Villanova Engineer - Spring 2021

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Villanova Engineers in Pharma | 4 Introducing SEED | 14 Celebrating the Class of 2021 | 32


M E S S AG E F R O M THE DEAN Dear Friends, As I write, the College of Engineering is preparing to recognize its seniors with the annual Dean’s Awards event and department-specific gatherings. What a difference a year makes! We are delighted that the class of 2021 will have an opportunity

7 Things You’ll Learn in This “RESEARCH REIMAGINED” Issue

to celebrate their time at Villanova as they prepare to embark on their next adventures. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the entire Villanova community has demonstrated incredible resiliency, and it has been an honor to work with such committed faculty, staff and students. As a tribute to the scientific and public health community who are making possible a return to some state of normalcy with vaccine and drug development, the feature story in this issue of Villanova Engineer highlights more than a dozen alumni working in the pharmaceutical

What you need to know when considering a career in pharmaceuticals


How renewable resins could make the aerospace industry more environmentally friendly


industry. They share their personal stories, as well as their thoughts on the industry post-COVID-19 and how to build a career in pharma. It’s an ambitious

What a clean coal tax credit has

piece that I’m certain you’ll appreciate.

contributed to drinking water

The remainder of this issue is dedicated to the College’s 15 new “research

Why an Ecuadorian engineering PhD

neighborhoods,” which represent the breadth and depth of our faculty’s research activities. You’ll find stories dedicated to each, featuring faculty, students and a number of our impressive alumni.


student was named Philadelphia’s Young Electrical Engineer of the Year


We look forward to a return to a new normal in the fall, but for now, we

What’s next in the effort to eradicate

are proud to look back at the impressive accomplishments of the past

unexploded ordnance in Cambodia


academic year.

How two undergraduates are advancing

Enjoy the summer!

3D-printed biogels for use in biomedical applications

Michele Marcolongo, PhD Drosdick Endowed Dean of Engineering


What egg yolks can teach us about

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

traumatic brain injury

Villanova Engineer is published by Villanova University College of Engineering, Villanova, PA 19085 Drosdick Endowed Dean Michele Marcolongo, PhD Senior Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and Research Gerard F. Jones, PhD, ’72 ME Associate Dean, Academic Affairs Andrea Welker, PhD, PE Associate Dean, Student Success and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Stephen Jones, PhD


Assistant Dean, External Relations Keith Argue

Questions, comments, letters to the editor Send to

Director of Communications/Editor Kimberly Shimer

Address Updates Send to or 1800VILLANOVA

Contributors Megan Amis Keith Argue Siobhan Arnold Kelly Good Photo Credits Principal Photography: Paul Crane Photography and John Shetron Photography

Stay in Touch on Social Media Facebook: VillanovaEngineering LinkedIn: villanovaengineering Twitter: @NovaEngineer Instagram: NovaEngineer

QUOTED “ Engineers are daring. They’re daring to create COVID-19 solutions, keep data safe, reinvent technology and energy sources … It’s a fantastic field and a great way to make a positive impact on the world.” —Drosdick Endowed Dean Dr. Michele Marcolongo during a keynote address to local school students presented by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division

“ People like me need to hear your voice, we need you to participate and make sure things are right and safe and equitable for everyone in the work environment.” —Lillian Dukes ’87 MSEE, senior vice president of Technical Operations for Atlas Air, speaking to racism in the workplace in the 2021 Patrick J. Cunningham, Jr. and Susan Ward ’80 Endowed Lecture Series in Engineering

“ Our specific task is to design a vehicle that is able to take the crew safely from off the surface and then into Mars orbit, where then it will dock with an Earth Return Vehicle.” —Nicholas Florio ’20 EE, ’21 MSEE, on the NASA RASC-AL (Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts— Academic Linkage) Challenge on KYW NewsRadio

“ Critical thinking, along with simple experiments within the kitchen, led to a series of systematic studies to examine the mechanisms that cause egg yolk deformation … We hope to apply the lessons learned from it to the study of brain biomechanics, as well as other physical processes that involve soft capsules in a liquid environment, such as red blood cells.” —Dr. Qianhong Wu, associate professor, Mechanical Engineering in “Eggs Reveal What May Happen to Brain on Impact” on

“ There’s no overall ubermetrics or index for sustainability, but I think we’ve made progress … I feel optimistic about where we’re going, but we can’t take our foot off the pedal. It’s very easy to backslide.” —Karl Schmidt, director of the RISE (Resilient Innovation through Sustainable Engineering) Forum, on “Sustainability Is a ‘Long Term Play’” on KYW Newsradio In Depth

“ I’ve been extremely fortunate in my career to have numerous opportunities to work with truly outstanding engineering professionals from the Delaware Valley and beyond. This award is visible recognition of us all working together to help improve our world.” —Director of Professional Development and Experiential Education Frank Falcone ’70 CE, ’73 MSWREE, AP, PE, D.WRE, upon receiving the 2021 Delaware Valley Engineers Week Outstanding Service to Engineering Award

“ Yes, the government has a responsibility to a certain extent to push renewables because there is climate change, but economics are going to drive it, too, and probably much more efficiently. People are going to go to the lowestcost energy.” —Dr. Scott Jackson, visiting assistant professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, on “The Rise of Clean Energy Is All About the Money” on KYW Newsradio In Depth



s evidenced by stories throughout recent issues of Villanova Engineer, the College’s research enterprise is stronger than ever. Highlights over the past five years include: • Earning three prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER faculty grants • Winning an Early Career Award for Applied Research from the Universities Council on Water Resources • Securing 10 Manufacturing PA grants through the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development, which partner industry with academia • Establishing NovaCell—the Center for Cellular Engineering • Launching the Villanova Laboratory for Affordable Medical Technologies • Being awarded NSF Major Instrumentation and Campus Cyberinfrastructure grants to support cutting-edge technology to benefit both Villanova and other institutions in the Philadelphia area • Expanding interdisciplinary research across colleges • Receiving a Clare Boothe Luce grant to support 18 undergraduate research awards • Increasing collaboration with institutions across the country and around the world from the University of Pennsylvania to the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

With an eye toward the future and a commitment to continuing to build our reputation as a national research institution, Senior Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research Dr. Gerard Jones led the College in identifying 15 high-impact themes that represent our core research strengths. From Energy and Environmental Engineering to Smart Health and Secure Cyberspace these so-called “research neighborhoods” will bring faculty and students from different departments together to tackle problems in need of interdisciplinary solutions. Increased and cutting-edge research opportunities will attract and retain top faculty and students. This issue of Villanova Engineer features stories from each of the College’s primary research areas.

MATERIALS & MANUFACTURING applies related discoveries to nanotechnology, bioengineering and sustainable engineering.

COMMUNICATIONS & SENSING SYSTEMS advances wireless communications, satellite navigations, acoustic and ultrasound sensing, and radar imaging for human health and security.

SECURE & TRUSTWORTHY CYBERSPACE improves computer and network architecture and security, and machine learning processes.

ROBOTICS & AUTONOMOUS SYSTEMS focuses on real-world applications— including security, mobility and health care—of nonlinear dynamic systems and control theory.

HUMANITARIAN ENGINEERING collaborates with international partners on water and sanitation infrastructure, humanitarian technologies and renewable energy resources.

THERMAL & FLUID SCIENCES promotes energy efficiency in electronic systems, incorporating fluid dynamics and computational modeling for engineering and health care applications.

BIOENGINEERING & BIOMEDICAL improves human health through cell and gene therapies, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and affordable medical technologies.

SMART & CONNECTED HEALTH uses sensors, signal processing, and imaging to assess activity in the human body and monitor well-being.

BIOMATERIALS develops drug delivery vehicles, sustainable material systems, and nanomaterials and polymers for functional composites and flexible electronics.


STRUCTURAL MATERIALS AND SYSTEMS & PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE studies transportation systems, and develops and tests structural and building materials. GEOTECHNICAL & GEOENVIRONMENTAL addresses green stormwater control measures, groundwater protection and soils.

ENERGY & ADVANCED MATERIALS investigates alternative and renewable energy sources and nanostructured materials as adsorbents and catalysts.

ENGINEERING PEDAGOGY advances engineering education through the application of research-based best practice models.

ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING provides solutions for safe drinking water, bioremediation of contaminants and nutrient recovery.

WATER RESOURCES creates resilient engineered solutions for global water challenges.




iven the Philadelphia region’s more than 100 biotech, pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, and Villanova’s related course offerings in chemical and biochemical engineering, it’s not surprising that hundreds of College of Engineering alumni are working in these fields. With the pharmaceutical industry being top of mind after its tremendous response to the COVID-19 crisis, we spoke to a number of alumni about their individual roles in this lifesaving work.








PROCESS DEVELOPMENT Lucia Hernandez ’20 MSBChE Kelsey O’Donnell ’20 PhD Matthew Tucker ’17 MSBChE


FDA REVIEW Petra Cavallaro ’89 ME


CLINICAL TRIALS Luke Badalaty ’12 ChE, ’15 MSBChE Colleen Clark, PhD, ’12 ChE, ’14 MSBChE


PRECLINICAL TESTING Devon Zimmerman ’17 PhD Adam Gabriel ’18 ChE

Reilly McCracken ’20 ChE Melissa Suprin ’96 ChE


MANUFACTURING Gene Alessandrini ’15 ME Megan Cagney ’12 ChE Kevin Costello ’92 ChE Brittany Ghicondey McCloskey ’16 ChE




Michael Nyhan ’05 ChE


PROCESS DEVELOPMENT Lucia Fernandez ’20 MSBChE, current PhD student, Biochemical Engineering Scientist, Engineering, Merck Tech transfer lead—scales up the manufacturing process from the lab to the commercial site—for a new COVID-19 therapeutic.

“You learn more from the things that fail than from those that succeed.” Kelsey O’Donnell ’20 PhD Pivotal Drug Product Process Development Scientist, Amgen Works in formulation of biosimilars (the molecular version of generics), one of the last steps before commercialization. Inspiration: Worked with Dr. Bill Kelly on a Janssen collaboration and discovered her passion for formulation through PhD research with Dr. Noelle Comolli. Matthew Tucker ’17 MSBChE Vaccine Process Development, Takeda Identifies process changes for the production of vaccine candidates for tropical diseases like Zika and Dengue. Works on cutting-edge approaches to improve process analytics. What’s next: Pursuing a master’s degree in Bioinformatics at Johns Hopkins University.

