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Please welcome ME's newest faculty members!

Dr. Robert G. Dennis comes to ME from MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, where he designed, built, and tested the world's first muscle-actuated robot. He co-founded the MIT lab's biomechatronics group to develop muscle-based actuators and hybrid prosthetic devices. He is now at work on several bioengineering investigations, including the engineering of nerve tissue in biological actuators. Dr. Dennis is returning to familiar ground. He took his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan in 1996. Since 1998, he has held a concurrent research appointment in U-M's Institute of Gerontology, where he led a new program in muscle tissue engineering. While in graduate school at Michigan, he ran his own instrumentation firm, making custom instruments for automotive, energy and medical concerns.

Dr. Ernest F. "Charlie" Hasselbrink, Jr., a specialist in the development of microdevices, joins ME after postdoctoral work at Sandia National Laboratories. In two years at Sandia, he was a prolific inventor. His innovations include a means for manufacturing extremely low-cost microfluidic control devices, such as microvalves, sub-nanoliter syringes and pipettes, check valves, and a flow meter; an electrochemical method to stabilize the performance of electrokinetic micropumps; and refinements of microfluidic diagnostic imaging methods and apparatus. He also helped to develop a self-contained hand-held biotoxins sensor based on chromatographs on a silica microchip. Dr. Hasselbrink took his Ph.D. at Stanford University in 1999. He is a 1992 summa cum laude graduate of the University of Houston.

Dr. Wei Lu works in the emerging fields of nanostructures and "smart" materials, studying how such structures self-assemble and evolve. He holds two Ph.D. degrees -- one in materials science and engineering from Princeton University (2001), the other in solid mechanics from Tsinghua University in Beijing. Dr. Lu is already responsible for significant advances in the nanostructures field. He has identified the significance of surface stress in the formation of ordered nanostructures; revealed how atoms on the surface can self-organize into various patterns; and proposed ways in which the evolution of nanostructures can be controlled by the manipulation of macroscopic properties. Among his awards are the Robert J. McGrattan Literature Award of the ASME and the Sayre Prize from Princeton's mechanical and aerospace engineering department. He was also honored as both the outstanding graduate student and the outstanding student at Tsinghua University.

Dr. Edgar Meyhofer is probing the mechanisms that propel molecular motors. These cellular protein molecules, using energy from the hydrolysis of ATP, are essential elements in nearly every cellular function, including cellular transport processes, cell division, and cell locomotion. Dr. Meyhofer is using in vitro assays to characterize the cells' mechanical properties at the level of single molecules. He is also developing single molecule detection methods and improved microscope systems to improve the measurement and manipulation of molecular systems. Since 1995, Dr. Meyhofer has been an associate professor in the department of molecular and cellular physiology at the Medical School Hannover in Germany. He acquired his Ph.D. in biomechanics from the department of zoology at the University of Washington in 1991.

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