New Faculty Arriving July 1

March 21, 2017

Joining Johns Hopkins July 1 will be Yannis Kevrekidis (Princeton): Bloomberg Distinguished Professor; Stavroula Sofou (Rutgers): tenured associate professor; Jamie Spangler (Stanford): assistant professor.


Dr. Kevrekidis

Dr. Yannis Kevrekidis will join the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering as Bloomberg Distinguished Professor on July 1. He will hold secondary appointments in the Whiting School’s Department of Applied Mathematics & Statistics and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Department of Urology.

Kevrekidis, currently the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor in Engineering in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Princeton University, specializes in mathematical modeling of complex/multiscale systems and machine learning, with applications to chemical/biological reaction dynamics, transport, and pattern formation. He holds concurrent appointments at Princeton as faculty in the Program in Applied and Computation Mathematics, and as associated faculty in the Department of Mathematics.

Kevrekidis is perhaps best known for his “equation-free” computation, a systematic connection between macroscopic, continuum numerical analysis and microscopic/atomistic/stochastic simulators (such as molecular dynamics, kinetic Monte Carlo, Brownian dynamics or agent-based simulators). The framework circumvents the derivation of closed, macroscopic equations, and allows microscopic simulators to perform systems-level tasks directly.

In the area of process dynamics, computer modeling, and applied mathematics, Kevrekidis’ group uses the computer as a research tool to develop a fundamental understanding of the time-dependent behavior of phenomena such as instabilities and oscillations in the dynamics of chemical reactors, as well as transitions to turbulence and pattern formation in fluid flow.

The group also addresses the formation of spatiotemporal patterns in heterogeneous catalytic reactions. And in the area of nonlinear system identification and control, the group uses signal processing of experimental time series from a process to extract non-linear, low-dimensional, accurate dynamic models, which can be used for prediction, characterization, and eventually control of the process. In parallel, they study the dynamics of adaptively controlled systems, which are inherently nonlinear. The goal is to combine the two sides of the research—machine learning/system identification and model reduction, with adaptive control—for use in cases where fundamental models are either unavailable or too inaccurate for real-time use.

Kevrekidis earned his master’s degree in mathematics and PhD in chemical engineering, both at the University of Minnesota, and served as Director’s Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for Nonlinear Studies and Theoretical Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory. Recent awards include a Distinguished Visiting Fellowship with the Einstein Foundation and the Zuse Institute in Berlin (2016-2018) and a Rothschild Visiting Distinguished Fellowship at the Isaac Newton Institute, Cambridge (2016), and the 2016 W.T. and Idalia Reid Prize in Mathematics and Control by the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics.


Dr. Sofou

Dr. Stavroula Sofou will join the faculty of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering on July 1. Currently associate professor of biomedical engineering at Rutgers University, Sofou earned her PhD in chemical engineering at Columbia University, held a post-doctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and served as assistant professor at New York University Tandon School of Engineering (formerly Polytechnic Institute).

Sofou’s research interests revolve around biomembranes and drug delivery systems. She works to understand the intermolecular and interfacial interactions of materials—particularly self-assembling materials—within the biological setting, and to combine this knowledge with engineering principles to design successful devices to promote human health. Translational research on testing, and optimization of these devices as both diagnostics and therapeutics for medical applications, are of special interest to her.

In her lab at Rutgers, Sofou’s team has been seeking to develop cell-targeted therapies in the absence of over-expression of any known markers on the surface of the cell, and methods to facilitate the penetration of a drug into a tumor as deeply and uniformly as possible. Working with soft materials and lipid membranes, her team seeks to understand intermolecular interactions and phase separation of membranes at the fundamental level in an effort to enhance understanding of how to affect the collective properties of membranes.

Most recently, her lab has been loading small liposomes (nanoparticles) with chemotherapy or alpha-particle emitters to target single receptors on cancer cells, applying a new binding geometry to selectively target—for example—triple negative breast cancers. Her team has also been investigating how to take advantage of diffusion to enhance the penetration of therapeutics into solid tumors, improving the efficacy of treatment.


Dr. Spangler

Dr. Jamie Spangler, who earned her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering with a concentration in chemical and biomolecular engineering at Johns Hopkins in 2006, will serve as assistant professor with joint appointments in those departments beginning July 1, 2017.

Spangler currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship in Chris Garcia’s lab in the Stanford University School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology. In 2011, she earned a PhD in biological engineering at MIT under the supervision of Dane Wittrup.

Spangler’s research will apply structure-guided molecular engineering to develop innovative platforms for the discovery and design of protein therapeutics that recruit novel mechanisms to overcome the limitations of existing drugs. In particular, her work will focus on engineering antibody-based molecules that reshape the immune response for targeted therapy of cancer, infectious diseases, and autoimmune disorders.

Drawing on cutting-edge tools from structural biophysics, protein engineering, and translational immunology, Spangler is looking forward to the interdisciplinary opportunities at both the Whiting School and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Collaborations across both schools, as well as the facilities and resources available, will help Spangler to offer fundamental insights into the molecular determinants of protein function and to transform immunotherapeutic development.


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