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University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Issued by: Laura L. Hunt

Date: August 20, 2004

Pillai Receives Prestigious Career Grant From National Science Foundation

Kirshna PillaiMILWAUKEE — Krishna Pillai, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), was recently awarded the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award by the National Science Foundation. Pillai will be receiving nearly $450,000 during the next five years to conduct research in the area of composite materials processing.

The CAREER program offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards for new faculty members. It supports the early career development activities of teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.

Pillai’s achievementbrings the number of junior faculty members at UWM who have received CAREER grants in the last decade to 11.

Pillai, who joined the College of Engineering and Applied Science in 1999, conducts research in the processing of polymer composites and plastics. Polymer composites are high-tech materials that are lighter than metal and non-corrosive, but just as strong. They are being used increasingly in all areas of life, especially in the manufacture of aircraft, satellites, automobiles and sports equipment.

His research will find applications in a set of new composites-manufacturing technologies called the liquid moulding processes, and also further develop the science of liquid flow in a fibrous, porous medium.

The work will benefit not only the polymer composites field, but also other fields in which porous materials are used, such as paper processing, filtering, oil exploration and groundwater flow monitoring, he says.

As a result of the award, he will work with area companies that use porous media in understanding and improving the processes, thereby helping them become more competitive in the marketplace. He will also use the research infrastructure developed during this work in preparing engineering students for careers in the plastics and composites industries.

A decade of NSF Faculty Early CAREER grant winners at UWM

1995: Michael Reddy, chemistry, with Marija Gajdardziska-Josifovska, physics, receiving the President’s Faculty Fellow Award*

1996: Chiu-Tai Law, electrical engineering

1997: Susan McRoy, computer science

1998: Ethan Munson, computer science

1999: none from UWM

2000: John Boyland, computer science; Carol Hirschmugl, physics; Paul Lyman, physics; Vlad Yakovlev,

2001: Lian Li, physics

2002-03: none from UWM

2004: Krishna Pillai, mechanical engineering


* Gajdardziska-Josifovska in physics was named a President’s Faculty Fellow in 1995, an annual honor chosen from the year’s CAREER award winners.


(CONTACT: Krishna Pillai, 414-229-6535 or

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