologies for high-throughput single-cell assays, mechanobiology assays, microfabrication of cell culture devices, and biomaterials characterization.  The Pruitt lab is located in the new Bioengineering building, a 3- story, 48,000-square-foot building, designed to LEED silver standards. Bioengineering includes offices for 16 faculty from sciences and engineering and their trainees and features collaborative shared research lab spaces, supportive administrative offices, several meeting spaces and a 100-seat auditorium. 
Research in the Pruitt lab seeks to understand the role of mechanics in biology and force sensitive pathways in cell-cell adhesion and subcellular organization, the role of mechanical environment on the structure and function of stem cell derived cardiomyocytes as biophysical models of health and disease, and to develop models of mechanical signaling underlying the sense of touch and hearing. This research in cell biomechanics and mechanobiology includes development and application of custom microfabricated sensors and systems, new diagnostic tools and analysis systems, and robust manufacture and application of force sensors in harsh environments. Leveraging microscale tools, researchers in the Pruitt lab seek to answer open questions in the areas of physiology, biology, stem cells, neuroscience and cardiology with an eye toward quantitative and fundamental biophysics.

Bolin Liao joined the department as an Assistant Professor in July 2017. Bolin is originally from Sichuan, China. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in Microelectronics from Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2010, before he moved to the United States to pursue his graduate study at MIT with Prof. Gang Chen. He received his PhD in 2016, and his thesis titled "Nanoscale electron, phonon and spin transport in thermoelectric materials" was recognized by the Outstanding PhD Thesis award from the department of mechanical engineering at MIT. From May 2016 to June 2017, Bolin worked as a Kavli Postdoctoral Fellow in Nanoscience in Caltech, hosted by late Nobel Laureate Prof. Ahmed Zewail and Prof. Austin Minnich, where his research was on developing and applying a novel ultrafast SEM technique to visualize photocarrier dynamics with extreme spatial and temporal resolutions in thin-film solar cell materials. At UCSB, Bolin's research is focused on developing computational and experimental tools to understand nanoscale energy transport processes, and applying the knowledge of these fundamental processes to design more efficient and cost-effective sustainable energy technologies. 

Elliot W. Hawkes joined the department as an Assistant Professor in July 2017. Most recently, he was a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Allison Okamura at Stanford University. He received his PhD with Prof. Mark Cutkosky at Stanford in 2015. Previously, he worked at the Harvard Microrobotics Lab under Prof. Robert Wood and at the ETH Multi-scale Robotics Lab under Prof. Bradley Nelson. He has received the ASME 2015 Best Journal Paper Award in Bioinspired Systems and Materials, IEEE ICRA 2015 Best Student Paper Award, 6 pending or awarded patents, NSF and NDSEG Graduate Fellowships, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and his work has received press from outlets such as the NY Times, BBC, Cell, Science, and the Late Show with Stephen ColbertHere at UCSB, his research includes compliant robot body design, passive adaptability, mechanism design, non-traditional materials, artificial muscles, directional adhesion, biomechanics, wearable robotics, and growing robots. 

 

 

 

Irene Beyerlein joined the Department in July 2016. Most recently, she served as co-director of the Energy Frontier Research Center at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), where she started as a J.R. Oppenheimer Fellow in 1997 after earning her PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at Cornell University. She received the LANL Distinguished Postdoc Mentor Award, the LANL Fellow's Prize, and the International Journal of Plasticity's Young Researcher Award. She received recognition for writing top-five and top-ten most-cited articles for Philosophical Magazine and International Journal of Plasticity, respectively, and she serves as Editor of Acta Materialia and Scripta Materialia and as Associate Editor of the Journal of Engineering Materials and Technology. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, received a visiting professor fellowship at the University of Lorraine, and was most recently honored with the 2016 NSF ADVANCE STEM Professor Fellowship at the University of New Hampshire.

Prof. Beyerlein's research focuses on the creation and design of advanced, lightweight materials with unprecedented structural performance under extreme strain, stress, and temperature. These features are critical for achieving improved fuel economy, as well as a other critical performance metrics, in applications for aircraft, aerospace, automotive, medical, space, energy, and military industries. 

Samantha Daly joined the Department as an Associate Professor July 2016. She earned her MS and PhD in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech, then joined the faculty at the University of  Michigan before her move to UCSB in 2016. Her interests lie at the intersection of experimental mechanics  and materials science, with an emphasis on using novel methods of experimentation coupled closely with theoretical and computational modeling. She was granted the NSF’s CAREER Award, the Eshelby Mechanics Award, the Journal of Strain Analysis Young Investigator Award, the Best Paper of the Year Award from Experimental Mechanics, the Best Paper of the Year Award from IJSS, the DOE Early Career Award, the AFOSR-YIP Award, the ASME Orr Award, the Caddell Award, anda number of teaching recognitions.

Here at UCSB, Prof. Daly’s research group focuses on the statistical quantification of microstructural features  of materials and their effect on meso- and macro-scale properties. Currently, the group is engaged in the development of novel methods of multi-scale material characterization, with application to active materials, high temperature ceramics, very high cycle and low cycle fatigue mechanisms, plasticity, fracture, and material behavior at the nano-scale. Most of all, she looks forward to collaborating on the statistical examination of the mechanics of hierarchical materials, and the development of new methods of experimentation in order to more fully understand how advanced materials deform and fail.

 

Paolo Luzzatto-Fegiz joined the Department in July 2015 from the University of Cambridge. He earned his MSc in Applied Mathematics from Imperial College London and his PhD in Aeronautics from Cornell University, for which he received the Acrivos Award of the American Physical Society for Outstanding U.S. Dissertation in Fluid Dynamics. He proceeded to embark on postdoctoral scholarship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the largest independent U.S. organization dedicated to the study of all aspects of marine science and engineering.

In his role at UCSB, he leads the Fluid Energy Science Laboratory, which pursues a wide range of research in theoretical, experimental, and computational fluid mechanics with the goal of enabling key technological advances in the field of energy production or conservation. His ongoing projects include redesigning wind turbines to improve their collective performance in large wind farms, uncovering the causes for the erratic performance of superhydrophobic surfaces for drag reduction, modeling flow through vegetation in complex terrain, and developing an open-source instrument for microscale water density measurements in oceanographic research. Most recently, in collaboration with Prof. Eckart Meiburg, Prof. Luzzatto-Fegiz has been awarded an NSF grant to perform fluid dynamics experiments on the International Space Station with the goal of developing next-generation models of sediment transport.

Tyler Susko joined the Department in March 2015 as a Lecturer PSOE with a special focus on the Mechanical Engineering design program including the required Capstone Design course. Prior to this appointment, he completed his PhD from MIT in the department of Mechanical Engineering where his research focused on the development of a novel robotic system for the treatment of neurological injuries affecting gait. He has also worked as a design engineer at Ingersoll Rand and as an adjunct professor in Physics at Augusta State University, where he discovered his love for teaching.

In addition to pursuing new directions in rehabilitation robotics, his active research includes engineering education not only at the college level but also in K-12 programs. California is one of 18 states transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards which incorporates engineering design. Because most of our teaching force are not engineers, there is an opportunity here for engineering designers to assist in this transition. Last year, Dr. Susko started a joint robotics program with Girls, Inc., 5th and 6th graders, and his engineering freshmen in which the students teamed up to create 20 unique dancing robots. It’s no wonder that he was honored with the Outstanding Faculty Award this past June. He is excited to continue to work with brilliant students and faculty in the most beautiful location in the world.