Faculty, Staff & Student Accomplishments

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John Suarez 260x300
School of Engineering

Engineering Professor Awarded Manufacturing PA Innovation Program Grant

John Suarez, associate professor of electrical engineering, received a grant from the Manufacturing PA Innovation program funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The project, titled “Capacitive and Infrared Sensing for Precision Chemical Analysis of Polar Compounds,” will build upon preliminary work completed by Probes Unlimited, Inc. (PUI) to design, prototype, rigorously test, and manufacture a precision sensor for monitoring the quality of cooking oil. Suarez will lead a research team to conduct the necessary research and development to assist PUI in developing the capacitive sensor with the required characteristics as well as investigate the viability of infrared sensing technology in this application.

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Sachin P. Patil
School of Engineering

Engineering Professor Named Journal Guest Editor

Sachin Patil, professor of chemical engineering, was invited to serve as the guest editor for a special issue in the peer-reviewed journal Pharmaceuticals. Titled “Alzheimer’s Disease: Small-Molecule Modulators of Novel Therapeutic Pathways,” this special issue is dedicated to gathering novel Alzheimer’s disease mechanisms, with a particular emphasis on targeting these mechanisms using small-molecule drugs. 

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Amanda DiAlessandro stands in front of her research poster and talks with a conference attendee.
School of Engineering

Engineering Student Presents at National Conference

Amanda DiAlessandro '22 '23, a two-time graduate of Widener's mechanical engineering program, presented research at the 2023 National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Wisconsin in April. The poster, "HVAC Design of a Performing Arts Center to be Located in Sidney, Australia," was co-authored by DiAlessandro and teammates Jacqueline Loeliger, Jamal Badamassi, Tristan Fish, Michael Hutchinson, and Madeline Reynolds and showcased findings collected during the team's senior project. 

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Pamela McCauley's headshot.
School of Engineering

Pamela McCauley Named Next Dean of School of Engineering

Pamela McCauley, a renowned scholar, educator, university administer and entrepreneur, has been named dean of the School of Engineering. McCauley will assume the role on July 1 following the retirement of Fred Akl, who led the program for more than two decades. 

McCauley comes to Widener after serving as associate dean for Academic Programs, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Wilson College of Textiles at North Carolina State University since 2020. She is an internationally-recognized industrial engineer whose research accomplishments include the development of fuzzy set theory-based mathematical models, human engineering, ergonomics and biomechanics as well as engineering leadership and women’s leadership in STEM. In her role as associate dean, McCauley has overseen the college’s academic programs, promoted innovation and entrepreneurship within the college and the university, and led and implemented diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives across the college. 

“We are thrilled to have Dr. McCauley join the Widener community and lead our esteemed engineering program,” said Provost Andrew Workman. “Throughout her extensive career she has demonstrated herself as an innovator, entrepreneur, researcher, educator, and advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging both in the engineering field and the greater academic community. She will be a tremendous asset in enhancing the Widener student experience by bringing extensive research and entrepreneurial experiences to her role and championing student-faculty research opportunities. Her remarkable record of service to the professional and global scientific community will position the engineering program and the university to continue expanding its commitment to experiential service learning and community engagement.”

“I am honored and excited to join Widener’s vibrant community,” said McCauley. “The university’s engineering program has a remarkable legacy of innovation. Engineering changes the world, and Widener students and faculty are cultivating bold ideas in a space where students from diverse backgrounds know they belong and contribute unique perspectives. I am excited to lead the program and build on this success, guided by my years as an industry professional, engineering scholar, and university leader.”

McCauley has developed an impressive catalog of research backed by funding from some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions including NASA, the U.S. State Department, and The National Science Foundation. In 2012, McCauley was selected as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar and presented her funded research on human factors and ergonomics in disaster management. In additional to scholarly accomplishments, McCauley is the author of more than 100 technical papers, book chapters, conference proceedings and the best-selling ergonomics textbook, “Ergonomics: Foundational Principles, Applications, and Technologies.” 

McCauley brings more than 25 years of entrepreneurial experience to Widener and has led numerous small businesses. Throughout her career McCauley has been a tireless advocate for diversity and inclusion in engineering and higher education, particularly for females and students from groups who are under-represented in STEM. 

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Sachin P. Patil
School of Engineering

Engineering Professor, Interdisciplinary Student Team Publish Cancer Immunotherapy Discovery

Professor of Chemical Engineering Sachin Patil and a team of student-researchers published a paper in the journal Computational Biology and Chemistry titled, “Discovery of small-molecule PD-1/PD-L1 antagonists through combined virtual screening and experimental validation.” The paper presented an integrated drug discovery approach leading to identification of a novel PD-1/PD-L1 antagonist that may serve as a starting point for further optimization into potent, small-molecule cancer immunotherapies. The team included students from Widener's chemical engineering and computer science program, as well as Computer Science Professor Jeffrey Rufinus and technician John Stoddart. Michelle DiFrancesco '18, a chemical engineering graduate, served as the student team leader and study first author. She is currently continuing her cancer immunotherapy work at Bristol-Myers Squibb, a leading global biopharmaceutical company. 

