Speaker Biographies

Ali Abedi • Associate Vice President for Research and Vice President, IEEE Council of RFID

Ali Abedi received his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering, from University of Waterloo, Canada in 2004. Dr. Abedi joined the University of Maine, Orono in 2005, where he is currently Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Associate Vice President for Research at UMaine, an R1 Classified Institution by Carnegie foundation. He was visiting Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD and Guest Researcher at NIST in 2012 and Faculty Fellow at NASA in 2016. Dr. Abedi is founding Director of WiSe-Net Lab where he directs research programs in wireless communications and sensor networks. Dr. Abedi has completed 60+ funded research grants worth over $34M resulting in 115+ publications with over 44,000+ downloads and 1000+ citations. Dr. Abedi is Vice President of IEEE Council on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and served IEEE in multiple leadership positions since 2005 at state, region, national, and international capacities.

Mauricio P. Da Cunha • Professor of Electrical Engineering

Mauricio Pereira da Cunha, Roger Clapp Castle and Virginia Averill Castle Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Maine, and CEO of Environetix Technologies Corp., Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering (1994), Dean’s Honor List, McGill University, Montreal, PQ, Canada, 1994. Bachelor (1985) and Master’s with Honors (1989) in electrical engineering, Escola Politécnica, Universidade de São Paulo.

Mauricio has worked with the Microwave Devices R&D Group at NEC (Nippon Electric Co.), Brazil, Laboratório de Microeletrônica, Escola Politécnica, Department of Electrical Engineering, Universidade de São Paulo, McGill University, Montreal, PQ, Canada, and SAWTEK Inc., Orlando, FL. He passed a sabbatical year at University of Central Florida, Consortium for Applied Acoustoelectronic Technology (CAAT), Orlando, FL, where he worked in cooperation with Piezotechnology Inc. Mauricio was a Professor in the Department of Electronic Engineering, Universidade de São Paulo until he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Maine in 2001, where he presently holds the position of Professor.

Dr. Pereira da Cunha is a member of the IEEE, Sigma Xi, and of the Brazilian Microwave Society (SBMO). He is a reviewer and a past associate editor for the IEEE UFFC TRANSACTIONS, and he has been a member of the IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium Technical Program Committee since 1997. He has served as an elected society representative on the UFFC-Society Administrative Committee from 2002–2004, served as Technical Program Committee Chair for the IEEE Ultrasonics Symposium in 2007 and 2012, in New York, U.S.A., and Dresden, Germany, respectively, as the vice-VP for Ultrasonics from 2007-2008, and as the VP for Ultrasonics from 2009-10. He has more than 200 journal and conference publications and presentations in the area of microwave acoustic propagation, acoustic wave material properties, bulk and surface acoustic wave modeling and devices, and sensors.

Vijay Devabhaktuni • Norman Stetson Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Vijay Devabhaktuni is the Norman Stetson Professor and Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Maine, Orono, ME. His research interests include modeling of RF microwave circuits and Artificial Neural Networks.

Nadia El-Masry • Program Director, Future of Semiconductors, National Science Foundation

Nadia El-Masry is a program director for the Engineering Research Centers (ERC) in the division of Engineering Education and Centers (EEC), joined the EEC division in 2019. El-Masry was a full professor of Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University since 1996. Her research field is in “Spin Electronic” material and devices for memory devices, and “Semiconductor Material and Devices” for light emitting diodes and solar cells. During her tenure at NC State, she served at NSF as a program director (rotator) for the electronic and photonic materials (EPM) in DMR-MPS (2009-2012), and program director for the electronic, photonic, and magnetic devices (EPMD) in ECCS-ENG (2015-2017).

El-Masry has published 220 peer-reviewed publications, contributed 75 invited talks and conference presentations, and 6 issued patents. As a Professor at North Carolina State University, El-Masry has administered research funds from DOD, DOE, NSF, and DARPA funding agencies.

Nuri Emanetoglu • Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering

Nuri W. Emanetoglu, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA. He received his B.S. degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Istanbul Technical University, Turkey in 1995, and his M.S. (1998) and Ph.D. (2003) degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Rutgers University, NJ. He was a postdoctoral research associate at Rutgers (2003-2004), and an ORAU Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the US Army Research Laboratory (2005-2006) prior to UMaine. His research interests include modeling, fabrication and characterization of solid-state devices based on acoustic, optical, and electronic interactions and their applications to communications systems and sensor technologies. Dr. Emanetoglu has published 33 journal articles, 31 conference proceedings, one book and one book chapter, and he has eight patents. He is a member of the ASEE and IEEE.

