Visiting Scholars

The Visiting Scholars program began in 2007.  It brings high-profile women scholars in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines to campus, for several days, as highly visible colloquium speakers.  Visiting Scholars serve as inspiring role models for students and junior faculty and raise awareness among the faculty to the research accomplishments of highly successful female scholars.


Dr. Ingrid Daubechies

James B. Duke Professor of Mathematics
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Duke University

PRESENTATION: Mathematicians Helping Art Historians and Art Conservators
DATE: Friday, February 26, 2016
LOCATION: To be announced
for more information



Dr. Tejal Desai

Professor, Bioengineering & Therapeutic Sciences
Professor, Physiology
Co-Chair, UCSF/UC Berkeley Joint Graduate Group in Bioengineering
University of California, San Francisco

PRESENTATION: Micro and Nanostructured Interfaces for Therapeutic Delivery
DATE: Friday-March 6, 2009
LOCATION: 236 SEO, 851 S. Morgan Street, Chicago


She received the Sc.B. degree in Biomedical Engineering from Brown University in 1994 and the Ph.D. degree in bioengineering from the joint graduate program at University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco, in 1998. Prior to joining UCSF, she was an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Associate Director of the Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology both at Boston University. Dr. Desai directs the Laboratory of Therapeutic Micro and Nanotechnology. Her research is on micro and nanofabrication techniques to create implantable biohybrid devices for cell encapsulation, targeted drug delivery, and templates for cell and tissue regeneration. In addition to authoring over 100  technical papers, she is presently a senior editor of Langmuir, Biomedical Microdevices, and Sensors Letters and is co-editor of an encyclopedia on Therapeutic Microtechnology. She has chaired and organized numerous conferences and symposia in the area of bioMEMS, bio-nanotechnology, and micro/nanoscale drug delivery/tissue engineering. Her other interests include K-12 educational outreach, gender and science education, science policy issues, and biotechnology/bioengineering industrial outreach. Dr. Desai’s research efforts have earned her numerous awards. In 1999, she was recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business magazine with their annual “40 Under 40” award for leadership.  She was also named that year by Technology Review Magazine as one of the nation’s “Top 100 Young Innovators” and more recently Popular Science’s Brilliant 10. Dr. Desai’s teaching efforts were recognized when she won the College of Engineering Best Advisor/Teacher Award.  She also won the National Science Foundation’s “New Century Scholar” award and the NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program”CAREER” award, which recognizes teacher-scholars most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. Her research in therapeutic microtechnology has also earned her the Visionary Science Award from the International Society of BioMEMS and Nanotechnology in 2001, a World Technology Award Finalist in 2004, the 2006 Eurand Grand Prize Award for innovative drug delivery technology, and the 2007 Young Career


Efficient drug delivery remains an important challenge in medicine.  Continuous release of therapeutic agents over extended time periods and in accordance to a pre-determined temporal profile; local delivery at a constant rate to overcome systemic toxicity; improved ease of administration, and increasing patient compliance are some of the unmet needs of the present drug delivery technology. This talk will discuss in vivo drug delivery strategies that capitalize on the strengths of micro and nanofabrication. By taking advantage of our ability to control topography and chemistry at submicron size scales, we have developed organic and inorganic interfaces which modulate cell function while at the same time allow for controlled drug release kinetics. Due to our ability to create monodisperse features as small as several nanometers in a variety of non-planar biocompatible materials, these interfaces offer advantages in their reproducibility, stability, and their ability to intimately contact cell and tissue surfaces.  Such nanoengineered interfaces may be optimized for biomolecular selectivity and surface bioactivity, leading to unique interfacial properties not achieved through existing drug delivery approaches. Such micro/nanofabrication approaches can enhance current drug delivery platforms while becoming an enabling technology leading to new basic discoveries in the biological sciences.