“ COVID-19 has made people appreciate vaccines as a public health utility, especially in the U.S. where we don’t deal with many of the diseases that the rest of the world faces.”

THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY POST-COVID-19 In 2015, a brochure produced by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America stated: “The process for researching and developing new medicines is growing in difficulty and length. On average, it takes at least 10 years for a new medicine to complete the journey from initial discovery to the marketplace, with clinical trials alone taking six to seven years on average.” Then COVID-19 came along, and the pharmaceutical industry was able to do something miraculous in an astoundingly short amount of time. In reaction to the incredible speed of vaccine development and equally remarkable collaboration between competitive companies, Janssen senior scientist Devon Zimmerman ’17 PhD, says, “Presented with a global crisis, we couldn’t silo our resources and talent. That wouldn’t take us to the finish line.” Given the successful outcome, Melissa Suprin ’96 ChE, a senior director with Pfizer, considers how the industry will respond to challenges moving forward: “Annual deaths from other diseases are comparable to what we’ve seen from COVID-19, so having shown that ‘all hands on deck’ is possible, how do we come together to find solutions for these in a way that is commensurate with what we did for COVID-19? Certainly, they are complex in different ways, but it really does challenge our thinking around where we can go faster and still do all the right things with the right quality considerations in place.” Suprin may want to look to Villanova Engineering PhD student and Merck scientist Lucia Fernandez ’20 MSBChE for answers. Fernandez has set her sights on “disrupting the way we look at drug product development,” restructuring it to adapt to more accelerated timelines, while still preserving quality. The pandemic, she says, has shown that “if we put our minds to it, we can get these products to patients much faster than we were doing a year ago.” To continue progress at this pace, Fernandez sees a need for standardization in product development and defining minimum requirements to file a drug product with the FDA. “I’d love to see the industry move to a place where there’s a straight timeline from development to approval,” she adds. Colleen Clark, PhD, ’12 ChE, ’14 MSBChE, who works in strategic options and assessment for Bristol-Myers Squibb, believes, however, “Things will probably go back to normal. It would be nice if the process sped up a bit, but in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, there was a tremendous amount of dedicated resources that made it possible. Going forward, the FDA is going to want all the data they typically require when emergency use isn’t part of the scenario.” As for future collaborations between companies like Merck and Janssen, Kelsey O’Donnell ’20 PhD isn’t convinced it will become the norm. “You hope to see it, but the reality is that it is a competitive industry; I think it will only go so far for certain things.”





Adam Gabriel ’18 ChE Associate Scientist, Research Lab, Merck Conducts vaccine process development experiments to determine product parameters, after which it is transferred to the commercialization group, which checks the tolerance.

While COVID-19 vaccines are foremost in everyone’s minds, development of other lifesaving drugs has continued at its typically frenetic pace. Villanova Engineering PhD student Lucia Fernandez ’20 MSBChE is the tech transfer lead for Merck’s new COVID-19 therapeutic. Among patients who were hospitalized due to COVID-19, half of the fatalities were not due to virus replication but were caused by the immune system “basically going haywire.” This new drug is a modulator that suppresses the immune system and allows the body to recover once viral replication has been controlled.

Devon Zimmerman ’17 PhD Senior Scientist, Janssen In CAR-T cell therapy projects, develops formulations, analyzes stability and works with the final drug product for Biologics License Application to the FDA.



Luke Badalaty ’12 ChE, ’15 MSBChE Project Manager; Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls; GlaxoSmithKline Works with experts in functional CMC and nonclinical areas to develop a project plan for drug development including timelines, budget, staff and associated risks. What’s next: An R&D project management position with TMunity, a cell therapy startup. Colleen Clark, PhD, ’12 ChE, ’14 MSBChE Manager, Strategic Options and Assessment, BristolMyers Squibb Models the probability of a clinical trial’s success and provides a valuation of the study to determine how much it will cost. Inspiration: Research with Dr. Comolli studying targeted nanoparticle drug delivery led to pursuing her master’s in Biochemical Engineering. In 2020, she earned her PhD at University College London.

At Haemonetics—where she worked until May 2021—Brittany (Ghicondey) McCloskey ’16 ChE contributed to the TEG® hemostasis analyzer system, which due to recent FDA guidance is a potential adjunctive diagnostic to help better characterize COVID-19 associated coagulopathy. This condition is common among COVID-19 patients and can lead to potentially deadly complications, such as venous thromboembolism, pulmonary embolism or stroke. Using the TEG® hemostasis analyzer system helps inform patient management, including personalized anticoagulation to reduce the risk of bleeding. Matthew Tucker ’17 MSBChE is collaborating with Takeda colleagues in Japan, Singapore and Germany, on vaccine process development for tropical diseases like Zika and Dengue. For the Dengue vaccine, his group is helping Takeda prepare its vaccine candidate for commercial launch (currently in stage 3 clinical trials).

Reilly McCracken ’20 ChE Associate Scientist, Vaccines Process Development and Commercialization, Merck Develops assays to determine potency and detect impurities in samples from upstream and downstream processes. Conducts small scale vaccine experiments and helps with process optimization and development. Inspiration: Research with Dr. Elmer prompted her interest in pharmaceuticals. Held a summer internship at Merck. Melissa Suprin ’96 ChE Head of Quality Risk Management, Pfizer Ensures processes and systems are in place to support risk management in clinical development. What’s next: Pursuing a doctorate in Law and Policy at Northeastern University to establish her expertise in regulatory affairs.

“‘Solve COVID-19’ came on top of everything else in the company’s portfolio, none of which are any less important. In the pursuit of treatments and cures for some of the world’s most damaging diseases, related clinical trials had to be maintained despite the challenges and new sources of risk.” —Melissa Suprin ’96 ChE

Why At the basic level of job satisfaction, Lucia Fernadez ’20 MSBChE says you can’t beat the pharmaceutical industry. “When you’re looking at what you want to do with your career, most people consider salary, upward mobility, and how well employees are treated; and the pharmaceutical industry does very well in these categories. Not only are people nicely compensated, but they also have great opportunities to learn more, to grow and to take on more responsibility.” She adds, “Even a rough day can never be that bad because you know that someone is going to be helped by what you’re doing.” Echoing that sentiment, Gene Alessandrini ’15 ME notes that if you want to do work that will directly impact others, “A career in pharmaceuticals is the best way to do that.” He also appreciates that no two days are the same.

How Melissa Suprin ’96 ChE shares that there are myriad opportunities available in this field, whether you want to work with a startup, an ancillary company or a well-established company like Pfizer that has been around for more than a century. Matthew Tucker ’17 MSBChE highly recommends current students seek a related internship. If one has already graduated, he suggests contracting companies as a way in the door. “It can take as little as three to six months to move into a permanent position,” he says. Speaking to specific areas of interest within the industry, Devon Zimmerman ’17 PhD recommends cell and gene therapy, which he notes are “wide open for opportunity.” Petra Cavallaro ’89 ME who works in regulatory affairs, advises anyone interested in positions like hers to start in process development or analytics. She and several alumni also noted the value of pursuing an advanced degree to help you progress in your career.

What As for what it takes to succeed, Alessandrini emphasizes the need to “always want to learn.” Kelsey O’Donnell ’20 PhD seconds that. “Be ready to learn and learn quickly. Working in pharma is like running alongside a moving train. It’s both exciting and terrifying.” She cautions, “You will fail but there’s no time to sulk; you learn from the experience and move on.” Being in the early years of his career, Adam Gabriel ’18 ChE has seen firsthand how gaining a breadth of knowledge helps drive seasoned leaders. “In meetings, I notice that some of the senior level people are still applying what they learned in the lab to the decisions they are making in everything they do.” “An engineering career is very different from studying engineering in school,” notes Brittany (Ghicondey) McCloskey ’16 ChE. “The classroom presents an ideal world, but you are working within constraints of time, budget and technology. Learning that there is an acceptable level of risk is hard for engineers to grasp. It’s about progress, not perfection. There’s a lot more craft to it than I expected.”

FDA REVIEW Petra Cavallaro ’89 ME Director, Regulatory Affairs; Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls; Takeda Compiles the drug product’s scientific information to submit to regulatory authorities for approval to move forward.

“An engineering background teaches you how to think and be practical and pragmatic. It can lead you in any direction.”

MANUFACTURING Louis “Gene” Alessandrini ’15 ME Specialist; Engineering, Maintenance and Utilities; Merck “Owns” the plant’s equipment—everything mechanical that is needed to create a process. Ensures nothing delays operations or restricts production.

“It’s a higher stress environment, but we understand how important our roles are to the world in a time like this.” Megan Cagney ’12 ChE Associate Director of Manufacturing Network Strategy, Merck Works with supply chain and value chain management and models the capacity of manufacturing sites.

“I chose pharma– ceuticals because I wanted to be on the business side of a company that has engineering as part of its bread and butter.”





Kevin Costello ’92 ChE Project manager, FlexPro Group As a consultant, Costello has worked for three different pharmaceutical companies. He is currently involved in manufacturing and supply chain to ensure product inventory for clinical trials. Previous projects included product launch and tech transfer.


Brittany (Ghicondey) McCloskey ’16 ChE Process Engineer, WuXi AppTec Previously with Haemonetics, in June 2021, McCloskey joined WuXi, a cell and gene therapy integrated contract testing development and manufacturing organization. There, she supports the design, commissioning and qualification of single-use process equipment projects to manufacture advanced therapy medicinal products.

“Getting to work in health care but through engineering has been wildly rewarding. In the face of crisis, I’m proud to have a small part in figuring out ways to help people.”

BUSINESS STRATEGY Michael Nyhan ’05 ChE Director of Strategic Planning, Merck Supports cross-cutting major initiatives, including enterprise risk management. What’s next: Moving to Switzerland to take a position as Strategy Realization Officer supporting eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which are areas of growth given the unmet medical needs in those countries.

