Students Help Advance Fight Against Breast Cancer

Posted March 4, 2015

wne_engineering_logojpgA device designed to improve breast cancer lumpectomy procedures and reduce the risk of infection was developed as part of an engineering and business Senior Design Project, and was recently awarded a U.S. patent no. 8,932,251. The device will make it easier to transition from lumpectomy surgical procedures to radiation treatment. The patent is assigned to Western New England University.

“Existing devices leave a catheter on the outside of the breast prior to positioning an applicator within the breast. This causes a greater risk for infection,” explained Dr. Steven Schonholz, a breast surgeon and director of the Center for Comprehensive Breast Health at Noble Hospital in Westfield, MA. “Our device removes this risk.” 

The Biopsy Spacer device and method of operation dr_steven_schonholzjpgwas invented in 2011 by a team including Dr. Steven Michael Schonholz, students Christopher Baltazar, Brian Kozniewski, Stephen Lauzon, Teresa Mitchell, Yah Laetitia Sangne, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Glenn E. Vallee, Professional Educator James C. McKeon, and Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Robert T. T. Gettens. 

“Students absolutely love working on projects that directly impact people. Having an opportunity to work with a surgeon on the front lines of the fight against breast cancer gives students such a great feeling of accomplishment,” explained Professor Gettens. “Working collaboratively with Dr. Schonholz has been such a positive experience. He’s a true innovator and a fantastic person.”   

“The students were amazing. They developed multiple concepts and ultimately designed a prototype,” remarked Dr. Schonholz. “Working with Western New England University allows me to use their experience while explaining a medical procedure and what might improve it.” Dr. Schonholz collaborated with the Western New England University students and faculty on the project when he was the medical director of the Breast Care Center at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield.

For a complete description of the device click here.


SIAM Student Chapter Formed at Western New England University

Posted March 4, 2015


This past September Western New England University received acceptance by the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) to begin a student charter. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Adam M. Fox, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, and Dr. Qazi E. Hoq, Associate Professor of Mathematics, over 40 University students became charter members of SIAM.

“The main purpose of SIAM is to introduce students to the many applications of mathematics in the world around them through lectures, panel discussions, field trips, and workshops”, says Dr. Fox. “The chapter facilitates engagement between University students, industry leaders, and the greater applied mathematics community,” added Dr. Hoq. Fox and Hoq are faculty advisers to the chapter.

L to R: John Connelly, Sarah Vogel (Chapter President), Ivan Bylinkin, Enam Hoq (faculty advisor), Jake Fishter (Chapter Treasurer), Emily Gahr, Adam Fox (faculty advisor), Kelsey Hawkins (Chapter Secretary). Absent from photo Chapter Vice President Tianna Procon.

SIAM engages participation by students and faculty from many departments on campus including math, applied math, mathematical sciences, statistics, computer science, engineering, economics, physics, and other sciences. The purpose of a chapter is to generate interest in applied mathematics and computational science by providing students opportunities.

The activities of student chapters can include lunch discussions about career opportunities in applied math and computational science, lectures given by guest speakers, team projects such as undergraduate competitions, social functions, and field trips to industrial laboratories, and SIAM section meetings.

“Our biggest event in the fall was a panel discussion about internships. The students enjoyed the discussion and benefited from the advice of the four panelists,” says Sarah Vogel, Chapter President, “Future events include trips to Google on March 11 and on March 27, the group will visit Twitter. In addition, we plan to bring a bio-medical engineer in to speak about research and careers in that area. There will also be an event discussing career advice in fields that involve mathematics.”

Student membership in SIAM is free. For more information about the chapter or to join, e-mail


NCAA Vice President Dan Dutcher to Speak at Western New England University on March 11

Posted March 3, 2015


Dan Dutcher, NCAA Vice President for Division III, will be the 20th speaker in the Center for International Sport Business (CISB) program series, “For the Love of the Games.” Dutcher’s presentation will take place on Wednesday, March 11 at 7 p.m. in the Lyman and Leslie Wood Auditorium (formerly Sleith Hall). Dutcher joined the NCAA in 1986 as a legislative services assistant before being promoted to Director of Legislative Services in 1991, and then to his current position on the NCAA President’s Cabinet in 1996. 