Dr. Cynthia Barnhart

Associate Dean, School of Engineering
Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Co-Director, Operations Research Center
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

PRESENTATION: Airline Operations: A passenger-centric perspective
DATE: Thursday-January 29, 2009
TIME: 11:00 AM
LOCATION: 1043 ERF, 842 W. Taylor Street, Chicago


At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cynthia Barnhart
serves as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of
Engineering, as a Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department and the Engineering Systems Division, and as Co-Director of the
Operations Research Center. Professor Barnhart’s research and teaching
activities have focused on the development of optimization models and
methods for designing, planning and operating transportation systems.  She
currently serves or has served as Area Editor (Transportation) for
Operations Research, as Associate Editor for Operations Research and for
Transportation Science, as President of the INFORMS Women in Operations
Research/ Management Science Forum, as President of the INFORMS
Transportation and Logistics Section, as President of INFORMS, and as
Co-Director of MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics.  Professor
Barnhart has been awarded the Franz Edelman 2nd Prize for Achievement in
Operations and the Management Sciences, the Junior Faculty Career Award
from the General Electric Foundation, the Presidential Young Investigator
Award from the National Science Foundation, the First Prize Award for Best
Paper in Transportation Science & Logistics, and the INFORMS award for the
Advancement of Women in Operations Research and Management Science.

PRESENTATION: Airline Operations: A passenger-centric perspective
DATE: Thursday-January 29, 2009
TIME: 11:00 AM
LOCATION: 1043 ERF, 842 W. Taylor Street, Chicago


Even with numerous efforts to optimize operations, flight delays have long
plagued the airline industry.  In this talk, we provide an analysis of
airline delays, and discuss the impact that airports, airline scheduling
practices, passenger load levels and weather have in influencing the
amount and frequency of delays experienced by passengers.  Further, we
show the correlation (or lack thereof) between passenger delays and
aircraft delays, and evaluate the effectiveness of US Department of
Transportation delay metrics to inform and protect the traveling public.
We conclude with suggestions of how operations research can be applied to
help address airline delay issues.

Dr. Karen Vogtmann

Professor of Mathematics
Cornell University
Trustee, American Mathematical Society

DATE: Monday – October 13, 2008
TIME: 3:00 PM

DATE: Monday- October 13, 2008
TIME: 4:00 PM
LOCATION: Lecture Center D4


Inspired to pursue mathematics by an NSF summer program for high school students at the University of California, Berkeley, Karen Vogtmann received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Berkeley. After holding positions at the University of Michigan, Brandeis University, and Columbia University, she settled at Cornell University where she has been for the last twenty years. A distinguished mathematician, she has authored numerous articles, mentored nine PhD students, and given several invited talks including a lecutre at the International Congress of Mathematicians. Vogtmann has served as Vice President of the American Mathematical Society and on scientific advisory boards of the American Institute of Mathematics, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, the National Academy of Sciences Delegation to the International Mathematical Union General Assembly, and the Vietnam Education Foundation Panel for mathematics.

Vogtmann’s research views groups as symmetries of geometric objects. By understanding the geometry and topology of suitably chosen objects, she deduces algebraic information about the groups acting on them. Her work investigates orthogonal and symplectic groups, SL(2) of rings of  imaginary quadratic integers, groups of automorphisms of free groups, and mapping class groups of surfaces. Vogtmann’s recent focus has been on the group of outer automorphisms of a free group where the appropriate geometric object is called Outer Space. This space turns out to have surprising connections with other areas of mathematics, for example with certain infinite-dimensional Lie algebras and even with the study of phylogenetic trees in biology.


Symmetries, Ping-pong, and Outer Space


The symmetries of any geometric object form a system which obeys a small set of natural “rules.”   Mathematicians have observed that systems obeying the same set of rules occur throughout  mathematics, though with wildly different descriptions.  Since such systems, called groups, lie at the heart of many calculations in mathematics and the sciences, we are very interested in trying to understand them better.  The branch of mathematics in which I work, called geometric group theory, studies abstractly defined groups by trying to find  concrete geometric objects whose symmetry groups are basically the same as the group under investigation.  A close look at such an  object often reveals characteristics of the group which were not obvious from the original description. A nice aspect of geometric group theory is that the search for such objects and attempts to visualize them often lead to very beautiful  mathematical imagery.

