Sara Behdad PhDIE 2013

Emily Scott

Since earning her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in August 2013, Sara Behdad has not only earned a professorship but has also become the director of a research laboratory.

While at ISE, Behdad completed her dissertation “Decision Analysis Methods to Handle Uncertainties that Impact Product End-of-Life Recovery” under Professor Deborah Thurston. Behdad is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York, with the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Industrial and Systems Engineering Departments. Her research has focused on sustainable design and manufacturing, remanufacturing, behavioral economics in end-of-use product recovery, design under uncertainty, value-driven design, decision analysis, and simulation and data modeling techniques.

Her research has channeled into the Green Engineering Technologies for Community of Tomorrow (GETCOT Lab), a research and engineering laboratory at the University of Buffalo, of which Behdad is currently director. The lab is focused on using an engineering approach to create sustainable systems, where the research is sponsored by the University of Buffalo as well as the National Science Foundation.

“To win two NSF grants your very first year is very unusual,” Thurston said. The first grant, where she serves as PI, is entitled, “GOALI: Remediating E-waste Problems by Considering Consumer Behavior in Design for Multiple Life Cycles and Design for Ease of Return.” In the other grant, she led the organization of a professional development and CAREER writing proposal as part of the 2014 ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences.

Currently, GETCOT Lab is studying e-waste and its consumer involvement. Their aim is to develop techniques to create a sustainable way to control e-waste.

Her passion for teaching and research in the design and manufacturing areas began early on in her graduate studies when she started her Ph.D. in Thurston’s Decision Systems Laboratory in ISE. “It has been a rewarding experience to be part of Illinois ISE department and have Dr. Deborah Thurston’s guidance throughout my graduate education,” Behdad said. “The love of learning installed to me in Dr. Thurston’s Lab is a large part of why I have decided to pursue sustainable design and manufacturing as part of my career plan.”

“Sara has really hit the ground running,” Thurston said. “It was hard keeping up with her even when she was here as a student!”

Other accomplishments of Behdad’s include co-authoring numerous publications that have been accepted into journals and conferences. Works she has contributed to have been published in such journals as the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design and the Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering.

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