Missouri S&T faculty members win UM System President’s Awards

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On July 9, 2020

The University of Missouri System announced that seven members of the Missouri S&T faculty earned President’s Awards, the highest honor bestowed by the system, for excellence in the areas of teaching, research, service and economic development. In all, 20 awards will be presented this year.

President’s Award recipients will be recognized at a Board of Curators meeting on their university campus, as well as at a faculty awards event hosted at their home institution.

Winners from Missouri S&T include:

Dr. Rui Bo, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Missouri S&T, won the President’s Award for Early Career Excellence. Bo’s research focuses on finding optimal, economically efficient strategies to operate, upgrade, protect, and manage power infrastructure. He has eight years of industry experience with Midcontinent Independent System Operator in addition to his academic career. Bo started at S&T in 2017, and since then has been successful in securing external funding, gathering nearly $6 million in grant awards, including a DARPA Young Faculty Award. He has published over 40 journal articles, supervised six Ph.D. students and is the founding chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Task Force on Advanced Methods for Computational Intensive Power System Planning Applications.

Dr. Fateme Rezaei, assistant professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at Missouri S&T, earned the President’s Award for Early Career Excellence. Rezaei joined S&T in the fall of 2014, and works to develop advanced materials and processes for generating clean energy and sustainably producing chemicals. In her time at S&T, she has proven to be a mentor by graduating three Ph.D. and four master’s degree students, and is currently managing six more graduate students. Rezaei has received the 2018 American Chemical Society Energy & Fuels for Excellence in Publication award and the 2018 Young Scientist Paper Award from the International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology. She has filed two patents, three invention disclosures and published 55 papers from her research lab at S&T.

Dr. William Fahrenholtz, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of materials science and engineering at Missouri S&T, received the President’s Award for Sustained Career Excellence. Since coming to S&T in 1999, Fahrenholtz has made contributions to the field of ceramic engineering. He is internationally recognized for his expertise in the area of ultra-high temperature ceramics. He has published more than 170 research articles and is one of the highest-cited authors in his field. Fahrenholtz has graduated nine Ph.D. and 13 master’s degree students to date, and is currently mentoring another four Ph.D. students.

Dr. Kamal Khayat, the Vernon and Maralee Jones Professor of Civil Engineering and director of the Center for Infrastructure Engineering Studies at Missouri S&T, won the President’s Award for Sustained Career Excellence. Khayat has succeeded in securing research expenditures of approximately $29 million as a principal investigator and $13 million as co-PI. He has advised 40 Ph.D. students, 44 master’s degree students, and 22 post-doctoral fellows and visiting scholars. He has co-authored over 450 publications and was featured by Elsevier as one of 150 world’s most cited researchers in civil engineering. Khayat was instrumental in establishing the Advanced Construction and Materials Laboratory at S&T, which will bring equipment and a batching plant that can produce precise and novel concrete mixtures in a manner not yet available in the Midwest.

Dr. David Westenberg, associate professor of biological sciences at Missouri S&T, earned the President’s Award for Community Engagement. Westenberg has a national reputation as someone committed to community engagement, particularly engagement with K-12 educators and their students. Locally, he has worked with organizations and activities such as Girl Scouts, Expanding Your Horizons, Seventh Grade Science Day, Kaleidoscope Discovery Center and the Newburg Children’s Museum. For nearly ten years, Westenberg served as co-director of the S&T Science Education and Quantitative Literacy professional development program and helped bring valuable STEM activities to high-need schools with limited access to the resources available in larger communities. His work as chair of the American Society for Microbiology K-12 outreach committee, appointment as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Biointeractive Teaching Ambassador, and work with the Biobuilder Foundation and National Association of Biology Teachers has impacted hundreds of educators and their students around the country.

Dr. James Drallmeier, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri S&T, received the President’s Award for University Citizenship – Leadership. While serving as department chair from 2011 to 2019, Drallmeier’s leadership contributed to the growth and reputation of the largest academic unit of Missouri S&T — research expenditures doubled, the number of Ph.D. students tripled, and a third of the tenure-track faculty he hired received an NSF CAREER award or an ONR/AFOSR Young Faculty award. He also served as a co-chair to develop a Missouri S&T strategic plan in 2012-2014, which included developing a plan to hire 100 new faculty and identifying four best-in-class signature areas.

Dr. Kathleen Sheppard, associate professor of history and political science at Missouri S&T, won the President’s Award for Innovative Teaching. Sheppard’s Wikipedia project used in her History of Science class has led to her undergraduate students editing 141 Wikipedia articles that have been viewed more than 8 million times. Another eLearning approach she uses in class is incorporating gamification strategies in the online version of her History of Science course. This strategy allowed students to choose their own path through the course material while “leveling up” through assignment completion, motivating students. Outside of S&T, Sheppard serves as chair of the Technology and Communication Commission for the international History of Science Society.

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