One of the simplest of all types of groups are the so-called free groups; here the word free can be interpreted as saying that the group is free of any complicated internal structure. It is often very useful to be able to recognize when a group which looks like it might be very complicated is in fact secretly just a free group.  One very appealing way to solve this problem is to find an appropriate geometric object, which we then use as a table on which to play  mathematical “ping-pong”;  the reason for this name becomes clear after seeing an example. Much of my work involves trying to understand symmetries of free groups.    I will describe an appropriate ping-pong table, known as Outer space,  which can sometimes be used to settle this question.

Presented by the Mathematics Department in partnership with the Women in Science & Engineering System Transformation (WISEST) Program.

Sponsored by an NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Award

Please visit website for more information about Dr. Vogtmann.

Dr. Mary Lou Soffa

Professor of Computer Science at the University of Virginia

will be presenting “Path-Sensitive Analysis for Security” on Thursday, March 13, 2008 in SEO 1000 at 11:00 AM.   Presented by the Computer Science Department in partnership with the Women in Science & Engineering System Transformation (WISEST) Program.

Dr. Lynn M. Walter

Professor of Geology at the University of Michigan

will be presenting “Carbonate vs. Silicate Mineral Weathering Rates: Significance of Dolomite for Riverine Mg Fluxes and the global Carbon Cycle” on Thursday, March 13, 2008 in SES 230 at 4:00 PM.  Refreshments are available 3:30 PM in SES 2460.  Presented by the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department in partnership with the Women in Science & Engineering System Transformation (WISEST) Program.

Dr. Erin O’Shea

Professor of Molecular & Cellular Biology, Chemistry, & Chemical Biology at Harvard University, Investigator at  Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Director FAS Center for Systems Biology

will be presenting “Mechanistic Basis of Oscillation in a Three-Protein Circadian Clock” on Tuesday, March 18, 2008 in SES 230 at 1:00 PM.   Presented by the Chemistry Department in partnership with the Women in Science & Engineering System Transformation (WISEST) Program.

Dr. Shubhra Gangopadhyay

Electrical & Computer Engineering’s Visiting Scholar

November 5 & 6, 2007

Departmental Lecture “Dielectric Films with Metal Nanoparticles for High-k and Non- Volatile Memory Applications”

Monday November 5, 2007 at 10:00 AM in ERF 1043 & 1047

Abstract, Departmental Lecture

High-κ dielectrics have become a focal point of the complimentary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) front end. Controlling threshold voltages in upcoming nodes will require dielectrics which have both suitable properties on contact with silicon and a high permittivity. Our research has focused on using silver, platinum and gold nanoparticles to enhance the dielectric constant of amorphous HfO2 and Al2O3. Metal nanocrystals of diameter down to 1nm are incorporated in high-K dielectrics for achieving non-volatile memories. Nanocrystal based non-volatile memories are discrete charge storage devices and are strong candidates for replacement of conventional FLASH memories.

General Lecture

“Nano-Engineered Material and Applications in Life Sciences”

Tuesday November 6, 2007 at  2:00 PM in SEO 1000

Abstract, General Lecture

We are currently developing a micro system based on nano-engineered thermite materials capable of generating a large and controlled amount of energy via super-sonic pressure pulse, known as a shock wave. This shock wave can deliver different materials into single cells or tissue with extremely high precision without damaging cells/tissues. We are also preparing biocompatible nanoparticles that will permit the clustering of high doses of medical compounds, fluorescent dyes, plasmids, etc into a small compartment. Together these elements will comprise a high efficiency delivery system capable of transfecting cells or tissue with extremely high accuracy and with minimal side effects. The tunable, hand-held system will bring fundamental changes to the study and understanding of biological processes in health and disease, as well as enable novel diagnostics and interventions for treating disease. Thus, the technological advances from this study could result in a new era in the treatment and/or diagnosis of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injury, thrombosis, cardiovascular diseases and host of other conditions.


The Gangopadhyay Research Group is an electrical engineering and materials science research facility at the University of Missouri Columbia’s College of Engineering and is associated with the International Center for Nano/Micro Systems and Nanotechnology. It is dedicated to expanding the realm of science and technology through optimization of existing techniques and exploration of new dimensions of knowledge. The group’s research includes discovering, integrating, and optimizing new materials, processing methods, and characterization techniques. By promoting an interdisciplinary approach, our unique and modern research facility was designed to train, educate and prepare students to join and lead the workforce in innovative solutions to scientific challenges.

