Ph.D. Candidate Profiles

Mojtaba Bahrami Kouhshahi 
Advisor: Dr. Jonathan Bird

Mojtaba received his B.S. degree in Power engineering from University of Kerman, Iran, and his M.S. in Electrical Machine and Drives from Tabriz University, Iran in 2008 and 2011, respectively. 

During his M.S. studies he published four IEEE conference papers (URKE, PEDSTC, ICEMS) and three journal papers (IREE, IREMOS, JICEMS) in the field of electric machine drives and power electronics.

He joined the Laboratory for Electromechanical Energy Conversion and Control at PSU in September 2015 as a PhD student. His research interests include finite element analysis and design of electric machines, adjustable speed drives, magnetic gears and renewable energies.

During his PhD studies at PSU he dedicated most of his time and efforts to his research on magnetic gears. Magnetic gears like their mechanical counterparts provide speed and torque conversion, but through a contactless and oil free mechanism, which results in higher reliability and efficiency, lower maintenance requirements and noise, and they are inherently overload protected. Wind and ocean power generation are two applications of magnetic gears. Six conference papers (ECCE, INTERMAG, ISEF), one journal paper (IEEE IAS), and a patent were the harvest of this research.

Mojtaba is a member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) since 2010, and IEEE Industry Applications Society (IAS) since 2015.

Satya Keerthi Vendra
Advisor: Professor Malgorzata Chrzanowska-Jeske 

Satya Vendra received her B.Tech degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Kakinada and an M.S degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering focusing on Design Automation from Portland State University (PSU) in 2017. Originally accepted for a direct doctorate program at PSU after her bachelors, in 2016, she eventually completed her masters while pursuing her doctoral studies.

She is currently a Ph.D candidate in Dr.Jeske’s Design Automation lab at Portland State University in Electrical Engineering. She is highly interested in VLSI computer-aided design, 3D integrated circuit design and performance evaluation, thermal issues in three-dimensional ICs and design challenges in emerging technology of carbon-nanotube FET circuits. Based on her research at PSU, she published her work at IEEE Nanotechnology (NANO) Conference 2017, IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems 2017 and IEEE 13th Nanotechnology Materials & Devices 2018. She also presented her work at IEEE NANO 2017 and IEEE NMDC 2018. She is researching on developing physical design techniques at floorplanning level and packaging level to reduce the thermal impact on interconnects in 3D-IC designs.

While at Portland State University, Satya received the Laurels Scholarship Award for the best academic merit 2017-2018 and was awarded Outstanding Teaching Assistant for the academic year 2016-2017.  She is a member of IEEE Young Professionals, IEEE Circuits and Systems Society, IEEE Council on Electronic Design Automation and IEEE Nanotechnology Council. She enjoys playing piano and likes to explore new places in her free time.

Elizabeth Thorp Küsel

Advisor: Professor Martin Siderius

Elizabeth Küsel received a B.S. degree in Oceanography from the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) in 2001 with an undergraduate thesis on geoacoustic modeling of the seafloor. Soon after graduation, on the same year she was accepted into the doctorate program of the Mathematical Sciences Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY. At RPI she received a M.S. degree in Mathematics in 2003, followed by a Ph.D. degree in Mathematics in 2005. He thesis work, under Dr. William Siegmann and Dr. Michael Collins, dealt with parabolic equation solutions for high frequency problems in underwater acoustics and complicated propagation problems in solid layers. Between 2005 and 2011 she held post-doctorate appointments in different institutions, including the Graduate School of Oceanography of the University of Rhode Island, RI, Northeastern University in Boston, MA, and at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, OR.  During her post-doctoring career she authored and co-authored a few papers in the areas of underwater acoustics and animal bioacoustics.

She joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Portland State University (PSU) in May 2011 as a post-doctor in the Northwest Electromagnetics and Acoustics Research Laboratory (NEAR Lab). In the Fall of 2011 she enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the ECE department under the supervision of Dr. Martin Siderius. Her current research follows the work she had been developing prior to joining PSU, on marine mammal population density estimation methods. She was awarded an Office of Naval Research (ONR) grant to study the effect of high frequency, broadband calls on density estimation methods from data collected by single sensors. A second ONR award to extend density estimation methods to data sets recorded by ocean gliders is her current research work. As part of her work with NEAR Lab’s underwater glider, she took part in the REP14-MED sea experiment in the Mediterranean Sea in collaboration with the NATO-STO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE).

Elizabeth is a member of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), The Oceanography Society (TOS), and the American Geophysical Union (AGU). She helped plan the ECE department Ph.D. Day in 2013 and 2015. She received the ECE department’s Outstanding Ph.D. student award in 2014. In her free time, she enjoys the company of her boyfriend, baking, gardening in her balcony, traveling the world, including visiting her family in Brazil, and taking lots of pictures.

Walt Woods

Advisor: Professor Christof Teuscher

Walt Woods graduated from Oregon State University with a B.S. in Computer Science in 2009. After five years in the software industry, Walt decided to switch gears and attend Portland State University (PSU) as a part of Dr. Christof Teuscher's lab, researching memristors as potential accelerators for next-generation hardware.  Walt received an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering through PSU’s Signal Processing track in 2016.  The topic of his master's thesis was Using memristors for an efficient hardware implementation of C. Rozell et al.'s Locally Competitive Algorithm (LCA).  The project was very successful, ultimately culminating in an energy consumption reduction of 99% with 21 times greater throughput compared to previous state-of-the-art hardware designs for the LCA.  Although the architecture has yet to be fabricated for a real-world application, Walt hopes it will find use one day.

Walt is currently pursuing his Ph. D. in machine learning algorithms and neuromorphic hardware architectures.  His focus is explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) spliced with human-machine interfaces (HMI), creating a means for human operators to interact with the internals of machine learning algorithms and improve their robustness and trustworthiness.  The working title for this project is Sensory Relevance Models (SRMs), reflecting the desire to have human operators interact with the network in the sensory domain rather than an abstract, unintuitive representation.  For an example of why machine learning algorithms need more trustworthiness, see Athalye et al.'s Synthesizing Robust Adversarial Examples, in which they convince Google's state-of-the-art object identification system that a turtle is a rifle. 

Walt has been successful at forming collaborations with other universities and institutions, including working with groups out of Los Alamos National Laboratories, the University of New Mexico, University of California Los Angeles, the University of Michigan, the University of Ghent, and the private Portland-based firm Galois. He is currently fostering a relationship with Oregon Health & Sciences University to improve computer aided diagnosis techniques for the early detection of cancer.

In addition to his studies, Walt enjoys getting involved in community activities, including PSU's High School Innovation Challenge, the Intel Next Unit of Computing Challenge and Multnomah County’s Schools Uniting Neighborhoods program. He has tutored PSU students in the ECE lounge and taught a graduate-level class as an adjunct professor.  Walt supervises several high school interns and undergraduate students in the teuscher.:Lab.  He also enjoys running (though not as much as Christof), any sport with a racquet or mallet, taking weekend vacations with his girlfriend, and playing the strategy game Endless Legend.