EDUCATING TOMORROW’S PHARMACEUTICAL LEADERS For undergraduates, Colleen Clark, PhD, ’12 ChE, ’14 MSBChE recommends “using every elective you have to take all the courses you can in bioengineering.” Luke Badalaty ’12 ChE, ’15 MSBChE, agrees, noting that courses in biology, biochemistry and bioengineering helped prepare him for his career. Clark also says, while not necessary for a role in the lab, a business minor can benefit you in strategic and assessment positions. Those interested in pursuing an advanced degree will find Villanova’s graduate program in Biochemical Engineering ideally suited for professionals working in the pharmaceutical industry or those seeking opportunities. In addition to two foundational upstream and downstream bioprocess engineering courses, offerings in the graduate program include: • Global Pharmaceutical Business • Systems Biology • Biopharm Facility Design • Biomaterials and Drug Delivery

CELLULAR AND GENE THERAPY Taught by Dicciani Endowed Associate Professor Dr. Jacob Elmer, an undergraduate course in Cellular Engineering and a graduate course in Cell and Gene Therapy have proven to be immensely popular with students. At the graduate level, Dr. Elmer says, “We have students from Merck, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly and more. Those who are not currently working in the industry find themselves to be more desirable hires if they can become knowledgeable about these fields.” After an introduction to putting a new gene into a cell, the course covers genetics, tools and techniques, and a general survey of the different ways in which cells have been engineered. As one of Dr. Elmer’s areas of expertise and research, CAR-T therapy—using T cells to kill cancer cells— is a major focus of the course. In 2016, he won a National Science Foundation grant to develop new technologies and techniques to streamline the production of genetically engineered T cells to treat leukemia patients.


Dr. Noelle Comolli, Associate Professor and Chair A member of the Society of Biomaterials and the Biomedical Engineering Society, Dr. Comolli’s research focuses on polymeric biomaterials for the design of new drug delivery vehicles and cell capture and purification.

Dr. William Kelly, professor and director of NovaCell: Villanova’s Center for Cellular Engineering Dr. Kelly’s laboratory develops and optimizes scalable bioprocesses, both upstream (i.e., bioreactors) and downstream, for the production of biopharmaceuticals. The lab’s current focus is on immuno-oncology products, such as CAR-T cells.

Dr. Jacob Elmer, Dicciani Endowed Associate Professor Director of the Drug Discovery and Development Laboratory, Dr. Elmer is reprogramming T cells to fight cancer via nonviral gene therapy approaches. He is also investigating earthworm hemoglobin as an ultra-stable blood substitute for humans.



he recipient of the 2021 J. Stanley Morehouse Award—the College’s highest honor for an alumnus—is Dr. Robert McNally ’70 EE. After graduating from Villanova and subsequently earning his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. McNally had a long and successful career in the medical biotech industry. From his beginnings in cardiac pacing, he co-founded CryoLife, a Georgia-based human heart valve and tissue-for-transplant company. As a serial entrepreneur, he was involved in a number of startups, most recently as the now-retired president and CEO of GeoVax, a vaccine company. A past chairman and recipient of the Georgia Biomedical Industry Growth Award from the Georgia affiliate of the Bio Innovation Organization, Dr. McNally is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers. At Villanova he is actively involved in the Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Institute and the Engineering Entrepreneurship advisory boards. He is passionate about fostering engineering entrepreneurial activity through interdisciplinary curricula to support engineers becoming successful CEOs.




ach year, engineering students submit their ideas for the annual Johnson & Johnson Engineering Showcase. With a focus on the application of technology to improve human health, students’ proposals are judged on innovation and novelty, feasibility and capability for implementation, impact to business or humanity, and presentation. Being selected to participate is a tremendous honor, and in 2021, Nicole Grueneberg ’23 ChE was among 15 of 30 nominees chosen to present at the virtual event in February. Nicole presented her idea for Skinshare, an application for monitoring skin health. In addition to easily connecting patients with dermatologists in a defined geographic radius, Skinshare would perform skin damage assessment and analysis by enabling a smart phone’s flashlight to function as an ultraviolet light. The user would take a panoramic-style picture of the left, right and front of their face, and the UV light would detect surface and subsurface skin conditions. The app would also use image analytics to compare historical pictures to detect any changes that are cause for concern. As an added benefit, the app could determine if sunscreen is applied correctly. “Skinshare will help increase awareness of the damage that UV radiation has on your skin by revealing what is invisible to the naked eye, helping with early detection of various types of skin cancer,” says Nicole. With interest in a career on the business side of engineering, Nicole is pursuing a minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship to complement her Chemical Engineering degree.

VILLANOVA STUDENTS DEVELOP INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS AT FIRST ANNUAL HEALTH HACKATHON During winter break, students from across the University came together for the first annual Health Hackathon hosted by Villanova’s Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Institute and supported by the Independence Blue Cross Center for Innovation in Philadelphia. The goal was to create opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration on innovative projects across five themes related to COVID-19. During the three-day event, students learned designthinking frameworks, conducted design research and built prototypes. Faculty shared expertise and experiences, providing guidance to participants, who worked as teams in virtual breakout rooms. On the event’s last day, the teams pitched their concepts and answered questions from a virtual audience that included Drosdick Endowed Dean of Engineering Michele Marcolongo, PhD, and Donna Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor of the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing. The first-place team, Theia Sanitation System, designed a device to sanitize personal protective equipment with ultraviolet light to kill virus particles. Learning that hospitals use approximately 30,000 disposable PPE gowns every day, the team proved how their invention would offer market protection and save money, while also producing less trash and helping combat PPE shortages. College of Engineering graduate student Nicholas Florio ’20 EE, ’21 MSEE was among the team’s members. Engineering graduate student Viviana Villavicencio ’21 EE contributed to the second-place team, COVID Clear, which created a social media marketing campaign to address COVID-19 education and vaccine distribution for the Latinx community, which has highest COVID-19related death rate in the U.S. The team’s campaign included outreach to Latino celebrities to post related messaging in Spanish to combat widely spread disinformation. The third-place team, Count Me In, developed a device to monitor the number of individuals within a physical space to assist with social distancing. Dean Marcolongo, whose areas of expertise include biomaterials and engineered biomedical solutions to treat disease, says “It is important for students to recognize that technological advancements are best achieved with contributions from those with a variety of perspectives.” The Institute for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship hopes to make this program an annual in-person event with current and relevant themes and topics that inspire more students to participate.



n 2017, Alicia Piscitelli ’18 MSSE managed a material availability project for Boeing through the RISE (Resilient Innovation through Sustainable Engineering) Forum, which partners industry experts with students in Villanova’s Sustainable Engineering graduate program. With two completed Boeing internships to inform the project, Alicia’s RISE project led to a third internship with the aerospace leader, as well as funding for her PhD research. Today, Piscitelli is finishing her doctorate with a dissertation titled “Decarbonization and Sustainability Assessment of Phenol Resins in the Aerospace Supply Chain,” where she’s looking at applications for these novel aerospace composites. Her advisors are Villanova’s Dr. Noelle Comolli, associate professor and chair of Chemical and Biological Engineering; Dr. Ross Lee, a professor of practice in the Sustainable Engineering program; Dr. Deanna Zubris, associate professor of Chemistry; and Dr. Gwen Gross, a polymer expert at Boeing. Piscitelli explains that the resins typically found in the interior of airplanes—seats, stow bins and sidewalls, for example—are produced using fossil fuels. In her research, she is investigating alternative sources that are both renewable and regenerative. Determining whether these options are truly more sustainable than the fossilized sources is also a priority, requiring consideration of the supply risk and restrictions, and the material’s impact on human health and ecosystems. To this point, Piscitelli has synthesized the traditional polymers used in the aerospace supply chain and a partially renewable polymer using a biosourced phenol. Given their identical molecular structures she is cautiously optimistic in saying, “It looks like the resin made with a sustainable phenol is going to work!” The only difference, she notes, is the source of the material—in this case, renewable feedstock. The next step in her research involves a renewable source for formaldehyde, which she’s

synthesizing from biomethanol using microwave pyrolysis. “And then,” she says, “We will have a fully renewable resin.” When asked about the financial implications of her alternative materials, Piscitelli acknowledges that there is currently an economic barrier to its widespread use. Renewable phenol is not as readily available as fossilized phenol. “But,” she adds, “as interest grows and pressure mounts on suppliers from companies like Boeing, there will be money in making a sustainable alternative.” After graduation, Piscitelli looks forward to continuing her career in the aerospace industry, where her research has the potential to make a significant impact. She hopes to work in either a sustainability role or in wing composite technology, a group with which she most recently interned. She notes, “You don’t have to have sustainability in your job title to be working on sustainability projects. Everyone can make a contribution.”




hen new energy sources like photovoltaic panels compete with agriculture for large, open spaces and high intensity sunlight, which should we prioritize—or better yet, is there a solution that would allow them to coexist? That was the question Mechanical Engineering graduate student Michael Evans sought to answer in his graduate thesis titled “Agrivoltaics Greenhouse: A Solar-Agricultural Greenhouse Project.” Advised by Dr. Gerard Jones, professor of Mechanical Engineering and Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research, and Dr. Finley Shapiro, assistant professor of Engineering, Leadership, and Society at Drexel University, Evans developed a prototype that integrates food growth with solar energy collection. “The primary purpose of our prototype,” he explains, “is to expand the traditional growing season using waste heat generated by the photovoltaic panels to create a greenhouse effect, which warms the air within the test cell.” Dr. Jones adds: “Waste heat from the panels would normally be lost to the surroundings but we capture it in the greenhouse and use it to warm the inside air. This allows earlier plantings and a delayed harvest, possibly adding another crop cycle to the benefit of the farmers. At the same time, the panels deliver pollution-free electricity where needed.” A prototype of the team’s agrivoltaics greenhouse was built on Villanova University’s campus and tested for more than a year. Constructed on a wooden frame with a concrete pad as its base, it features rectangular solar panels on either side of the structure that measures about 8.5 feet wide by 6.5 feet long by 2.5 feet tall. Solar radiation reaches plants and planters through a transparent covering positioned between the two panels. Evans notes that the team intentionally avoided using custom or specialized parts, so that when the design proves effective it will be cheaper and easier to manufacture. And, he is happy to report: “We already have some promising experimental data that demonstrates the viability of this concept.” In addition to the prototype itself, Evans developed a mass transfer model to predict internal humidity, a key greenhouse environmental factor. He also established a mathematical model for use in parametric studies, which will allow him to computationally test design permutations to correct identified deficiencies in the original prototype. “Incident solar radiation, infrared radiation exchange, transmitted solar radiation, evaporation, convection, and conduction all play important parts in the environmental conditions of the cell,” he explains. Evans is seeking external grants to take the work to the next level. “With further design iteration and interdisciplinary support, this project will offer the solution to the question of arable land use going forward.”

CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT WELCOMES WEIJIAN DIAO Dr. Weijian Diao has joined the College as an assistant professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. After earning his PhD at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Diao was a postdoctoral researcher at Idaho National Laboratory. He then served as a research associate professor at the University of South Carolina for three years before coming to Villanova. Dr. Diao’s research focuses on heterogeneous catalysis, nanomaterials and rational catalyst synthesis, and renewable energy applications.

ENGINEERING ALUMNI SOCIETY AWARDEES IN ENERGY AND ADVANCED MATERIALS After graduation, Elizabeth Andrews ’12 ChE, ’18 MSSE (Meritorious Service Award) joined the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission where she became a qualified nuclear power plant inspector. She was previously a resident inspector at Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station and is currently a health physicist inspecting plants to ensure their safe operation in accordance with federal regulations.

ENGINEERING FRESHMAN INVESTIGATES STATE OF CARBON TAXATION Through the Clare Booth Luce Engineering Scholars Program, Victoria Margenat ’24 ME is working with Dr. Aaron Wemhoff, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering and researcher in Villanova’s Center for Energy-Smart Electronic Systems (ES2), on analyzing carbon taxation strategies with a specific focus on reducing the environmental footprint of data centers. Data centers collectively consume approximately 2% to 3% of U.S. electricity, and a single data center can consume as much electrical power as a power plant generates. While data center industry groups and related publications have indicated a growing interest in sustainability, the industry as a whole is unlikely to adopt suggestions for reducing their carbon footprint unless there is a financial driver to do so. “Therefore,” says Dr. Wemhoff, “one of our center’s goals is to link environmental and economic metrics for managing data centers to tools and metrics that can be easily incorporated into making data center design decisions, specifically in cooling system design and in incorporating on-site renewable energy.” One missing piece of key financial information is the state of carbon taxation and cap-and-trade programs, which are present in Canada and Europe, but are not common in the U.S., outside of California and a few mid-Atlantic states. Victoria is working on a comprehensive survey of currently active and proposed programs to pinpoint areas where pursuing environmental sustainability measures are most attractive. She will present this research to data center industry leaders during ES2 web meetings, as well as via a poster at the ES2 semiannual industrial advisory board meeting. The goal is to have a comprehensive review condensed into a single document to be made available to the data center industry.

After active duty as an aircraft commander, Eugene Fogarty, PE, ’58 EE (Meritorious Service Award) was employed by the Philadelphia Electric Company (now PECO) where his assignments included startup of the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, director of research, and chief planning and research engineer. He later served as a nuclear consultant. David Guro ’84 ChE (Professional Achievement Award) is director of Global Product Management at Air Products where he is responsible for the strategic direction, overall growth and profitability of Air Products’ generated gases and cryogenic air separation product lines. Guro’s pioneering work on adsorption technology, hydrogen plant design, hydrogen refueling systems and carbon dioxide capture are foundational to the platforms that underpin Air Products’ ongoing growth. Ean Mulligan ’09 ME (Meritorious Service Award) has 11 years of experience in the energy industry, five of which have been in renewables. He currently works as the vice president of development at Foundation Solar Partners. Previously, Mulligan worked at Cypress Creek Renewables overseeing a community solar portfolio of over 400MWs across 80 projects in the Northeast. A Fellow at Air Products—the company’s highest level of achievement among technical experts—Patrick J. Smith ’82 ME, ’90 MSME (Carl T. Humphrey Award) is the global machinery technology manager and the global machinery lead on the Operational Excellence Technical team.




ringing together a commitment to lifelong learning with a passion for sustainability, this spring Villanova University launched SEED—Sustainable Enterprise Executive Education and Development. Combining the technical knowledge of professors in the Sustainable Engineering program with the leadership expertise of faculty from the Villanova School of Business, SEED is for experienced professionals interested in creating value by designing and incorporating sustainability practices into their business environments. To learn more about the new program, we spoke to SEED Director Victoria Minerva ’13 MSSE, ’17 MBA and faculty lead Karl Schmidt, professor of practice in the Sustainable Engineering program. Schmidt spent 28 years as an executive in environmental affairs, process excellence and global supply chain management at Johnson & Johnson.

WHAT WAS THE MOTIVATION BEHIND SEED? Minerva: SEED is about trying to help industry incorporate sustainability not only into their operations but into their whole strategy. When I say sustainability, I mean all aspects, not only environmental, which everyone thinks of right away, but also the social, economic, technological and political. Schmidt: Many business leaders are feeling the need to become more conversant on what their companies’ actions and roles are to address both challenges and opportunities related to sustainability. Diverse stakeholders are demanding that companies “tell their story” on climate change, global health, creating shared value, among others. The SEED program provides critical fundamentals on how business leaders can better incorporate sustainability principles into their strategies, business plans and culture. They should be ingrained in the workplace, just as safety, quality and process excellence are.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND SEED? Minerva: SEED is for professionals who are potentially decision-makers and have influence within their organizations, but don’t have as much awareness around key sustainability issues and need some guidance on how to address the new challenges they’re facing. Schmidt: We recommend it for both existing and future business leaders who can make an impact on their company’s footprint and direction.

WHAT ARE SEED’S MAJOR TAKEAWAYS? Minerva: Attendees will leave with tangible tools to help them implement sustainability strategies within their current work environments. These should help them address the various challenges and megatrends that sustainability brings to light. Schmidt: Participants will also benefit from the 3E’s— Engage, Exchange, Execute. Engaging with expert faculty, exchanging ideas and best practices with peers across industry sectors, and executing action plans when they return to the workplace. We even encourage participants to bring their specific challenges to the course, so everyone can learn from them.

WHY ARE COMPANIES INVESTING IN SUSTAINABILITY? Schmidt: Over the past two decades, overwhelming evidence has shown that companies that pay attention to all aspects of sustainability tend to outperform those companies that don’t. Addressing these issues strategically has enabled companies to reduce costs, mitigate risk, fuel growth and enhance brand or reputation. It’s no longer about being a nice thing to do for the environment; today sustainability is vital to an organization’s long-term success. Refer to for current course options and to learn more about the program.



r. Wenqing Xu, associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was awarded $657,137 as part of a $1.467 million National Institutes of Health grant for a five-year collaborative project between Villanova University and the University of Iowa. “Elucidating mechanisms for enhanced anaerobic bioremediation in the presence of carbonaceous materials using an integrated material science and molecular microbial ecology approach” reflects Dr. Xu’s work on the bioremediation of legacy pollutants and emerging contaminants frequently encountered at Superfund sites. While anaerobic reductive dehalogenation by organohalide-respiring bacteria—a common bioremediation strategy for halogenated pollutants in groundwater and sediments—has proven effective, these strategies are often incomplete in field applications. A newer remediation strategy involving amendment of pyrogenic carbonaceous matter (PCM, e.g., activated carbon) to the subsurface has been shown to promote synergistic interactions among OHRB and improve efficacy; however, the underlying mechanisms behind this process remain unknown. Dr. Xu says, “These unknowns limit our ability to optimize OHRB performance in bioremediation strategies where PCM is used.” This project is aimed at closing these knowledge gaps. This work will benefit human health and reap economic benefits by reducing human exposure to halogenated pollutants in the environment. Furthermore, it will demonstrate the potential for more effective and sustainable remediation approaches that combine tailored PCM and OHRB. Dr. Xu’s impressive body of work has earned her numerous federal awards and grants, including a 2018 NSF CAREER award for “Transforming the Synergistic

Interactions between Pyrogenic Carbonaceous Matter and Sulfur Species into Solutions for Contaminant Detoxification” and a 2019 Department of Defense grant worth $1.46 million to lead a multi-institutional research project to address explosive residuals at military training sites. In recognition of her scholarship, in 2020, Villanova University presented her with its prestigious University Scholarly Achievement Award.

ALUMNA LEADS NEW BIOREMEDIATION COMPANY With nearly 30 years of experience tackling critical industrial issues, Nicole Richards ’92 ChE is well-positioned for her new role as CEO of Allonnia, a bioremediation company that launched in October 2020. The company’s goal: to find new answers to the growing challenge of waste management. Having most recently served as Growth, Strategy and M&A Director—Water Solutions at DuPont, Richards looks forward to applying Allonnia’s advanced technologies and progressive biology to engineering breakthrough systems to develop and commercialize new waste remediation and management solutions. The company will tackle some of the planet’s most pressing waste pollution challenges including degrading toxic contaminants, such as PFAS or “forever chemicals,” upcycling valuable metals and finding new ways to degrade and upcycle plastic waste. “Waste pollution is quickly becoming one of the most pivotal environmental issues impacting both public and planetary health, and I’m proud to be part of a company focused on solving these critical challenges in new ways,” says Richards. “Our ultimate goal is to accelerate the R&D process for biological treatment solutions across the board, picking up where chemical and mechanical solutions have reached their maximum impact.”




f you ask Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Dr. Kelly Good ’09 CE what a multibillion dollar “clean coal” tax credit has to do with drinking water, she will tell you it is a story of unintended consequences. A visiting assistant teaching professor, Dr. Good studies the interactions of infrastructure systems, most recently within the energy-water nexus to evaluate how regulations and development in the power sector affects drinking water quality and health. “We need drinking water disinfection to protect us from waterborne disease outbreaks,” says Dr. Good. “However, chemical disinfectants, such as chlorine, react with other constituents in the water to form unintended disinfection byproducts, or DBPs, which are also harmful.” When drinking water sources also contain bromide, the DBPs that form are more toxic. Dr. Good’s work, which has informed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency power plant wastewater regulations, uses modeling to demonstrate that some power plants in the U.S. are contributing substantially to downstream drinking water bromide concentrations. When the clean coal tax credit was introduced in the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, many power plants began adding bromide to their coal, which controls air emissions of mercury. As these plants meet their air quality requirements, however, they sometimes produce wastewater—which, depending on their configuration, can include bromide—that goes into rivers that are also used as drinking water sources. The U.S. Congress recently launched an investigation into this multibillion-dollar clean coal tax credit. Recent analyses show that while the goal was improved air quality, air pollution at plants burning refined coal has gotten worse. These chemical additives are not publicly reported, but halogens, such as bromide and iodide, are the most widely used. Dr. Good, who was recognized as a Siebel

Scholar for her work on the effects of power plants on drinking water quality, explains “while the air quality discrepancy is the focus of the congressional investigation, the unintended effect of this tax credit on downstream drinking water quality and health are also important to consider. The types and amounts of additives used for the refining process are not publicly available, and thus, the downstream effects are uncertain and difficult to quantify.” A related paper co-authored by Dr. Good titled “Modeling Trihalomethane Increases Associated with Source Water Bromide Contributed by Coal-Fired Power Plants in the Monongahela River Basin” appeared in Environmental Science & Technology (2020, 54, 2, 726– 734). At Villanova, Dr. Good continues to evaluate drinking water challenges, including a home water filter sampling project with U.S. EPA scientists.