Giovanna Guidoboni • Dean of Engineering and Computing

Giovanna Guidoboni is the inaugural Dean of Maine College of Engineering and Computing, which bridges engineering and computing programs for the benefit of all students across the University of Maine System. She previously served as associate dean for research and professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri, and is founder and manager of Gspace LLC, which provides modeling and computational solutions for complex problems in engineering and life sciences. Guidoboni also serves as co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the journal Modeling and Artificial Intelligence in Ophthalmology. She holds a doctorate in mathematics and both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in materials engineering from the University of Ferrara. 

Mustafa Guvench • Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of Southern Maine

Dr. Guvench received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics from Case Western Reserve University. He is currently a full professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern Maine. Prior to joining U.S.M. he served on the faculties of the University of Pittsburgh and M.E.T.U., Ankara, Turkey. His teaching, research interests and publications span the field of microelectronics including Analog I.C. design, MEMS and semiconductor technologies, and their application in sensor development, finite element and analytical modeling of semiconductor devices and sensors, and electronic instrumentation and measurement.

Brad Kinsey • Associate Dean of Engineering, University of New Hampshire

Brad Kinsey is the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) and a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of New Hampshire.  He is also the Project Director for NH BioMade (a $20M, 5-year NSF EPSCoR grant) and Director of the UNH Center for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Innovations (a collection of 25 faculty members across CEPS).  His research is on the mechanics, materials, and manufacturing innovations of deformation processes, and he has over 150 peer-reviewed publications.

Prof. Kinsey received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1992 and his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from Northwestern University in 1998 and 2001 respectively, in Mechanical Engineering.  His awards include Fellow status in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Fellow status in the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Associate Member status in CIRP (International Institution for Production Engineering Research), a CAREER Award from US National Science Foundation, the Ralph R. Teetor Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers, and the UNH Assistant Professor of the Year Award.  In 2013, he served as the Department of Energy Representative to the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office which coordinates the Manufacturing USA network (formerly National Network for Manufacturing Innovation).

Dan Koloski • Head of Learning Programs, Roux Institute at Northeastern University

Dan Koloski is the head of learning programs and professor of the practice in the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University’s Roux Institute. At the Roux Institute, Koloski carries administrative responsibility for all learning programs across degree and non-degree contexts. Professor Koloski’s own teaching is in analytics and its applicability in business, and in addition to his work within various Northeastern degree programs, he works with the Roux partnerships team to develop and teach custom non-degree courses to partner employees.

Koloski joined Northeastern after spending over twenty years in the IT and software industry, working in both technical and business management roles across large and small companies. Most recently, Koloski was vice president of product management and business development at Oracle. Before Oracle, he was CTO and director of strategy of the web business unit at Empirix, which he helped spin out and sell to Oracle.

Koloski holds a bachelor’s from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Steven Leibiger • Principal Technologist, Diode

Steven Leibiger is an MIT graduate with more than 35 years of experience in the semiconductor industry working in circuit design, design automation, technology development, and device engineering. Currently, he is leading the technology development team for Diodes Inc. in South Portland Maine. He has previously worked at Fairchild Semiconductor, National Semiconductor, ON Semiconductor, Analog Devices, and GlobalFoundries. 

Yong Liu • Principal Member of Technical Staff, Onsemi

Dr. Yong Liu is currently with ONSEMI in South Portland, Maine as a Principal Member of Tech Staff. His main interest areas are advanced analog and power electronic packaging, modeling and simulation, reliability and material characterization. He has been invited to give numerous keynotes talks, presentations and professional short courses in conferences, academic institutes and industry of US, Europe and Asia. He has authored and co-authored 4 books, 3 book chapters and over 180 papers in journals and conferences. He has been granted 53 US patents. He has received numerous IEEE Awards including 2013 IEEE CPMT Exceptional Technical Achievement Award and 2021 IEEE EPS Electronics Manufacturing Technology Award.  He was elevated as IEEE fellow in 2015.

