Faculty Achievements

WPI Professor Honored for Environmental Education

Jeanine Plummer, Schwaber Professorship of Environmental Engineering, received the 2010 McGraw-Hill/AEESP (Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors) Award for Outstanding Teaching in Environmental Engineering and Science. Her research was recognized with the 2010 Division Best Paper Award for the most outstanding paper from the Water Resource Sustainability Division of the American Water Works Association published in Journal AWWA. Plummer was recognized for a paper titled “Identifying sources of surface water pollution: A toolbox approach.”

Center Director Receives Multiple Honors

Diana Lados, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and director of the university's Integrative Materials Design Center, received the Robert Lansing Hardy Award from The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) and has also been selected to receive the 2011 TMS Early Career Faculty Fellow Award, an honor that includes delivering the Young Leaders Lecturer at the TMS Annual Meeting. The National Academy of Engineering selected Lados to take part in its 2010 U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium and its 2010 Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium.

New Fellows

Nancy Burnham, associate professor of physics, has been named a fellow of AVS, which promotes the science and technology of materials, interfaces, and processing. She was honored for technical leadership in nanoscience and nanotechnology, “especially for contributions in scanning probe microscopy and nanomechanics.”


Ryszard Pryputniewicz, Kenneth G. Merriam Professors of Mechanical Engineering, and Mahadevan Padmanabhan, adjunct professor of mechanical engineering, were recently named fellows of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Pryputniewics was honored for his pioneering work in optoelectronic methodology and microscale measurements. He founded and directs WPI's Center for Holographic Studies and Laser micromechaTronics. The author of over 400 technical papers, he serves as president of the Society for Experimental Mechanics. 

For Padmanabhan, the honor was in recognition of his significant engineering achievements and contributions over a period of more than 30 years, as well as his active participation in technical committee activities in ASME's Power Division.

NIH Study Section Appointment

José Argüello, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has been appointed to a four-year term on a National Institutes of Health study section to participate in the review and evaluation of research proposals aimed at understanding the nature of biological phenomena and applying that knowledge to enhance human health. He joins a panel of leading scientists from around the United States who are experts in how metals participate in biological processes.

Career Honors

Neil Heffernan, associate professor of computer science and co-director of WPI's new graduate program in the learning sciences and technologies, received the Alumni Achievement Award from Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned an MS (1998) and a PhD (2001). Heffernan heads a research team at WPI that develops innovative intelligent tutoring systems for mathematics education.

John Orr, professor of electrical and computer engineering and former WPI provost, recently received the Distinguished ECE Alumni Award from the University of Illinois Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He earned BS (1969) and PhD (1977) degrees at the university. Orr, who inaugurated WPI's research program in precision indoor personnel location, was recognized for his contributions to engineering education and the safety of first responders.

Susan Vick, professor of drama/ theatre and director of WPI's theatre programs, was recently inducted into the Blue Masque Hall of Fame at Catawba College. Established in 2008, the Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Catawba's nationally recognized theatre tradition. Vick earned a degree in drama from Catawba in 1967 and was the first woman to win the WPI Board of Trustees' Award for Outstanding Teaching. In 1982, she established New Voices on the WPI campus, the nation's longest-running university new plays festival.

Honors for Literature Professors

Joel J. Brattin, professor of literature, was chosen by the Dickens Fellowship, a worldwide association of people who share an interest in the life and works of Victorian novelist Charles Dickens, to lead its annual wreath-laying ceremony at Dickens's grave in London's Westminster Abbey on the 140th anniversary of the writer's death. Brattin, an internationally known Dickens scholar, gave a brief address about Dickens's connections to Worcester.

Wesley Mott, professor of literature, recently completed a 20-year term as editor of the Emerson Society Papers, the newsletter of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society, an international literary society that Mott founded in 1989 and which he currently serves as president. Mott delivered a paper on the society's first 20 years at the American Literature Association annual conference in San Francisco in May 2010.


HP Innovation Award

Elke Rundensteiner, professor of computer science, was selected to participate in the prestigious HP Labs Innovation Research Program for the second year in a row. The program provides colleges, universities, and research institutes around the world with opportunities to conduct breakthrough collaborative research with Hewlett-Packard.


Conference Leadership Roles

Ryan S.J.d. Baker, assistant professor of social science and policy studies, served as chair of the 3rd International Conference on Educational Data Mining in Pittsburgh in June 2010. In addition, Baker, Neil Heffernan, associate professor of computer science, and Adam Goldstein, a graduate student in computer science at WPI, received the People's Choice Award for Best Oral Presentation at the 10th Annual Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, also in Pittsburgh in June 2010.

Robert Lindeman, associate professor of computer science, was general conference co-chair of the 2010 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IE) Virtual Reality Conference, the premier international meeting on this topic. Lindeman also organized a visit to WPI by conference participants to see and experience virtual reality research by WPI faculty members and students.


Charles Rich, professor of computer science, was general co-chair of the 14th Association for Computing Machinery's International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces in Hong Kong in January 2010. Rich will serve as program co-chair of the 6th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games in Bordeaux, France, in June 2011.


Matt Ward, professor of computer science, gave the keynote address, "Challenges, Partial Solutions, and Open Problems in Multivariate Data Visualization," at EuroVis '10, the 2010 European Symposium on Visualization. The conference is among the most prestigious events in the field of visualization.


Vadim Yakovlev, research associate professor of mathematical sciences, received the Highest Quality Workshop award from the IE Microwave Theory and Technique Society (MT-S). Yakovlev was honored for organizing the workshop titled "Recent Advances in Microwave Power Applications and Techniques" at the IE MT-S International Microwave Symposium in Boston in June 2009.


Distinguished Professional Honors

Diran Apelian, Howmet Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Metal Processing Institute, received the 2010 Robert Earll McConnell Award from the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME), one of the nation's oldest engineering societies. The award recognizes beneficial service to mankind by engineers through significant contributions that advance a nation's standard of living or replenish its natural resources.

Frank Hoy, Paul R. Beswick Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, received the 2009 Barbara Hollander Award from the Family Firm Institute. Recipients exemplify institute founder Hollander's love of education and learning, lifelong commitment to social causes, dedication to civic responsibility, and belief in the human capacity to change for the better. Hoy was also selected for the 2010 Luminary Speaker Series organized by the institute's New England chapter.

Visiting Professors

Christopher Larsen, associate professor of mathematical sciences, received a 2009 Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professorship, given "to enable outstandingly distinguished academics based in overseas universities to spend time at universities in the United Kingdom." Recipients are selected on the basis of academic standing and achievements in research and teaching and their potential for making a substantial contribution to their host institution.

Joe Zhu, professor of business, earned an appointment as visiting Distinguished Research Chair Professor in the School of Management at Ming Chuan University in Taiwan. He was also recently awarded the William Evans Fellowship by the University of Otago in New Zealand, which allowed him to visit the university's School of Business to deliver research seminars and conduct joint research. In January 2010, Zhu received a lifetime achievement award in data envelopment analysis at the 4th Symposium on Data Envelopment Analysis in Taiwan, where he delivered a keynote address.

U.S. Embassy Grant

Marie Keller, adjunct assistant professor of Humanities and Arts and Interactive Media & Game Development, received a grant from the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic to create a puppet performance for Teatrotoˇc, an international arts festival in Prague. Called "Broucˇcíˇcí Kabaretík" (A Bug Cabaret), it used Keller's hand-carved marionettes and sets and was performed by Keller and artists from Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Italy, and the United States. Keller also headed a recent symposium at New York University in Prague about the future of traditional art forms in a digital world.