Kettering Names New Department Heads for Chemical Engineering, Natural Sciences, Mathematics

The end of the 2021-22 academic year has turned into the beginning for three newly appointed department heads at Kettering University.

Dr. Susan Farhat has been named the new Chemical Engineering Department Head; Dr. Daniel Ludwigsen has been named the new Natural Sciences Department Head, and Dr. Adam Salminen has been named the new Mathematics Department Head.

Combined, the three have nearly 50 years of experience.

Dr. Susan Farhat

Farhat, an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, joined Kettering University in 2011 and has been the Interim Chemical Engineering Department Head since October. Her new role is effective July 1. 

“I am truly excited and honored to take on this leadership role and to continue working with the outstanding students at Kettering,” Farhat said. “I am also looking forward to working with new and existing faculty, whose expertise will allow our department to further research in fields such as materials engineering, battery technology and sustainable energy. Some future goals for our department include enhancing multidisciplinary curricular areas, expanding co-op opportunities and creating a strong student-centered department culture.”

As one of the founding faculty members of the Chemical Engineering program, Farhat has made significant contributions to curriculum development, assessment and accreditation, and teaching. She received Outstanding Teaching Awards in 2015 and 2021.

“Susan has done an excellent job since being appointed Interim Department Head in October 2021, and after a national search, she stood out as the best candidate for the permanent position,” said Dr. Craig Hoff, Dean of the College of Engineering.

Farhat’s research interests are in surface engineering, thin films and coatings, polymers and composites engineering, and atmospheric pressure plasma technologies. Her research collaborations have led to successful industrial-sponsored research projects and National Science Foundation (NSF) grants for major research instrumentation at the University. 

She earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Michigan State University. 

Dr. Daniel Ludwigsen
Dr. Daniel Ludwigsen

Ludwigsen, who has been at the University for 20 years, has been the Interim Natural Sciences Department Head since July 2021. 

“The Department of Natural Sciences is evolving through a transition that is completely changing the workplace for our faculty and staff. We are coming to see a radically realigned mission and vision for our group, which is no small task,” Ludwigsen said. “There’s some freedom, some latitude to develop areas of that new institutional role ourselves. 

“Over the coming year or two, we’ll see innovative ideas come to life in our foundational courses in biology, chemistry and physics. Our faculty are already enriching the broader student experience with new elective courses related to the science of color, everything you’d want to know to work with polymers, the principles behind advanced as well as ubiquitous sensor technology and more. Our department is designing curriculum that injects some spice of cutting-edge ideas into Kettering’s recipe for engineering education.”

Ludwigsen teaches courses in physics and acoustics and has been the Physics Department Head since 2016. He received more than $150,000 in NSF and foundation funding, which resulted in new curriculum in introductory to physics laboratories, a sophomore-level course in computational physics, an engineering-oriented approach to an online acoustics elective course and a project-based approach to an upper-level laboratory course in acoustics.

“Dan brings demonstrated leadership skills to the new Natural Sciences Department,” said Dr. Kathryn Svinarich, Dean of the College of Sciences and Liberal Arts. “He is an innovative energetic thinker who works well with people and departments across campus to help Kettering reformulate and adapt to the changing education climate and keep Kettering the best in class in experiential learning.”

Ludwigsen’s research interests are in musical acoustics, noise and vibration, psychoacoustics and the perception of sound. He has more than 30 publications and presentations to his name and has mentored more than 15 students on research theses in the past six years.

Ludwigsen earned a Ph.D. in Physics from Brigham Young University and has a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Music from Beloit College.

Dr. Adam Salminen
Dr. Adam Salminen

Salminen recently joined Kettering after 16 years at the University of Evansville in Indiana, where he was the Co-Chair of the Mathematics Department and taught courses throughout the mathematics and statistics curriculum.

“I grew up in Michigan and have always been aware of Kettering’s (GMI at the time) strong reputation,” he said. “I feel grateful to be joining a Mathematics Department with such an incredibly talented group of educators and researchers. The energy and drive of Kettering students is inspiring, and I’m looking forward to engaging them in and outside of the classroom.”

At the University of Evansville, Salminen worked with colleagues in the natural sciences to create programs for students with financial need majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. These programs, supported by $1.7 million in NSF funding, help students persist in STEM majors. Salminen also led the pre-doctoral program and worked to establish an undergraduate degree in Statistics and Data Science at the University of Evansville.

“Adam’s experience with mathematics curriculum reconceptualization is noteworthy,” Svinarich said. “He brings an infusion of new ideas into the Mathematics Department.”

His research interest is in abstract algebra. Salminen’s early work focused on the modular representation of finite groups, and his recent work focuses on problems at the intersection of commutative algebra and set theory. 

Salminen earned a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Ohio State University and has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Michigan State University.

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