Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering welcomes new faculty

August 11, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. --The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Pennsylvania State University is pleased to announce that eight new faculty members have joined the department. In pursuit of its goal to be recognized as a worldwide leader in exceptional academic programs in mechanical and nuclear engineering, the department is continuing to vigorously seek out and hire some of the very best and brightest young faculty.

“We are pleased to have a new group of colleagues in the mechanical and nuclear engineering department who bring with them innovative ideas and expertise in a number of important areas,” said Karen Thole, professor and department head.

New faculty members are:

Guha Prasanna Manogharan has joined the department as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. Manogharan completed his doctoral studies at North Carolina State University. He comes to Penn State from an assistant professorship at Youngstown State University, home to the first manufacturing institute, America Makes. He was an Entrepreneur in Residence for Additive Manufacturing at the Youngstown Business Incubator.  His research interests in additive and hybrid manufacturing include: Design rules for CAD-CAM, material development, process modeling, CNC machining and inter-disciplinary biomedical, mechanical and aerospace applications. Manogharan is an active member of ASME, IISE and SME and was named the 2016 Outstanding Young Investigator by the IISE- Manufacturing and Design Division. He holds a Ph.D and an M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from North Carolina State University and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from SASTRA University, India. 

Stephanie Stockar has joined the department as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. She joins Penn State from a research associate position at The Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research where she also completed her doctoral degree. Stockar earned her BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Stockar conducts research in the areas of modeling and optimization of nonlinear dynamical systems, with focus on automotive applications (internal combustion engines, advanced powertrains) and building energy systems. Her research approach hinges upon the multidisciplinary integration of thermal fluid sciences with dynamic systems, modeling, optimization and control. Stockar's work has been funded by Ford Motor Company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy.

Will Walters has joined the department as an assistant professor of nuclear engineering. Walters comes to Penn State from a post-doctoral position at Virginia Tech, where he also completed his doctoral degree.  His research interests lie in the theory and application of radiation transport methods, which is at the heart of nuclear engineering given these methods are needed for calculations in reactor physics, radiation shielding, nuclear safeguards, and detection. For the transport method that Walters developed, he is able to use higher order numerics combined with lower order numerics to solve the transport in an efficient computation with little to no additional error. He also has experience in developing deterministic, stochastic, and hybrid radiation transport models in a wide variety of nuclear applications including spent fuel pool monitoring, reactor design, and neutrino detection.

David Williams has joined the department as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. He comes to Penn State from the Flight Sciences division of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Research and Technology, where he worked for several years as a computational fluid dynamics engineer. Williams completed his doctoral studies and earned an M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University. He holds a B.S.E. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan. Williams has made significant advances in the field of numerical algorithms for computational fluid dynamic simulations. Williams has been investigating the use of higher order Finite Element schemes to more accurately predict unsteady flows.

Catherine Berdanier has joined the department as a research associate in mechanical engineering. Berdanier earned a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University in Spring 2016. Her expertise is in the research and practice of engineering education systems surrounding three central ideas: engineering writing and communication; development and assessment of alternative models for graduate engineering education; and interdisciplinary research skill development for engineers. As the facilitator of the World Campus MSME program, she will lead a team to grow a world-class online graduate degree program and develop novel pedagogical techniques to best educate both online and resident graduate students. In addition to guiding the World Campus MSME program, Berdanier will also teach in the program and continue to conduct rigorous engineering education research to investigate technology-mediated cognition; graduate student socialization and persistence; and mechanisms for leveraging technology to enhance graduate engineering pedagogy. Berdanier also holds an M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University and a B.S. in Chemistry from The University of South Dakota.

Jean-Michel Mongeau will join the department as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in August 2017. He joins Penn State from a post-doctoral position at UCLA. Mongeau earned a Ph.D. in Biophysics from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. Mongeau’s research interests include neuro-mechanics and control of locomotion in animals and machines. He studies the nervous system and biomechanics of running and flying insects to understand basic principles of locomotion and inspire the development of more agile terrestrial and aerial robots. He has taught neuro-mechanics to biologists and engineers at Berkeley’s Center for Interdisciplinary Bio-inspiration in Education and Research and has an interest in discovery-based education. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Army Research Lab.

Margaret Byron will join the department as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering starting in August 2017. She completed her doctoral degree at the University of California-Berkeley and joins Penn State from a post-doctoral position at the University of California-Irvine. Byron has expertise in particle-laden turbulent flows and is interested in ocean-borne particulates such as marine snow and microplastics.  Her work focuses on how the size, shape, and other physical properties of particles affect their relationship to the surrounding turbulent flow.  These factors have important impacts on particle transport, settling, aggregation, and preferential concentration, as well as turbulence modulation. She has also done extensive work in aquatic biomechanics, focusing on how animals navigate through complex underwater environments and the scale-dependence of their interactions with turbulence.

Nicholas Brown will join the department as an assistant professor of nuclear engineering starting in January 2017. Brown will join the department from the Reactor and Nuclear Systems Division of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in January 2017. He has also worked at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and completed his doctoral degree at Purdue University in Nuclear Engineering. He brings expertise to the most critical area of nuclear power:  reactor physics and sustainable nuclear fuel cycles.  Brown’s research program will be predominantly theoretical/analytical with potential synergies in ongoing experimental work.  He has been called upon by federal agencies to assess long range efforts in sustainable nuclear fuel cycles and, hence, brings an important vision to the field of nuclear power. 


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Chris Hennessey



The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the nation’s largest and most successful engineering departments. We serve more than 1,000 undergraduate students and more than 330 graduate students

We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S., M.Eng.) graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering. MNE's strength is in offering hands-on experience in highly relevant research areas, such as energy, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems.

Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519