The theme of Dutcher’s talk is “World of Opportunities in NCAA Division III.” This event is free and open to the public, and is made possible by a generous grant from the Western New England University Alumni Association.

curt_hamakawa_web.jpgCISB Director Curt Hamakawa and Dutcher were NCAA colleagues at the beginning of their respective careers. Hamakawa said, "The University is fortunate, indeed, to have a person of Dan Dutcher’s stature and experience pay a visit to Western New England University to talk about some of the hot topics in intercollegiate athletics.”

Prior to joining the NCAA, Dutcher worked as an attorney for Hobbins and Martin in Saco, Maine, Dutcher’s home state. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Dutcher earned his law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law.

Established in 2007, the CISB is a forum for the study of the business of sport with an international emphasis. In addition to the distinguished speaker programs that bring prominent personalities from sport and business to the University community, the CISB organizes a summer Seminar Abroad program that takes students to the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup.

For more information, contact Curt Hamakawa at 413-782-1786 or


Kemba Smith to Speak About the U.S. War on Drugs and Her Personal Tragedy

Posted March 2, 2015


On March 10, Western New England University will host a presentation with inspirational speaker Ms. Kemba Smith-Pradia, in Rivers Memorial Hall, at 6:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

Growing up as an only child in Richmond, VA, Kemba Smith-Pradia graduated high school and continued her education at prestigious Hampton University. In an attempt to “fit in” as a college student, Kemba associated with the wrong crowd and became involved with a drug dealing boyfriend. He was a major figure in a crack cocaine ring and drew Kemba right in the middle of his life with physical, mental, and emotional abuse disguised as “love.” 

Before she knew what was happening, Kemba was convicted on a drug charge and sentenced to 24 years in federal prison. Kemba’s drug dealing boyfriend was later murdered in prison while she gave birth to their son while she was incarcerated. 

Fortunately, Smith regained her freedom after President Clinton granted her clemency in December 2000. Kemba had already served 6 years of her sentence. Her case drew support from across the nation and the world to reverse a disturbing trend in the rise of lengthy sentences for first time non-violent drug offenders.

“We are hoping that Kemba’s traumatic real-life story will help students to recognize that there are consequences to their choices and especially the relationships they develop,” explained Yvonne Bogle, assistant dean of Diversity Programs and Services. “The desire to fit-in and be accepted by peers is a powerful draw for students and they need to understand just where their choices may lead,” Bogle added. 

This event is sponsored by the Western New England University Office of Diversity Programs and Services.


Six Join Engineering Faculty at Western New England University

Posted March 2, 2015

Western New England University President Dr. Anthony S. Caprio announced the appointment of six new members of the faculty at the University’s College of Engineering this academic year.

sm_newfaculty109_mohamed_almekkawyjpgMohamed Almekkawy was named Visiting Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Almekkawy received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1998 from Ain Shams University in Egypt. He received a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in 2006 from Cairo University.

Almekkawy worked at Siemens and the Ukrainian Space Agency. He also worked at the National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Science and as a consultant at Samsung Research American.

He received his second Master of Science in Electrical Engineering with additional minor in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, and received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering also from University of Minnesota in May 2014.

His dissertation work on optimization of focused ultrasound and image based modeling provides a new insight into the fundamental limits of liver tumor treatment. Dr. Almekkawy has received several academic awards including, the Science and Tuition Fellowship from City University of New York, and the Conference Travel Award from University of Minnesota. He is a member of the technical Committee on Therapeutic Systems of IEEE EMBS.

Dr. Almekkawy’s research interests broadly include signal processing, medical imaging, numerical modeling of acoustic waves and the corresponding heat generation, optimization in biomedical ultrasonic and medical devices applications. He is also a Microsoft Certified Professional.

sm_newfaculty115_behzad_behniajpgBehzad Behnia was named Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering. Dr. Behnia received his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2013. Prior to joining Western New England University he worked as postdoctoral research associate at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include Health Monitoring of Infrastructures (Railways, Roads, and Bridges), Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure Systems, Materials Behavior Characterization, Experimental and Computational Mechanics, and Finite Element Modeling.

During the course of his doctorate degree, Dr. Behnia developed an innovative, rapid, and practical health monitoring acoustic emission-based (AE-based) method to evaluate low temperature cracking behavior of asphalt roads. The developed AE-based device is portable and provides a greater depth of information to the point that it helps civil engineers determine the best course of action in terms of timing for preventative maintenance of roads.

