Daisy Zhe Wang, Ph.D.; Erika Moore, Ph.D.; and Kevin Butler, Ph.D.

Engineering’s Rising Stars Shine Brightly at the University of Florida

In Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Featured, News, Transformation

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Rising Star endowments support future thought leaders in engineering

Since 2018, the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, with the support of generous alumni and their gifts, has established the Rising Star Professorships to recruit and retain premier junior faculty whose early career achievements have already begun to make a notable impact in their fields, as well as their engineering college departments. Today, three of these engineering rising stars are well on track to further their impact with clear distinction.

At the University of Florida, alumni have endowed four Rising Star Professorships - two in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) and two in the Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE).  The two CISE professorships have been awarded to outstanding young faculty within the department, while one of the MSE professorships has been extended to a much-sought-after rising star who will be joining the department full time in spring 2020.  A search is presently underway to identify another exemplary young “star” for the Department of Materials Science & Engineering.


Rhines Rising Star Professorships at the Department of Materials Science & Engineering

Dr. Walden C. (Wally) Rhines, whose father, Dr. Fred Rhines, founded the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at UF, continued his father’s legacy in support of the department when he made a gift of $1 million to establish the Rhines Rising Star Professorships. Dr. Fred Rhines established the department on the talents and promise of early career faculty with the philosophy that outstanding people want to work with other outstanding people. This gift, says Wally, will continue to honor his father’s legacy to support assistant professors of this caliber. According to Dr. Michele Manuel, Chair for the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, “The Rhines family is an important part of the department’s past and future, and we are grateful for their continued support.”

The professorships will not only bear the Rhines name, they will also include the names of two outstanding pioneering faculty in honor of their service to the department – Dr. Robert DeHoff and Dr. Larry Hench. Drs. DeHoff and Hench were both in the early phase of their careers when Dr. Fred Rhines hired them. Dr. Hench joined the department in 1964, where he invented Bioglass, the first man-made material to bond with living tissues and which is now used to repair bones, joints and teeth.  Dr. DeHoff joined the department during its founding year in 1959 and was Dr. Fred Rhines’ final Ph.D. student at Carnegie-Mellon University. Dr. DeHoff became an expert in thermodynamics, writing the first and second editions of Thermodynamics of Materials Science.

Erika Moore. Ph.D.Erika M. Moore, Ph.D.

Dr. Erika Moore is the holder of the Rhines Rising Star Larry Hench assistant professorship. This is the first of two Rhines Rising Star assistant Professorships in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE).

“Dr. Moore specializes in the use of biomaterials to alter the immune response of the body,” said Dr. Michele Manuel, MSE Department Chair and Rolf E. Hummel Professor of Electronic Materials.  “Her work further strengthens and solidifies our continued efforts in the biomaterials area which was initiated by Drs. Fred Rhines and Larry Hench.”

During the 2019 academic year, Dr. Moore will serve as a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University. She will be fully on-boarded at the UF campus in the spring of 2020. Learn more >> 

Arnold and Lisa Goldberg Rising Star Professorships at the Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering

With a $1 million gift that establishes the Arnold and Lisa Goldberg Rising Star Professorships in Computer Science, the Goldbergs are powering the New Engineer by enabling research into technology such as machine learning and artificial intelligence that helps detect, protect and restore security in the cyber and physical systems. Mr. Goldberg summed up his vision for the benefits the professorships will bring to the CISE department, “I have personally witnessed the opportunity that a degree in computer science will afford an individual. I wanted to accelerate the awareness and stature of UF’s CISE department as a preeminent destination to get that degree.”

“Endowed professorships carry a level of prestige that positively reflects on the department, our faculty and their research. We are thankful for the Goldbergs’ support,” said Juan E. Gilbert, Ph.D., The Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Professor and CISE department chair. Dr. Gilbert and Cammy R. Abernathy, Ph.D., Dean of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, named associate professors Dr. Kevin R. B. Butler and Dr. Daisy Zhe Wang as holders of the Arnold and Lisa Goldberg Rising Star Professorships for their contributions to the field of computer science.

Daisy Zhe Wang, Ph.D.

Daisy Zhe Wang, Ph.D.

Dr. Daisy Zhe Wang is currently collaborating with researchers at USC’s Information Systems Institute (ISI), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Columbia University to shorten the time it takes intelligence analysts to collect and interpret data about national and international events of critical importance to national security.

With a $1.17 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Dr. Wang is developing computer algorithms that can help decision-makers find answers through analysis of disparate hypotheses drawn from the links between causes and effects for an event in question, thereby spearheading a rapid plan of action.

Learn more >>

Kevin Butler, Ph.D.

Kevin R. B. Butler, Ph.D.

Dr. Kevin Butler, the associate director of the Florida Institute for Cybersecurity Research at UF, recently led a research team that uncovered critical smartphone vulnerabilities. The weakness could allow hackers to easily take control of phones and extract private information without users’ detection of identity theft and lost data.

In 2019, according to a study by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, 48% of all data breaches were caused by malicious or criminal attacks, at an average cost of $157 per user. Nearly two billion data records were leaked from data breaches in January 2019 alone. Smartphone vulnerabilities currently make up a small portion of that number; but without discovery and resolution of these weaknesses, those numbers could grow. Dr. Butler’s research focuses on the security of computers, from embedded and mobile devices to cloud computing systems, and the data that they generate.

Learn more >>

“We are very thankful to our alumni who provided the gifts that helped us attract and retain these gifted young academicians. These promising investigators from diverse backgrounds will become the innovators and leaders who will define the fields of engineering over the next ten years. They are our future – from the halls of our college to the expanses our global community.”Dean Cammy R. Abernathy, Ph.D., Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering

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