Alan Sahakian
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and (by courtesy) Biomedical Engineering Senior Adviser to the Dean of the McCormick School of Engineering Faculty Chair of Lindgren Residential College of Science and Engineering, 1995-2000

PhD, Electrical and Computer Engineering (minor in CS), UW-Madison MS, Electrical Engineering, UW-Madison BS, Applied Science and Physics, UW-Parkside

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Professor Sahakian recently completed an eight-year term as the Chair of the EECS Department, and is now serving as Senior Adviser to the Dean of the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. While EECS Chair he hired over 20 new faculty and the US News rankings of the department’s three disciplines moved from 32 to 23 (EE), 28 to 18 (CE) and 35 to 30 (CS). Sahakian is also a member of the academic affiliate staff at NorthShore University HealthSystem (Evanston Hospital) in Cardiology. During his graduate studies he was a senior electrical engineer and microprocessor specialist at Medtronic, Inc. and also worked for Applied Electronics Consultants, Inc. designing and coding algorithms for patient monitoring and operating system software. He also served as a resident visiting scholar in the Center for Excellence in Reliability and Maintainability at the Air Force Institute of Technology Studying reliability science and fault-tolerant computing. Sahakian is a Fellow of both IEEE and AIMBE “for contributions to electrophysiology of atrial cardiac arrhythmias” and has served both as a Distinguished Lecturer and as the Vice President for Publications and Technical Activities for the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. He is currently an Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering and for Nature Publishing Scientific Reports (for the fields of Electronics, Photonics and Device Physics). While at Northwestern he received several teaching awards and chairs including the Bette and Neison Harris Chair, the Charles Deering McCormick Chair, the McCormick Teacher of the Year award, the McCormick Advisor of the year award and the Northwestern Alumni Association Teaching award. In addition to cardiac electrophysiology his lab studies electromagnetic and photonic methods of medical imaging and diagnostics, irreversible electroporation and RF ablation for cancerous tumors and other medical applications, and spintronic and other beyond-CMOS logic computational circuits and architectures. His recent research has been funded by the NIH, NSF, Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, Defense Intelligence Agency (through DOE), Intel and Medtronic. In his spare time he likes to rebuild classic cars and go to the gym. If you see a vintage Lotus or Porsche in the Sargent parking lot, it’s probably one of his projects. You’ll frequently see Alan eating lunch with the Slivkans in the Residential College Room at Sargent Dining Hall.
Alex Birdwell
Associate Professor of Instruction, Segal Design Institute

PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern MS, Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern BS, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech

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Professor Birdwell teaches many classes in both the mechanical engineering department and the Segal Design Institute. You might find him teaching DTC, DSGN 395, ME 220, ME 224, ME 240/340, and ME 398. In these classes, he emphasizes user-centered design and engaging with the real world. He is also an adviser for the MaDE program here at Northwestern as well as the co-director of the DTC program alongside Dr. Michele Zugnoni. He is also a co-advisor for the NU Robotics Club with Professor Nick Marchuk. In his free time he likes to hike, ride bikes, make pottery, bake, and play frisbee. Ask him about his one year old lab Wall-E.
Ilya Mikhelson
Associate Professor of Instruction, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

PhD, Electrical Engineering, Northwestern University, 2013 MS, Electrical Engineering, Northwestern University, 2011 BS, Electrical Engineering, Northwestern University, 2009

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Ilya is a professor in electrical and computer engineering. Outside of work, he likes playing tennis, running, and biking. He also fancies himself a decent dodgeball player, and tries to play IMs with Slivka when he can.
Arancha Alarcon
Professor of Instruction, Civil and Environmental Engineering

PhD, Civil Engineering, Universidad de Seville PhD, Civil Engineering, Northwestern University MS, Civil Engineering, Northwestern University BS & MS, Civil Engineering, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