A PLACE FOR PERSEVERANCE IN VIRGINIA SMITH’S CIVIL ENGINEERING COURSES “Though I’m not the world’s leading expert on this topic, it is near and dear to my heart,” responds Villanova’s Dr. Virginia Smith* when asked to comment on the Mars 2020 mission, particularly as it relates to a search for signs of ancient life in rock and soil samples. Were it not for evidence of the planet’s wet conditions billions of years ago, there would be no signs of life, and what those conditions may have left behind are particularly intriguing for this assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. An expert in water resources whose research examines how rivers, reservoirs and floodplains change over time, Dr. Smith explains: “The sediment transport is the nexus of anything that is happening on any planet. Your climate cycle, water cycle and planetary processes are all expressed in where the sediment ends up. It provides a way of understanding the planet’s history.”

[Jezero crater: Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU]

In the early-2010s, when NASA started developing Perseverance—its new Mars Rover—a team of its scientists came to the University of Texas at Austin to talk with a research group in the geological sciences, which Smith was a part of. Wanting to know how to determine whether the planet’s sediment had been transported by air or water, the conversation centered around soil samples and grain sizes. Without overselling her role—“I was just a graduate student who got to be part of the discussion about the Rover”—Smith recalls the excitement in applying what is known about Earth to understand life on Mars. “It’s just another reason why I fell in love with what I do. You can look at grains of sand on the surface, and they tell a story that indicates how these planets evolved.” Dr. Smith uses elements of the latest mission to Mars in her Villanova courses. In Fluid Mechanics, dimensional analysis is illustrated by determining how to deploy the Rover’s parachute given the difference in the planet’s atmosphere. A graduate course in River Dynamics looks at sheer stress, channel parameters, and the dimensional relationships of the channel’s width and depth. “The physics control why a delta looks the same on Earth as it does on Mars,” she explains. Ultimately, Smith sees all of the information that is being gathered as contributing to how we see our planet and its sustainability. “If we can understand more about how things change, we can understand more about the implications of our actions.” * Dr. Smith was awarded the 2021 New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which selected her from a “pool of highly talented national candidates.”

On ancient Mars, water carved channels and transported sediments to form fans and deltas within lake basins. In the Jezero Crater delta, sediments have minerals that indicate chemical alteration by water.



uzzing with the activity of one postdoc; eight PhD students; seven students pursuing master’s degrees in Civil Engineering, and Water Resources and Environmental Engineering; and 13 undergraduates; The College’s Soils Lab is filled with cutting-edge equipment that gives its researchers unique testing capabilities. Faculty leaders in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering include Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Dr. Andrea Welker, professor and associate dean, Academic Affairs; and assistant professors Dr. Kristin Sample-Lord and Dr. Jonathan Hubler.



ichael Burns ’21 MSWREE measures soil water M characteristic curves and saturated hydraulic conductivity.


ictoria Reis ’19 MSCE and Dr. Kristin Sample-Lord use V a SATURO infiltrometer device to measure hydraulic conductivity of rain garden soils. These sites are collecting and infiltrating stormwater runoff from I-95 in Philadelphia as part of PennDOT’s long-term, multiphase infrastructure initiative to rebuild and improve the interstate in Pennsylvania.

<< PhD candidate Sayed Arafat Bin Rahman is building an advanced apparatus to measure contaminant transport properties of clays at elevated temperatures. Funded by the National Science Foundation, this project focuses on measuring properties of clays that are used in engineered barriers for the long-term, safe containment of wastes in landfills, mine-waste impoundments and radioactive waste disposal. These clay barriers protect groundwater quality and human health, even under changing environmental conditions, and are designed to last for hundreds to thousands of years.

<< R ob Morro ’21 MSCE uses a pressure panel control board to measure compressibility and strength of a sample of reclaimed asphalt pavement. Funded by PennDOT, this project focuses on evaluating potential reuse of waste material like RAP in geotechnical infrastructure.


hD candidate James Hanley uses a cyclic simple P shear device with bender elements to measure dynamic soil properties. This project focuses on evaluating the shear response of sands with varying particle morphology and subjecting them to recorded earthquake motions to evaluate liquefaction response.


anley simulates earthquake response of sands using a H cyclic triaxial device with bender elements. The goal is evaluating soil liquefaction during earthquake events to investigate post-liquefaction soil strength and settlements. ary Helen Baudinet ’19 CE, ’21 MSCE measures M properties of soil sampled from a constructed cutoff wall used for protecting groundwater quality.





illanova’s Dr. Joseph Yost, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has long worked in traditional areas of structural research, including concrete, steel and composite materials. He expected he would continue in that vein during his spring 2018 sabbatical, however, a visiting scholar invitation to the Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany, set him on a different path. “I was asked to work in structural glass, an area completely unfamiliar to me,” he says. A chance to learn something new from the best in the field at one of the top universities in Europe convinced him to take advantage of the opportunity. Today, a collaborative team of faculty and students at Villanova, TU Darmstadt, City College of New York and the University of Pennsylvania’s architectural program is pursuing a first-of-its-kind pedestrian bridge assembled from hollow glass units that are modular in construction and design. “We are looking at quite a novel use of the material,” says Dr. Yost. “There is currently no structure built entirely of glass in a geometric form, so that it is compression dominant.” What makes the work unique and challenging is determining how to assemble the glass pieces so that they act as a single structural system without glass bearing on glass. Unit testing is being conducted in Villanova’s Richard K. Faris ’69 CE, ’70 MSCE Structural Engineering Teaching and Research Laboratory. Dr. Yost estimates that within a year, the team will complete a small-scale bridge prototype to test the structure’s behavior, understand the assembly required and connections between the neighboring glass units, and ultimately determine how it’s supported. They hope to exhibit their work at glasstec 2022 in Düsseldorf, Germany, a key showcase for glass innovations worldwide where the work would receive a great deal of exposure to academia and industry. “When I look back, it was a really smart decision to go to TU Darmstadt for my sabbatical,” says Dr. Yost. “For one, the field is fascinating; I drive around and find myself looking at glass with a completely different appreciation. Secondly, the opportunity to have worked with the German faculty—experts in the field of glass

engineering—was invaluable. Furthermore, in comparison to Europe and Asia, there appears to be less work being done domestically in the field of structural glass, so I saw the opportunity to contribute something here. Finally, skiing in Italy with my new research colleagues added nicely to a most rewarding sabbatical experience!”

Performance and strength evaluation of an individual hollow glass unit

ENGINEERING ALUMNI SOCIETY AWARDEES SHINE IN SITE DEVELOPMENT Remington & Vernick Engineers’ Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President Annina M. Hogan ’13 MSChE, PE, RA, CME, LEED AP, is the recipient of the 2021 Gary A. Gabriele Memorial Award, which recognizes a commitment to diversity in engineering. As the firm’s director of Municipal and Engineering Services, Hogan has led design teams in the planning and construction of numerous municipal, school district, health care and state capital improvement projects. Her areas of expertise include facilities improvement, renewable energy, utilities, drainage, transportation, parks and recreation, permitting and grant applications, and water treatment and distribution.

Since 2010, April E. Barkasi ’96 CE, ’98 MSWREE, a 2021 Professional Achievement awardee, has been the president and CEO of the firm she founded, CEDARVILLE Engineering Group, LLC. She grew the business through some of the most difficult economic times and now has a team of more than 30 professionals. In 2020, she purchased a heavy civil construction company to complete the capabilities of the design-build firm. Barkasi has a passion for redevelopment of economically stressed communities to create opportunities for employment and workforce development.

A senior partner at T&M Associates, 2021 Meritorious Service awardee Keith Lieberman ’93 CE, ’05 MSWREE is Mid-Atlantic regional operations manager and site development practice leader. He heads a multidisciplinary team of over 60 professionals designing projects resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of infrastructure and is also a member of T&M’s board of directors, strategic planning committee and diversity and inclusion committee. A recognized leader in the real estate development industry, he is a member of the board of trustees of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association New Jersey and serves on Villanova’s Civil Engineering academic advisory committee.




or the past five years, teams from Villanova University’s Center for Humanitarian Engineering and International Development and Aqua America, a division of Essential Utilities, have led water supply initiatives for communities in Panama, Nicaragua, Ghana and Madagascar. As part of this work, the teams collaborate on partner-driven initiatives in community development, providing technical support to help advance sustainable solutions for international communities.

Center Director Dr. Jordan Ermilio says, “Faculty and students work side by side with corporate executives, engineers and local community members, with everyone getting dirt on their shoes to combat poverty and improve the lives of people in developing communities.” In Nicaragua, where Villanova Engineering has been involved since 2004, teams have provided technical support for water supply infrastructure throughout the remote community of Waslala, improving water services

to more than 6,000 people, including schools and an orphanage. In Ghana, Villanova and Aqua America are focusing on the design and implementation of monitoring and evaluation tools to support the sustainability of handpumps throughout the country, as well as helping local operators to better manage and maintain handpump functionality. This past year, a team from Aqua America with expertise in asset management mentored a group of undergraduate students, who developed surveying tools, which use tablets and smartphones to monitor handpump performance characteristics. “A key to the success of these projects is that they have grounded models in place in the country, with on-the-ground support, which makes them really sustainable,” says Kimberly Joyce, vice president, Regulatory and Government Affairs at Essential Utilities. “We’ve also found that Villanova students are always looking to solve problems, and they come up with very creative ideas to do so.” Though travel-related fieldwork for the program was on hold this past academic year, faculty and students provided program partners with remote technical assistance in the form of engineering design services and supported their efforts with supplemental funding to keep projects moving forward.

