Four researchers have joined the ranks of WVNano at West Virginia University as a result of funding made possible from the National Science Foundation, the WVU Research Corporation and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

WVNano is WVU’s focal point for discovery and innovation in nanoscale science, engineering and education. The initiative’s primary objective is to enhance the scientific and educational environment in West Virginia for interdisciplinary research in nanoscale science and engineering that contributes to the state’s long-term economic development. The new WVNano faculty members are:

Eva Toth, Ph.D., assistant professor of science education *
Eva Toth joined the Department of Curriculum & Instruction Literacy Studies at the College of Human Resources and Education in August, 2009. Toth received her teaching certificate in biology and chemistry at ELTE University in Budapest followed by a master’s research thesis and teaching middle and high school biology. Subsequently, Toth received a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois and worked with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. She then completed post-doctoral appointments at the University of Pittsburgh and at Carnegie Mellon University, and more recently, taught biotechnology to in-service teachers. Immediately prior to arriving at WVU, Toth was a faculty member at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Toth’s research interests lie in the area of science curriculum development and assessment, and her expertise in science education will enhance WVNano’s educational components. She met her husband, Geza Erdos, while in college in Hungary and they have two sons. Erdos is currently a Research Professor in Dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Yuxin Liu, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering
Yuxin Liu obtained her B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering in Beijing Institute of Technology and Changchun University of Science and Technology, respectively, and her Ph.D. from Louisiana Tech University. Subsequently she was a postdoctoral fellow in Food Science Department at Cornell University and a research associate in the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education at Vanderbilt University. Liu’s specialty is in the area of biosensors and bioreactors. Her research is important to understand cell function and regulate its behavior in a controlled, reproducible and scalable manner. Liu’s current research interests lie in the area of biosensors and biochips, integrated Lab-on-a-Chip devices, and microfluidic biofuel cells. Liu and her husband Dr. Lixin Shen have a four-year old daughter, Lauren Shen.

Cerasela Zoica-Dinu, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemical engineering
Born and raised in Romania, Dinu received her undergraduate degree in Physics in 2000 and a Master’s degree in Biophysics in 2002, both from the University of Bucharest in Romania. During her Master’s graduate degree work, she earned a scholarship from the Socrates-Erasmus Program that allowed her to spend four months sin outhern Italy at the University of Lecce. Dinu earned a scholarship to the International Max Planck Research School for Molecular Cell Biology and Bioengineering, which was established in 2001 as a joint program of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and the Technische Universit�t Dresden in Dresden, Germany. It was there she received her Ph.D. in Biology in 2006. Her doctoral work focused on manipulating biological molecules in synthetic environments. Dinu then joined the group of Jonathon Dordick, Director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY as a Postdoctoral Research Associate. Her research there focused on designing enzyme-based nanomaterials with extraordinarily high activity and stability, developing hierarchical integration of carbon nanotube-based building blocks into functional assemblies to form viable biomimetic systems that may be useful in the design of integrated devices. Dinu’s current interests lie in the areas of bionanoengineering, nanotechnology and biomimetics.

Daneesh Simien, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering
Simien, whose main area of expertise is in carbon nanotubes, joined the faculty in January 2010. Simien was born in Jamaica, but conducted her undergraduate studies at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where she pursued her B.S degree in Materials Science and Engineering and B.A degree in French Studies, all while being a member of the varsity women’s basketball squad. Simien received her M.S and Ph.D degrees in Materials Science and Engineering, also from Rice, in 2008. While a graduate student at Rice University she met her husband, Clayton Simien, Ph.D., who was a graduate student in the Physics Department. As a postdoctoral researcher in the Polymer Division at NIST she conducted research in highly conductive thin films made from ultra purified and characterized length sorted single walled carbon nanotubes. Her previous experience includes making and investigating novel nanocomposite materials. At WVU, Simien plans to expand her research program to use single walled carbon nanotubes to generate sensor materials, as well as conducting metrology of nanocomposite components to generate highly reproducible mechanical properties in these novel material systems. Simien also joined the faculty at WVU as a research professor in the Physics Department. She and her husband welcomed their first child, a daughter named Dayna Isabel Simien, on August 1, 2009.


Contact: Christie Zachary, Public Relations Specialist, WVNano