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Sachin P. Patil
School of Engineering

Engineering Faculty Presents Funded Research at International Symposium

Sachin Patil, professor of chemical engineering, attended and presented findings at the Heart Development and Disease: From Genes to Cures conference hosted by Keystone Symposia in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The conference gathered researchers from around the world to advance knowledge and understanding of heart formation and homeostatic function and how derangement in these processes lead to diseases and organ dysfunction.

In his presentation, “Small-molecule stabilizers (and inhibitors) of immune checkpoint PD1-PDL1 for heart disease and beyond,” Patil highlighted his novel findings on the role of immunotherapy in the heart disease treatment. Patil’s research is supported by a funding grant from the W. W. Smith Charitable Trust.  

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Brian Hoffman presenting his poster
School of Engineering

Chemical Engineering Student Presents his Research at Middle States Annual Conference

By: Riya Sembhi '25 secondary education, English

Chemical engineering student Brian Hoffman ‘23 recently presented his research at the Middle States Commission on Higher Education 2022 Annual Conference in Philadelphia where higher education faculty, administrators, and educators observed a wide array of student research projects.

Conducting this research as part of Widener’s Summer Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (SURCA) program, his work entitled, “Porous Carbon from Non-Recyclable Plastic Wastes,” aims to reduce Styrofoam waste through burning and converting Styrofoam into carbon-based materials that can then be repurposed for water and air filters, catalysts, and more. Brian appreciated the chance to share his research with a receptive audience that had a diverse range of occupational backgrounds. 

Having been engaged in this research since Junior year, Brian aims to continue this work as his Senior project. Now in the 4+1 Program at Widener, he hopes to maintain the research with similar projects. He thanks Dr. Dipendu Saha for his guidance and mentorship, for the opportunity to be involved with the research, and his continuous support today. 

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Vicki Brown holding award plaque alongside provost and president
School of Engineering

Distinguished University Professor Designation goes to Engineering Professor

School of Engineering faculty member Vicki Brown has been honored with the distinguished university professor designation. The recognition honors individual faculty members of distinction and represents the university’s commitment to recognizing excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service throughout faculty members’ careers. The honor was announced at the 2022 faculty awards program. 

To be eligible for the designation, a faculty member must hold a tenured appointment at the rank of professor and be clearly identified by students and colleagues as an outstanding teacher.  They must also have national or international recognition for scholarly research activities, and have made significant contributions as a leader at the university or in the faculty member’s profession or academic discipline. The designation has a three-year term.

Brown has been an active member of the university faculty for 41 years, including 18 as chair of the Civil Engineering Department, successfully guiding it through three accreditation visits under her leadership.

Brown has also played an active role in university faculty governance and has served several times on the Faculty Council Executive Committee. She was instrumental in the development of the laboratory curriculum, and in infrastructure for the undergraduate civil engineering program.

Brown’s belief that “in-the-classroom learning” is most effective when combined with “real-world learning,” she seeks out opportunities to provide students with networking experiences – taking them to professional society meetings and continually challenging them in a supportive environment.

She also established and administers student competitions at national and international levels for the American Concrete Institute. One of Brown’s most visible and important contributions is the development and execution of the Engineering Girls Camp. Given the under-representation of females in the engineering field, her efforts to bring young women interested in engineering together with female engineers and female engineering students has impacted numerous young women and helped them gain the confidence to pursue a traditionally male-dominated field.

In addition, Brown has made a significant impact in her area of expertise – the use of fiber reinforced polymers as a substitute for steel in reinforced concrete. She serves as chair of an international committee tasked with developing design codes for FRP-reinforced structural concrete. 

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Professors Mazumder and Singh standing with their plaques alongside the provost and president
School of Engineering

Professors Honored for Promoting Civic Engagement

Assistant Teaching Professor Ria Mazumder and Associate Professor Anita Singh, both of the School of Engineering, have been honored with the Civic Engagement Award. The honor, given at the 2022 faculty awards program, recognizes outstanding contributions of faculty to students’ understanding of their social responsibilities, and to Widener’s engagement in the local or global community through teaching or research. 

Mazumder and Singh are committed to broadening engineering education in ways that and equip Widener students to become professionally, personally, and socially responsible leaders. They developed two innovative projects that promote a lifelong commitment to civic engagement. The first, a partnership with Chester Eastside Inc. School and Edgemont Scholars Academy, delivers innovative extra-curricular STEM education to elementary and middle school students in need of opportunity.  The second created a partnership with the Chester Community Clinic and the Community Nursing Clinic, in which engineering students learn about the challenges of developing effective, low-cost solutions for patients at the margins of the health care system.

