August 26 - September 1, 2019


August 27, 2019

Faculty News
New Faculty:

Dr. Adam Aviv

Dr. Adam Aviv has joined SEAS as an associate professor in the CS department. Dr. Aviv previously was an assistant professor at the United States Naval Academy. His primary research interests are in computer security, where he has focused on network security, applied cryptography, and usable security and privacy. In particular, Dr. Aviv is interested in human factors in security and how human computer interaction interfaces with computer security with the goal of designing and deploying more secure systems. Dr. Aviv holds a Ph.D. in computer and information science from the University of Pennsylvania. He is also an NSF CAREER award winner for his research on mobile authentication.

Dr. Mahdi Imani

Dr. Mahdi Imani has joined SEAS as an assistant professor in the ECE department. Dr. Imani received his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Texas A&M University in 2019. His research interests include machine learning, reinforcement learning, and signal processing with special interests in scalable and risk-based decision making in complex uncertain dynamical systems. Dr. Imani was the recipient of the Association of Former Students Distinguished Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Research-Doctoral in 2019, the Best Ph.D. Student Award in Texas A&M’s ECE department in 2015, and a single finalist nominee of the ECE department for the College of Engineering’s Outstanding Graduate Student Award in 2018. He also received the best paper finalist award from the 49th Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems, and Computers, 2015.

Dr. Xitong Liu

Dr. Xitong Liu has joined SEAS as an assistant professor in the CEE department. Prior to joining SEAS, Dr. Liu was a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. His research interests lie at the intersection of nanotechnology, interfacial and colloid science, and electrochemistry. His research aims to study fundamental interfacial phenomena to provide guidance for developing more efficient and cost-effective water treatment and resource recovery technologies. He is also interested in elucidating the health impacts of engineered and naturally occurring nanoparticles. Dr. Liu holds a Ph.D. in geography and environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University. He was the recipient of the ACS C. Ellen Gonter Environmental Chemistry Award and Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students in 2017.


Awards & Honors:

Dr. Payman Dehghanian

Dr. Payman Dehghanian (ECE) and his team won the Tier I, Silver ($50,000) award in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) first “Electricity Industry Technology and Practices Innovation Challenge.” Through the challenge, the DOE tapped into American ingenuity for ideas on how to make the nation’s electric grid stronger and more resilient. The proposal submitted by Dr. Dehghanian’s team seeks to design next-generation sensors for the power grid, a technology-to-market solution that enables a paradigm shift from “sensing-only” devices to “sensing and actuating” devices embedded with advanced signal processing and machine learning analytics. Their project aims to enhance the power grid’s online situational awareness and resilience to extremes.



Dr. Adam Aviv

Dr. Adam Aviv (CS) has received a National Science Foundation CAREER award for his project Enhancing Mobile Authentication by Measuring the Authentication Life-Cycle.” The grant is a five-year, $699,998 award. In this project, Dr. Aviv will study how users authenticate on their mobile devices, for example using a PIN or pattern to unlock their smartphones, and the impact of the user authentication choices on security and privacy. The project will also focus on lifecycle events, seeking to understand how users authenticate on their devices over periods of time and how authentication is affected when users encounter new security features or advice.

Dr. Shelly Heller

Drs. Shelly Heller (CS) and Costis Toregas (CS) were awarded a grant of approximately $190,600 from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for “CySP: Cybersecurtity Scholarship Program.” This grant will support two students for one year and is renewable. CySP is a scholarship program within the cybersecurity field. Recipients of the grant will be provided with tuition and a stipend. Each supported student has been assigned an internship in a DoD agency for the summer after his/her first year of study, and the student will be expected to remain employed with that agency after graduation.

Dr. Saniya LeBlanc

The National Science Foundation has awarded a two-year, $199,410 grant for the project “Faculty, Student, and Employer Understanding of Holistic Engineers in the Energy Sector” to Drs. Saniya LeBlanc (MAE), Jason Zara (BME), and Russell Korte (GSEHD). The goal of this project is to deepen research on the professional formation of engineers and expand the community of researchers in this field. The project aims to connect workplace competencies--as perceived by energy engineering professionals in the workplace--to the perceptions of professional competencies of engineering students who will enter the workplace, as well as the faculty who prepare those students. The study will focus on the energy sector by investigating energy engineering programs and partnering with an industry collaborator, Duke Energy Renewables. Dr. LeBlanc is the principal investigator (PI) on the project; Drs. Zara and Korte are co-PIs.

