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John Crassidis,Hui Meng and Thenkuruss "Kesh" Kesavadas

Newly elected fellows are, from left, John Crassidis, Hui Meng and Thenkuruss "Kesh" Kesavadas

Engineering trio elected fellows

By KEVIN STEWART

Published May 22, 2014

Within the past year three faculty members in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering were elected as fellows by the national professional organizations in their respective specialties in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in their fields.

John Crassidis was elected a fellow of the American Astronautical Society (AAS), Thenkuruss “Kesh” Kesavadas was elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Hui Meng was elected a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

While all three represent the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, their individual interests speak to the diversity of the discipline.

Crassidis, CUBRC Professor in Space Situational, was elected to AAS “for outstanding contributions in spacecraft attitude estimation and space situational awareness applications.”

He works with NASA, the Department of Defense and other agencies to monitor space debris, also known as space junk, which threatens satellites and future space missions.

There is no cost-effective way to remove space debris, so researchers like Crassidis are developing ways to better track the thousands of manmade objects that orbit Earth. His latest project is LANSAT, or Lightcurve Analyzing NanoSATellite, a U.S. Air Force-funded project that NASA plans to send into space in two years.

In addition to teaching and conducting research at UB, Crassidis serves as associate director of the Center for Multisource Information Fusion (CMIF), an organization operated by UB and CUBRC that works to streamline massive amounts of data into useful information for government agencies, business and other partners.

A three-time UB alumnus — PhD ’93, MS ’91 & BS ’89 — Crassidis joined the UB faculty in 2001.

Kesavadas, a UB faculty member since 1996 and director of UB’s Virtual Reality Lab, has published more than 125 papers in the areas of robotics and automation, haptics, virtual reality and medical simulation. He was elected to ASME “for outstanding engineering achievements.”

Among his more recent projects, he collaborated with researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute to produce the Robotic Surgical Simulator (RoSS), which allows surgeons to practice skills needed to perform robot-assisted surgery without risk to patients. He co-founded Simulated Surgical Systems LLC to market RoSS and received the 2001 Entrepreneur of the Year award from UB.

He also co-founded Tactus Technologies, a local company that provides virtual reality, visualization and simulation products and services. Tactus Technologies developed a first-of-its-kind, virtual-reality training program for forklift operators, a product that is expected to reduce work-related injuries and deaths.

Meng, who also applies her engineering knowledge to medical fields, was elected to the AIMBE “for outstanding contributions to understanding the roles of high wall shear stresses and spatial gradients in vascular pathology.”

She studies fluid dynamics — using these principles to examine the movement and characteristics of blood as it travels through the human body — and is particularly interested in the relationship between blood flow and brain aneurysms.

A prolific scholar, she has published more than 120 academic papers. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke.

Among her numerous honors is a UB Exceptional Scholar Award Sustained Achievement Award, which recognizes a researcher’s work that has “garnered public and/or professional accolades beyond the norm.”