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Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Staff

Department of Chemical, Civil, and Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Jacob Borden, Assistant Professor
(337) 475-5917
Drew Hall 132

Dr. Borden received his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 1997 followed by a master’s degree from Auburn University in 1999. Dr. Borden joined Degussa Corporation (now Evonik) in the summer of 1999 as Assistant Superintendent at their chemicals facility in Mobile, AL. Dr. Borden worked in multiple operating units during his time at Degussa, and he also earned an MBA from Springhill College in 2002. Dr. Borden enrolled at Northwestern University in the fall of 2003, and earned a PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2007. Also in 2007, Dr. Borden joined BP as a project engineer for BP’s Refining and Technology unit. He managed multiple internal R&D projects before transferring to the Biofuels business unit in 2009, where he served as the lead design engineer for BP’s sugar-derived diesel (S2D) process development program. Dr. Borden joined the engineering faculty at McNeese State University in 2014, where he currently serves as Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering. His academic focus is the development of advanced energy technologies including petroleum and renewables. 

Dr. Pankaj Chandra, PE, Professor, Department Head
(337) 475-5856
Office: Drew Hall 142
Dr. Chandra has taught mechanical engineering and general engineering courses for 28 years at McNeese. During that time he has taught almost all required mechanical engineering courses in the curriculum, plus many of the general engineering courses. He holds BS and MS degrees from IIT Roorkee, India and PhD from Texas A&M in mechanical engineering. Prior to working at McNeese, Dr. Chandra worked for eight years in Metallurgical and Engineering Consultants of India (MECON). There he was involved in project management dealing with steel industry. During his graduate studies at Texas A&M, he served as a teaching assistant for engineering thermodynamics over a two-year period and as a lecturer teaching mechanics and thermodynamics for two years. In addition, Dr. Chandra was instrumental in developing a combined pipe-stress, heat transfer and a solar lab. The heat transfer experiments are used for the required mechanical labs as well as for research. The pipe-stress lab utilizes CAESAR II pipe-stress analysis software that is useful for working in petrochemical industry. Dr. Chandra has obtained many research grants including from NSF and NASA and has published many journal papers. Dr. Chandra has also coordinated several professional engineering review courses at McNeese. He received the Faculty Excellence Award in 2013 and the Distinguished Alumni Faculty Award in 2001.

Dr. Dimitrios Dermisis, Assistant Professor

Dimitrios Dermisis, Ph.D.
(337) 475-5859
Office: Drew Hall 133
Dr. Dermisis has taught at McNeese since 2012. He received his B.Sc. degree from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) in 2004 and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from The University of Iowa in 2007 and 2012, respectively. His research interests are hydraulic structures, river engineering, upland erosion processes, and coastal engineering. During his graduate studies he served as a teaching assistant for engineering labs over a four-year period as well as a research assistant on various projects for an eight-year period. He has published more than five journal papers and numerous conference papers. He has received various awards and he is currently a CITGO Petroleum Endowed Professor. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, International Association of Hydraulic Research, Soil and Water Conservation Society and American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. He also serves as a reviewer for the Journal of Hydraulic Engineering and the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation Society and he is a scientific editor for the Journal of Mountain Science.

Dr. John Griffith, PE, Professor
(337) 475-5858
Drew Hall 134
Dr. Griffith has taught chemical engineering and general engineering courses for 24 years at McNeese. During that time he has taught all required chemical engineering courses in the curriculum, plus many of the general engineering courses. He holds BS, MS and PhD degrees in chemical engineering and an MS in applied statistics. Prior to working at McNeese, Dr. Griffith worked for five academic terms as a co-op student in the phosphate fertilizer industry. There he made process improvements relating to environmental stewardship, reactor design and materials accountability. During his graduate studies he served as a teaching assistant for engineering thermodynamics over a five-year period with increasing levels of responsibility. After completing his PhD, he worked for three years as a U.S. patent examiner in the fields of bio-analytical instrumentation and chemical reactor apparatus. In addition to chemical engineering, while at McNeese, Dr. Griffith developed a graduate program (Master’s level) in process control that trains chemical and electrical engineering students in various aspects of control systems including model-based control, DCS systems, and statistical process control. Many of his former students are now senior control engineers at the local industries and beyond. Since 2002, Dr. Griffith has coordinated the process safety study group at McNeese, which sponsors four half-day seminars per year for local safety professionals. Material presented at these seminars is frequently discussed in his classes.