Arkady Yerukhimovich

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded a DOD capacity building grant to Drs. Arkady Yerukhimovich (CS), Costis Toregas (CS), and Shelly Heller (CS) for the project “Capacity Building: Secure Computation Education: Training secure computation developers for the DoD workforce.” Cryptographically secure computation is becoming a critical tool for developing applications handling private user data. However, most developers, in particular within the DoD, are not aware of this technology and cannot take advantage of it. This grant will investigate how to incorporate this breakthrough technology in earlier stages of education, in particular focusing on community colleges, to greatly expand the available talent pool of secure application developers. Dr. Yerukhimovich is the principal investigator on this one-year, $148,337 grant.

Dr. Lijie Grace Zhang

Dr. Lijie Grace Zhang (MAE) has received a three-year, $300,000 American Heart Association Transformative Project Award. Her research under this grant will focus on creating a highly innovative 4D bio-printed vascularized cardiac tissue.



Dr. David Broniatowski

Dr. David Broniatowski (EMSE) has published the following paper: D. A. Broniatowski and V. F. Reyna. “To illuminate and motivate: a fuzzy-trace model of the spread of information online,” Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory, 1-34. Separately, Dr. Broniatowski’s paper “Communicating Meaning in the Intelligence Enterprise” was highlighted in the August 21 issue of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences’ newsletter.

Dr. John Helveston

Dr. John Helveston (EMSE) and his colleagues have published “Choice at the Pump: Measuring Preferences for Lower-Carbon Combustion Fuels.” In this paper, they find that the majority of gasoline and E85 users are willing to substitute towards other fuels at today’s prices and attributes, while diesel users have a strong preference for diesel fuel. They also find that respondents are willing to pay on average $150/ton CO2 avoided from fuel consumption—more than most estimates of the social cost of carbon. The manuscript is open access and the citation is: J. P. Helveston, S. M. Seki, J. Min, E. Fairman, A. A. Boni, J. J. Michalek, and I. M. L. Azevedo. “Choice at the pump: measuring preferences for lower-carbon combustion fuels,” Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 14, No. 8.

Dr. Volker Sorger

Dr. Volker Sorger (ECE) has published several articles recently. The citations are: 1) Y. Gui, M. Miscuglio, Z. Ma, M. H. Tahersima, S. Sun, R. Amin, H. Dalir, and V. J. Sorger. “Towards integrated metatronics: a holistic approach on precise optical and electrical properties of Indium Tin Oxide,” Scientific Reports, 9, Article No. 11279 (2019); 2) A. Elikkottil, M. H. Tahersima, M. V. N. Surendra Gupta, R. Maiti, V. J. Sorger, and B. Pesala. “A Spectrally Tunable Dielectric Subwavelength Grating based Broadband Planar Light Concentrator,” Scientific Reports, 9, Article No. 11723 (2019); 3) M. H. Tahersima, Z. Ma, Y. Gui, S. Sun, H. Wang, R. Amin, H. Dalir, R. Chen, M. Miscuglio, V. J. Sorger. “Coupling-enhanced dual ITO layer electro-absorption modulator in silicon photonics,” Nanophotonics. Published Online August 8, 2019; and 4) R. Amin, J. K. George, S. Sun, T. Ferreira de Lima, A. N. Tait, J. B. Khurgin, M. Miscuglio, B. J. Shastri, P. R. Prucnal, T. El-Ghazawi, and V. J. Sorger. “ ITO-based electro-absorption modulator for photonic neural activation function,” APL Materials, Vol.7, Issue 8.

Dr. Zoe Szajnfarber

The journal Systems Engineering has selected its “Best Papers of 2018,” and two of the 11 chosen papers were authored by faculty in the EMSE department. Dr. Zoe Szajnfarber’s paper “A facilitated expert-based approach to architecting “openable” complex systems” was published in January 2018. It was co-authored by her Ph.D. student Ademir Vrolijk. Dr. David Broniatowski’s paper “Building the tower without climbing it: Progress in engineering systems” was published in March 2018.


Media Mentions:
The Chronicle of Higher Education quoted Dr. Carl Landwehr (research scientist, Cyber Security Policy and Research Institute) in the August 16 article “Just in Time for Fall Term, a Cyberattack Forces an Entire College’s Systems Offline."

Dr. Saniya LeBlanc

On August 12, Dr. Saniya LeBlanc (MAE) was the guest on the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office’s podcast series “Stories from the NNI.” In the podcast, she discusses the importance of educating undergraduate students about nanotechnology, her work with high school students and teachers to familiarize them with nanotechnology, and her efforts to find ways to explain nanotechnology to the general public.


Conferences & Presentations:

Dr. David Broniatowski

Dr. David Broniatowski (EMSE) gave an invited talk titled “Behaviors Epidemiology on Twitter: From Disease to Disinformation” at the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research methodology seminar, held August 9 in Rockville, MD.

Dr. Payman Dehghanian

Dr. Payman Dehghanian (ECE) and his Ph.D. students Bo Wang and Shiyuan Wang attended the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) General Meeting 2019, which was held August 4-8 in Atlanta, GA. There, Dr. Dehghanian served as the secretary of the “Big Data Access” working group within the PES Subcommittee on Big Data & Analytics for Power Systems. He also received the “2018-2019 Excellent Associate Editor Award” from the Journal of Modern Power Systems and Clean Energy’seditorial board, which held its annual meeting during the PES general meeting. Separately, he attended the Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence Summit 2019, which was held July 31-August 1 in Arlington, VA.

Drs. Ekundayo Shittu (EMSE), David Lee (BME), and Shahrokh Ahmadi (ECE) attended a week-long Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) workshop that took place August 12-15 at Georgia Tech. Dr. Ahmadi attended the Entrepreneurial Mindset track of the workshop. Dr. Shittu and Dr. Lee were participants in the track focused on Problem Solving Studio (PSS), and they will be working on developing a joint PSS card and running PSS sessions in their classes over the next academic year under the guidance of Dr. Joe Le Doux (Georgia Tech), who is the KEEN instructor for the PSS track.


Dr. Volker Sorger

Dr. Volker Sorger (ECE) gave two invited talks at the SPIE Optics and Photonics conference, held August 11-15 in San Diego, CA. The talks were titled “Engineering ENZ materials: from wavelength-size modulators to Star-Trek shielding” and “Advances in photonic neural networks.” Dr. Sorger’s team also published six conference proceedings papers: 1) S. Sun, J. Peng, T. El-Ghazawi, and V.J. Sorger. “Nanophotonics Based Residue Number System Photonic Networks and Devices,” in Photonics Networks and Devices; 2) R. Maiti, C. Patil, R. Hemnani, and V.J. Sorger. “Silicon Microring Resonator Integrated MoTe2 Photodetector,” in Novel Optical Materials and Applications; 3) Z. Ma, K. Kikunaga, S. Sun, R. Amin, M. Miscuglio, and V.J. Sorger. “Integrated Graphene Plasmonic Slot Photodetector with High Responsivity,” in Integrated Photonics Research, Silicon and Nanophotonics; 4) R. Amin, R. Maiti, C. Carfano, Z. Ma, M. H. Tahersima, Y. Lilach, D. Ratnayake, H. Dalir, and V. J. Sorger. “Mach-Zehnder ITO Modulator on SOI,” in Integrated Photonics Research, Silicon and Nanophotonics; 5) M. Miscuglio, J. Crandall, S. Sun, Y. Gui, and V.J. Sorger. “Indium Tin Oxide Metatronic Circuit Board for Analog Computing” in Novel Optical Materials and Applications; and 6) M. Miscuglio, Z. Hu, J. George, Z. Ma, and V.J. Sorger. “Free Space Optical Coprocessor for Image Processing and Convolution Neural Network” in Signal Processing in Photonic Communications.

Dr. Suresh Subramaniam

Dr. Suresh Subramaniam (ECE) was an invited participant in the Workshop on Machine Learning in Optical Communications Systems, held August 2 at the NIST campus in Boulder, CO.


SEAS Events Re-cap


SEASSPAN mentors with their mentees

At the start of each academic year, SEAS and the SEAS Student Peer Advisory Network (SEASSPAN) mentors assist first year students with their transition to GW and SEAS through a series of orientation events that include the New Student Getaway. This year approximately 230 first year students, 35 mentors, and 12 faculty/staff members attended the Getaway from August 18-21. Students who participated were eligible to check into the residence halls early, attend small group sessions with mentors/faculty/staff to discuss majors and their transition to college, and enjoy outdoor activities such as paintball, whitewater rafting, hiking, rock climbing, and a bonfire (with s'mores).


Upcoming SEAS Events
IEEE NoVA/Washington Nanotechnology Council Lecture: “Smaller and Faster: Magnetic Nanowires at Microwave Frequencies”
Speaker: Dr. Martha Pardavi-Horvath (ECE, Professor Emerita)
Tuesday, August 27
5:30 – 7:30 pm
SEH, B1167


4th Annual Women in STEM Breakfast
Wednesday, September 4
9:00 – 10:45 am
1957 E Street, City View Room
Register (registration deadline is August 30)
The SEAS Office of Graduate Admissions & Student Services and the GW Center for Women in Engineering invite all graduate students, faculty, staff, and alumni to attend the 4th Annual Women in STEM Breakfast! This event is a great opportunity for current graduate students to connect with fellow students and meet SEAS faculty, staff, and alumni. The event includes remarks from SEAS leadership and a conversation between Dr. Rachelle Heller and the new dean of SEAS, Dr. John Lach.