Both projects have been effective at engaging students and serving the community and have received recognition beyond the university.

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A group photo captures and students and faculty whose projects were named winners of the 2022 SURCA Symposium.
Undergraduate Academics

Undergraduate Students Named Winners of the 2022 SURCA Symposium

The annual Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) program offers a high-impact experience through faculty-mentored undergraduate research, collaborative engagement, and a student-faculty learning community. The months-long program culminated with a symposium event which allowed participating students to present their projects and findings to the Widener community as well as a panel of volunteer judges who ranked the presentations by category.

The winners of the 2022 SURCA Symposium are:

Biochemistry: Michaela Jemison (advisor: Alexis Nagengast)
Detecting phenotypic difference of Alzheimer’s progression in a variety of Drosophila genotypes

Biology: Zachary Anderson (advisor: Caroline Fortunato)
Understanding the biogeographical patterns of microbial communities within the grassland soils of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Business & Computer Science: Shea’lyn Hubbs & Daniel Wiedl (advisors: Babatunde Odusami & YoungHa Ki)
Green bond performance in the United States

Chemistry: Elana Nguyen (advisor: Robert Mishur)
Microwave-assisted synthesis of transplatin, trans-[Pt[NH3]2Cl2]

Engineering A: Jared Ware (advisors: Babak Eslami &Kamran Fouladi)
Investigation of effect of melting temperature on the quality of 3D printed parts out of PLA filaments

Engineering B: Brian Hoffman (advisor: Dipendu Saha)
Conversion of Styrofoam into value-added products

Environmental: Emily Mills (advisor: Chad Freed)
Spatial modeling to support conservation of Sialia sialis, Eastern Bluebirds, in Pennsylvania

Humanities: Madison Smith & M’Nya Preston (advisor: Jordan Smith)
Hidden History of Widener

Molecular Biology: Adam Oladeji (advisor: Michael Toneff)
Transient expression of miR-200c does not permanently inhibit breast cancer cell aggression

Social Science A: Zora DeSeignora & Kaitlyn Lathrop (advisor: Angela Corbo)
Belonging, inclusion, and collaboration in communication studies: Building self-awareness and community

Social Science B: Cloë Di Flumeri & Marissa Fowler (advisor: Jeremy Backstrom)
Intimate partner violence during civil war

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Kirkbride Exterior Sunset
Chemistry, Chemical Engineering

Faculty and Students Published in Sustainability Journal

Assistant Professor Hongwei Yang, along with collaborators John Mason ’21 and Joanna Weyrich ’23 have had an article, “Mechanic Study of Porosity Formation in Liquid-Assisted Mechanochemical Synthesis of Metal-Organic Framework Cu3(BTC)2  for adsorption-Based Applications,” published in Sustainability, a journal distributed by MDPI. 

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Undergraduate students pose in front of the conference welcome sign.
School of Engineering

Biomedical Engineering Students Present In Undergraduate Design Competition

A team of biomedical engineering students participated in the Undergraduate Design Competition hosted by 2022 SB3C: Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference. The purpose of the competition is to showcase the undergraduates' design work, give students an opportunity to describe their work, and provide a chance to meet professionals in the bioengineering field. The Widener team, led by faculty advisor Ria Mazumder, assistant teaching professor, was one of six finalists chosen from the pool of applicants to present their work during a special podium presentation at the conference.

(L-R): Amelia Wellmon, Mason Klaus, Sean Blade, and Jessica Guarino.

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Dipendu Saha
School of Engineering

Outstanding Researcher Award Goes to Engineering Associate Professor

School of Engineering Associate Professor Dipendu Saha has received the university's Outstanding Researcher Award. It recognizes a faculty member who has exhibited distinction in scholarly work and has made a significant contribution through research to advance the profession or discipline and the university’s mission.

Saha has an outstanding record of research within the environmental and sustainability sectors and is recognized for his investigations into novel engineering materials and processes. Saha has proven himself to be an outstanding mentor to the undergraduate and graduate chemical engineering students.  At Widener University, he co-published with 8 graduate students and 20 undergraduate students. So far, Saha has published around 70 peer-reviewed journal articles and 45 conference presentations. He has been successful in making collaborations and collaborative publications with several researchers and professors both nationally and internationally. Saha also serves as a peer-reviewer of several scientific journals and expert reviewer of research proposals from America, Europe and Asia. 

