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College Honors Faculty, Staff Excellence

Friday, March 30, 2018

Dean Peter Crouch and the College of Engineering honored faculty and staff excellence at an awards luncheon April 29.

Honorees for the College's annual awards for staff excellence, early career faculty member, excellence in research and excellence in teaching were presented with their awards, as were faculty and staff who achieved Fellow status in professional organizations, were honored by the University for excellence, and who reached significant milestones for service in 2017.

Fay Van Dam Outstanding Staff Award

The Fay Van Dam Outstanding Staff Award is presented to a member of the support staff whose everyday performance and dedication to the college demonstrates a constant desire to go above what is normally required and accepted.

This year’s Fay Van Dam Outstanding Staff Award recipient has been a fixture in the College for more than 20 years and enjoyed a rewarding career in industry for decades prior to that.

Kermit Beird (center) with Lynn Peterson and Dean Peter CrouchKermit Beird (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) inherited a machine shop in shambles and, through hard work and determination, turned it into one that is in demand from students within the College of Engineering and in many other majors. He works with students to teach them how to use various machinery and also guides them through the design process so that they learn as much as possible while coming out with a finished product that will work as needed. In addition, he served on a search committee for the library’s FabLab to help them hire a machinist for their shop and was instrumental in recruiting a new machinist for the department’s developing MakerSpace in conjunction with the College.

Erian Armanios, chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department noted that, “Students working on their capstone design projects, professional society team design competitions, courses and research, appreciate [him as a] caring, yet demanding mentor who engages them in meeting engineering standards, as well as learning the appropriate and effective code of conduct and communication.”

Dean's Award for Staff Excellence

The Dean’s Award for Staff Excellence is a new award in 2018. It recognizes the outstanding efforts of a staff member who shows dedication to service and support of the College or his or her department, as well as the students we serve.

Pauline Mason (center) with Lynn Peterson and Dean Peter CrouchPauline Mason (Electrical Engineering) has received much admiration from her department’s faculty and students. She became an academic advisor nearly three years ago, and since then she has gone far beyond the normal demands of her job to make her interactions with everyone as pleasant and helpful as possible.

There were many testimonials submitted with her nomination about her caring attitude and abilities, but the ones from students were the most telling. Student after student told of how her welcoming nature, nurturing attitude and dedication to providing solid advice made the difference in their success at UTA. Several expressed amazement that she always remembered their name

One student said, “I've been to three schools and four campuses. But I have never had an academic advisor that's been caring, helpful, and willing to go the extra mile like you have.”

Another said, “If you were that much help to me, and there are hundreds of students, I can't fathom how much you actually do for us.”

Early Career Faculty Award

The College of Engineering’s Early Career Faculty Award is given to a tenure-track faculty member who, while in the early phases of his or her career, is judged to be our most promising teacher and scholar, based on his or her body of accomplishments since coming to the college. This year’s recipient has established an outstanding record of accomplishments in research, teaching and service.  

Yi Hong and Dean Peter CrouchSince joining UTA in 2012, Yi Hong (Bioengineering) has been awarded grants totaling more than $2.6 million from sources such as the National Science Foundation, American Heart Association and National Institutes of Health.

He has published 68 journal papers, half of which have been published during his time at UTA, as well as 111 conference abstracts, 8 extended conference proceedings, and several awarded or provisional patents. He was awarded an NSF Career Award in 2016 to explore dopant-free bioelastomer development. He was named a Fellow of the American Heart Association in 2017.

His teaching record is also excellent. He has graduated two doctoral students and is currently mentoring three Ph.D. students. He has mentored 14 master’s and six undergraduate students in his time at UTA, and his teaching evaluations are consistently excellent.

As for his service, he has served as a research committee member of the American Heart Association and a panel reviewer for the AHA, NIH, and NSF. He is also a reviewer for more than 50 scientific journals.

Excellence in Research Award

The Excellence in Research Award is presented to a distinguished faculty member who has demonstrated superior scholarship by advancing the state of knowledge in their chosen field of research. A committee of peers selected these people, who best meet the standard of research excellence required of this prestigious award.

Baohong Yuan with Dean Peter Crouch (left) and Anand PuppalaBaohong Yuan (Bioengineering) arrived at UTA in 2010. Since then, has earned more than $3.7 million in external funding as primary investigator from sources such as the NSF and NIH, and has been a co-PI on grants totaling more than $1 million. As a result of his research, he has published 57 journal papers and 66 conference publications, and given 28 invited talks. He has also been awarded a patent.

