I am an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. My research focuses on finite element analysis, computational methods, and fire safety engineering, focusing on both structure fires and wildfires. I was co-Editor-in-Chief of Fire Safety Journal from 2016-2018, and I have earned a number of awards including the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the Harry C. Bigglestone Award. I am an advocate for mental health and use creative writing to teach others what it is like to live with mental illness. My forthcoming memoir, Can You Hear the Music? A Memoir about Mental Illness in the Academy, describes my experience being diagnosed with and recovering from bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.
My partner of more than twenty years and I have three amazing children. When I have the opportunity, I enjoy travel, especially to places of natural beauty or with man-made wonders. I spend most of my waking hours at my Michigan home, which sits on five acres of land and hosts a variety of wildlife. In my free time, I like to read, write, draw, and work on projects around the house.
As a professor at a research university, one of my greatest obligations is to conduct fundamental research in collaboration with my students and publish the findings. My research to date has focused on many aspects of fire safety engineering, including fires and their effects on structural systems. As my work is computational, I use techniques including finite element analysis, isogeometric analysis, computational fluid dynamics, probabilistic methods, and more.
Prospective Students 2023
Seeking two new Ph.D. students for Fall 2023. Research focusing on (1) analysis of structural ignition under firebrand showers, and (2) analysis of structural systems under traveling fire exposure. Applicants do not need to have prior background in fire safety engineering, but successful candidates will have strong knowledge of the fundamentals (e.g., engineering mechanics, dynamics, computational analysis, probabilistic methods) and a desire to learn. Interested candidates should apply at https://rackham.umich.edu/admissions/applying/.
Service and Outreach
I categorize my service into three primary areas: (1) research-related service, (2) service related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and (3) institutional service. My research-related service consists primarily of my editorial activities, service on committees in professional societies, conference organization, and proposal reviews. My DEI-related service includes activities at the national/regional, institutional, and local levels and aims to address systemic issues affecting marginalized populations. I lump my mental health advocacy work in this category. My institutional service includes the committees I have been involved with at the university. You can view my complete service and outreach activities on my CV.
Watch my recent lecture at the University of Michigan’s CEE DEI Seminar Series, “Lessons on Mental Health from a Professor with Mental Illness.” (Audio improves a few minutes in).
In recent years, I have explored creative nonfiction as a means of coping with some of the challenges I have experienced in my life. In my full-length memoir, Can You Hear the Music? A Memoir about Mental Illness in the Academy, I recount my experiences being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder as well as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the Virginia Tech shooting. Through my writing, I seek to give others an understanding of what it is like to battle mental illness.
The Mad Engineer Blog
I have created a blog to compile my interests in computational analysis; fire safety engineering; civil engineering; mental health; and diversity, equity and inclusion, especially as it relates to higher ed. You can check it out by clicking the button below.