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Mark A. Nicosia
School of Engineering

School of Engineering Professor Honored with Faculty Institutional Leadership Award

School of Engineering Professor Mark A. Nicosia has received the Faculty Institutional Leadership Award. It recognizes a record of leading initiatives that further the university’s vision, mission, and strategic objectives.

Nicosia has championed the university’s vision through his involvement on campus.   He has served on the Faculty Council Executive Committee for the past six years—the past four years as faculty chair and two years prior as chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee. Nicosia has been a remarkable leader during the COVID-19 pandemic. While serving on the Provost Council and the Crisis Management Team, and chairing the Executive Committee of Faculty Council, he worked closely with the faculty and administration on policies and procedures that directly impacted our students. Nicosia has an exceptional ability to listen and hear concerns expressed by faculty, staff, and administrators and is intentional and thoughtful in any decision-making process. Nicosia is the ideal scholar and campus leader to elevate Widener’s institutional agility and focus on strategy. 

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Kirkbride Exterior Sunset
School of Engineering

Engineering Faculty and Alumnus Publish in International Journal

Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Babal Eslami, Associate Professor Kamran Fouladi, and engineering alumnus Thomas May published an article titled, “Optimization of 3D printer enclosure environment” in The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology. The article explains their study of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and experimental testing that was used to optimize 3D printing.

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Babak Eslami
School of Engineering

Mechanical Engineering Faculty, Student Expand Upon Atomic Force Microscopy

A faculty-student research team published findings on the limits of microscopic research. Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Babak Eslami and student-researcher Dylan Caputo published an article in a special issue of Advances in Surface Modification of the Materials explaining how Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) is used to measure different types of material properties, including mechanical, electrical, and chemical properties. The findings may provide an alternative way to understand how the material’s elasticity without having to physically test the theory with a hands-on experiment. As the article demonstrates, this technique used with AFM is beneficial as the technology gives scientists a way to understand the material’s properties without increasing the risk of losing important measurements to either humidity or artificial dissipations.

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Mark A. Nicosia
School of Engineering

Mark Nicosia Named Associate Dean of the School of Engineering

Dr. Mark Nicosia, professor of mechanical engineering, was appointed to the position of associate dean of the School of Engineering. Dr. Nicosia, who previously chaired the department of mechanical engineering, will oversee academic affairs and external relations in this new role. A member of the engineering faculty since 2005, Professor Nicosia's research focuses on computational and experimental analysis of physiological systems, particularly the gastrointestinal system. In 2019, Professor Nicosia was named Distinguished University Professor, an award that recognizes faculty members of distinction and demonstrates how Widener is committed to recognizing excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.

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Pride Banners in front of Old Main
Widener University

Widener Announces Recipients of 2021-2022 Faculty Scholarship

The Widener University Faculty Scholarship, an endowment funded primarily by faculty donations, recognizes the outstanding academic achievements of undergraduate students in and outside the classroom. Nominees are selected from each school and college in their junior year and are awarded funds to assist with their tuition in their senior year. 

The 2021-2022 awardees are:

Hannah Berard, Alana Fitchett (College of Health and Human Services)

Erin Coffey, Madeline Dutterer, Samantha Mendelson (College of Arts and Sciences)

Angelina Franceschini, Camryn Samuel, Kathleen Sorah (School of Nursing)
Nicholas Lubeck, Michael Oravic (School of Engineering)
Sarah McFarland, Danielle Mininno (School of Business Administration)

Those who are interested in supporting the Faculty Scholarship, can go to and indicate 'Faculty Scholarship' for gift designation. 


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John Suarez
School of Engineering

Electrical Engineering Professor Joins National Academy of Inventors

John Suarez, associate professor of electrical engineering, was named a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). This national distinction is given to active faculty, scientists and administrators who have demonstrated remarkable innovation producing technologies that have made an impact, or have the potential to make an impact, on the welfare of society. Prof. Suarez was chosen for his work aimed at improving radio communications through the use of a patented opto-cancellation system that uses radio-frequency signals to reduce interference in radio transmissions. The novel system allows low-power radio signals to be received in the presence of powerful interference 100 times stronger than a signal of interest. It has been applied to broadcast, cellular, satellite and marine communications.

In addition to his faculty position at Widener, Prof. Suarez is also an affiliated faculty in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Delaware, a member institution of the NAI. 

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Anita Singh
School of Engineering

Biomedical Engineering Faculty Research Selected as Editors' Choice

Research by Dr. Anita Singh, associate professor and interim chair of biomedical engineering, was chosen as an Editors' Choice for the 2019 American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Journal of Biomechanical Engineering (JBME). The paper, “Efficacy of Clinical Simulation Based Training in Biomedical Engineering Education,” was one of only 10 papers chosen out of over 100 that appeared in the journal. Selected by the journal's editorial board, Dr. Singh's work exemplifies the high quality and significance of work that is featured in the JBME. 

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