Research in the College of Engineering

Student working in lab.


▼   College and regional background information

The USA College of Engineering is part of a growing research university of over 14,000 students located on the Gulf Coast, in a region experiencing robust economic growth. The total external research income awarded to the College was over $9M in fiscal year 2022-2023.

The University of South Alabama has Carnegie Classification “Doctoral University: High Research Activity” and is recognized as a National University by and by “Washington Monthly”.

As well as a Ph.D. degree in Systems Engineering, the College offers research-oriented Masters’ degrees in Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Systems Engineering. The College is also a highly active participant in the interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs in Biomedical Engineering and in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Shelby Hall, a 165,000ft² state-of-the-art computing and engineering building completed in 2012, provides an outstanding research and education facility for the College.

Mobile and the eight surrounding counties received one of 12 U.S. Department of Commerce designations as a “Manufacturing Community.” This geographic area contains 1.2 million people within a 60 mile radius, the 11th largest port in the U.S.A., the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley capable of handling aircraft as large as a C-5A Galaxy heavy transport airplane, the largest combined student population between New Orleans, LA and Tallahassee, FL, and over $5B in private investment in recent years from Airbus, Thyssen-Krupp & Austal.


An alphabetical list of research keywords is available here; use this list to locate our researchers who have expertise in specific fields

Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department

▼   Dr. Grant Glover
  • Adsorbent materials including metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), carbons, and composites
  • Fibers functionalized with nanostructures and quantum dots
  • Surface chemistry
▼   Dr. Silas Leavesley
  • Novel biomedical and clinical imaging and detection methods
  • Illumination technologies in imaging
  • Hyperspectral imaging and analysis
  • Microscopy, endoscopy, and small-animal fluorescence imaging
▼   Dr. Brooks Rabideau
  • Predicting thermodynamic and transport properties of ionic liquids
  • Molecular simulations of biomass dissolution
  • Binary adsorption in metal-organize frameworks using molecular simulation
  • Yield stress determination using squeezing flow
  • Noninvasive imaging of paste extrusion using MRI velocimetry
  • Self-assembly of nanoparticle superlattices
▼   Dr. Nicholas Sylvester
  • Microcontinuum fluid mechanics
  • Multicomponent adsorption
  • Solid-liquid mass transfer
▼   Dr. Christy Wheeler-West
  • Effects of molecular scale environment on reactive chemical systems
  • Behavior of reactive chemical systems
  • Synthesis of efficient oxide-supported noble metal catalysts using supercritical fluid deposition
  • Novel quaternary ammonium salts for phase-transfer catalysis and metal recovery
▼   Dr. Kevin West
  • Solution chemistry and molecular thermodynamics
  • Ionic liquids and supercritical fluids
  • Lipidic ionic liquids for separation of nonpolar species
  • Supercritical fluids as solvents
  • Synthesis methods for components of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs)

