Dean presents 2017-2018 faculty, staff and student research awards

Dean Philippe Fauchet announced May 8 the promotions of seven engineering faculty members at the final faculty meeting of the 2017-2018 academic year and presented four awards at a reception following the meeting.

Five faculty members have been promoted to the rank of professor: Aniruddha Gokhale, computer science and computer engineering; David Merryman, biomedical engineering; Caglar Oskay, civil and environmental engineering; William Robinson, electrical engineering and computer science; Robert Webster, mechanical engineering. Merryman’s promotion was effective Jan. 1, 2018. The other promotions are effective July 1, 2018.

Two faculty members have been promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure: William A. Grissom, biomedical engineering; and Jules White, computer science and computer engineering; both promotions are effective July 1, 2018.

Fauchet also presented two faculty awards, one staff award and one research award based on an outstanding paper written by a graduate student.

Daniel Arena

The Vanderbilt School of Engineering Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Daniel Arena, senior lecturer in computer science. Arena’s colleagues note that his courses attract high enrollments and his student evaluations are very strong. He has led curriculum development of introductory computer science courses and he manages undergraduate student graders and graduate teaching assistants. He also helps mentor new professors of the practice. Arena supports the VandyHacks student organization and students are enthusiastic about his encouragement and help inside and outside the classroom. “We are lucky to have him here,” said Daniel Fleetwood, Olin H. Landreth Professor of Engineering and chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

David Berezov

The Edward J. White Engineering Faculty Award for Excellence in Service was presented to David Berezov, associate professor of the practice of engineering management. In addition to a full teaching schedule, Berezov serves as a faculty adviser to Engineering Science students, the Undergraduate Honor Council and Theta Tau engineering fraternity. He works with the Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning and has created an online version of an engineering management course to be offered this summer. He has served as an adviser for the Accenture Garage, and he teaches Wealth Management for Engineers course each spring to ensure that graduates leave with financial management skills and competence. “More important, Dave Berezov has the respect and adoration of his students and advisees,” said Christopher Rowe, director of the division of general engineering.

Adam McKeever-Burgett

The Judith A. Pachtman Engineering Staff Award was presented to Adam W. McKeever-Burgett, associate director of Student Services. McKeever-Burgett serves a highly technical role in managing the engineering school’s responsibilities in the maintenance of undergraduate student records and in providing information to faculty, staff, and students. He also plays a leadership role in academic counseling designed to augment and complement the advising work of the faculty. This includes a “high-touch” mentoring program to identify and mentor students facing academic challenges. Beyond his job responsibilities, he frequently works with graduate students on academic and other matters. Nominators cited McKeever-Burgett’s “willingness to take on tasks that fall outside his duties, frequently and responsibly.”

Yinnian Feng

The award for outstanding graduate student research paper was presented to Yinnian (Andy) Feng for “Mechanosensing drives acuity of αβ T-cell recognition,” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in July 2017. Feng, a Ph.D. candidate who works in the lab of chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Matt Lang, produced groundbreaking work on disease recognition underpinning adaptive immunity. The paper effectively is “re-writing the textbooks on how T cells sense antigen,” said Lang.

Brenda Ellis, (615) 343-6314