2021 Distinguished Professor in Bioengineering and C.V. Starr Distinguished Professor of Engineering

POSTED ON: June 8, 2021

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Image of Professor Eric Lima and Associate Professor Mili Shah

The Albert Nerken School of Engineering has appointed Eric Lima, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, as the inaugural Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering and Mili Shah, Associate Professor of Mathematics, as the C.V. Starr Distinguished Professor of Engineering.

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Professor Eric Lima, Distinguished Professor in Bioengineering
Associate Professor Mili Shah, C.V. Starr Distinguished Professor of Engineering


Image of Professor Eric Lima.
Professor Eric Lima.

Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Eric Lima ME'02, has been appointed as the inaugural Distinguished Professor in Bioengineering. Awarded by the Deans of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering, the named professorship goes to mid-career, tenured, associate, or full professor faculty members with documented research accomplishments in bioengineering or a closely related field including peer-reviewed journal, conference papers, and presentations as well as evidence of scholarly collaboration with other institutions and/or corporations. The distinction lasts for three years and comes with a $35,000 annual stipend for research activities such as travel, research assistants, equipment, and supplies.

Lima received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University in 2008. His research focused on the regeneration of cartilage and bone using living cells. He built custom-designed bioreactors for orthopedic applications.

At The Cooper Union, he continues his tissue engineering research while bringing hands-on teaching and design expertise to the classroom. Lima crafted a prompt into the sophomore year “Introduction to Material Science” course, where students research novel filter materials to create smaller dialysis machines. Each year he has at least one bioengineering senior project, but this fall he will introduce two nephrology-related senior projects. “There is so much energy right now at Cooper Union for bioengineering research,” Lima shares. “I expect really great things to evolve over the next few years – we have the minor, we have the faculty, we have the funding for research, and we have the avenues for students to continue to graduate work or clinical work after they graduate.”

Lima is also co-directing a new program, Multidisciplinary Engineering and Renal Research for Innovation of Technology (MERRIT), with collaborators at Mount Sinai. The program is designed to introduce engineers to the challenges and opportunities in the field of Nephrology, a branch of medicine concerned with the physiology and diseases of the kidneys. This week, they welcome their first cohort of five undergraduate engineers who will begin research at Mount Sinai for the next ten weeks. “Their research topics will vary but will all center in some way around the kidney, which is an utterly fascinating organ, in many ways more complicated than the brain,” Lima adds.

The Distinguished Professor in Bioengineering is a byproduct of the $1.6M grant the Albert Nerken School of Engineering received last November. The grant raises awareness of bioengineering and biomedical education, research, and project activities, as well as providing funds for the professorship. For additional information on the grant, visit here.


Image of Associate Professor Mili Shah
Associate Professor Mili Shah.

Associate Professor of Mathematics, Mili Shah, has been named the 2021 C.V. Starr Distinguished Professor of Engineering. Awarded by the Deans of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering, the named professorship goes to mid-career, tenured, associate, or full professor faculty members with documented research accomplishments including peer-reviewed journal, conference papers, and presentations as well as evidence of scholarly collaboration with other institutions and/or corporations. The distinction lasts for two years and comes with a $20,000 annual stipend for research activities such as travel, research assistants, equipment, and supplies.

Shah received her Ph.D. from the Computational and Applied Mathematics Department at Rice University and served as an associate professor at Loyola University Maryland before her position at The Cooper Union. She has received grants for her research in applying mathematics to problems in computer vision and robotics from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), as well as for creating a STEM mentorship program from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Her current work focuses on body tracking algorithms as well as calibration and registration problems. This work has applications in computer vision, manufacturing, and robotics.

Shah has been collaborating with NIST, students, and co-teaching with several professors across the Cooper Union to design and build a robot hand and a mechanical hand, to study the role of domestic robots and designing and building a new domestic robot, and working to create collaborations between art and engineering focused on movement and body tracking. The list of professors includes Assistant Professors Neveen Shlayan, Jennifer Weiser, and Mark Luchtenburg from the School of Engineering; Assistant Professor Lydia Kallipoliti from The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture; and Media Lab Academic Support Technician and Adjunct Instructor Joao Enxuto from the School of Art. Shah is a strong believer in Cooper Union's mission to foster the intersections of study between Architecture, Art, and Engineering and continues her projects that link the three schools.

The Starr Foundation was established in 1955 by Cornelius Vander Starr, the founder of C.V. Starr & Co., Starr International Co., and other companies. Under Mr. Starr’s successor, Maurice R. Greenberg, the Foundation makes grants in education, medicine and health care, public policy, human needs, culture, and the environment.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

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