ECUADORIAN PHD STUDENT RECOGNIZED AS IEEE PHILADELPHIA SECTION YOUNG ELECTRICAL ENGINEER OF THE YEAR A former faculty researcher at Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral in Ecuador, Javier Urquizo chose Villanova’s College of Engineering for his doctoral studies after a chance encounter with Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Dr. Pritpal Singh at an international conference. With a research focus on microgrids in communities with limited energy access, Urquizo’s interest in humanitarian engineering has prompted his leadership with Dr. Singh on several important initiatives. In recognition of his contributions, Urquizo was presented with the 2021 IEEE Philadelphia Section Young Electrical Engineer of the Year Award. Among Urquizo’s achievements: • Managing a digital literacy program for youth on the Galapagos Islands for which he received IEEE funding and led a team of students from three universities. • Assisting Villanova’s undergraduate senior design teams working on projects in various countries. • Facilitating a renewable energy outreach program to youth in Philadelphia. • Serving as chair of the Affordable and Clean Energy track for the 2020 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference. • Winning a Venture Well team grant for an ultraviolet accumulator to alert users that solar disinfection of contaminated drinking water has been completed. The team also won the B.PHL College Innovation Classic for their technology. Dr. Singh says, “In addition to all of these accomplishments, as his advisor, I have seen Javier make important contributions to two PhD research projects: one in battery modeling and characterization and another on power electronics modeling of a bi-directional dc-dc converter. He has done excellent work in so many areas!”




ast fall, Villanova’s chapters of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and American Society of Mechanical Engineers partnered with the College’s CubeSat club to present a Careers in Space panel. Students’ interest in the space industry was evident as more than 140 registered to participate in the two-hour virtual event, which featured these impressive panelists: • Carlos Blanco, Manager, 747/767 Airplane Level Integration Team, Boeing • Tiffany Dunn ’87 EE, ’90 MSEE, Electrical Systems Engineer, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space • Gerry Gleckel ’93 CLAS, Director, Launch Facility Development, Blue Origin • John Palmé ’88 ME, ’91 MSME, Consulting Systems Engineer Architect, Northrop Grumman (formerly with International Launch Services) • Tom Sanzone ’68 EE, United Technologies (retired) • Samantha Testa ’16 ME, ’17 MSME, Lead Design Engineer, SLS Emergency Egress System, NASA

Student moderators posed a series of questions to the panelists to shed light on the space industry. In addition to detailing their own career paths—most of which began with a lifelong passion for space—the panelists were asked about the biggest surprise they discovered along the way. Dunn replied that the rotational program, which began her time at General Electric, introduced her to survivability engineering, a field she didn’t even know existed and which ultimately changed her career trajectory. Sanzone remarked on the number of young adults who were leading the space program when he began working in 1968. “The average age of a flight controller when we first landed on the moon was 26,” he said. Testa noted that when she started with NASA in 2017, she was one of very few recent graduates. Today, she added, “The private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin skew younger.” The panelists were also asked how the industry has changed, and a common theme was the trend toward new companies entering the industry. “There is actually more taking place now than at any time in our history,” pointed out Gleckel. Blanco said that when he started in this field 20 years ago, no one would have imagined that private companies would be going to into space.

Invited to “boast,” the panelists shared the projects they are most proud of. Dunn talked about having worked on the Falcon program’s telemetry system from design and test to flight. Sanzone noted that while the Apollo 11 mission is certainly a highlight, he is most proud of his work on the development of the space suit. Testa reported that her current work on the astronaut centrifuge training program tops her list. The event closed with student participants’ questions, among them, “What are these companies looking for in new hires?” In addition to “related extracurricular activities”; “communication skills”; “enthusiasm, energy and drive”; and “a diversity of knowledge”; Sanzone shared the expression, “We hire for skills; we retain for values,” and he emphasized that there is no better place to find professionals with values than Villanova.

JOHN J. GALLEN AWARD WINNER ADVANCES ROBOTICS When Dr. Peiman Naseradinmousavi earned his PhD at Villanova University in 2012, he was presented with the College’s Outstanding PhD Student Award. In February 2021, he was recognized with the Engineering Alumni Society’s John J. Gallen Award for exceptional achievements by those who graduated from the University less than 15 years ago. Dr. Naseradinmousavi is an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at San Diego State University where he conducts research on multirobot networks and smart-flow distribution networks. Before joining San Diego State, he was a visiting assistant professor at Purdue University. Dr. Naseradinmousavi serves as associate editor for ASME Letters in Dynamic Systems and Control and the Journal of Vibration and Control.

SHOOTING FOR MARS: VILLANOVA TEAM NAMED FINALIST IN NASA RASC-AL CHALLENGE In its first year in the competition, a team of students from Villanova, Drexel and Rutgers universities was named a finalist in NASA’s Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts— Academic Linkage program. In June 2021, they will be among 16 teams of graduate and undergraduate students from across the country to present their deep space mission concepts to NASA and aerospace industry leaders. The RASC-AL Challenge seeks innovative ideas that will allow the expansion of human space exploration to include short-term stays and scientific operations at distant planetary bodies. Finalists were evaluated on originality and creativity in the areas of engineering and analysis, feasibility, and technical merit, including synergistic applications with NASA’s planned current investments, and alignment with one of the 2021 challenge’s five themes:

Jemison Crewed Ascent Vehicle

• • • •

Durable Low-Mass Lunar Surface Habitat Minimum Mars Ascent Vehicle Venus Flyby Mission Human Mission to Ceres • Distributed Lunar Sample Aggregation, Analysis, and Return to the International Space Station

Led by Villanova Engineering graduate student Nicholas Florio ’20 EE, ’21 MSEE, the Villanova/ Drexel/Rutgers team—aptly named VUDURU M.A.E. (Mars Ascent Expedition)—is composed of 21 undergraduates from the three universities. Working virtually, they developed the Jemison Crewed Ascent Vehicle, honoring the first African American female astronaut, Mae C. Jemison. Florio says, “Just as Mae has trail-blazed and inspired so many, our team hopes to do the same with our innovative, robust, minimal MAV design fully capable of advancing exploration of Mars.” Finalists receive a modest development stipend for work on their projects, which culminate in a 15-page technical paper, a 60-minute presentation and Q&A session with the judges, and a technical poster. The top two teams receive a $6,000 stipend to participate in the 2021 ASCEND conference, scheduled for November 2021.

ENGINEERING SCHOLAR TACKLES NEW UXO SNAKE BOT For nearly a decade, faculty and students from the College of Engineering have partnered with the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation to contribute to unexploded ordnance (UXO) remediation and removal in Cambodia. Their original work, a low-cost explosive ordnance disposal robot, was recently transferred to a company for commercialization. Today, project lead Dr. Garrett Clayton, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, has engaged Clare Boothe Luce Engineering Scholar Kendall Fragetta ’24 ME in a new endeavor—a “snake bot” to survey the landscape and determine whether landmines are present. Dr. Clayton explains, “Before demining efforts can begin, the brush and surrounding areas must be surveyed and cleared, which requires a great deal of time, effort and expense. In fact, 70% of the expense in demining goes toward brush removal.” This so-called snake bot is specifically designed to move through heavy brush and improve the efficiency and safety of the landmine detection process. “If no UXO is detected, the area does not need to be cleared, which saves both time and money, and accelerates the process.”



ater this spring, Adjunct Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Hasshi Sudler ’92 EE and Software Engineering graduate student Alejandro Gomez ’21 CLAS are looking forward to testing the first private blockchain in space. The goal is to validate blockchain technology for inter-satellite transactions, ushering in the future of space commerce. This will be the first test of a recent consensus protocol known as Proof of Authority, a means of confirming transactions through the use of several validator nodes that store data, securing the blockchain network. Satellite transactions via blockchain will be a way to securely request, transfer and pay for data between satellites. “Similar to a postal delivery, the receiver signs for the package to confirm receipt. Blockchain transactions do the same but with the added security of making sure many people witness the fact that you signed for a package; received it; and paid for it. Because the group forms a consensus around this exchange, there is no need for a single trusted third party to oversee its validity. The blockchain allows two satellites to reliably complete data transactions without communicating with a ground station to supervise these inter-satellite exchanges,” explains Sudler. He adds, “By leveraging data from satellites already in orbit, society can minimize excessive satellite deployments and reduce space debris, one of the highest risks to existing satellites.”

Hasshi Sudler

Alejandro Gomez


FRESHMAN PURSUES BRAIN-INSPIRED AI FOR VOICE RECOGNITION PIONEERING POST-QUANTUM CRYPTOGRAPHY Since 1998, developers have been capitalizing on quantum physics’ physicsbreaking behavior to introduce computers that, in the next 15 to 20 years, may be millions of times faster than classic computers. This incomprehensible processing speed poses a significant threat to future cybersecurity, especially when well-established quantum computers can break nearly all the existing public-key cryptosystems. In response, researchers including Villanova’s Dr. Jiafeng “Harvest” Xie of the Electrical and Computer Engineering department are developing and implementing postquantum cryptography algorithms thought to be resistant to such attacks. Dr. Xie recently received six-figure grants from both the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Science Foundation to advance PQC.

Kennedy Cornish, a first-year Computer Engineering major, was selected for the inaugural class of Clare Boothe Luce Engineering Scholars and will work with Dr. Xun Jiao, assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, on a brain-inspired artificial intelligence algorithm for efficient voice recognition. Dr. Jiao explains, “This technique is key to various intelligent applications, such as Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo.” As a Luce Engineering Scholar, this will be the first of at least three research experiences Kennedy will have through her senior year.



3Harris Technologies, Camden, New Jersey, awarded Villanova’s Center for Advanced Communications a one-year contract to investigate the role of machine learning in radio frequency sensing. The project is titled “Machine Learning-based RF Signal Detection and Classification” and considers the discrimination of RF signals based on distinctions in their temporal structures, spectral characteristics and time-frequency signatures. The system automatically learns these frequency signatures from the training data. The researchers will examine the performance and complexity of several deep learning approaches and neural network structures for classifying a large set of communications data and radar signals.

