Illinois Tech Highlights Research Standouts Through Annual End-of-Year Awards


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Brent Stephens conducts research in a lab

Professor of Architectural Engineering Brent Stephens, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Mohammad Asadi, and electrical and computer engineering doctoral student Xin Zhang are just three of the awardees in Illinois Tech’s annual universitywide research awards, which highlight the work done by faculty members and students during the 2021–22 academic year.

Stephens, who is also the chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, received the Sigma Xi/IIT Award for Excellence in Research Senior Faculty Award. Stephens was recognized for becoming a world authority in the area of air quality in the built environment. Asadi, meanwhile, received the Sigma Xi/IIT Award for Excellence in Research Junior Faculty Award for gaining further recognition for his research on carbon dioxide conversion to fuels and energy storage.

Two students were also honored for their work through the Sigma Xi/IIT Awards for Excellence in Research. Zhang, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received a Student Award for his substantial research in the areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, and thermography, which has been published in Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers journals and conference proceedings. Insung Kang, a doctoral student in the CAEE department, also received a Student Award. He was honored for his research in indoor environmental measurements and assessments, as well as for research on epidemiological investigations funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and Commonwealth Edison.

Two faculty members—Assistant Professor of Chemistry Sameh Elsaidi and Professor of Chemical Engineering Javad Abbasian—received the Educational and Research Initiative Fund Award, which provides seed funding to initiate innovative, multi-investigator, multidisciplinary research and education programs. Elsaidi and Abbasian received the award for their project titled “Dual-Function Porous Materials for Integrated CO2 Capture and Conversion.” The award will provide tuition assistance and/or stipends for graduate students.

Finally, two graduate students received Starr/Fieldhouse Research Fellowships, which support graduate students engaged in research that leads to cooperation between Illinois Tech and IIT Research Institute, the Institute for Food Safety and Health, Fermilab, or Argonne National Laboratory. Zhang was one of the recipients for his project titled “AI and Machine Learning for Nondestructive Material Integrity Evaluation Using Infrared Thermography and Ultrasonic Testing” in collaboration with Walter and Harriet Filmer Endowed Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering Jafar Saniie, the Embedded Computing and Signal Processing Research Laboratory at Illinois Tech, and scientists at Argonne. Hina Mathias, a graduate student in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, is conducting research through a project titled “Examination of Power Ultrasound and Organic Acid-based Hurdle Technology to Reduce Listeria Monocytogenes and Salmonella Enterica on Peaches” in collaboration with Associate Professor of Food Science and Nutrition Alvin Lee and Joelle Salazar of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Photo: Professor of Architectural Engineering Brent Stephens in the lab