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Arancha is a Professor in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department (CEE). You may see her teaching EA2, CivE 216 / BME 271, or DTC. She also teaches higher-level courses in CEE such as Structural Steel Design and Matrix Analysis of Structures. Prior to teaching at Northwestern, she worked for over five years for Halvorson and Partners on major building projects such as Torre Cepsa (previously Torre Repsol) in Madrid, which is currently the second tallest building in Spain and fourth in the European Union. She has a lot of stories and experience to share with Slivkans curious about the world of CEE. She is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Illinois and is a member of the Structural Engineering Association of Illinois (SEAOI) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Arancha received her PhD and MS in Civil Engineering from Northwestern University, studying the constitutive modeling of direct measures of strain in simulated fault gauge. She also received a PhD at the University of Sevilla and MS degree from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. She has received several teaching awards, including the 2020 Associated Student Government (ASG) Faculty Honor Roll for Excellence in Teaching, the 2018 Cole-Higgins Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the 2017 Associated Student Government (ASG) Faculty Honor Roll for Excellence in Teaching. Arancha loves going to Sargent for lunch or meeting Slivkans for coffee (many of them will end up in her classes!). In her spare time she likes spending time with her family, cooking and traveling.
Joe Kuechel
Operations Director, Ford Prototyping Lab

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Joe is the Operations Director of the Ford Prototyping Shop. He loves to talk about “shop stuff” and the manufacturing process with students who come to him, either for their DTC projects, or hobby projects of their own. He has 22 years of experience in the manufacturing field and has been at Northwestern for the last 7. He also enjoys golfing in his free time.
Joey Salvo
Graduate student, Department of Neurology, Human Neuroscience Lab

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Joey is a Neuroscience graduate student studying the networks responsible for complex behaviors like language, and how their activity and locations link them to sensory processing. He was once president of Slivka Hall and later president of the Residential College Board (RCB). When he's not analyzing brains, he enjoys hiking and drawing portraits on Post-it notes.
Karen C. Chou
Clinical Professor Emerita of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering Slivka Fellow (2012-) Faculty Chair of Slivka (2022-present)

BS, Civil Engineering and Math, Tufts University MS, Structural Engineering, Northwestern University PhD, Structural Engineering, Northwestern University

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Professor Chou (aka KChou) has over 40 years of academic and professional experience. Prior to “retirement”, KChou was Assistant Chair & Clinical Professor of Civil & Environment Engineering, founding coordinator of the Civil Engineering program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. That program became the second accredited civil engineering program in the State of Minnesota and first in over 60 years. In addition, she was a faculty member at Syracuse University, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and visiting faculty at University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Professor Chou was also a faculty research fellow at various U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy labs; consultant to research lab, engineering firms, children book publishers; structural engineer at Harza Engineering (Chicago, IL) and senior structural engineer with Paulsen Architects (Mankato, MN). Most recently, she was the Consulting Director of the material inspector training program at IUOE Local 150. KChou is a Fellow of ASCE, Fellow of Structural Engineering Institute, Envision Sustainability Professional, and a registered Professional Engineer in six states. She was recognized by ASCE national three times, 1999, 2012, and 2013, with a commendation for her exceptional service to the student chapters at Tennessee and Northwestern. She received the Tennessee ASCE Faculty of the Year and Advisor of the Year recognition numerous times. The Class of 2003 at Minnesota State placed a brick in her honor on the ground of the University’s Memorial Arch. In 2010, Professor Chou received the Distinguished Engineer Award from the Minnesota Federation of Science, Engineering and Technology Societies for her outstanding lifetime achievements in and service to the profession of engineering; in 2012 she received the Civil Engineer of the Year from Illinois Section ASCE; and in 2016 she received the T. William Heyck Award from the Office of Residential and Academic Engagement for her service as Slivka Fellow.
Kathleen Carmichael
Professor of Instruction, The Cook Family Writing Program, WCAS Faculty Chair of Slivka, 2019-2022 Associate Chair of Slivka, 2016-2019