Dr. Nikos Kiritsis, Professor, Dean

Dr. Nikos Kiritsis
(337) 475-5857
Drew Hall 145
Dr. Kiritsis is Dean of the College of Engineering and director of the Institute for Industry – Education Collaboration. Prior to that Dr. Kiritsis taught mechanical engineering courses and served as interim director of the Research Services and Sponsored Program office. He holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Being dean of the college, Dr. Kiritsis oversees all outreach and recruiting activities and serves as the main liaison between industry and the College of Engineering. He is one of the founding members of the McNeese State University Innovation Center where he teaches Innovation Engineering courses and serves on the managing board of the McNeese Student Business Incubator. Dr. Kiritsis also holds an Incubator Management Certificate from the National Business Incubator Association.

Dr. Zhuang "John" Li, Associate Professor
(337) 475-5869
Drew Hall 115
Dr. Li received his Ph.D degree from Auburn University in 2005. He joined McNeese in 2008. He is also serving as the Associate Editor of the International Journal of Acoustics and Vibration. His research interests are in acoustics, mechanical vibration, and advanced signal processing. He has published more than twenty journal papers and book chapters. He has chaired various conference sessions. In the last seven years Dr. Li has been awarded research and educational funds of more than one million dollars. He also received the Faculty Excellence Award in 2009 and the Pinnacle Award twice in 2011 and 2014. He is a member of ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), IIAV (International Institute of Acoustics and Vibration), and ASA (Acoustical Society of America).

Dr. Jonathan Sullivan, PE, Associate Professor
(337) 475-5871
Drew Hall 124
Dr. Sullivan has been teaching general engineering and chemical engineering courses at McNeese since 2006. His chemical engineering Ph.D. dissertation research involved significant materials characterization work under the supervision of a metallurgical engineer. After graduation, Dr. Sullivan worked as a plant process engineer at the Farley Nuclear Power Plant in Columbia, Alabama. His work at the nuclear plant involved significant mass and energy balance calculations as part of routine system monitoring. His next job was as a research engineer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Materials Science and Engineering Department. 

LTC Ted Thompson (Ret), PE, Visiting Lecturer

Ted Thompson Photo
(337) 475-5864
Drew Hall 106
Mr. Thompson has taught civil engineering and general engineering course at McNeese, since January, 2000, in his role as a visiting lecturer. During that time he has taught general engineering courses of Introduction to Engineering and Computing, Statics, and Project Management; as well as Civil Engineering Course of Pavement Design, Transportation Engineering, and Structural Analysis. He holds BS and ME degrees in Civil Engineering from McNeese State University. LTC Thompson (Ret) has also taught a graduate level course at the US Army's Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, in addition to the Army's Command and General Staff Officer's Course at Ft Leavenworth and Ft Sill, OK. He has over forty years engineering experience, in the construction industry, working from entry-level position of project engineer up to running the local company where he was first employed. LTC Thompson (Ret) has experience in construction survey, form work design, estimating, cost control, scheduling, safety, and nearly thirty years as a project manager and group project manager. He is currently semi-retired, working part time, as a civil engineer/project manager, for another local construction company. Additionally, he is the first McNeese graduate to hold the State Presidents office of the Louisiana Engineering Society, and in 2014 was designated a Fellow by NSPE.  Ted is a registered Civil and Environmental Engineer and Land Surveyor-in-training, and currently is the Board Chairman, for the Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board. He is also a volunteer member of the NCEES' Fundamentals in Engineering Exam writing committee.

Dr. Faye Transvalidou, Visiting Assistant Professor
(337) 475-5250
Drew Hall 120
Dr. Transvalidou received her B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, followed by M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester in 1992 and 1996, respectively. Dr. Transvalidou joined Eastman Kodak Company in the summer of 1996 where she worked on assignments for various divisions of Eastman Kodak’s R&D organization contributing to product development teams until 2006. In October of 2006 Dr. Transvalidou joined Sun Chemical Corp. where she led ink/coating development projects. Dr. Transvalidou joined the engineering faculty at McNeese State University in 2015, where she currently serves as Instructor of Chemical Engineering. Her main interests are in nanotechnology, and novel materials and their applications.

Dr. Jay Uppot, PE, Professor
(337) 475-5868
Drew Hall 135
Dr. Uppot is a civil engineer with specialization in Geotechnical Engineering. He received his undergraduate and Master’s degrees from University of Madras and University of Roorkee, India. His Ph.D is from University of Missouri- Rolla. Dr. Uppot has been teaching engineering for 32 years in India, Liberia, Mexico, and the US where he taught at University of Missouri-Rolla, University of New Haven and McNeese State University (teaching civil engineering and surveying courses since 1986). He has practiced civil engineering for 12 years, 2 years in India and 10 years in Mexico City, Mexico. His areas of interest are geotechnical, highway and pollution control engineering. Being a registered civil engineer, Dr. Uppot consults in geotechnical engineering where he involves students in field-work and design.

Dr. Ning Zhang, Associate Professor

(337) 475-5873
Drew Hall 119
Dr. Zhang has been a research scientist in the field of computational fluid dynamics with applications in mechanical, aerospace, and hydraulic engineering for the past 15 years. He earned his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Kansas State University in 2005. He continued his postdoctoral research at the Urban Operational Laboratory, a United State Marine Corps (USMC) sponsored program from 2006 to 2008, where he was the lead scientist in two USMC funded projects to research and develop enhanced non-lethal capabilities and protective technologies for modernization of the Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad (MERS). Dr. Zhang joined the Department of Engineering at McNeese State University in 2008. At McNeese, Dr. Zhang led research including sediment and oil-spill transport in coastal water systems, aerodynamics of micro aerial vehicles, and simulation–based hydro turbine optimizations. Dr. Zhang has achieved national and international acclaim among his peers, particularly through numerous publications at peer-reviewed international journals, presentations at international conferences, as well as organizing numerous technical symposiums. He has served as Chair of ASME Computational Fluid Dynamics Technical Committee since 2014 (Vice Chair from 2012-14). Dr. Zhang has also served as the McNeese Institutional Coordinator to Louisiana Space Consortium (LaSPACE), and Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON).

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Dr. Seyed M. Aghili, PE, Professor, Department Head
(337) 475-5863 
Drew Hall 123 
Dr. Aghili is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and currently serving as the Head of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Louisiana. Dr. Aghili received his M.S. and PhD in Electrical Engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology. He received his B.S. in Industrical Technology-Plant Engineering and M.S. in Management Technology from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. His teaching and research interests are in E-learning in engineering, digital systems design, computer network engineering, network routing algorithms, microcontrollers, fuzzy logic controllers, artificial neural networks, and robotics. Dr. Aghili is a Microsoft Certified System Engineer and Cisco Certified Network Associate. He is a two-time Pinnacle Excellence Award recipient.

Dr. Paul Bender, Assistant Professor

Paul Bender
(337) 475-5800
Drew Hall 206
Dr. Bender is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Missouri State University, a M.S. in Computational Mathematics from Ohio University, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from Wright State University. These degrees were completed in 1998, 2004, and 2008 respectively. He is a member of the ACM and IEEE. Dr. Bender's research interests include various topics in operation systems and networking, including adhoc networks, real time systems, multimedia communications, and system security. The focus of his current research is on the application of sensor network technologies to the water driven ecosystems of Southwest Louisiana.

Dr. Michael Connella III, Assistant Professor
(337) 475-5845
Drew Hall 326
Dr. Connella is a graduate of Tulane University with a Ph.D. in Solid State Physics. He has a varied background in Rocket Technology, NASA 1yr; and McNeese, 22 yrs in Physics & Engineering Technology. He has taught various undergraduate courses in physics, instrumentation, electronics, and process technology as well as graduate courses in Electrical Engineering. He has also given several seminars on practical industrial controls. He has worked 22 years in the Petrochemical Industry for Olin Chemicals, ARCO, and Lyondell Companies. Because of his industrial experience, Dr. Connella serves as the distributed control system coordinator responsible for all DCS systems operated by the College of Engineering.

Dr. James Dennison, Professor
(337) 475-5860
Drew Hall 122
Dr. Dennison has been on the Engineering Faculty as a Full Professor of engineering for 19 years at McNeese State University where he has focused on teaching system sciences. During that time period he has also served as a resident Visiting Professor in Germany & Australia and as a resident Senior Fulbright Scholar in Romania. He was a finalist for a Senior Fulbright Scholar position in Indonesia for the 2015 / 2016 academic year. Prior to his McNeese tenure he taught engineering as a visiting professor at 3 different U.S. universities as assignments during his industrial career at IBM. His government experience includes 2 years as an Executive Fellow at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. (he advised the Technology Undersecretary on international competitiveness policy issues). He also served 2 summer sessions in Washington, D.C. as the Faculty Member in Residence guiding WISE interns (selected by all major professional organizations) on Public Policy issues. Jim worked for IBM as a Product Design Engineer and Project Manager for 30 years at several domestic and foreign laboratories. During that period he had multi-year expatriate assignments in Germany, France, and Japan. Jim was the technical Project Manager for several, internationally developed data storage devices; i.e., the IBM 3363 Optical Drive and Media (the world's first writable optical drive embedded in a PC). After his IBM career, he was V.P. in a start-up company to develop an optical RAM device. Dr. Dennison received BSEE, MSEE, & Ph.D. degrees from Michigan State, Syracuse, and Colorado respectively and was honored as an IBM Resident Study Fellow for 3 years at Colorado. His publications include several invention disclosures, many IBM technical articles, a journal article, and a few conference papers.

Brent Garner, Associate Professor
(337) 475-5855
Drew Hall 316
Brent Garner is a graduate of McNeese State University with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and of Southern Methodist University with an M.S. in Electrical Engineering. His industrial career spanned about a decade, working in the defense electronics industry for Honeywell in New Mexico and for Raytheon in Texas. His primary duties included hardware and software design of microprocessor-based embedded boards and systems, as well as development of automated test systems. He has taught at electronics engineering technology and electrical engineering courses for 20 years at McNeese. Mr. Garner is currently an Associate Professor of Engineering Technology as well as the program coordinator of the electronics and instrumentation programs at McNeese. He previously spent four years as the Department Head of the Dept. of Engineering Technology. His primary areas of teaching include Programmable Logic Devices (PLDs) and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), and he is a member of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Mr. Garner has taught PLC courses for engineering technology as well as PLC labs for the engineering programs at McNeese. In addition, he has taught PLC short courses for local engineers and technicians and a 2-week PLC course to Iraqi engineers for a world-wide training company. He has used his industry and education background to teach such courses as electronic/semiconductor devices, op amps, digital circuits with PLDs, and electronic bench instrumentation.

Dr. Kaisar Khan, Assistant Professor

Kaiser Khan
(337) 475-5865
Drew Hall 121
Dr. Khan completed his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Central Florida (UCF), Orlando in 2008. He then went on to join the University of Ottawa as a post-doctoral fellow. In 2012, Dr. Khan joined State University of New York (SUNY) Canton as an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering. At SUNY Canton he was active in developing power system courses and ABET accreditation process of newly developed four-year program. He joined McNeese as an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering in August 2014 and active in developing new courses in power system and energy conversion. Dr. Khan involved in several industry-collaborative, multidisciplinary research projects on computational electromagnetic, power-system planning, high-speed electrical machine design, and optimum control. He has more than 50 publications in peer reviewed journals and international conference proceedings. Prior to resuming his Ph.D. in the USA, Dr. Khan was working as an engineer in the nationalized rural power distribution as well as in state owned telecommunication service provider in Bangladesh from where he completed his electrical engineering undergraduate education. He is also a licensed professional engineer of Ontario, Canada. Dr. Khan is active in professional organization such as IEEE by providing advising to the student branches, participate in conferences and work shop as we as reviewing journal and conference papers. His current research focus is to implement renewable energy sources and co-generation units in the grid connected power system with high reliability and quality of service. 

Kay Kussmann, Assistant Professor

(337) 475-5801
Drew Hall 207
Ms. Kussmann is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics Education from Louisiana Tech University, and a M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Southwestern Louisiana. Her research interests include databases, data mining, data warehouse, artificial intelligence, robotics, gaming, cloud computing, and computational modeling. She is a past Pinnacle Excellence Award receipient.

Dr. Chengwei Lei, Assistant Professor

Drew Hall 212
Phone #: (337) 562-4222

Dr. Chengwei Lei joined the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2014. His research interests lie in the broad area of bioinformatics, data mining, network topology analysis, and clustering problems. He received his Ph.D. in August 2014 from the Department of Computer Science in The University of Texas at San Antonio. Before that, he received his M.S. in Computer Science from University of Texas at San Antonio(2008), Computer Science and Technology from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics(2005), and second B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics(2005).

Dr. Qiu Liu, Assistant Professor
(337) 475-5849
Drew Hall 314
Dr. Liu has taught engineering technology, electrical engineering and general engineering courses for 12 years at McNeese. She holds B.S., M.S. in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. degree inn industrial engineering. Prior to working at McNeese, Dr. Liu worked in the Department of Electrical Engineering in Sichuan University, China and as a computer engineer for the cement industry. During her Ph.D. studies she served as a teaching assistant for manufacturing and industrial engineering for four years. After completing her PhD, she started her career at McNeese. First she taught electronics and instrumentation courses in the Department of Engineering Technology. As the engineering technology programs are getting phased out, Dr. Liu is transitioning to full time electrical engineering teaching duties. Simultaneously, she does research on engineering education and serves on college and university committees.

Dr. Vipin Menon, Assistant Professor
(337) 475-5806
Drew Hall 204
Dr. Menon received his PhD in Computer Science from Tulane University in 2007 and joined McNeese that year. He is a professional member of the ACM, IEEE, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), Mathematical Association of America (MAA), and American Mathematical Society (AMS). Dr. Menon's primary research interests include Artificial Intelligence, Databases and Data Mining. His secondary interests are Algorithms, Web Technologies, and Computer Science Education. Dr. Menon serves on the Steering Committee of the CCSC-SC (covering Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma) and was Conference Chair at the 25th Annual Conference of the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges, South Central Region at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas in April 2014. Courses taught by Dr. Menon at McNeese include Csci  180, 281, 308, 102, 284, 241, 309, 419/549, 425/555, 426/556, 415/545, 619, 631, 637, 601, and a variety of special topics courses which are taught as advanced courses at the graduate level such as Neural Networks, Computational Geometry, Complexity Theory, Parallel and High Performance Computing, and Data Mining.

Loretta Spruel, Instructor

(337) 475-5771
Drew Hall 205
Ms. Spruel, an instructor of Computer Science, earned a B. S. degree in Computer Science from Southern University A & M College, a M. Ed. degree in Educational Technology from McNeese State University, and a M. S. degree in Computer Information Systems from Nova Southeastern University. Ms. Spruel’s teaching and research interests are in computer information systems, information systems, database management systems, data mining, E-Learning in computer science and higher education administration. She has taught computer science, computer application and information systems courses for several years. She simultaneously teaches courses in three formats, face-to-face, hybrid, and online.  She is a Certified Online Instructor. Her administrative career spanned over 18 years, including working as a Programmer, System Analyst and Research Analyst in the Institutional Research and Data Processing department; and as a Distance Learning Coordinator in the E-Learning department at McNeese, prior to joining the department.


Nancy Brignac - Administrative Assistant

Department of Chemical, Civil, and Mechanical Engineering
Phone (337) 475-5874
Fax (337) 475-5286
Drew Hall 140

Dianne Rathbun - Administrative Assistant

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Phone (337) 475-5854
Fax (337) 475-5292
Drew Hall 324

Dennis Bennett - Mechanical Laboratory Technician

Staff Photo Dennis Bennett
Phone (337) 475-5872
ETL 116