Jeremy Qualls • Vice President for Research and Dean, University of Southern Maine

Dr. Jeremy Qualls currently serves as the Vice President of Research and Innovation and Dean of the College of Science, Technology, and Health at the University of Southern Maine. As a physicist and material scientist, Dr. Qualls has pioneered work on novel electronic ground states and interdisciplinary pedagogy. His work has led to numerous publications and major grant funded research projects. As Dean, Dr. Qualls leads fourteen academic programs as well as many cross-interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial programs. Since arriving in Maine in 2018, Dr. Qualls has led extensive growth and innovation within the college. Concentrating on academic excellence, scholarship, and tech transfer for the Southern Maine region, the college is quickly redefining what was once thought possible.

Rosemary Smith • Professor of Electrical Engineering

Rosemary L. Smith is a Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine.  She holds a joint appointment with the Frontier Institute for Research in Sensor Technology (FIRST), an interdisciplinary research center with focus on materials science.  Her research involves the investigation and development of micro and nano technologies with applications to analytical instruments and biomedical devices.  She earned her BS degree in Biomedical Electronics & Electrical Engineering from the University of Rhode Island and her PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Utah.  Her professional experience includes working as a visiting scientist at the Swiss Center for Microelectronics in Neuchatel, as the Sinclair Visiting Assistant Professor at MIT, and as Professor at the University of California in Davis, prior to joining UMaine.  She is an Associate Editor for the journal Biomedical Microdevices and is co-Chair of the Northern New England Chapter of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society.  She has authored or coauthored 164 peer reviewed articles in a wide range of technical and scientific journals including IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices, J. Micromechanics and Microengineering, Lab on Chip, Analytical Chemistry, Sensors and Actuators, J. Applied Physics and Nanotechnology.  Professor Smith has served as PI or co-PI on numerous federal research grants awarded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, USDA, and DARPA.  She collaborates with colleagues from diverse disciplines, including Marine Science, Biology, Chemistry, Neuroscience and Physics.  

Professor Smith teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in microelectronic device physics, microsystems engineering, nanotechnology and microfabrication technology.  She was the PI for two sequential NSF grants from the Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education program, with which two new UMaine courses on nanoscience were established, along with an instructional laboratory, a hands-on MOSFET fabrication shortcourse, and a Nanotechnology Minor.   She has served as thesis and research advisor to 18 PhD students and 25 MS degree students, and has supervised > 60 undergraduate researchers on microfabrication projects.  Many of her former student research assistants are employed by semiconductor manufacturing companies, including Texas Instruments, INTEL, Analog Devices, Diodes, NXP Semicond, HP and GlobalFoundries

Stephen Swan • MFAB Site Quality Manager, TI

Steve Swan graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1982.  Since that time he has held various engineering management positions in the semiconductor industry and is currently the Quality Engineering Manager at Texas Instruments in South Portland.   Steve is also a member of the Industry Advisory Board for the College of Engineering and Computing at UMaine and a Board Member of the Maine Space Grant Consortium.

Julia Upton • Associate Professor, College of Science and Humanities at Husson University

Julia was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, on the banks of the Caspian Sea. The daughter of a Russian army officer, Julia toured the former Soviet Bloc extensively, spending half a decade each in Kazakhstan and Hungary, before settling in St Petersburg, Russia. At age 16, Julia entered Moscow State University, Russia’s premier institution of higher learning. She distinguished herself studying symbolic logic in the Philosophy department, and at the age of 18 won an International Scholars competition which allowed her to come to the US to study at the University of Alabama, where she earned a BA in Philosophy and a BS in Chemical Engineering. Julia spent the next five years working as a process engineer and a research scientist before realizing that the corporate world wasn’t her cup of tea. She returned to the University of Alabama, where she earned her Ph.D. in Pure Mathematics.

Julia’s current research interests lie in the rapidly-growing and fascinating field of Quantum Computation. Her publications include The Hidden Subgroup Problem for Generalized Quaternions in Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Quantum, Nano and Micro Technologies, ICQNM 2010.

Julia’s love of learning has always gone hand in hand with her desire to teach, and she has taught not only mathematics, but philosophy, German, and Russian as well, to a variety of students, from undergraduates to (as a Graduate Fellow on a National Science Foundation GK-12 grant) high school and middle school students.

Kody Varahramyan • Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School

Dr. Kody Varahramyan received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1983. He was on the technical staff of IBM Corporation in Essex Junction, Vermont, from 1982-92. He then gained 25 years of academic experience as a faculty member and administrator, first at Louisiana Tech University from 1992-2008, and subsequently at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) from 2008-17. At Louisiana Tech, his appointments included the Entergy Distinguished Professor, associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering and Science, and director of the university-wide Institute for Micromanufacturing. At IUPUI he served as vice chancellor for research from 2008-15, and then as senior aide to the chancellor. He was also a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

Dr. Varahramyan’s research has focused on nanoscale materials, processes and devices, and their integration into nanosystems for medical, energy, environmental and information technology applications.