PhD, English, Northwestern University

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leen Carmichael is Professor of Instruction in the Bobbie and Stanton Cook Family Writing Program where she teaches first-year seminars, intermediate composition, and Design Thinking and Communication (aka DTC). Kathleen also advises first-year, first-quarter students for the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and is happy to talk to Slivkans about her insights from fifteen years of first-year advising. Kathleen’s interests include satire, 18th-century British novels, and the complex ways that literature may drive public policy – an interest that informs her fall quarter seminar on literatures of addiction and her winter ecofiction class. She is currently excited to investigate how the emergence of generative AI tools, applied to writing tasks, may allow for a shift in academic writing – both teaching and practice – towards greater creativity and flexibility of form. Kathleen encourages Slivkans who have been experimenting with any kind of generative AI tools to share their findings and insights with her – she will be happy to pelt you with questions. Kathleen has been affiliated with the Slivka community since fall of 2011 when she became a faculty fellow. Subsequently Kathleen served as associate faculty chair (FQ 2014-SQ 2019) and faculty chair during the pandemic years (FQ 2019-SQ 2022). While Kathleen is proud to point out that Slivka Hall remained standing and largely undamaged at the end of her tenure as chair (if one discounts the mysterious theft of the letters S and V from the signage), she nevertheless deeply regrets her failure to inspire members of the community with universal reverence and affection for spiders of the Chicago wilderness, those masterful materials science engineers who may be seen adorning the exterior of Slivka in fall quarter. She encourages McCormick students in particular to consider these friendly arachnids as their colleagues and mentors in design engineering, from whom the thoughtful student may draw insight, inspiration, and relief from buzzing insects. Be kind – don’t harass the spiders! While Kathleen makes her institutional home on far south campus (555 Clark, to be precise) she may be found in the Sargent dining hall on P2P days where she lends an encouraging ear to Slivkans talking through their latest plans for world domination. Kathleen also enjoys attending Bienen concerts and encourages Slivkans to support their south campus friends by going to theater performances, attending student concerts, checking out the Block Museum, or just joining her for the Skyline Piano Series.
Ken Gentry
Professor of Instruction and McCormick First-year Adviser

PhD, Biomedical Engineering, Duke University BS, Marquette University, Milwaukee

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Ken is a first-year adviser in McCormick and also teaches DTC and Biomedical Engineering courses. He received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University. He likes biking to work, walking and running with his dog, reading books (sci-fi and non-fiction), and watching movies. He thinks Sargent food isn’t bad, but mainly goes for the company.
LaTanya Williams
Associate Director for STEM in the Office of Fellowships

PhD, Oncology and Cancer Biology, Northwestern University MS, Molecular Biology, Howard University BS, Biology, Howard University

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LaTanya is the Associate Director for STEM in the Office of Fellowships. Born and raised in Chicago, she developed a love of life sciences from her mother, who shared with her a strong interest in the human body and nutrition. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Howard University. She also got her PhD from Northwestern in 2014 and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at UIC with a focus on prostate cancer. LaTanya has more than a decade of experience in teaching and advising undergraduate and graduate students. She helps students and alumni to identify international and domestic external awards, and works with students one-on-one through the process. She enjoys spending time with her husband, a fellow scientist, and her two active, young sons who keep her busy and thoroughly entertained. She also enjoys reading biographies, traveling, and trying new restaurants.
Loren Yeager
Research Technician at the Department of Chemistry

MS, Chemistry, Loyola University Chicago

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Ms. Yeager is currently a research technologist at Northwestern University, where she serves as the laboratory manager of the Chemistry Department’s undergraduate teaching facilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Yeager has assisted the department with filming lab demonstrations for online learning components of lecture courses. In addition to being technically proficient, Ms. Yeager is also creative and has leveraged her knowledge of benchtop chemistry to reengineer a classic piece of lab equipment for which she was granted a U.S. patent. Prior to working at Northwestern University, Ms. Yeager worked as a technical consultant and is often called upon to support Northwestern University’s faculty and students with her expertise in environmental sampling and analysis. In this capacity she assists with the design and execution of collaborative projects undertaken by the university such as recent research into the atmospheric deposition of contaminants at the Gensburg-Markham Prairie in the greater Chicago area
SonBinh Nguyen
Professor of Chemistry

PhD, Chemistry, California Institute of Technology BS, Chemistry, Pennsylvania State University

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SonBinh is a Chemistry Professor and has been for 27 years. His research group studies catalysis, inorganic/organic materials, and nanoscale drug delivery. SonBinh teaches organic chemistry in the Spring and was the director of the Integrated Science Program. SonBinh is passionate about cooking and has hosted events in the past teaching Slivkans how to make healthy and budget-friendly meals. SonBinh also likes to survey the local food scene, occasionally hosting events to take Slivkans to Chicago’s Chinatown. If you have any questions about organic chemistry or getting involved in research feel free to reach out to SonBinh.
Suzan van der Lee
Sarah Rebecca Roland Professor of Earth and Planetary Science Director of Graduate Studies, Director of Computing, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, WCAS

