New Department Chairs Named for Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering

Aug 6, 2007

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Two UCLA Engineering professors have been named as department chairs. Harold Monbouquette is the chair of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department. Jiun-Shyan (JS) Chen is the chair the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Both appointments were effective on July 1, 2007.

By Matthew Chin

“We are thrilled that Hal and JS will be guiding their respective departments,” said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. “They are both outstanding researchers and have the highest level of respect from their peers. I am certain they will thrive in their leadership roles as they help move their departments forward.”

Jiun-Shyan (JS) Chen
Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering

JS Chen received his PhD in 1988 from Northwestern University. He arrived at UCLA in 2001 and holds joint appointments in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department and the Department of Mathematics. Prior to UCLA, Chen was a faculty member at the University of Iowa.

“The highest priority in the department is the recruitment and hiring of outstanding faculty,” Chen said. “Under the leadership of the past chair, Professor Bill Yeh, we have made several successful hires in the past few years and the importance of faculty recruitment is reflected in the department’s performance in teaching and research activities. With the limited resources and faculty lines, we need to be very selective in optimizing our recruitment. Most importantly, we need to hire faculty with outstanding research productivity and teaching skills.”

When asked about what the future holds for the department, Chen replied: “We need to prepare our students to face the challenges of the 21st century and have the utmost integrity for the world’s infrastructure and environment. We need to continuously educate ourselves to be in the forefront of scientific advancement, and be creative enough to turn challenges into opportunities. This requires intra-disciplinary, cross-disciplinary, and multi-disciplinary collaboration in research and development.”

Chen’s research centers on computational methods for dynamic and nonlinear mechanics of materials and solids, multi-scale materials modeling, simulation of microstructure evolution, and biomechanics.

Chen was named a Chancellor’s Professor in 2006. He is the editor-in-chief of the journal Interaction and Multiscale Mechanics. He serves on the executive council of U.S. Association for Computational Mechanics and will be its president in 2010.

Harold Monbouquette
Chair, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Harold Monbouquette received his PhD in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University in 1987. He joined UCLA Engineering that year.

“One central goal is to become one of the top few departments of chemical and biomolecular engineering in the nation,” he said. “To get there, we’ll need help from everyone in our department – faculty, staff and students. Fortunately, previous chairs have done a great job in identifying the best talent for junior and senior faculty positions. We also have an excellent staff and brilliant students. Nevertheless, we must find ways to improve and to grow.”

Recently, Monbouquette played a key role in the School’s revised undergraduate curriculum. He was instrumental, along with Dean Dhir and Dr. Duke Bristow, in the development of the School’s technology management sequence as a technical breadth area for undergraduates. This three-course sequence introduces concepts in economics, finance and entrepreneurship to engineering students interested in exploring entrepreneurial opportunities after graduation.

“As our department develops, we cannot lose sight of the fact that our main product is well-educated and trained young engineers,” Monbouquette said. “Our students should be recruited heavily at graduation and should become the future leaders in our profession. When an employer has a chemical or biomolecular engineering position to fill, whether it be in industry, academia, or government, I want that employer to think of UCLA first.”

Monbouquette’s research focuses on the conception and development of new technologies derived from living things, and on the molecular engineering of surfaces for materials and nanoelectronics applications. His work includes the development of biosensors for neurotransmitters, submicron biocapsules for drug delivery, surface nanopatterning for molecular electronics and extreme thermophile biotechnology.

Monbouquette is a past recipient of the Department of Energy Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Young Faculty Award. He won the School’s TRW Excellence in Teaching Award in 1991 and recently was elected a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

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