Faculty News: Appointments and Awards

John Orr

John Orr

Longtime faculty member John Orr was named WPI provost and senior vice president last spring, following an intense yearlong, nationwide search. As provost and senior vice president, Orr is responsible for all of the university’s academic and research programs; he serves as the senior member of the president’s staff.

Orr received BS and PhD degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and earned an MS degree in electrical engineering at Stanford University. He began his career at WPI in 1977 as an assistant professor of electrical engineering and served as head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department from 1988 to 2003; in 2006 he was named dean of undergraduate studies and a year later became provost ad interim.

Jeanine Plummer

Jeanine Plummer

Jeanine Plummer, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the university’s Environmental Engineering Program, has been named Professor of the Year for Massachusetts by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Plummer, who joined the WPI faculty in 1999, received a BS in civil and environmental engineering from Cornell University; she earned both an MS in environmental engineering and a PhD in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Last year, Robert Norton, Milton Prince Higgins II Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, won this prestigious award and in 2002, Judith Miller, then professor of biology and biotechnology at WPI, received the same distinction.

Art Heinricher

Art Heinricher

Art Heinricher has been appointed dean of undergraduate studies, responsible for the quality and effectiveness of all aspects of the WPI undergraduate experience.

Heinricher came to WPI in 1992 as a faculty member in the Mathematical Sciences Department, where he is currently a professor. He was appointed associate dean for the first year experience in 2007, and was instrumental in the development and implementation of WPI’s Great Problems Seminars, which serve as an introduction to university-level research and project work focused on themes of current global importance, including food, energy, infectious diseases, and materials science and sustainability. He holds a BS in applied mathematics from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a PhD in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University.

Kristin Wobbe

Kristin Wobbe

Kristin Wobbe, head of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry became WPI’s first Metzger Professor of Chemistry in October. The endowed professorship was established in 2007 through a $1.5 million gift from John C. Metzger Jr. ’46, and his wife, Jean. Metzger, who spent his entire career at E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., died in December 2006.

Wobbe joined the WPI faculty in 1995; she holds a BA in chemistry from St. Olaf College and a PhD in biochemistry from Harvard University. She was named the Leonard P. Kinnicutt Assistant Professor of Chemistry in 1999. In 2001 she received the Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education, and was also promoted to associate professor of chemistry. In 2007 Wobbe co-developed and co-taught Feed the World, one of the inaugural Great Problems Seminars.

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