PhD, Geological and Geophysical Sciences, Princeton University MSc, Geophysics (minors in: Physics and Mathematics), University of Utrecht

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Prof. van der Lee’s work investigates how plate tectonics started, how it is sustained, and when and how it will end. This research contributes to the idea that a secondary deep water cycle, through the transition zone, is a critical factor for sustaining plate tectonics. Suzan also harvests information from seismic waves generated by ambient dynamics in the Earth System and deduces source mechanisms of earth- and marsquakes. Part of the data that is analyzed is acquired through seismological field experiments. Suzan has participated in or led such experiments in four continents.
Tim Higgins
Campus Minister at Sheil Catholic Center

MDiv, Washington Theological Union, 1999 BA, Philosophy, Assumption College

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Tim is a Campus Minister at Sheil Catholic Center. Tim enjoys taking service trips with students to places such as New Orleans, Border of Mexico and Arizona and Detroit. He enjoys getting to know students at fellow/student lunches at Sargent, at Slivka and cultural events.
Vincent St-Amour
Associate Professor of Instruction, Department of Computer Science

PhD, Computer Science, Northeastern University, 2015 BS, Computer Science, Universite de Montreal, 2009

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Vincent is teaching faculty in Computer Science, and he's very pleased to consistently have a solid Slivka contingent in his classes. When he's not teaching, he loves music, cooking, biking, geeking out about any of those, and writing in the third person. He's a firm believer that taking oneself seriously is overrated, and still has not figured out, how to use commas, properly.
Wesley R. Burghardt
Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Associate Dean for Undergraduate Engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering Faculty Chair of Slivka Residential College of Science and Engineering, 2015-2016

PhD, Chemical Engineering, Stanford University MS, Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois BS, Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois

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Wesley R. Burghardt is an Associate Dean for Undergraduate Engineering, and as such, he is responsible for McCormick's undergraduate education program, including “the curriculum, professional development, and personal development.” Burghardt joined the Northwestern faculty in the 1990s, and has in the past served as chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, in which he is now a professor. His research interests seek to understand the dynamics of complex fluids during flow, and he has developed pioneering optical and X-ray scattering methods for studying the structural dynamics of polymers. He has been honored with teaching awards, including being named a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence in 2011.
Jade Basinski
Graduate student, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Chair of Slivka, 2021-2023

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Jade Basinski is the former Assistant Chair and coffee specialist! She is a PhD student in Environmental Engineering and has a background in computational chemistry. Please talk to her about anything related to food, coffee, film making, film watching, and the evolution of memes. She lived in China for her undergrad, so feel free to ask questions about studying abroad or traveling in Asia!
Xiaomin Bao
Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences, Weinberg Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology, Feinberg Member, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center

Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University School of Medicine PhD, Genetics, Iowa State University

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Peter J. Civetta
Assistant Professor of Instruction, Theater Department Lecturer, The Cook Family Writing Program Director, Office of Undergraduate Research

PhD, Theater Studies, Cornell University, 2005 MA, Theatre Studies, San Francisco State University, 2000 BA, Theatre, Boston College, 1989

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Peter Civetta is the director of the Office of Undergraduate Research in the Office of the Provost, running programs including the Undergraduate Research Grants (URG) and the Undergraduate Research and Arts Exposition. He advises students on grant proposals, works to foster undergraduate research across the University, and helps to develop new initiatives. In addition to his affiliation with the Writing Program, he is also an Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Theater Department, where he teaches on the intersection of performance and culture, particularly looking at the impact of religion, politics, and comedy. Peter received his BA in Boston College, before working for almost ten years as a professional actor. His research explores the performance of religious/spiritual/moral beliefs in contemporary American society, particularly focusing on the impact of preaching as cultural discourse. In Evanston, Peter runs the non-profit Extraordinarily Sophisticated Imagination Club, a theatre program where children improvise and create their own original plays.