The group is headed by Dr. Shubhra Gangopadhyay, LaPierre Chair and Joint Professor, Departments of Electrical Engineering, Biological Engineering and Physics, who is an acclaimed researcher in the fields of material science and physics. The group has set up a high class research facility – the first of its kind in Missouri – with plans to upgrade and expand the facilities over the next two years.

Dr. Mary Lou Soffa

Computer Science’s Visiting Scholar

March 13 & 14, 2008

Dr. Lynn Walter

Earth & Environmental Science’s Visiting Scholar

March 13 & 14, 2008

Dr. Erin O’Shea

Chemistry’s Visiting Scholar

March 17 & 18, 2008

Dr. Karen Vogtmann

Mathematic’s Visiting Scholar

October 13 & 14, 2008

Dr. Paula T. Hammond

Chemical Engineering’s Visiting Scholar

September 27, 2007

UIC WISEST VISITING SCHOLARS PROGRAM hosted Dr. Paula T. Hammond, 2:00 PM, Thursday, September 27, 2007, Lecture Center A1.

The presentation titled “Building Materials One Nano-Layer at a Time: An Introduction to Chemical Engineering and Nanotechnology” is open to the public with undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty from all disciplines encouraged to attend. Dr. Hammond is the Bayer Chair Professor of Chemical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


By electrostatically depositing alternating layers of oppositely charged molecular layers, Professor Hammond’s group has developed the first class of thin films that can release drugs, and even genes, in an exact sequence and at a predetermined rate, and afterwards break down in the body. Applied to orthopedic implants, one layer of coating would locally inhibit infection through release antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs right after the surgery, followed by the release a protein-like growth factors from subsequent layers to stimulate the growth of bone in order to secure the implant in place. For tissue engineering, these coatings could be used for evolvable materials scaffolds onto which cells can grow and have growth factors introduced over time, or have specific genes introduced over time that program them their development. Exciting research in functional thin films (at the disciplinary interfaces between electroresponsive systems, nanoscience and biology) shows promise toward transparent coatings for replacement lenses used in cataract surgery and also electrochemical means of drug delivery.


Lecture 2:00 – 3:30 PM, Lecture Center A1

Reception follows (3:40 – 4:30 PM) in the West Atrium of the Engineering Research Facility (ERF, second floor).

Dr. Susan Coppersmith

Physics’ Visiting Scholar

October 2 & 3, 2007

2:00 PM, Tuesday, October 2, 2007, SEO 1000, “Things I Wish I had Known about How to Succeed as a Physicist”

3:30 PM, Wednesday, October, 3, 2007, 238 SES.  “Quantum Computing: Opportunities and Challenges”

The presentation titled “Things I Wish I had Known about How to Succeed as a Physicist” is geared toward undergraduate, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers in STEM areas however it is open to students and faculty from all disciplines as well.  The scientific presentation, “Quantum Computing: Opportunities and Challenges” is open to the public with undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty from all disciplines encouraged to attend. Dr. Coppersmith is the Department Chairperson for the Department of Physics at the University of Wisconsin Madison.


Quantum-mechanical phenomena such as quantum coherence, interference, non-locality, and entanglement can be exploited to build new electronic devices and systems that differ fundamentally from current ones.  Achieving these advances requires fundamental advances in a variety of disciplines as well as close interdisciplinary collaboration.  This talk will discuss how close cooperation between researchers in different disciplines has enabled substantial new progress in the development of quantum dots in silicon/silicon-germanium heterostructures for quantum computing applications.


2:00 PM, Tuesday, October 2, 2007, SEO 1000, “Things I Wish I had Known about How to Succeed as a Physicist”

Reception to follow SEO 1000

3:30 PM, Wednesday, October, 3, 2007, 238 SES.  “Quantum Computing: Opportunities and Challenges”

Refreshments before lecture at 3:00 PM in 2214 SES