Columbia Engineering Adds 78 New Faculty in Last Four Years; Fifteen Join in 2017

Fifteen new faculty members join Columbia Engineering this year. Their areas of expertise reflect the School’s commitment to transcending disciplinary boundaries and educating the next generation of leaders prepared to thrive in a changing workforce and address the many challenges facing our world.

Columbia Engineering has hired 78 faculty members across all ranks in the past four years as the School continues to expand, to attract top talent and pursue frontier research in many foundational areas, including nanoscience, data science, biomedicine, financial engineering, advanced materials, computation, sensing and robotics. As part of the School’s strategic vision, “Columbia Engineering for Humanity,” faculty are particularly engaged in projects with the potential to have major impact in the creation of a more sustainable, healthy, secure, connected, and creative society.

Christos Papadimitriou

Christos Papadimitriou
Christos Papadimitriou joined the Computer Science department as The Donovan Family Professor in July 2017.  

Papadimitriou earned his BS in Electrical Engineering from Athens Polytechnic in 1972, and both his MS in Electrical Engineering in 1974 and PhD in EECS in 1976 from Princeton University.

Papadimitriou has been awarded the Knuth Prize and is a recipient of the IEEE John von Neumann Medal, the EATCS Award, the IEEE Computer Society Charles Babbage Award, the Gödel Prize, and eight honorary doctorates. He is a fellow of the Association for Computer Machinery and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He has written five widely used textbooks, including Computational Complexity, as well as three novels, including the best-selling Logicomix and his most recent novel, Independence.

Papadimitriou’s research is on the theory of algorithms and complexity, and its applications to the study of databases, optimization, AI, the Internet, game theory, evolution, and the brain. Yet he considers himself fundamentally a teacher. For the past 22 years, he taught at UC Berkeley, and before that at Harvard University, MIT, the National Technical University of Athens, Stanford, and UC San Diego.

Renata Wentzcovitch

Renata Wentzcovitch
Renata Wentzcovitch joined the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics as a professor of Materials Science in January 2017.

Dr. Wentzcovitch was a postdoctoral researcher at Cambridge University and The Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1994; and a research associate for the Department of Physics at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University in 1992. She earned her BS degree in 1980 and her MS degree in 1982 both from the University of São Paulo, Brazil; and her PhD in condensed matter physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988.

Dr. Wentzcovitch’s research stands at the interface of computational materials physics and mineral physics. Her work seeks understanding of atomic scale phenomena in materials at planetary interior conditions. She and her group have introduced or popularized several methods to simulate materials at extreme conditions.

Prior to joining SEAS, Dr. Wentzcovitch was a professor of materials science and engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and a member of the graduate faculties of the School of Physics and Astronomy, Department of Earth Sciences, Chemical Physics Program, and Scientific Computing Program at the University of Minnesota. She was also the founding director of the Virtual Laboratory for Earth and Planetary Materials at the University of Minnesota.

She was recently elected vice-chair of the Division of Computational Physics of the American Physical Society.

Jeanette Wing

Jeannette M. Wing
Jeannette M. Wing joins Columbia as The Avanessians Director of the Data Science Institute and professor of Computer Science. She earned her SB and SM from MIT in 1979 and her PhD from MIT in 1983.

Wing’s research focuses on cybersecurity and privacy, formal methods, and programming languages. She is best known for her work on correctness conditions, such as linearizability (joint with Maurice Herlihy) and behavioral subtyping (joint with Barbara Liskov), for software systems. She is a prominent voice for computational thinking, the application of techniques used by computer scientists to all disciplines, which has influenced college and K-12 curricula worldwide. 

Prior to joining Columbia, Wing was corporate vice president of Microsoft Research and was the President’s Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, where she also twice headed the Computer Science Department. She previously worked at the National Science Foundation as assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

Wing has received distinguished service awards from the Computing Research Association and Association for Computing Machinery and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, ACM, and IEEE.

Ethan Katz-Bassett

Ethan Katz-Bassett
Ethan Katz-Bassett joined the Department of Electrical Engineering as an associate professor in July 2017.

Katz-Bassett received his BS from Williams College in 2001 and his PhD from the University of Washington, 2012. Prior to joining Columbia, Dr. Katz-Bassett had worked at Google and taught in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Southern California where he was the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Early Career Chair.  

Katz-Bassett seeks to improve the reliability and performance of Internet services through the design of deployable systems. His research interests include Internet-scale distributed systems, Internet measurement, routing, and content delivery.

Henry Lam

Henry Lam
Henry Lam joined the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research as an associate professor in July 2017. 

Lam earned his BS in 2005 from the University of Hong Kong and his PhD from Harvard in 2011.

Prior to joining Columbia, Lam taught at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Boston University. Lam’s research is in the areas of Monte Carlo simulation, risk analysis, and stochastic optimization. His current focus is on the data integration, uncertainty quantification, and developments of robust methodologies in these areas.

Lam will be teaching stochastic modeling and simulation. 

Nakul Verma

Nakul Verma
Nakul Verma joined the Department of Computer Science as a lecturer in discipline in July 2017. 

Verma earned his BS in Computer Science, 2004, his MS in Computer Science, 2008, and his PhD in 2012 in Computer Science from UC San Diego. In 2015 he earned the Janelia Teaching Fellowship and Provost Honors from UC San Diego from 2001-2004.

His research interests are in machine learning and high-dimensional statistics. He is especially interested in understanding and exploiting intrinsic structure in data to design effective learning algorithms.

Prior to joining Columbia, Verma worked at Janelia Research Campus, HHMI as a Research Specialist developing statistical techniques to quantitatively analyze neuroscience data. He has also worked at Amazon as a Research Scientist developing risk assessment models for real-time fraud detection.

