Engineering Dean's Excellence Awards Honor Faculty for Teaching, Research, Service
The College of Engineering has honored five faculty members for their achievements in teaching, research and service during the 2019-20 academic year. Congratulations to these outstanding faculty members:
Kevin Hall, interim associate dean for research and professor, earned the John L. Imhoff Award for Teaching. Hall was recognized for his excellence in the classroom, including having taught a required civil engineering undergraduate course 17 times since 2017, with an average evaluation score that was the highest in the department. He also earned outstanding reviews for his work on "Engineering Antiquity," a course taught through the Honors College in spring 2019. That success is a testament to his ability to engage a diverse group of non-STEM students in engineering material. He is also active within a variety of professional societies, where he is recognized as a national and international leader in civil engineering education.
Benjamin Runkle, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, earned the Dean's Award for Excellence in Collaborative Faculty Research. Since 2017, Runkle's publication record includes 13 peer-reviewed journal articles, three other papers, two datasets and a book chapter — all of which were conducted collaboratively with at least one non-University of Arkansas co-author. His collaborators have included government researchers, faculty from other American universities and researchers from international institutions around the globe. Runkle's research grants have often been collaborative, including with U of A faculty. External collaborators include scientists from the University of Delaware, Cornell University and the USDA-Arkansas Research Station. U of A faculty collaborators have include Brian Haggard, Kelly Sullivan and Sara Nurre Pinkley. Since 2017, he has been awarded $1.34 million in external funds and $34,000 in internal funds.
Shannon Servoss, associate professor of chemical engineering, earned the Dean's Award of Excellence for Outstanding Public Service. Servoss has consistently placed a high value on the service component of the faculty mission, and has made contributions to the university, region, and her profession that have made deep and lasting differences in peoples' lives. The establishment of science clubs in local elementary schools exemplifies Servoss's approach to public service. She noticed that after-school activities related to science were non-existent at Butterfield Trail Elementary and quickly acted by founding a club in January 2016. She recruited university students from three different organizations and guided them to create age-appropriate science activities for grades K-4. As this club blossomed, Servoss broadened the effort to include more than 10 university student organizations and additional faculty. She has now started a new effort at Leverett Elementary while exploring avenues to expand into other schools. Servoss has also been active in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, chairing the Women in Chemical Engineering group.
Kelly Sullivan, associate professor of industrial engineering, earned the Rising Teaching Award. Sullivan effectively and innovatively delivers a variety of industrial engineering courses, is a leader in the development and implementation of the Industrial Engineering Honors Research Experience, and is an outstanding mentor of graduate and undergraduate students. From the time he was an undergraduate in the department, Sullivan has consistently demonstrated an appreciation of academic rigor and compassion for others. He has high expectations of his students, but he has high expectations of himself for doing what he needs to do to help the students meet those expectations. Sullivan successfully delivers rigorous sections of required undergraduate courses without inflating grades. He is a leader in the development and implementation of the department's three‐course, three‐year Honors Research Experience that has created a structured path for honors students to maintain steady progress toward completion of the honors thesis. In both undergraduate and graduate courses, he has developed novel approaches to facilitate students' abilities to meet desired outcomes. Sullivan's teaching has been recognized by the industrial engineering student body and the Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineering.
Yue Zhao, assistant professor of electrical engineering, earned the Rising Star Faculty Research Award. During the last three years, Zhao has built a large graduate program populated by one post-doctoral fellow, 10 doctoral students and two master's students. Working with those students, Zhao has published 11 journals and 22 international-conference papers since 2017. He also excels in mentoring graduate students, emphasizing the importance of traveling to conferences to present their research, and making sure that they get industry experiences through internships. He is a role model to other faculty members. Zhao has also been successful in attracting external funding. His most visible research awards include the prestigious NSF CAREER award received in spring 2018, and a Department of Energy-funded $3.4 million research award related to solar inverters, on which he is the principal investigator. He continues writing proposals and he is now the Co-PI in two recently-funded research awards.
John English, dean of the College of Engineering, praised the awardees for their impact.
"These outstanding faculty members have shown tremendous success in teaching, research and service, and the College and University are better because they're here," English said. "These individuals have impacted the lives of people across Arkansas and around the world, and I'm grateful every day to call them my colleagues."
Nick DeMoss, director of communications
College of Engineering
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