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Dean presents 2015-2016 faculty, staff and student research awards

Dean Philippe Fauchet announced May 10 the promotions of seven engineering faculty members at the final faculty meeting of the 2015-2016 academic year and presented four awards at a reception following the meeting.

Four faculty members have been promoted to the rank of professor with tenure: Julie Adams, electrical engineering and computer science; Scott Guelcher, chemical and biomolecular engineering; Akos Ledeczi, electrical engineering and computer science; and Deyu Li, mechanical engineering.

Three faculty members have been promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure: Craig Duvall, biomedical engineering; Bennett Landman, electrical engineering and computer science; and Yaoqing Xu, electrical engineering and computer science.

The Vanderbilt Board of Trust has named Ken Debelak, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Emeritus; and Doug LeVan, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Emeritus.

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

Sharon Weiss

The Vanderbilt School of Engineering Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Sharon Weiss, associate professor of electrical engineering. Her teaching ratings are substantially above the school norm, and students routinely call her the best professor they’ve had at Vanderbilt. She teaches two core EE courses, has created a new course, and established two  new special topics courses in the field of photonics. Weiss has supervised 10 Ph.D. and five Master’s students, with eight additional Ph.D. students in progress. In addition, she has served on 34 dissertation committees, supervised 39 undergraduate students through independent study programs, and mentored two high school students and one high school teacher.

Julie Johnson

The Edward J. White Engineering Faculty Award for Excellence in Service was presented Julie Johnson, assistant professor of the practice of computer science. In addition to her teaching duties in computer science, Johnson serves as Director of Undergraduate Studies in computer science. Other service activities include the CS ABET representative and the overall ABET/SACS coordinator in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science for the last six years. She was instrumental in leading the process that has led to the successful reaccreditation of the CS undergraduate program, effective in 2012. Johnson also serves on the Vanderbilt Athletics Committee, as faculty adviser for the Life to Love student organization, and the VandyCS student affinity group. In addition, she has coached Vanderbilt CS programming  challenge teams since 2006, including two world finalist teams.

Paul van Wulven

The Judith A. Pachtman Engineering Staff Award was presented to Paul van Wulven, grants manager in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Ten mechanical engineering professors enthusiastically supported van Wulven’s nomination for the Pachtman award, each citing his professionalism, diligence and unwavering support in their grant preparation and submission efforts. Each professor also shared anecdotes about van Wulven’s many instances of “going the extra mile to help,” often working nights and weekends to meet grant proposal or contract deadlines, and providing outstanding post-award support.

Sonia Brady

The award for outstanding graduate student research paper was presented to Sonia K. Brady for “Cellobiohydrolase 1 from Trichoderma reesei degrades cellulose in single cellobiose steps,” published in Nature Communications in December 2015. Brady, a Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering, was involved in all aspects of the work including single-molecule assay development, performing experiments and data analysis. She spent a month in Singapore synthesizing the proteins needed for the experiments. Brady has been invited to give a talk on the paper at the Society of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology annual meeting this summer as recognition for her work on this paper.

Brenda Ellis, (615) 343-6314
Twitter @VUEngineering