College of Engineering celebrates achievements of students, staff and faculty

Award plaquesThe University of Georgia College of Engineering honored outstanding students, faculty and staff during the College’s 2018 Celebration of Excellence April 6.

The College presented academic awards to undergraduate and graduate students and recognized faculty for exceptional instruction and research during the ceremony at the UGA Hotel and Conference Center.

Faculty and staff awards for excellence

The College presented its Award for Excellence in Research to Changying “Charlie” Li, a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Li has led multi-institutional and interdisciplinary teams in securing significant national research grants in the field of agricultural robotics. His research has resulted in more than 60 peer-reviewed journal papers, two utility patents, and more than 40 invited presentations.

Xianqiao Wang received the Award for Excellence in Instruction. Wang, an assistant professor in the School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering, was honored for his efforts to incorporate aspects of his most recent research projects into both graduate and undergraduate courses.

Two faculty members were named Distinguished Faculty Fellows in recognition of their excellence in scholarship and their development of robust and growing research programs: Stephan Durham and Mable Fok.

Durham, an associate professor in the School of the School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering, has been principal investigator or co-principal investigator on 23 awarded external grants totaling $3 million since 2012. He has developed a growing research partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation and has established collaborations with researchers across the UGA campus and at institutions across the U.S.

Fok, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has developed a dynamic research program at the intersection of neural science, photonics, microwave and signal processing. Her work has attracted three National Science Foundation (NSF) research grants, including the prestigious NSF CAREER award.

Ramana Pidaparti was named a Distinguished Faculty Scholar in recognition of his sustained excellence in scholarship. Pidaparti, a professor and associate dean for academic programs, has secured external grants totaling more than $1.2 million since joining the College in 2014. His work in the areas of multiscale modeling and simulations of bio-inspired systems and materials has resulted in more than 20 journal publications and more than 30 conference proceedings and abstracts.

The College presented its Lowry Gillespie, Jr. Engineering Curriculum Enhancement Award to Kun Yao. A lecturer in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Yao has redesigned labs in two milestone courses. In addition, he encourages students to brainstorm their own projects based on circuits and present their work to the class at the end of the semester.

The College presented its Staff Award for Excellence to Lauren Anglin, Director of Experiential Learning and Outreach. Under Anglin’s leadership, student participation in internships, co-operatives, study abroad, and undergraduate research has grown significantly. In addition, she has been instrumental in expanding the College’s outreach to K-12 schools and students.

In addition, the College recognized faculty members for intellectual property discoveries in 2017 including U.S. patents and start-up companies.

Yajun Yan (associate professor, School of Chemical, Materials and Biomedical Engineering), Mark Haidekker (professor, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Jason Locklin (associate professor, School of Chemical, Materials and Biomedical Engineering) all earned patents for their discoveries.

Leidong Mao, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, launched a start-up company that is developing techniques for the isolation and separation of cancerous circulating tumor cells from blood.

Student awards for excellence

Other awards presented during the event include awards for the top undergraduate student in each of the College’s academic departments, as well as college-wide student awards.

Peter Akinosho, a senior civil engineering major, received the Undergraduate Merit Award for Service. Akinosho has been heavily involved in the life of the College of Engineering in a number of ways, including serving as a College Ambassador and as an officer in the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Undergraduate Merit Award for Research was presented to Graham Grable. Grable, who graduates this year with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, was one of the leaders of the student-led UGA Small Satellite Research Laboratory. Founded in 2016, the initiative has already attracted more than $1 million in funding and has was recently one of only two university research programs chosen by the United States Air Force to build and launch satellites into space.

The College honored Mariel Gutierrez, a member of the UGA Women’s Soccer Team, with the Undergraduate Merit Award for Athletics. A senior studying mechanical engineering, Gutierrez has excelled both academically and athletically.

The College presented two new awards to undergraduate students during the ceremony.

The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Early Student Achievement recognizes students who have the highest ranked academic credentials at the time they are admitted to their major. This year’s recipients are Heather Dobisch and Shams Jamal.

The Chair’s Award for Excellence – Best Personal Statement is presented to a student in each of the College’s three schools in recognition of their high quality of the student’s personal statement submitted for application to their major. The recipients of this year’s Chair’s Awards are Samuel Hartness (School of Chemical, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering), Hindolo Michael Kamanda (School of Electrical and Computer Engineering), and Gilbert Harrera-Bleyle (School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering).

Two students, Avery Rogers and Haley Selsor, were honored with the Caswell Student Challenge Award. The award recognizes undergraduates studying biological and/or agricultural engineering who have earned Dean’s List designation while maintaining a grade point average of at least 3.7.

Undergraduate Awards for Academic Excellence, which recognize one senior student from each degree program, were presented to students who have demonstrated exemplary performance in upper-level engineering coursework.

This year’s honorees are:

  • Megan Lusher, Agricultural Engineering
  • Savanah Jackle, Biochemical Engineering
  • Davis Wing, Civil Engineering
  • Sahera Bader, Electrical Engineering
  • Tara Sharpton, Environmental Engineering
  • Christopher Overbaugh, Mechanical Engineering

The College recognized outstanding graduate students with awards for their research and service.

Jitendra Pant received the Brahm P. Verma Award for Academic and Leadership Excellence. A research assistant and doctoral candidate in bioengineering, Pant has already published nine papers in peer-reviewed journals and holds three patents on biomedical technology. Jason Wright and Priya Singha received honorable mention for the Verma Award.

The Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching was presented to Matthew Becton. The award recognizes a graduate student who has demonstrated superior teaching skills and commitment to high-quality instruction.

The College recognized graduate students for the quality of their published research, collaboration with other research groups, and mentoring of undergraduate students involved in their research. Awards for Excellence in Graduate Research were presented to Michelle Mansour, Jitendra Pant, Mir Jalil Razavi, Priya Singha, Maria Velero and Nic Winter.

In addition, the College honored faculty and staff for milestones in their years of service: Ellen King (Dean’s Office, 40 years), Patsy Adams (Dean’s Office, 35 years), John Schramski (associate professor, 20 years), Mark Haidekker (professor, 10 years), Changying “Charlie” Li (professor, 10 years), and Leidong Mao (associate professor, 10 years).

By Mike Wooten

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