Dr. Kody Varahramyan joined the University of Maine in July 2017 as the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School. He has been responsible for supporting and guiding UMaine’s advancement as a world-class research university, with nationally and internationally recognized research and graduate programs of global impact and local relevance. These efforts have resulted in the highest levels of growth and development ever achieved in research and graduate studies at the university, including all-time high records realized in research funding and graduate enrollment since fiscal year 2020. 

Pips Veazey • Director, Portland Gateway

Pips Veazey serves as the Director of the University of Maine Portland Gateway, a dedicated office in Portland, Maine to help people and businesses across Maine access the vast array of research and education opportunities at Maine’s flagship research university. Prior to accepting the director’s position, she served as the Principal Investigator for the Alaska Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a major statewide program funded by the National Science Foundation and the State of Alaska aimed at increasing research capacity and the STEM workforce. Pips co-founded the EPSCoR Education, Outreach and Diversity (EOD) group, and served on both the Project Administrators and Directors Councils.

She led and co-created the University of Alaska Fairbanks Visualization Space, a high-resolution visual environment designed to enhance shared understanding among circumpolar researchers, community members and organizations; promote conversations about complex problems; and co-develop creative solutions. Her research includes time on and around the continent of Antarctica and the Greenland ice cap to examine the physical structures of ice over time.

Her current research focuses on enhancing effective leadership of large interdisciplinary science teams. She has worked with dozens of large research teams across the country to facilitate the co-development of research collaboration plans. She serves as a founding board member of the International Network for the Science of Team Science, a two-term board member for the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States and a recently elected board member of the Environmental and Energy Technology Council of Maine.

Jake Ward • Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development

James (Jake) Ward IV is the Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development. His office supports economic development by acting as a liaison for business and industry, facilitating technology transfer, and handling patenting, licensing and commercialization activities for the University of Maine. The office also supports federal and state government relations for the university’s R&D mission. Vice President Ward has served UMaine in various roles within the Department of Industrial Cooperation and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship since joining the university in 1990. Prior to joining the University of Maine, Vice President Ward worked in private industry in software development and manufacturing. He serves on the boards of state/industry organizations, including the Maine Technology Institute, FOR/Maine and SEA/Maine. Originally from Saco, he holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and an M.S. in ocean engineering from the University of New Hampshire.

Brian Whitney • President, Maine Technology Institute

Brian Whitney is President of the Maine Technology Institute, an organization established to diversify and grow Maine’s economy by encouraging, promoting, stimulating and supporting innovation and its transformation into new products, services and companies and, ultimately, the creation of quality jobs for Maine people.

He has extensive experience in economic development and legislative matters at both the state and federal level and has worked with innumerable companies, private and public sector research organizations, and entrepreneurial leaders throughout the State of Maine during his professional career.  He served previously as a private sector manager and in the public sector as Maine’s Director of Business Development & Innovation, the Director of Outreach and Economic Development for U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), a Business Development Specialist for the State of Maine, and as Chief of Staff to Maine’s Senate President.

He has served on, or staffed, a number of statewide boards including the Maine State Workforce Investment Board, the Maine Economic Growth Council, Maine Innovation Economy Advisory Board, Maine Venture Fund and the Maine Rural Development Authority.  He is currently a board member of the  Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Maine & Company, and the Economic Development Council of Maine.

Brian is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine (USM) and lives in Augusta with his wife and two daughters.

Rishi Yadav • Principal ASIC Engineer, Electronic Systems & Technologies Innovation Center MITRE

Rishi Yadav has nearly 3 decades of experience in microelectronics and semiconductor research and development, both commercial and government. He has hardware development expertise, especially in semiconductor devices and their integration into systems, with contributions in 20+ commercial products from Motorola, Cypress Semiconductors, and Altera Corp.  At MITRE, he has worked on leading cutting-edge chip development efforts for government sponsors.  Currently, he is a lead Subject Matter Expert (SME) for a major USSF program, MGUE Increment 2. He has lived the challenges of taking multiple system and semiconductor designs from idea to volume production. His areas of expertise are architecture and design methodologies for complex low-power hardware systems, and design and development of leading-edge technology ASICs, SoCs, and FPGAs.