Civil, Coastal, & Environmental Engineering Department

▼   Dr. John Cleary
  • Post-disaster structural evaluation and investigation
  • Forensic analysis, investigation, and evaluation
  • Large and small scale structural testing (including in-service)
  • Construction vibration evaluation and investigation
  • Concrete testing, experimentation, and evaluation
▼   Dr. Trung Do
  • Hurricane wind, wave, and surge
  • Coastal and near-coast structures
  • Community resilience and recovery
  • Multi-hazard risk assessment and mitigation
  • Performance-based design
  • Wind turbines and wind energy
  • Fatigue and fracture mechanics, fatigue crack propagation
  • Structure life estimation
  • Bridge engineering
▼   Dr. Samantha Islam
  • Transportation and infrastructure systems and planning
  • Application of econometric and statistical methods to highway/traffic safety, traffic congestion, transportation economics
  • Highway safety, application of highway safety manual
  • Resilience in transportation systems
  • Design and operation of roundabouts
  • Application of intelligent transportation systems (ITSs)
  • Traffic operations and control
  • Hurricane evacuation
▼   Dr. Min-Wook Kang
  • Advanced traffic operations and congestion management
  • Highway safety analysis and modeling
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) in transportation, geometric design, and optimization
  • Driver behavior studies: distracted driving, fatigued driving, and dilemma zone
▼   Dr. Rebecca Macdonald
  • Engineering education
▼   Dr. Husam Omar
  • Durability of reinforced concrete structures
  • Behavior of structures subjected to extreme wind forces
  • Computer modeling of linear and non-linear structures
  • Modeling of space and lunar structures
▼   Dr. Stephanie Patch
  • Coastal community resiliency
  • Development and evaluation of adaptation strategies to sea-level rise
  • Post-disaster structural and geotechnical evaluation
  • High-resolution numerical modeling of coastal processes
  • Coastal structures and their interaction with morphological changes during tropical cyclones
  • Engineering education and citizen science
▼   Dr. Eric Steward
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Design, analysis, and construction of foundations, slopes, retaining structures
  • Load and resistance factor design (LRFD) of deep foundations
  • Driven pile setup (freeze) prediction methods
  • Soil/structure interaction
  • Trenchless pipeline infrastructure installation and rehabilitation techniques
▼   Dr. Nigel Temple
  • Coastal resilience, vulnerability, and adaption
  • Nature-based solutions and living shorelines
  • Coastal mapping, monitoring, and measurement studies
  • Biological responses to physical processes (e.g., waves)
  • Low-cost environmental sensing
  • Citizen science, stakeholder-driven coastal research
▼   Dr. Kaushik Venkiteshwaran
  • Chemical and biological wastewater treatment
  • Advanced oxidation targeting organic contaminant and pathogen destruction
  • Developing bio-adsorbents for nutrient recovery and contaminant removal
  • Modelling microbial interactions in natural and engineered environments
  • Relating microbes to biological process performance
  • Developing novel microbial cultures for wastewater treatment
▼   Dr. Bret Webb
  • Coastal resilience, vulnerability, and adaption
  • Highways and bridges in the coastal environment
  • Natural hazards including coastal storms and sea level rise
  • Nature-based solutions and living shorelines
  • Coastal mapping, monitoring, and measurement studies
▼   Dr. Kevin White
  • Drinking water, wastewater, & storm water treatment
  • Constructed wetlands for wastewater and storm water treatment
  • Onsite and small-community wastewater technologies and management
  • Decentralized wastewater technologies and concepts
  • Micro-pollutants (pharmaceuticals, etc.) in wastewater & their treatment
  • Low-impact development (storm water management) practices
▼   Dr. Shenghua Wu
  • Asphalt technology and pavement engineering
  • Smart, resilient and green pavement materials characterization and design
  • Advanced laboratory characterization for asphalt binders and mixtures
  • Pavement recycled materials, rehabilitation and maintenance, and sustainability
  • Pavement performance and modeling, mechanistic-empirical pavement design