EEMI: Department of Energy Clean Energy Talk
Tuesday, September 24
11:30 am – 1:30 pm
SEH, Lehman Auditorium
GW’s Environmental and Energy Management Institute (EEMI) is sponsoring a Department of Energy Clean Energy Talk. These “talks” feature experts designing advanced technology, advocating for a clean energy future, and changing the way we think about energy systems. Lunch will be provided. Participation is free, and registration is encouraged. Visit our registration page to learn more about the speakers.


Save the Date: SEAS Student R&D Showcase
Friday, October 25
9:00 am – 6:00 pm
SEH, First Floor and B1 Level
SEAS has moved its annual Student R&D Showcase from February to October. Please visit the SEAS Student R&D Showcase web page to find deadlines and the event schedule, prize information, and AccelerateGW I-Corps Site Program grants information. Showcase participants can nominate themselves for an AccelerateGW I-Corps Grant on the R&D Showcase Application site.


Human Resources News

Marion Flythe-Inman

In this month's HR Corner, SEAS HR Manager Marion Flythe-Inman welcomes GW's new vice president and chief people officer Dana Bradley, and she shares new information on:

  • historical sick time data collection,
  • SkillSurvey Reference Checks, and
  • new job opportunities at SEAS.

The HR Corner is a new web page for SEAS staff that contains HR-related news, information, and events. Marion encourages staff to visit the page to find information on GW's new time off and leave guide, events and trainings, SEAS employment opportunities, and much more.


Entrepreneurship News & Events
Apply Now to the AccelerateGW Program: The National Science Foundation I-Corps program at GW, called AccelerateGW, will start a new cohort on Wednesday, September 4. The heart of AccelerateGW is the GW Introduction to I-Corps Course. The course runs for a little over two weeks and is comprised of two face-to-face classroom sessions at the beginning, a midpoint check-in with the whole cohort, and a final readout with the teaching team. Participants are expected to do 20 interviews with prospective customers during the two weeks of the course. AccelerateGW provides participants with grants of up to $3,000 to cover any expenses in doing customer interviews. All GW students, faculty, and staff with any sort of early-stage technology are encouraged to apply. For more information, contact Lex McCusker.


The executive board of George Hacks, including Caitlyn Pratt (SEAS ‘21), Brianna Cathey (SEAS ‘19), Konstantin Mitic (SEAS ‘18), and Michael Ready (CCAS ‘19), incorporated George Hacks into a non-profit this summer. George Hacks was established at GW in 2018 to give the university a space for students of all disciplines to come together for a greater purpose: healthcare innovation. This academic year, George Hacks will host its annual Medical Solutions Hackathon (January 25-26), as well as other exciting events. Please visit the George Hacks website and stay tuned via social media for more updates.


Human Centered Design Workshop
Wednesday, September 11
5:45 – 7:45 pm
Gelman Library, Room 219
This experiential and interactive workshop exposes students to the tools, tactics, and frameworks used by innovators, entrepreneurs, and designers to empathize with populations they seek to serve, define problem sets, and come up with innovative solutions.


Thursday, September 19
6:00 – 8:00 pm
Funger Hall, Room 108
Do you have an idea? A problem that needs solving? Follow your innovative itch to the GW PITCH-A-PALOOZA. Join the GW Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and your classmates to hear and vote for your favorite ideas. Did we mention we have pizza? There’s that too.


SEED SPOT Bootcamp
Saturday, September 28
10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Gelman Library, Rooms 301-302
Registration link not yet available
This one-day Launch Camp provides entrepreneurs and individuals who are considering starting a venture a safe space to explore and launch their idea. Throughout the program, you will have access to mentors, content experts, SEED SPOT’s curriculum, and a network of supporters.


Lemelson-MIT Student Prize: This national invention competition recognizes students at any U.S. college or university who have tested prototypes of technology-based inventions in healthcare, food/water and agriculture, transportation and mobility, or consumer devices. In each of the four categories, graduate students are awarded $15,000 and undergraduate teams are awarded $10,000. The initial application deadline is September 27. See complete details about the application process and eligibility requirements.


Dissertation Defenses
Student Name: Zhizhen Ma
Dissertation Title: “Novel Materials Based On-chip Electro-optic Modulation and Photodetection”
Advisor: Dr. Volker Sorger (ECE)
Thursday, August 29
12:00 – 2:30 pm
SEH, 2000


Student Name: Shuai Sun
Dissertation Title: “Exploring Optical Data Processing Through Communication in Silicon Photonics: Hybrid Interconnect, Switch and Crossbar Router, and Analog Solver”
Advisor: Dr. Volker Sorger (ECE)
Thursday, August 29
3:00 – 5:00 pm
SEH, 2000