Nehal Abu-Lail, assistant professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, and Christopher Hundhausen, associate professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, have been selected to participate in the prestigious National Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers of Engineering Education (FOEE) symposium.
They are two of 65 faculty members from throughout the U.S. who were chosen to participate. The symposium, which will take place Nov. 13–16 in Irvine, Calif., brings together innovative engineering educators to share ideas and learn from research and best practice in education, according to a National Academy of Engineering press release.
The College of Engineering and Architecture is a national leader in engineering education research. In 2010, for instance, three faculty members in the Voiland School received approximately 10 percent of the $18 million awarded nationally by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (TUES) program – more than any academic department in the United States. The program provides research support for improving curricula and teaching methods in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Through a National Science Foundation grant, Abu-Lail, a WSU faculty member since 2006, has provided support for several students from underrepresented groups to help with the research she is doing to better understand Listeria monocytogenes infections. L. monocytogenes was the bug involved in a recent outbreak linked to contaminated cantaloupe. Although L. monocytogenes infections are fairly rare (about 2500 cases per year in the U.S.), the pathogen has a fatality rate of 20 percent, the highest rate of any food-borne pathogen. Abu-Lail is working to better understand the mechanisms of the bug’s adhesion to surfaces and how that correlates to virulence. The results will be important in efforts to design new effective preventive and treatment strategies and in designing criteria to distinguish virulent from avirulent strains.
Abu-Lail has participated in visits to high schools around the state to tell students about WSU’s engineering programs. She has also worked with high school teachers to develop experiments for the high school classroom about bacterial adhesion. The simple experiments help students answer interesting and relevant questions while improving their science and math abilities. Abu-Lail recently received a 3M Nontenured Faculty Grant. The award recognizes outstanding new faculty for the quality and pertinence of their research. She holds a PhD. From the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA.