Sutherland Prize, Chancellor’s Research Award go to engineers

The Earl Sutherland Prize for Achievement in Research was presented to John Gore by Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos during the Fall Faculty Assembly Sept. 22.

John Gore

Gore holds the Hertha Ramsey Cress Chair in Medicine and he is the director of the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science. Gore also is a professor of radiology and radiological sciences, biomedical engineering, physics, and molecular physiology and biophysics.

The Sutherland Prize, the most prestigious honor that Vanderbilt bestows on a faculty member, is given annually to a member of the faculty whose achievements in research, scholarship or creative expression have received significant critical acclaim and are recognized nationally or internationally.


Deyu Li, associate professor of mechanical engineering, was one of five faculty members receiving a Chancellor’s Award for Research, which also recognizes excellence in research, scholarship, or creative expression. These awards are given for works presented or published in the preceding three calendar years.

Eight engineering faculty members were recognized for 25 years of service to Vanderbilt. They are Amrutur V. Anikumar, mechanical engineering; Julie E. Sharp, chemical and biomolecular engineering; Sankaran Mahadevan, civil engineering; and Guatam Biswas, Benoit Dawant, Weng Poo Kang, Gabor Karsai and Richard Allen Peters II, electrical engineering and computer science.

John Gore has put Vanderbilt at the epicenter for bringing together researchers from various sub-fields of imaging sciences to review state-of-the-art and burgeoning breakthroughs through his efforts as host of a new research conference, the Frontiers of Biomedical Imaging Science, Zeppos said.

“John’s pioneering scholarship in the field of magnetic resonance imaging and research has transformed Vanderbilt in numerous and important ways.  His work has laid a strong, enduring foundation for the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science, which is nationally recognized as a highly successful research enterprise,” Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said of Gore, who joined Vanderbilt in 2002, by way of Yale University.

“John’s innovative methods in neuroimaging at high field strengths have enabled groundbreaking approaches to identifying tumor tissues and their early response to therapies. The potential clinical impact of advanced MRI for oncology applications holds tremendous promise for improving outcomes and quality of life for patients dealing with the debilitating effects of cancer,” Zeppos said.

The Sutherland prize consists of $5,000 and an engraved pewter julep cup, and the winner’s name is added to a silver bowl, which the recipient keeps for one year.

Deyu Li received a Chancellor’s Research Award for his research discovery to control heat flow, published in the paper “Enhanced and switchable nanoscale thermal conduction due to van der Waals interfaces.”  These findings upend the classical view of energy transport through solid interfaces.

“Getting published in Nature Nanotechnology with its acceptance rate of about one percent is a feat unto itself.  Deyu, along with two of his graduate students, described their ground-breaking scientific discovery of unexpected energy carrier transmission between individual nanostructures, which leads to the new power of manipulating materials’ thermal transport capabilities,” Zeppos said.

This discovery holds promise for new solutions to the current bottleneck in nanoelectronic devices. As most failure of modern computers is due to thermal damage of electronic components, effective manipulation of the dissipated heat plays an important role.

“Deyu’s research represents a significant discovery in keeping computer chips cool and operating in a safe temperature range.  Additionally, this new understanding will help solve many puzzles in energy transport through composite materials with many interfaces and could lead to more advanced design rules for applications in aerospace, flexible electronics, and energy conversion,” Zeppos said.

Each of the five Chancellor’s awards carries a stipend of $1,000, and the recipient receives an engraved pewter julep cup.