College of Engineering Welcomes New Associate Dean for Research Jan. 1

Sandra Eksioglu
Photo Submitted

Sandra Eksioglu

College of Engineering Dean Kim Needy has appointed Sandra Eksioglu as the college's interim associate dean for research, replacing Heather Nachtmann, who will step down to focus on other professional opportunities. Eksioglu assumes her new duties Jan. 1.

Eksioglu joined the college in 2019 as the John M. and Marie G. Hefley Professor in Logistics and Entrepreneurship. Her academic interests include operations research, network optimization and algorithmic development, and her work has been funded by National Science Foundation and U.S. departments of energy, transportation and homeland security.

The college recruited Eksioglu from Clemson University, where she was an associate professor. Prior to that, she served on the faculty at Mississippi State University. She received her Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Florida.

The National Science Foundation awarded Eksioglu a CAREER Award in 2011, and she has garnered numerous teaching and mentorship awards, including the College of Engineering's Imhoff Teaching Award in 2021. The U of A selected her for the SEC Academic Leadership Development Program in 2021, and she was named a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers earlier this year.

"During my career, my research has benefited from the different programs organized and supported by the dean's office. I am excited to give back, and I am honored for the opportunity to serve the College of Engineering in this role," she said. "I look forward to working with our dean's office to support and promote the research activities of our faculty."

Needy said she hopes Eksioglu will accept a five-year appointment after the initial interim term expires.

"I have tremendous confidence in Dr. Eksioglu's leadership abilities and extensive research experience and look forward to her help in cementing our vision for the college's continued research excellence and output," Needy said.

portrait of Heather Nachtmann
Heather Nachtmann

Nachtmann served as associate dean from 2014 to 2020 and August 2021 to present. She will continue as the Earl J. and Lilian P Dyess Chair in Engineering, making contributions to the research and teaching missions of the college. Some specific areas of focus will be continuing to lead the campus's Smart Mobility Planning Grant and seeking continuing funding for the Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center, also known as MarTREC, which she directs.

“Working with our engineering faculty is best part of this job, and I will greatly miss that,” Nachtmann said. “When I started as associate dean, our faculty were conducting an annual average of $150,000 in research activity. Our college set an audacious strategic planning goal to double this by 2021. Our faculty met and exceeded this goal last year, conducting an average of $371,000 per faculty member! Their research activity is driving important contributions in economic development, with more than 130 invention disclosures filed and 60 patents awarded to our engineering faculty over the past five years.”

Needy thanked Nachtmann for her contributions to the college's considerable research portfolio and growth in research grants and patents during her tenure as associate dean for research.

"This will be a big loss to our leadership team, but I fully support Dr. Nachtmann's decision to seek her passion. I am so grateful for her service to our college in her role as associate dean," Needy said.

The College of Engineering's team of associate deans also includes Bryan Hill, associate dean for student success, and Kevin Hall, associate dean for academics.



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