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As one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering instruction, The University of Alabama College of Engineering has long been a leader in engineering and computer science education. Today, more than 185 years after its founding, the College continues to see exponential growth in its student population and research activities. To sustain this growth, both the recruitment and retention of renowned faculty remain at the forefront of the College’s priorities.

In the spring of 2023, the Hewson Family Foundation bolstered the College’s efforts by pledging a $300,000 gift to establish the Hewson Engineering Faculty Fellows awards. Through the program, the College will award 20 faculty members over the next three years. In addition, the gift will also generate an opportunity to enhance retention efforts by recognizing exceptional work among existing faculty members and providing them resources to support their ongoing research.

“We are grateful for the generosity of the Hewson family and their continued support,” said Dr. Clifford Henderson, dean of the College of Engineering. “As a result of their gift, we have the ability to be more nationally competitive in making job offers, which will allow us to attract the best and brightest new faculty and positively impact the future success of our College.”

New and existing faculty members who are selected as fellows of the program will receive a $5,000 stipend each year for three years, for a total of $15,000. Stipends will be used at the fellows’ discretion to support critical components of their role such as research activities and participation in conferences.

“Contributions like the Hewson Foundation’s enhance the College’s prestige as it recognizes and promotes excellent faculty work,” said Jenny Pyle, associate senior director of development for the College of Engineering. “This gift strategically supports the College by celebrating and supporting rising faculty stars who will both advance our research profile and also serve as inspiration and motivation to the students they educate in our classrooms.”

While the stipends will open the door to numerous career advancement opportunities for the award recipients, the Hewson family hopes the impact of the awards will extend far beyond the fellows and propel the overall advancement of the College.

“As a family, our giving through the Hewson Family Foundation is primarily focused on education because we believe it is transformative and empowering,” said Marillyn Hewson. “By donating to the UA College of Engineering, we hope to enhance the recruitment and retention of outstanding engineering faculty, as they are the cornerstone of a high-quality education. It’s clear that accomplished faculty bring cutting-edge knowledge, deep experience, and innovative research that will enhance students’ educational experiences and improve their job prospects. We hope our gift will extend and strengthen the impact of the College of Engineering for many years to come.”

The inaugural class of Hewson Engineering Faculty Fellows was selected in January 2024 and includes Dr. Bineet Ghosh, Dr. Sevgi Gurbuz, Dr. James Harris, Dr. Chongze Hu, Dr. Matthew Kasemer, Dr. Gregory Kubacki, Dr. Lina Pu, Dr. Xinwu Qian and Dr. Zhongyang Wang.


Photo of Dr. Bineet Ghosh

Dr. Bineet Ghosh
Computer Science

Dr. Bineet Ghosh is an assistant professor in the department of computer science. He leads UA’s Trustworthy Autonomy Lab, in which he develops techniques for designing and verifying autonomous systems. Ghosh’s research on “Statistical Hypothesis Testing of Controller Implementations Under Timing Uncertainties” was selected as the best paper candidate at the International Conference on Embedded and Real-Time Computing Systems and Applications in 2022.

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Photo of Dr. Sevgi Zubeyde Gurbuz

Dr. Sevgi Zubeyde Gurbuz
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Dr. Sevgi Gurbuz is an assistant professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering. Her main research focus lies in the advancement of RF-enabled Cyber-Physical Human Systems, radar signal processing and machine learning algorithms. Gurbuz is a 2023 NSF Career Award recipient, and she was previously awarded a patent for the radar-based American Sign Language recognition work she pioneered.

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Photo of Dr. James W. Harris

Dr. James W. Harris
Chemical and Biological Engineering

Dr. James “Jamie” Harris is an assistant professor in the department of chemical and biological engineering. His research interests include catalysis occurring over metal surfaces whose properties evolve as a function of their environment. Harris’ research group spearheads projects related to the responsible use of energy carriers for the production of fuels and chemicals, and in 2022 he was recognized for his work with the ACS Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator Award.

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Photo of Dr. Chongze Hu

Dr. Chongze Hu
Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics

Dr. Chongze Hu is an assistant professor in the department of aerospace engineering and mechanics. His primary area of research expertise is data science and computational materials and mechanics. Hu’s research work has been published in numerous notable journals, including Nature Communications, Science Advances and Materials Today, among others.

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Photo of Dr. Matthew Kasemer

Dr. Matthew Kasemer
Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering

Dr. Matthew Kasemer is an assistant professor in the department of mechanical engineering and an adjunct professor in the department of metallurgical and materials engineering. His research interests lie in developing, implementing and utilizing computational models to predict the deformation response of metals subjected to loading. In 2022, Kasemer was named an NSF Career Award recipient for his notable career accomplishments.

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Photo of Dr. Gregory Kubacki

Dr. Gregory Kubacki
Metallurgical and Materials Engineering

Dr. Gregory Kubacki is an assistant professor in the department of metallurgical and materials engineering. His research centers around the structure-property relationships that affect the corrosion behavior of structural and biomedical alloys processed through advanced fabrication methods. Kubacki has also authored or co-authored numerous research articles on his work.

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Photo of Dr. Lina Pu

Dr. Lina Pu
Computer Science

Dr. Lina Pu is an assistant professor in the department of computer science. Her research lab focuses on cybersecurity, network security, wireless and underwater networking, sustainable IoT and numerous other areas. Pu works closely with the UA Cyber Institute and the Alabama Water Institute and aims to design and develop sustainable, efficient, and secure communication and computing techniques in the terrestrial/underwater edge computing paradigm.

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Photo of Dr. Xinwu Qian

Dr. Xinwu Qian
Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Xinwu Qian is an assistant professor in the department of civil, construction and environmental engineering. His research spans methodological and applied pursuits, with a primary objective of fostering efficient and equitable transportation systems that offer enduring community benefits. Qian is an early-career editorial advisory board member for Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies and an editorial board member for the Data Science for Transportation journal.

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Photo of Dr. Zhongyang Wang

Dr. Zhongyang Wang
Chemical and Biological Engineering

Dr. Zhongyang Wang is an assistant professor in the department of chemical and biological engineering. His research group aims to empower high-performance electrochemical systems and sustainable technologies by solving fundamental problems at the interface of polymer science and electrochemical engineering. He has authored numerous research publications and was awarded the Maria Lastra Excellence in Mentoring Award for Postdoctoral Researchers in 2022.

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