Electrical & Computer Engineering Department

▼   Dr. Yousef El-Sharkh
  • Smart grid
  • Distributed generation
  • Renewable and alternative energy systems and virtual power plants
  • Integration of renewables with smart grid
  • Phasor measurement units and wide area monitoring systems
  • Multi-agent systems and distributive control
  • Energy storage systems
  • Power system planning and control, power quality, and power electronics
  • Artificial intelligence (intelligent optimization techniques) in power system problems
▼   Dr. Na Gong
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology
  • Intelligent data-enabled computing circuits and systems
  • Viewer-aware mobile systems
  • Multi-level (device/circuit/architecture/application) efficient and privacy-preserving VLSI circuits and systems
  • Energy-efficient computing
  • Memory systems for video, vision, and deep learning
  • Neuromorphic computing
  • Embedded vision
▼   Dr. Aurangzab Khan
  • Multijunction super high efficiency solar cells (InGaP/GaAs/Ge/Si)
  • GaAs/InGaP dual solar cells on low-cost Si and Ge substrates
  • Defects in optoelectronic devices
  • Microelectronics, design of integrated circuits, low voltage/low power VLSI, RF CMOS, simulation
  • Radiation-hard electronic materials; nanostructures, nanoelectronics, solid state sensors for space applications
  • Advanced materials for PhotoElectroChemical (PEC) hydrogen production, nanocomposites, carbon nanotubes and nanofibers
▼   Dr. Hulya Kirkici
  • Electrical insulation
  • Pulsed power engineering
  • Breakdown characteristics of dielectrics
  • Compact plasma switches
  • Pulsed plasmas
  • Laser and lidar systems
▼   Dr. Saeed Latif
  • Antennas and sensors for biomedical devices
  • Large-scale antenna arrays for 4G/5G wireless systems
  • Metasurfaces for millimeter wave applications
  • Miniaturized antennas for satellite applications
  • Antennas for radar detection and biomedical imaging
  • Antenna concepts using engineered and low loss materials
▼   Dr. Samuel Russ
  • Embedded systems, including microprocessor-based design, sensors, nanosatellites, and robotic agriculture
  • Consumer electronics including digital video recording and home networking
  • Systems engineering for high-volume electronic manufacturing
  • Signal integrity, design of high-speed digital systems
  • Circuit-board design including high-speed design, design for signal integrity, and circuit-board cybersecurity
▼   Dr. Adel Sakla
  • Programmable logic devices (PLDs)
  • Embedded systems 
▼   Dr. Mohamed Shaban
  • Signal and image processing for biomedical applications
  • Machine and deep learning applications
  • Time-series analysis
  • Edge AI optimization
▼   Dr. Edmund Spencer
  • Space plasma physics and space weather
  • Instruments for space science and space plasma characterization
  • Interaction of solar wind with the earth's magnetosphere 
▼   Dr. John Steadman
  • Bioengineering
  • Medical electronics
  • Electronic instrumentation
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Digital electronics
  • Microcomputers 
▼   Dr. Tom Thomas
  • Automated environmental monitoring, including air, water, and soil monitoring for contaminants using chromatographic, spectroscopic or optical instrumentation
  • Robotics and robotic sensors
  • Hyperspectral image processing for target recognition and tracking, environmental monitoring and detection of disease
  • Chemical adsorption, absorption and material separation using zeolite-based materials 
  • Engineering education 
▼   Dr. Daniela Touma
  • Wireless power transfer (WPT), inductive power transfer (IPT), transcutaneous energy transmission (TET)
  • Simulation of electromagnetic effects by finite element method (FEM)
  • Optimization methods, including single-objective and multi-objective algorithms, and artificial intelligence in power systems
  • Smart grids, including renewable energy, microgrids, energy management systems (EMS), and vehicle-to-grid (V2G)
▼   Dr. JinHui Wang
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology
  • Very-large-scale integration (VLSI) circuits and systems
  • Three-dimensional integrated-circuit (3D IC) design
  • Neuromorphic computing hardware based on CMOS and emerging devices
  • Hardware-enabled privacy preserving in cyber security
  • Novel memory design including SRAM and DRAM
  • Non-volatile memories based on emerging devices such as memristors
  • Cooling techniques for electronic devices
  • Wireless sensor networks and Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Electronic subsystems for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) 
▼   Dr. Clive Woods
  • Novel microelectronic devices, including optical applications and imaging
  • Models of semiconductor avalanching and electronic devices using avalanche breakdown
  • Phototransistors and bipolar transistors using III-V semiconductors
  • Band-gap engineered devices including multi-quantum-well photodetectors 
  • Acoustic charge transfer (ACT) devices and their applications
  • Surface-acoustic wave (SAW) devices for signal processing
  • High-frequency gravitational waves
  • Superconducting devices

William B. Burnsed Jr. Department of Mechanical, Aerospace & Biomedical Engineering