Dr. Behnia has been an active member of the academic and social communities. He served on various technical committees, organized several workshops, and served as the reviewer of seven academic journals. He has authored or coauthored several peer reviewed journal papers, conference publications, and technical reports.

yousef_haselijpgYousef Haseli was named Visiting Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Previously, he was a postdoctoral associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands with a dissertation on biomass pyrolysis and combustion. He has conducted research on various subjects in the field of thermofluids and energy sciences for over a decade.

His expertise includes Thermochemical Conversion of Biomass, Energy Conversion Systems (e.g., integrated and combined power cycles), Clean Energy/Fuel Production, and Heat Exchangers.

His research activities have led to 24 journal articles, two book chapters, one book, and numerous conference papers with over 400 citations.

He is a recipient of several awards, the most distinguished one being the Academic Gold Medal Award of the Governor General of Canada. He has authored a book titled Thermodynamic Optimization of Power Plants which provides a fresh look at the thermodynamics of various types of heat engines and power plant models; it has been reviewed and highly regarded by renowned scientists in the field. He serves as a reviewer for over ten international journals.

sm_newfaculty099_seunghee_kimjpgSeunghee Kim was named Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Kim received his Ph.D. from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA. He then served as an instructor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He conducted a post-doctoral study at the Bureau of Economic Geology in the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Kim’s areas of interest include hydro-chemo-thermo-mechanically coupled phenomena in many energy/environmental applications, underground utilization, and energy efficiency in geo-material related processes.

sm_newfaculty103_seyed_niknamjpgSeyed A. Niknam was named Visiting Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management. He received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He then completed his Master of Science in Advanced Manufacturing System at Brunel University, UK.

After working in industry, Dr. Niknam joined Wichita State University where taught engineering graphics. He then moved to The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) where he completed his master in Reliability and Maintainability Engineering with specialization in prognostics in 2011.

Niknam received his Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from UTK in 2014. During his graduate study, he was teaching the core courses in the Reliability and Maintainability Program at UTK. He was also involved in a number of industrial and federally funded projects during his time at UTK.

Dr. Niknam’s research interests include reliability and maintainability engineering, prognostics and health management, and life extension of engineering systems. He is a member of Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

sm_newfaculty126_anthony_santamariajpgAnthony D. Santamaria was named Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Santamaria comes to Western New England from Berkeley National Laboratory where he worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD), a Department of Energy funded research center that focuses on the development of next generation energy conversion and storage systems.

He completed his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2012 at the University of California, Davis focusing on nuclear imaging of hydrogen fuel cell and lithium polymer battery systems. During his doctoral studies he was awarded a Daimler Fellowship and worked for a summer in British Columbia, Canada at the Daimler and Ford subsidiary Automotive Fuel Cell Corporation (AFCC). In 2011 he earned a Business Development Fellowship and participated in entrepreneurial courses at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. Dr. Santamaria holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is a local to the area having grown up in Monson, MA.

Dr. Santamaria’s research interests revolve around electrochemical energy systems including fuel cells, batteries and flow batteries. He uses nuclear imaging methods as well as microfluidic techniques to understand fundamental physics within these technologies in hopes of improving their performance and reducing costs. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed international journal articles as well as conference proceedings.


More Headlines:

University Luxton Speaker Series to Presents Immigrant Story "A Home Away from Home?" 
Sport Management Alumni Return to Campus to Discuss Their Careers in Sport
Students Explore Corporate Law with Attorneys from LEGO and Smith & Wesson
The MFA in Creative Writing Winter 2015 Residency
Western New England University Students Visit Amsterdam
More News...

Follow Us!



Media Contacts

Brian Zelasko
Director for Media and Community Relations
office: 413-796-2261

Dave Stawasz
AVP for Marketing Communications
office: 413-796-2026
mobile: 413-214-8001

In The Media

Andrea St. James
Huffington Post

Dr. Michael Meeropol

Dr. Jennifer Mallory
Keen Network

Professor Erin Buzuvis
Inside Higher Ed

Michelle Kowalsky
Business West


Athletics News

Contact Information

For more information about a news item or to list an event, please email the Office of Marketing and Communications, or call 413-782-1626. For all other requests pertaining to the Western New England University, please use our contact forms.