Beckman Institute Announces Fall 2006 Senior Fellows

The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology is pleased to announce the appointment of Gerald Penn and Dimitris C. Lagoudas as Beckman Institute Senior Fellows for the fall 2006 semester.

Penn is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, while Lagoudas is the Slattery Chair in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. Lagoudas will be working mostly with members of the Autonomous Materials Systems group at Beckman. Penn will collaboate mostly with members of the Artificial Intelligence group.

Lagoudas, who is Director of the Texas Institute for Intelligent Bio-Nano Materials and Structures for Aerospace Vehicles (TiiMS), has a current research focus on the modeling and design of multifunctional systems from the nanoscale to the macroscale. He is an expert in the area of micromechanics of active materials and smart structures.

While at Beckman, Lagoudas will be collaborating with AMS group members Scott White, Nancy Sottos, Ioanis Chasiotis, and Jeff Moore, as well as M&ENS faculty members Paul Braun and Narayana Aluru. Lagoudas' research interest in nanocomposites will be a focus of his collaboration with White and Sottos in exploring multifunctional hybrid composites. He expects the interactions with AMS to lead to future collaborations between that group and TiiMS, resulting in research papers and funding proposals.

Lagoudas is on sabbatical from Texas A&M, but plans on bringing four graduate students from his laboratory for short stays as part of the collaborative effort.

Penn is a computational linguist on sabbatical from the University of Toronto, where he has gained an international reputation for his research on category theory and typed-feature logics. In addition to his time at Beckman, Penn will be a visiting professor in the Department of Linguistics.

Penn is slated to collaborate with full-time Beckman faculty member Richard Sproat, a professor in both the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The focus of their collaboration will be on formal approaches to the analysis of writing systems.

Sproat has been working on developing formal models of writing systems, and learning how such formal models help us understand how writing systems evolve and are used by readers and writers. Part of Sproat's research has centered on the analysis of Indian writing systems, while Penn has an interest in writing systems and a knowledge of Sanskrit. This would mark the first collaboration for Sproat and Penn, although Penn did review Sproat's book, A Computational Theory of Writing Systems, for the journal Written Language and History.

The Beckman Institute Senior Fellows program is by invitation only for established faculty members from other universities who want to do short-term interdisciplinary research with other Beckman Institute researchers.