Department welcomes five new faculty members


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering is proud to welcome Saurabh Basu, Ethan X. Fang, Jingjing Li, Charles Purdum and Sarah Root as its newest faculty members.

Basu, a postdoctoral scholar under Christopher Saldana, assistant professor of manufacturing at the G.W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech, has been hired as an assistant professor. 

Prior to his appointment at Georgia Tech in 2014, Basu was a graduate researcher under M. Ravi Shankar in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

His research interests are in advanced manufacturing, manufacturing processing and additive manufacturing.

Basu earned doctoral and master’s degrees in industrial engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2014 and 2011, respectively. He received a Bachelor of Technology degree in production engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Trichy (India) in 2009.

Fang comes to Penn State as an assistant professor and will be splitting time between the Marcus department and the Department of Statistics in the Eberly College of Science.

Fang received his doctoral degree in operations research from Princeton University in 2016 and has bachelor’s degrees in statistics and mathematics from the National University of Singapore.

He earned numerous awards and honors during his time at Princeton, including: Mathematical Programming Society Best Paper Prize for Young Researchers in Continuous Optimization (2016); Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) Laha/Travel Award (2016 and 2015); Eastern North American Region International Biometric Society Distinguished Student Paper Award (2016); and Princeton University Graduate Fellowship (2010).

Fang’s research interests include high-dimensional statistics, survival analysis, large-scale optimization, stochastic optimization and the application of genomic studies, clinical trials and personalized medicine. 

Li has been hired as the William and Wendy Korb Early Career Professor. She comes to Penn State from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she was an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering for five years. 

Li is a 2016 recipient of the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, and is a guest editor for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering.

Before arriving in Hawaii, Li was a research intern for the Manufacturing Systems Research Laboratory and the Chemical Sciences and Materials Systems Laboratory of General Motors’ Research and Development Center in Warren, Michigan. 

Her primary research interests lie in materials processing and characterization—particularly on novel methodologies for multi-scale material characterization, mechanical behavior, failure analysis and the effect of microstructure on macroscopic properties. 

She earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering in 2011 and a master’s degree in statistics in 2010, both from the University of Michigan. She also earned a master’s degree in materials science and engineering from Tsinghua University (Beijing, China) in 2005 and a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering from Beihang University (Beijing, China) in 2002.

Purdum will join the department as an instructor following four years as a director of business development for Gainsystems, Inc. in Chicago. He will also serve as a faculty liaison to the Service Enterprise Engineering board of directors.

Purdum has more than 20 years of industry experience in business development, operations management and team building.

He is a member of the American Production and Inventory Control Society, American Society for Quality, Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Institute for Supply Management and Project Management Institute.

Purdum holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from West Virginia University and an M.B.A. from the University of Massachusetts.

Root will take on the position of instructor and academic adviser in the Marcus department. She comes to Happy Valley after seven years in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Arkansas.

She was presented with the Best Teacher Award the last two years by the department’s student body and earned the Mother Goose Award in 2013-14 and 2012-13 for “having the best stories and engaging students in the classroom.” 

Root served as a member of the Distinguished Lecture Committee at the University of Arkansas and the college’s Honors Committee since 2007. She was also the Honors Director for her department from 2007-2013.

Root earned a doctoral degree in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan in 2007 and a B.S. in industrial engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002.

Basu, Fang, Li, Purdum and Root will begin their appointments for the fall 2016 semester.


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Pamela Krewson Wertz 



Home of the first established industrial engineering program in the world, the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME) at Penn State has made a name for itself in the engineering industry through its storied tradition of unparalleled excellence and innovation in research, education, and outreach.

We are Innovators. We are Makers. We are Excellence in Engineering. We are Penn State IME.

The Harold and Inge Marcus Department of
Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

310 Leonhard Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-7601

FAX: 814-863-4745