Associated Faculty

Ryan Berke

Dr. Ryan Berke, Assistant Professor (MAE)

Director, Mechanics at Extreme Temperatures Laboratory, 2015-Present

Director, Thermohydraulics and Material Properties Center (TMP), 2017-Present

Dr. Berke’s research focus is in the mechanical characterization of solids and structures in chalenging environments, and at extreme temperatures in particular. His lab uses advanced optical methods to extract full-field, in-situ deformation measurements across various temperature, time, and length scales. He is especially interested in the role that environment plays on a material’s ability to withstand heterogeneous failure mechanisms such as fracture, fatigue, and creep.

Dr. Berke is also the faculty advisor for USU’s Student Chapter of the American Nuclear Society.

Phone: (435)797-8184


Office: ENGR 419P


Thomas Fronk

Dr. Thomas Fronk, Associate Professor (MAE) and Associate Dean (ENGR)

Research Interests: Composite structures, numerical solutions, finite elements, vibrations.

Phone: (435) 797-0116


Office: ENGR 413B

Juhyeong Lee

Dr. Juhyeong Lee, Assistant Professor (MAE)

Research Interests: Material Science, Nuclear Energy and Materials, Numerical Methods, and Solid Mechanics

Phone: (435) 797-0287


Office: ENGR 419A

Nick Roberts

Dr. Nick Roberts, Assistant Professor (MAE)

Dr. Nick Roberts’ is focused on direct energy conversion and storage. He has a combined experimental and computational approach to studying electrical, optical and thermal properties of nanostructured materials for applications in thin film photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, hybrid thermoelectric photovoltaic systems and paraffin based phase change materials for thermal energy storage.

Phone: (435) 797-9455


Office: ENGR 419N


Barton Smith

Dr. Barton Smith, Professor (MAE)

Expertise: Experimental fluid mechanics, validation benchmark experiments for CFD, particle image velocimetry uncertainty, flow control applied to materials processing.

Phone: (435) 797-3278


Office: ENGR 419K


Som Dutta

Dr. Som Dutta, Assistant Professor (MAE)

Som is originally from India, and after completing his graduate studies at University of Illinois (UIUC) in Civil Engineering; he did his post-doctoral training in Scientific Computing and Mathematics at UIUC and City University of New York (CUNY), respectively. Som is interested in studying complex flow and morphodynamics phenomena in the natural and the built environment, using high-fidelity computational fluid dynamics (CFD). The range of phenomena he is interested in varies from exploring the mechanism underlying drag reduction by shark denticles (skin), to dispersal of oil and contaminant in oceans and rivers.

Phone: 435-797-0583


Office: ENGR 419R

Elizabeth Vargis

Dr. Elizabeth Vargis, Assistant Professor (BE)

Dr. Vargis’ research interests lie under health physics, specifically to build better in vitro models to understand the effects of radiation on cardiac and skeletal muscle. Her research group has expertise in tissue engineering to develop realistic cell-based muscle systems and in spectroscopy to non-destructively monitor changes due to radiation. She works with collaborators in various disciplines, such as physics, biology, and chemistry. Future work will consider ways to prevent and treat negative effects of radiation exposure.

Phone: (435) 797-0618


Office: ENGR 402M


Hailei Wang

Dr. Hailei Wang, Assistant Professor (MAE)

Dr. Hailei Wang has broad research interests in thermal fluid sciences with focus on advanced energy systems and technologies. His current research includes: developing distributed energy systems that effectively integrate waste heat and renewable energy; advancing a unique thermal energy storage concept, and designing high performance and multi-function microchannel heat exchangers for process intensification. His work has been funded by various agencies including DOE/APAR-E, DOD, Oregon BEST, ONAMI and large corporations.

Phone: (435) 797-2098


Office: ENGR 419E



Heng Ban

Dr. Heng Ban, University of Pittsburgh

R.K. Mellon Professor in Energy

Director, Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering Program

Dr. Heng Ban was the founding Director of USU’s TMP center, from 2012-2017. Professor Ban’s research covers topics in thermal-fluid sciences, materials properties, sensors and measurement, and energy sciences. His recent focus has been to understand the relationship between material microstructural change and its thermal performance, particularly experimental and computational material thermophysical properties and measurement technique development. The research has applications in nuclear fuels and materials, manufacturing, micro-scale measurements, and development of hot-cell and/or in-pile sensors and instrumentations.