A DISTINGUISHED CAREER IN RADAR Professional Achievement Award recipient Philip A. Piro ’50 EE was 17 when he began what would become a long and distinguished career in radar technology. He spent three years on active duty in the Marine Corps as a radar operator and gunner on a carrier-based torpedo bomber covering the landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, after which he attended Villanova University on the GI Bill while at Willow Grove Air Base. After graduation, he started at RCA’s newly formed Missile and Surface Radar Division, where he became program manager and established the world-wide radar tracking network for the National Air and Space Administration. Piro and his team were actively involved in NASA’s early satellite development programs that eventually put a man on the moon. Subsequently awarded a Sloan Fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Piro became vice president and headed the development of the Navy’s Aegis Missile System, which is now installed on over 45 destroyers and cruisers worldwide. Other programs included development of over-the-horizon radar technology with the British Air Ministry.

Dr. Xun Jiao, principal investigator, and Dr. Mojtaba Vaezi, co-PI. Dr. Vaezi received the 2021 IEEE Philadelphia Section Delaware Valley Engineer of the Year Award.

VILLANOVA’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO SPRAYABLE, ULTRATHIN, 5G-READY ANTENNA DESIGN Research conducted by Dr. Ahmad Hoorfar and Christopher Israel ’19 EE, ’20 MSEE in Villanova’s Antenna Research Laboratory, along with faculty in the departments of Materials Science, and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel University, has resulted in the fabrication of ultrathin, 5G-ready, MXene antennas that can be spray applied onto a variety of surfaces. Their work was named “Best of 2020” by World Industrial Reporter. Performance-wise, these antennas stand toe to toe with copper antennas found in most mobile devices on the market today, but with the added benefit of being just a fraction of their thickness and weight. The 2D MXene makes an appealing material for new antennas because it can be spray applied, screen printed or inkjet-printed onto just about any substrate, remaining flexible without sacrificing performance.


Christopher Masternick ’22 ME and Nicholas Yoo ’21 ChE with the Allevi 3 bioprinter, which is used for printing gels and polymers.




ith funding through a Small Research Grant Pilot Program administered by the Villanova Institute for Research and Scholarships, undergraduate researchers Christopher Masternick ’22 ME and Nicholas Yoo ’21 ChE are pushing the boundaries of 3D printing technology. More specifically, the students are working under the guidance of Dr. Bo Li, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, to establish Villanova’s first 3D bioprinting capability. Printing biogels in 3D has potential applications in tissue engineering and artificial organs, but a gap exists between the fundamental behavior of these biological materials and the manufacturing process. Both students were motivated to pursue this novel project given their previous research experiences in Dr. Li’s Hybrid Nano-Architectures and Advanced Manufacturing Lab. Christopher has expertise operating industrial 3D printing machines like the Allevi 3 bioprinter, and Nicholas has been working with nanomaterials since his freshman year. By combining their respective backgrounds, the team hopes to use nanoengineering to tailor the properties of the biogels to improve printability. Ultimately, the goal is to produce mechanically stable biogels that can be used in a variety of bioengineering applications, such as synthetic muscles. The team identified chitosan gel as the ideal candidate due to its

biocompatibility, and the fact that it naturally expands or contracts in response to the body’s stimuli. Because it mimics the extracellular matrix, which provides structural and biochemical support to surrounding cells, chitosan shows promise in developing complex tissue and organ structures. The challenge is that it is a very weak material that often deforms in the printing process and, thus, is unsuitable for the proposed downstream applications. The team believes that by crosslinking the chitosan hydrogels and nanoparticles, it can achieve the desired mechanical properties and stability. Though the pandemic slowed work in the lab, the team spent valuable time this academic year conducting literature reviews and consulting with faculty to better optimize their experimental design and plan. They anticipate that preliminary results, including a scholarly publication, will be ready in fall 2021. Professor Li believes that demonstrating this novel bioprinting capability will have long-term benefits for researchers across the College. “This is the first of its kind project at Villanova. Our study will generate versatile and controllable materials, as well as manufacturing platforms that our colleagues can use. For example, we may be able to extend Professor Qianhong Wu’s artificial brain work by developing models with specific mechanical brain injury properties.”

SUPERCOMPUTER GRANT SUPPORTS PROFESSOR’S QUANTUM MECHANICS SIMULATIONS David Cereceda, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, was awarded an XSEDE Research Grant with a value of $194,615. The XSEDE grant will give his research group access to Expanse, the newest National Science Foundation-funded supercomputer. This will increase the value of his team’s quantum mechanics simulations to predict the mechanical properties of plasma-facing structural materials under fusion power-plant conditions. A better understanding of the structure-property relationship of plasma-facing materials could potentially accelerate the path to commercialize fusion energy, the nuclear reaction that powers the sun. With zero carbon emission, if successful, fusion energy could be an important tool for meeting our energy needs while combating climate change.

PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDEE SETS STANDARD IN AUTOMATION Engineering Alumni Society 2021 Professional Achievement Award recipient Steven Benvenuto ’96 ME founded his first company, Performance Automation, in 2001. As his business supplying custom assembly automation expanded, he recognized the growing need for data acquisition and analysis in automation. In 2005, he entered a strategic merger acquiring PrimeTest Corporation, an industrial test and measurement supplier, and established PrimeTest Automation. Specializing in the design and manufacturing of custom assembly and process automation for the automotive, electronics, aerospace, medical device, consumer goods, and energy industries PrimeTest Automation has become one of the largest automation houses in Florida.

ALUMNUS INDUCTED INTO PLASTICS HALL OF FAME Donald Paulson ’64 MSCE was inducted into the 2021 Plastics Hall of Fame, which recognizes those whose dedication, work and accomplishments have contributed most significantly to the growth and success of the plastics industry. Paulson was recognized for his decades of research and technical training. He is the founder and chairman of Paulson Training Programs, which he started in 1980 to provide a broad range of in-plant interactive plastics industry training courses, worldwide e-learning solutions and expert-led seminars. The holder of nine U.S. and foreign patents, Paulson has previously been honored with the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Lifetime Engineering and Technical Achievement Award for his research into the structure and causes of plastic part variations. This research led to developing control systems that would automatically maintain precise part dimensions based on cavity pressure measurement. For over 40 years, PTP has been teaching the fundamentals, as well as advanced molding topics based on Paulson’s research at General Motors Institute. Over a five-year period, he proved that molded part properties are determined by just four basic plastic conditions in the mold—melt temperature, flow rate, pressure and cooling rate—not the specific machine settings. This was a fundamental shift in understanding what parameters must be controlled, and led him to coin the phrase, “molding from the plastic’s point of view.” The next generation of molding experts has benefited from this science-based understanding of the molding process. Paulson says, “This award is an honor, but what I am most proud of are the many times individuals have thanked me for their ability to advance in their jobs because they received the Paulson training. That, to me, is the true reward.”




odern navigation of miniature unmanned aerial vehicles relies on global positioning systems. In GPSdenied environments, however, humanmade flying robotics risk losing the capability to locate unseen targets during important surveillance and detection missions, including search in natural disasters, chemical leak monitoring and drug trafficking detection. Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Dr. Chengyu Li has found a promising potential solution in nature—specifically, in insects’ abilities to detect and locate distant targets by tracking odor plumes in complex flow environments. His research on “Odor-Guided Flapping Flight: Novel Fluid Dynamic Mechanisms of Insect Navigation” has been awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER grant worth $500,000. “Odor-guided flapping flight is key to an insect’s survival,” says Dr. Li. He explains that during odor-guided navigation, flapping wings not only serve as propulsors for generating lift and maneuverability, but also actively draw odor plumes to the antennae via wing-induced flow. This helps enhance olfactory detection, mimicking “sniffing” in mammals. He adds, “The flow physics underlying this odor-tracking behavior is still unclear due to insects’ small wing sizes, fast flapping motions, and the unpredictability of their flying trajectories.” Using the resources of his Flow

Simulation and Flow Physics Lab, Dr. Li aims to establish a physics-based understanding of the odor-tracking flapping flight in nature and to unravel how insects balance aerodynamic performance with olfactory sensitivity. More specifically, his research will test the hypothesis that enhancement of olfactory sensitivity during navigation can be achieved by regulating the odorant transport in unsteady wing-induced flow through modulation of the flapping locomotion. Dr. Li summarizes, “The findings will advance the development of design principles for bioinspired flying robots with superior aerodynamic performance and olfactory sensitivity.” A Villanova University faculty member since 2018, Dr. Li is the College of Engineering’s third CAREER awardee and the first in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Chemical and Biological Engineering’s Dr. Jacob Elmer was the College’s first recipient in 2017. A year later, Dr. Wenqing Xu, Civil and Environmental Engineering, became the first female professor in the College to be awarded the grant. The CAREER grant is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization. Such activities are expected to build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education.

A TEAM OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS FROM VILLANOVA AND PENN STATE TURNS TO EGGS TO MODEL CONCUSSION (a) Reactions of the egg yolk under the translational impact. The shell was impacted by a hammer to achieve the translational acceleration up to 600g, g = 9.8 m/s2. (b) Reactions of the egg yolk under the rotational acceleration impact. The container was set to rotate instantaneously from 0 rad/s to 400 rad/s within 1 s, after which it was maintained at the constant angular velocity of 400 rad/s. (c) Reactions of the egg yolk under the rotational deceleration impact. The rotation speed of the container was reduced sharply from 400 rad/s to 0 rad/s within 1 s to create a deceleration impact on the egg yolk.