He was awarded an NSF CAREER Award in 2013 to investigate using sound and light to produce an accurate image of a patient’s deep tissue. He is considered a leading authority in this field whose breakthroughs concerning resolution and imaging depth have led others to enter the field.

In the classroom, he has graduated three doctoral students and is currently supervising five more. His students consistently rate him highly for his teaching.

His service activities include serving as a reviewer for 27 scientific journals and as an editor, guest editor or editorial board member for journals such as Scientific Reports, Journal of Biomedical Optics, and Journal of Molecular Biology and Molecular Imaging.

Lockheed Martin Excellence in Teaching Award

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Excellence in Teaching Award winners are distinguished educators who have demonstrated their dedication to the teaching profession by their superior classroom instruction and exceptional interactions with students. Lockheed Martin sponsors the award, in part, to help raise the quality and reputation of the college’s programs and faculty.

Ankur Jain with Dean Peter Crouch (left) and Lockheed Martin's Geeth ChettiarThis year’s Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Excellence in Teaching Award winner, Ankur Jain (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), strives to instill a sense of enthusiasm in his students and facilitate their success. In a letter of support for this award, one student said, “Dr. Jain is one of the few professors I have had since starting at UTA that seemed to be genuinely excited about teaching. He had that look in his eye as if teaching university students was exactly where his fit was in life and he was truly happy. His energy was conveyed in his teaching style, where he managed to blend theory with application very well, tying everything he taught us to the real world.”

His teaching record is excellent. He has graduated five Ph.D., seven M.S. and one honors undergraduate student, and his evaluations place him within the top 2% in his department. As for his service, he has organized two international workshops and chaired the EPPD Track at the 2015 ASME IMECE Conference, and he earned the ASME’s EPPD Division Young Engineer Award in 2013.

Since joining UTA in 2011, he has been awarded grants totaling more than $2 million from sources such as the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy, including an NSF CAREER Award in 2016 and an NSF EAGER grant in 2015. 

College of Engineering Excellence in Teaching Award

In addition to a new staff award this year, the College also added a new faculty award. The College of Engineering Teaching Award recognizes a faculty member who is dedicated to teaching and ensuring that students are well-equipped to enter the workforce upon graduation and enjoy rewarding careers as engineers.

Darin Brezeale (right) with Dean Peter CrouchThe inaugural recipient of the College of Engineering Teaching Award, Darin Brezeale (Computer Science and Engineering), abides by a simple axiom: No one can learn everything, so the instructor must look at all of the things about a subject that someone could know and prioritize the material, thus ensuring that what is being taught has the greatest chance of being useful to the student.

This approach also helps students get a grasp of how to apply knowledge rather than just memorizing information. He works hard to find real-world examples of what he’s teaching and spends significant time working through and revising material to ensure that it’s relevant. Because he puts so much time into his materials, he is consistently very highly rated in end-of-course surveys despite being known as a demanding instructor. He teaches a wide range of courses and has also been a faculty mentor for a freshman interest groups. 

Also recognized during the luncheon were:

  • Dereje Agonafer (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), for being named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
  • Don Butler (Electrical Engineering), who was named Professor Emeritus.
  • David Carter (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), who was named a UTA Outstanding Maverick.
  • Shih-ho "Simon" Chao (Civil Engineering), recipient of a UTA President's Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • Jamie Rogers (Industrial, Manufacturing and Systems Engineering), for being named a Fellow of ABET.
  • Jim Williams (Civil Engineering), who was elected national president of Chi Epsilon and also named Professor of the Year by the Arlington Sunrise Rotary Club.

Faculty and staff who celebrated milestones were:

10 years

Ginger Dickens
Julie Jackson-Estill
Liang-Chieh Ma
Michael McNerney
Barbara Saenz
Sha'londa Towns

15 years

Ishfaq Ahmad
Zeynep Çelik-Butler
Victoria Chen
Brian Dennis
Qilian Liang
Jason Losh
Paul Shover

20 years

Shelly Douglass
Ben Harris
Donya Randolph-Henry
Shu-Shaw Wang

25 years

James Leininger
Panayiotis Shiakolas

30 years

Ernest Crosby

35 years

Wei-Jen Lee
John Priest

40 years

Michael Manry