Jim Schuck

P. James Schuck
Jim Schuck joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering as an associate professor in July 2017. 

Schuck earned his BA at UC Berkeley in 1997 and his PhD from Yale University in 2003, and is also a member of the Columbia Data Science Institute. 

Schuck specializes in the study of sensing and engineering phenomena emerging from nanostructures and interfaces, with a focus on developing and applying advanced nano-optical probes and plasmonic devices. With his research, he aims to characterize, understand, and control light-matter interactions at the level of single photons and electrons.

Prior to joining Columbia, Schuck pursued his postdoctoral studies at Stanford University and was a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Lydia Chilton

Lydia Chilton
Lydia Chilton joined the Department of Computer Science as an assistant professor in July 2017. 

Chilton earned her BS in 2007 and her MS in Engineering in 2009 from MIT, and PhD from University of Washington in 2015.

Chilton’s area of study is human-computer interaction (HCI) with a focus on computational design, viewing the design process from a computational standpoint. Two current projects are constructing visual metaphors for creative ads and using computational tools to write humor and news satire. Prior to joining Columbia Engineering, Chilton pursued her postdoctoral studies at Stanford University.

Daniel Lacker

Daniel Lacker
Daniel Lacker joined the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research as an assistant professor in July 2017. 

Lacker earned his BS at Carnegie Mellon University in 2010, and his PhD from Princeton University in 2015.

Lacker is interested in many areas of applied probability, stochastic analysis, and financial mathematics, with a focus on mean field games, risk measures, and large deviations. He will teach Stochastic Models in Financial Engineering in the fall. Lacker was an NSF postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Applied Mathematics at Brown University, as well as an Invited Fellow at the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics Program on Broad Perspectives and New Directions in Financial Mathematics.

Allie Obermeyer

Allie Obermeyer
Allie Obermeyer joined the Department of Chemical Engineering as an assistant professor in January 2017. 

Dr. Obermeyer earned her BSc degree from Rice University in 2008, and PhD in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 2013. She was an Arnold O. Beckman postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2014 to 2016.

Dr. Obermeyer’s research is focused on engineering protein-based materials for applications in biomedicine and biotechnology. She is interested in improving the physical properties and functionality of proteins by combining them with robust, responsive polymeric materials. Through the genetic and synthetic modification of proteins, she seeks to obtain responsive control of protein assembly and activity.

Dr. Obermeyer looks forward to teaching her classes in thermodynamics and biochemical engineering.

Dion Khodagholy

Dion Khodagholy
Dion Khodagholy joined the Department of Electrical Engineering as an assistant professor in July 2017.  

Khodagholy received his MEng From University of Birmingham, UK in 2008 and his MS in 2009 from Ecole des Mines and PhD in 2012 from Ecole des Mines.

Khodagholy completed a postdoctoral fellowship in systems neuroscience at New York University, Langone Medical Center. His research aims to use unique properties of materials for the purpose of designing and developing novel electronic devices that allow efficient interaction with biological substrates, specifically neural networks and the brain. This process involves design, characterization, and fabrication of high-performance biocompatible electronics to acquire and analyze neural data. The ultimate goal is to translate such advances in electronics, materials, and neuroscience into more effective diagnostics and treatments for neuropsychiatric diseases.

Dylan Possamai

Dylan Possamai
Dylan Possamai joined the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research as assistant professor in July 2017.

Possamai received his BS in 2009 and PhD in 2011, both from the Ecole Polytechnique. He earned his MS in at UPMC Sorbonne Universites.

Possamai’s research interests include stochastic analysis, backward stochastic differential equations, risk measures theory, model uncertainty, robust finance, stochastic control, contract theory, principal-agent problems, moral hazard, adverse selection, Malliavin calculus, and transaction costs.

Prior to joining Columbia, Possamai taught at Université Paris Dauphine (CEREMADE).

Donsub Rim

Donsub Rim
Donsub Rim joined the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics as a Chu Assistant Professor in July 2017.

Rim earned his PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of Washington in 2017 where he studied uncertainty quantification (UQ) problems arising in tsunami modeling and reduced order models (ROMs) for hyperbolic partial differential equations. His current research continues to focus on the development of ROMs and related numerical techniques that help tackle UQ problems such as the probabilistic tsunami hazard assessment (PTHA).

Omri Weinstein

Omri Weinstein
Omri Weinstein joined the Department of Computer Science as an assistant professor in January 2017.  

Dr. Weinstein earned his BS degree in 2010 from Tel Aviv University in Israel and his PhD in 2015 from Princeton University.  He was a Simons Society Junior Fellow with Courant Institute, New York University.

Dr. Weinstein will be teaching a new course for the department, “Information Theory in Computer Science”, which will showcase some of the exciting and recent techniques and applications of information theory to computational complexity. He is interested in interactive communications and information theory and their role in computational complexity, data structures, and economics.

Dr. Weinstein’s research in information complexity has led to significant progress on some of the major open problems in communication complexity and dynamic data structures, and to a better understanding of the limits of parallel computation.

Drew Youngren

Drew Youngren
Drew Youngren joined the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics as a lecturer in discipline in July 2017. 

Youngren received his BS in Applied Mathematics from Columbia University in 2000, his MA in Mathematics from Stony Brook University in 2002, and his PhD in Mathematics from Northwestern University in 2006.

Prior to joining SEAS, Youngren was a clinical assistant professor of mathematics at NYU from 2012 to 2017. Of particular interest to Youngren is the role of technology and computation in the learning of mathematics. At Columbia, he will be developing the multivariable calculus curriculum tailored to the needs of engineers and applied scientists. 

Youngren received an Outstanding Teacher Award from the University of Chicago, a RET Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, and a Newton Fellowship from Math for America.

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