▼   Dr. Melike Dizbay-Onat
  • Natural fiber derived activated carbons
  • Physical and chemical activation methods
  • Physical adsorption
  • Porous materials
  • Bio-based composites
  • Engineering education
  • STEM Outreach
▼   Dr. Kuang-Ting Hsiao
  • 3D printing of polymer composites
  • Carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites
  • Carbon nanofiber z-threaded CFRP (ZT-CFRP) multi-scaled composites
  • Artificial intelligence in advanced manufacturing
  • Void and defect characterization and modeling for polymer composites
  • Micro/nano-fluids and suspensions in porous media
  • Functionally graded materials
  • Rheology, viscous flow, ER/MR fluids
  • Transport phenomena in porous media
  • Energy storage and harvesting
▼   Dr. Julia Kar
  • Medical imaging modalities such as MRI, ECG and Spectroscopy
  • Clinical heart failure detection
  • Magnetic resonance sequence (contrast, phase, SPAMM, perfusion, DENSE, T1/T2) development
▼   Dr. Carlos Montalvo
  • Dynamic simulation coupled with applied estimation of custom made aircraft
  • Experimental flight testing to improve the performance of autonomous aerospace vehicles
  • Flight dynamics, control and design of unmanned aerial vehicles with a focus on multi-body systems
  • Reconfigurable control laws for multirotor vehicles
  • Rocket ascent dynamics and controls
  • Tethered aerospace vehicles including electric sails and parafoils
▼   Dr. David Nelson
  • Human thermoregulation and thermoregulation modeling
  • Biological effects of non-ionizing radiation
  • Medical device design
  • Heat transfer enhancement
▼   Dr. Anh-Vu Phan
  • Symmetric Galerkin boundary element method with applications to dynamic fracture mechanics, wave diffraction and moving boundary problems
  • Computational biomechanics
▼   Dr. Joseph Richardson
  • Hypersingular integral equations in heat conduction and stress analysis including fracture mechanics
  • Modeling strain gradient elasticity
  • Modeling functionally graded materials
  • Multipole methods accelerated with fast Fourier transforms
  • Airfoil design and modeling
  • Delaunay triangulations in representing and simulating random structure
  • Nonlinear, unpredictable random number generation
  • Ascent debris transport in supersonic flows
  • Dynamic modeling of space tethers 
▼   Dr. Dhananjay T. Tambe
  • Physical laws governing the function of cells, tissues, and organs
  • Mechanical characterization of cells, tissues, and organs
  • Tools for life sciences researchers and healthcare providers
  • Monolayer stress microscopy and monolayer mechanics
  • Creativity-focused activities in engineering education

Systems Engineering

▼   Dr. Robert Cloutier
  • Model-based systems engineering
  • Model-based engineering
  • Digital Thread/Digital Twin
  • System Architecture Patterns
  • Metaverse for systems engineering
  • Graphical concept of operations (CONOPS)
▼   Dr. Kari Lippert
  • Systems engineering
  • Metaverse for systems engineering
▼   Dr. Bhushan Lohar
  • Model-based systems engineering, system architectural patterns, system simulation
  • Space systems engineering
  • Mission engineering
  • Product line engineering and feature modeling
  • Concept of operations and operational concepts
  • Requirements engineering and management
  • Requirements integration, verification, validation and testing
  • Artificial intelligence and digital twins
▼   Dr. John Usher
  • Systems simulation, modeling and analysis
  • Design and analysis of production systems
  • Application of artificial intelligence in manufacturing
  • Database design and development
▼   Dr. Sean Walker
  • Power-to-Gas for energy storage, utility services and support of hydrogen vehicle fleets
  • Use of Power-to-Gas to generate synthetic natural gas from landfill gas and agricultural biogas
  • Use of repurposed electric vehicle (EV) batteries for residential and commercial energy storage
  • Applications of game theoretic models to environmental management decision making