A team of mechanical engineering researchers from Villanova and Pennsylvania State University published new research findings that shed light on what specifically happens to the brain of a patient who experiences traumatic brain injury. This work provides a new perspective on the response of a membrane-bound soft object to sudden external impacts, helping to better understand the flow physics of head injury. “Our findings uncover an intriguing mystery of concussive brain injury: That direct translational impact does not cause egg deformation. It is actually the rotational acceleration or deceleration that causes tremendous egg yolk deformation,” says Villanova’s Dr. Qianhong Wu, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, and lead author of the journal article “How to Deform an Egg Yolk? On the Study of Soft Matter Deformation in a Liquid Environment,” published in the January 19, 2021, issue of the scientific journal Physics of Fluids. The paper was co-authored by Ji Lang, a doctoral student in the College of Engineering, and Dr. Rungun Nathan, associate professor of Engineering at Penn State. “In any impact, there are both translational and rotational impacts,” says Dr. Wu. “Our findings suggest that soft matter, such as the brain, is very

sensitive to rotational deceleration. Knowing this will help in the development of better helmets, other protective gear, and better airbag designs for automobiles.” Working on the brain of a mouse, Dr. Wu and his team use a unique approach to examine the response of real brain matter to the same impacts. His medical collaborators help to correlate the findings to human data. “This is completely new; no one has ever come up with this research idea,” says Dr. Wu, who is also director and founder of the College’s Cellular Biomechanics and Sport Science Laboratory. “These findings uncover an intriguing mystery about the causes of concussive brain injury and highlight the critical role of the cerebrospinal fluids in impact transmission and injury mitigation, which is especially useful for scientists in the field of brain biomechanics.” Dr. Wu adds, “Our findings will help medical doctors not only understand the severity of a patient’s injury, but also how to locate the part of the brain that was injured. Our team’s findings can also guide patients in how to avoid injury and, if there is an impact, how to help the patient understand the severity based specifically on how the incident happened.”

CELEBRATING THE CLASS OF 2021 When their Villanova experiences began four short years ago, the Class of 2021 could never have imagined what their final semesters would look like. Virtual classrooms, club meetings on Zoom and socially distanced gatherings around fire pits on the campus green may not have been what they—or any of us—expected, but through it all, these students demonstrated tremendous resolve, resilience and flexibility. In the process they learned the true meaning of Unitas, Veritas, Caritas. The students featured here are among the 240 undergraduates who earned their Bachelor of Science degrees from the College of Engineering this May. They represent the best of the best, winning awards for academic excellence and meritorious service and earning recognition within their individual programs. We congratulate them and all of our 2021 graduates!

Christopher Alfonso, ME, Mechatronics minor NEXT: Master’s in Mechanical Engineering, Villanova

Elizabeth Carter, CpE, Minors in Cybersecurity and Computer Science NEXT: Master’s in Computer Engineering, Villanova

Michael DiGiacomo​, CpE, Computer Science​ minor NEXT: Clinical Project Assistant, Clinlogix, LLC​

Bryan Blasband, CE, Minors in Business and Finance​ NEXT: Project Engineer, Skanska

Edward Bolte, CE, Business​ minor NEXT: Master’s in Structural Engineering, Stanford

Hannah Booz, CE NEXT: Highway Designer, McCormick Taylor, Inc.

Samantha Ciappa, ChE, Minors in Honors and Business NEXT: Undecided

Annette Ciecierega​, ME, Mechatronics​ minor NEXT: Master’s in Mechanical Engineering, Villanova​

Tony Colarusso​, ChE, Biochemical Engineering minor NEXT: Biopharmaceutical Associate Scientist, GlaxoSmithKline​

Shannon Culloo​, EE, Minors in Business, Mathematics and Honors​ NEXT: Considering a career in renewable energy

Rocco D’Ascanio​, ChE NEXT: Seeking opportunities in the alternative energy field

Aarya Deb​, ME, Minors in Mechatronics and Honors​ NEXT: PhD in Mechanical Engineering/ Robotics​

Felicity Evans​, ME, Minors in Aerospace Engineering and Theology NEXT: Mechanical Engineer, L3Harris Technologies

Emily Galik​, ME, Minors in Mechatronics and Mathematics NEXT: Undecided

Spencer Gold​, ME, Humanitarian Engineering minor NEXT: Year of service in Peru working on sustainable energy

Jane Guignon, ME, Biomedical Engineering minor NEXT: Career in biomedical engineering

Sophia Haska​, ChE, Business minor NEXT: Year of service

Anthony Edem Etim​, EE, Minors in Computer Engineering and Computer Science NEXT: PhD, Electrical Engineering, Yale

Samantha Bragen​, ChE, Biochemical Engineering minor NEXT: Master’s in Translational Medicine, University of California, Berkeley

Nicholas Broderick, CE, Minors in Mathematics and Sustainability Studies NEXT: Civil Engineer, AECOM

Simon Brooks, ChE, Minors in Engineering Entrepreneurship and Theology​ NEXT: Environmental Engineering Consultant, Ramboll

cademic Excellence: Recognizes those students whose outstanding A academic performance puts them in the top 10% of their major at the end of the fall term. Meritorious Service: Recognizes exceptional service to the College of Engineering through sustained involvement and demonstrated leadership in extra-curricular or service activities. he Robert D. Lynch Award: Recognizes one graduating senior for T outstanding academic achievement and exemplary dedication to serving the community, thus, representing the highest values of Villanova University and the College of Engineering.

Elizabeth Holmes​, ChE, Minors in Sustainability Studies and Philosophy NEXT: Separation and Purification ​ Sciences Division, 3M

Bridget LaSala​, CE, Aerospace Engineering ​ minor NEXT: Master’s in Civil Engineering, Villanova

Aldo Pierini​ Camacho, CE, Minors in Engineering Entrepreneurship and Humanitarian Engineering​ NEXT: Master’s in Sustainable Engineering, Villanova

epartment Medallion: Recognizes academic achievement and quality D and consistency of co-curricular contributions. rand Challenges Scholar: The National Academy of Engineering Grand G Challenges Scholars Program is an engineering education supplement that broadens the reach of undergraduate study by preparing students to think in international terms; developing the perspectives and skills needed to find solutions to real and urgent problems; and, offering a clear view to future jobs that matter.

Will Hubschmitt​, EE, Engineering Entrepreneurship ​ minor NEXT: Edison Engineering Development Program, General Electric

Seung Yeon “Amanda” Jeong, CpE, Minors in Computer Science and Engineering Entrepreneurship NEXT: Software Developer, PayPal

Kamarie Jewette​, CE NEXT: Engineer, Clark Construction Group, LLC

Seth Lionetti​, ME, Mathematics​ minor NEXT: Master’s in Mechanical Engineering, Villanova

Alex Luna​, CE, Sustainability Studies​ minor NEXT: Project Engineer, Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

Jonathan Maino​, ME, Mathematics minor NEXT: R&D Engineer, Johnson & Johnson​

​ ack Saffian, ME, J Aerospace Engineering minor NEXT: Assistant Engineer, Materials Research & Design​

Lauren Maria Scalice​, CpE, Minors in Computer Science and Cybersecurity NEXT: Master’s in Computer Engineering, Villanova

Noah Seng DeLong, ChE, Minors in Theology and Chemistry NEXT: Fulfillment Operations Management, Walmart eCommerce ​

Kaixuan Ji​, EE and Physics, Mathematics minor NEXT: PhD in MO Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder

Siobhan Merrill​, CE, Sustainability Studies​ minor NEXT: Year of service

Landon Skinner, ChE, Minors in Mathematics and Biochemical Engineering NEXT: Junior Automation Engineer, Zenith Technologies

Alex Kalaigian​, ChE, Minors in Honors and Biochemical Engineering NEXT: Doctorate of Dental Surgery, University of California, San Francisco

Evan Kohlsaat​, ME NEXT: Engineering Development Program​, Avangrid (United Illuminating)

Noelle Parisi​​, CE, Sustainability Studies minor NEXT: Staff Engineer, Engineering & Land Planning, Philadelphia

Katelyn Valsamedis, ChE, Minors in Sustainability Studies and Engineering Entrepreneurship NEXT: Technical Sales Representative, Nalco Water

Jordan Pauls​, EE NEXT: Systems Engineer, L3Harris Technologies​

Rachel Voloshin, CpE, Minors in Mechatronics, and Russian Language and Culture​ NEXT: Undecided

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A FOUNDATION OF SUPPORT The College of Engineering gratefully acknowledges its donors and their generous contributions made during the 2021 Fiscal Year. The following donors established endowed funds that will directly benefit in perpetuity students and faculty in the College of Engineering. Endowment gifts create a lasting legacy and may be named for the donors or in honor or memory of someone, such as parents or a cherished professor. The minimum threshold to endow a fund at Villanova University is $100,000. For a complete list of endowment funds that have been established over the years to benefit the College of Engineering, please visit Farshid Maghami Asl ’98 Fashid M. Asl ’98 Goldman Sachs Gives Fund for Mechanical Engineering Claire and Bernard ’94 Borghei The Claire and Bernard A. Borghei ’94 Endowed Innovation Fund Eileen and Eugene P. ’58 Fogarty Fogarty Family Endowed Scholarship Fund Charles V. Hildenbrand, Jr. ’73 The Hildenbrand Family Endowed Scholarship Fund Philip A. Piro ’50 Philip A. Piro ’50 Endowed Graduate Fellowship

BEQUESTS AND PLANNED GIFTS The 1842 Heritage Society recognizes and honors individuals who have made a bequest or planned gift. The donations may be testamentary gifts, life-income gifts or the transfer of assets. We invite you to visit plannedgiving to learn more about the benefits of joining the 1842 Heritage Society. We welcome the following College of Engineering alumni and friends to the 1842 Heritage Society: Nancy and Joseph D. ’58 Bizzano Roselynn and Nicholas A. ’65 Calio Kelly J. ’99 and Derick S. ’98 Eastman JoAnn M. Garbin ’98 Joseph T. Muldoon ’61 Hugh T. Sharp ’53 Gail Handelmann and Christopher ’73 Strangio

“ The higher your structure is to be the deeper must be its foundation” —St. Augustine

IMAGES FROM THE FRONT COVER (clockwise): Engineering alumni contribute to vaccine and drug development (p. 4) / The Jezero Crater delta on Mars inspires Dr. Virginia Smith (p. 17) / Agrivoltaics greenhouse on Villanova’s campus presents possibilities (p. 12) / Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha launch vehicle will carry the first private blockchain to space (p. 26) / Sustainability meets leadership through new SEED program (p. 14) / “Snakebot” advances discovery and removal of UXO (p. 25) / A reaction kettle is used to synthesize polymers, which will be used in composite fabrication (p. 11) / Discovering machine learning’s role in radio frequency sensing (p. 32)

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