Brown University School of Engineering

Bahar, Coulombe Named Inaugural Dean’s Awards Winners for Excellence in Engineering Teaching, Mentoring

April 30, 2019

Brown School of Engineering professors Iris Bahar and Kareen Coulombe were among those honored with Brown University’s awards in teaching, sponsored by the Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning.

Bahar was honored with the inaugural Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in Engineering, while Coulombe was presented with the inaugural Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring in Engineering.

The Excellence in Teaching in Engineering Award is presented to a faculty member in the School of Engineering in recognition of outstanding classroom teaching of undergraduate and/or graduate students. Bahar’s teaching interests include courses on computer architecture, integrated circuit design, and electronic design automation. She has also been involved in teaching the introductory engineering course at Brown. This past year, her resume included both ENGN 1931I (Design of Robotic Systems) and ENGN 1630 (Digital Electronic Systems Design). She holds a dual appointment as both professor of engineering and professor of computer science at Brown.

Her nomination for the award included comments such as “Professor Bahar shows a dedication and commitment to teaching and to students that goes beyond what is required and necessary,” and “She brings rigor and quality to her teaching, but is well liked and admired by all students.”

Also this year’s recipient of the Marie R. Pistilli Women in Electronic Design Award, Bahar’s outstanding technical contributions have been in the area of energy efficient and reliable electronic system design, from high-performance systems, to embedded multicore and nanoelectronic systems. Her work is included in more than 170 papers published in peer reviewed venues, and thousands of citations for her published work. Bahar’s research has been continuously funded since 1997 through various industrial and government sources, including the National Science Foundation, DARPA, DoD, SRC, Intel, IBM, Microsoft, and NASA.   

Bahar received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in computer engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and her Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Before entering the Ph.D. program at CU-Boulder, she worked at Digital Equipment Corporation as a senior hardware designer, responsible for parts of the circuit and microarchitectural implementation in one of their processor chips. She has been on the faculty at Brown University in the School of Engineering since 1996 and is a Senior Member of the IEEE and a Distinguished Scientist of the ACM.

The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring in Engineering was presented to Assistant Professor Kareen Coulombe in recognition of outstanding mentoring and advising of undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, or junior faculty.  

Nominations for Coulombe included the following comments: “In good times and bad, stressful or successful, Kareen has been the best mentor a graduate student could ask for. I only hope that I can provide even half of her mentoring skills to the Ph.D. students I hope to advise someday,” and “Kareen is a fantastic teacher and mentor from the program level down to the individual student. She makes every decision with extreme care and is an incredible role model to her undergraduates on up to her aspiring Ph.D. students.”

“Outside of the classroom, Dr. Coulombe has been an important mentor for me as a young woman in a STEM discipline. After observing her teach during my first semester as a teaching assistant, I found that I valued her passion for science, and I knew that I could learn a lot from her as a positive female role model.”

Coulombe, who is both an assistant professor of engineering and assistant professor of molecular pharmacology, physiology and biotechnology, specializes in cardiovascular regenerative engineering to address global needs to develop novel therapies for cardiovascular disease.  A major focus of her research is to re-engineer contractility in the heart after myocardial infarction (heart attack) using engineered human myocardium with cardiomyocytes derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells.  She works to improve the vascular and electromechanical integration of engineered tissue with the host heart in order to restore cardiac contractility.  

Coulombe earned a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Rochester summa cum laude in 2001 and was a Whitaker Pre-doctoral Fellow, earning a Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Washington in 2007. She was an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein post-doctoral fellow in Pathology at the University of Washington where she won an NIH Pathway to Independence K99/R00 award in 2012, and she started as an Assistant Professor of Engineering and Medical Science at Brown University in January 2014.

The formal presentation of the awards took place on Monday, April 29, at the University Awards Ceremony organized by the Sheridan Center.