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Digest – Spring 2012

Posted by on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 in Digest, Spring 2012.


Philippe Fauchet Named New Dean of School of Engineering


Philippe M. Fauchet, a recognized leader in research, teaching and innovation currently at the University of Rochester, will become dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering on July 1.

Fauchet, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and chair of Rochester’s electrical and computer engineering department, succeeds Dean Kenneth Galloway, who is returning to the faculty at the end of the current academic year after serving as dean since 1996.

Fauchet has 30 years of experience in nanotechnology and nanoscience, primarily in the areas of porous silicon and nanoscale silicon and their applications. His research explores the convergence of materials sciences, semiconductor and devices physics, physical chemistry and optics.

During his two decades at Rochester, he graduated 30 Ph.D. students from five departments and received the university’s award for excellence in graduate teaching in 2011.

He also brought three large multi-investigator grants to the institution and created the university’s multidisciplinary Center for Future Health, where engineers and physicians work to develop affordable technology that can be used in the home. He also established and ran the Femtosecond Laser Facility at Rochester’s Center for Optoelectronics and Imaging. Recently, he spearheaded the Energy Research Initiative, a university-wide effort to coordinate and expand the university’s research and educational activities in all areas related to energy.

Before moving to the University of Rochester, Fauchet was on the faculty at Princeton and Stanford universities and was one of the originators of Princeton University’s Center for Photonics and Optoelectronic Materials.

Fauchet earned his Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University in 1984. He graduated from Brown University in 1980 with a master’s in engineering.

Fauchet and his wife, Melanie, a nurse practitioner, have 13 adopted and biological children ranging in age from 2 to 22.

Alumnus By Water


The almost 4.4 million passengers who use the Galveston-Port Bolivar ferries in Texas every year now can travel in Commodore style. The 265-foot long John W. Johnson honors alumnus John W. Johnson, BE’68, (right), a former member of the Texas Transportation Commission. The ferry, one of six in the fleet, is painted black and gold in honor of Johnson’s Vanderbilt ties. The free ferry service is the only way motorists can cross the waterway between Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island.

And By Air

Next time you travel through the main terminal building at Nashville International Airport, look for the bronze plaque naming the building after Robert C. H. Mathews Jr., BE’51. Mathews, who died in 2008, was an active civic leader in Nashville and chair of The Mathews Company. He served for 22 years as volunteer chair of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, which owns and operates the Nashville airport.

Celebrating Four New Endowed Chairs

Four Vanderbilt School of Engineering faculty members were recognized with new endowed chairs in November, bringing the number of faculty holding chairs in the school to 12.


Benoit Dawant, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and David S. Kosson, professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering, each received a Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair. Biomedical engineering professor Anita Mahadevan-Jansen was honored with the Orrin H. Ingram Chair in Engineering. Sankaran Mahadevan, professor of civil and environmental engineering, now holds the John R. Murray Sr. Chair.

The honors are significant not just for the recipients but also for the School of Engineering. “Endowed faculty chairs are essential to building a world-class faculty, and tremendously important for acknowledging faculty achievement and distinction,” Dean Kenneth F. Galloway said. Endowed chairs—sometimes known as named chairs or professorships—recognize a donor, support a professor’s research and are valuable in recruiting and retaining faculty.


The Cornelius Vanderbilt Chairs are named for Vanderbilt’s founder and recognize faculty members doing groundbreaking research. The Orrin H. Ingram Chair in Engineering honors businessman, philanthropist and late Board of Trust member Orrin Henry “Hank” Ingram, founder of Ingram Barge Co., the foundation for Ingram Industries, one of the country’s largest privately owned companies. The John R. Murray Sr. Chair honors Murray, a successful oil industry engineer and son-in-law of longtime Vanderbilt benefactor H. Fort Flowers, BE’12, MS’15.

The new endowed chairs are recognized leaders in their fields. Dawant works at the interface of engineering and medicine, and develops techniques that permit the automatic analysis of medical images and their use for surgical guidance.

Kosson is an internationally known expert in safe and environmentally responsible management of large volume wastes and highly hazardous materials. He is the co-principal investigator of the Vanderbilt-led Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP), a multi-university program working with the Department of Energy, regulators and other stakeholders on cost-effective, risk-informed cleanup of the nation’s former nuclear weapons production sites and potential future used nuclear fuel storage and waste disposal sites.

Mahadevan-Jansen develops applications of optical techniques for diagnosis of pathology. Her primary research investigates the applications of optical spectroscopies and imaging for cancer diagnosis and guidance of therapy.

Mahadevan works on ways to increase the reliability and decrease the risks of complex structures and systems. His research on automotive, aircraft and spacecraft systems, civil infrastructure systems and nuclear waste storage has the potential to save human lives and millions of dollars. Mahadevan also directs the Vanderbilt Risk and Reliability Engineering and Management doctoral program, the largest and most prestigious of its kind in the world.