Freund named AE department head

1/31/2020 The Grainger College of Engineering

Written by The Grainger College of Engineering

Jonathan Freund
Jonathan Freund
Professor Jonathan Freund has been named the new head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at The Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a Donald Biggar Willett Professor, Freund has been with the College for almost 19 years. His appointment will commence February 16, 2020.

“MechSE has been my primary academic home since 2006, and I take this new opportunity with a somewhat heavy heart. It has been wonderful to develop my career in MechSE, alongside the very best of colleagues, staff and students, so I am glad that I am not moving far. I look forward to maintaining close connections across Bardeen quadrangle.” 

Freund began as an assistant professor in July 2001 and was promoted to associate professor in 2004, and full professor in 2010. He has held dual appointments in both Mechanical Science and Engineering and Aerospace Engineering.

“Jonathan has an impeccable record of research, teaching, and service at the department, college, and campus levels,” Dean Rashid Bashir said in his announcement. “I am confident that he will bring a fresh, invigorating perspective to the AE department through his vast array of administrative and leadership experiences at all levels. I believe he will step into this role and make an immediate positive impact.” 

Although his educational background lies in mechanical engineering, his research and academic career are closely aligned with aerospace engineering. Freund received his BS, MS, and PhD in mechanical engineering from Stanford, and spent three years as an assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“I am eager to help the department stay at the forefront, with effort directed toward both aerospace applications and the academic disciplines that support them,” Freund said. “Aerospace engineering is maybe the best example we have of extreme engineering: extreme temperatures and pressures, extreme speeds and efficiency goals, extreme system complexity, and so on. Extreme challenges inspire discovery via a forward-looking creativity that only a university can deploy.”

He is an AIAA Associate Fellow and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Freund’s technical achievements are mainly in fluid mechanics. His expertise has led him to multiple leadership roles, including editorial roles for the Physics of Fluids, Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, and Physical Review of Fluids. 

As a member of the faculty, Freund has been heavily involved in leadership roles around campus. He developed and co-directs the Center for Exascale Simulation of Plasma-Coupled Combustion, or XPACC, a major research center with $22 million in funding and more than 40 faculty, students, and staff. Additionally, he is an affiliate of the Department of Computational Science and Engineering.

He has chaired faculty search committees for AE and MechSE and has been a member of the college administrative and P&T committees. He was also given the campus-wide Excellence in Faculty Mentoring Award in 2017 and is excited to continue nurturing relationships with Grainger engineers. 

“Having taught AE students, I am particularly eager to engage alumni and capture their imagination about our potential as a department and graduate more happy alumni grateful for our rigorous yet innovative teaching and for the accessibility of our faculty,” Freund said. “I’m also looking forward to continuing my strong track record of mentoring and collaborating with junior faculty. In my time here, I have co-advised students, co-authored papers, or co-written grants with more than 10 assistant professors from around the College.”

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This story was published January 31, 2020.