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WPI Honors Community Members for Excellence in Teaching, Research, Advising, and Service - 2010

Board of Trustees Awards, Moruzzi Young Faculty Award, and Teaching Assistant of the Year Award Presented at Annual Honors Convocation

April 23, 2010

WPI recognized six distinguished members of its academic community during the university's annual Honors Convocation today. The awards honored four WPI faculty members, a staff member, and a graduate student for outstanding research, teaching, advising, and contributions to the community. Held each spring, the Honors Convocation is a celebration of the outstanding individuals who contribute vitally to the university's distinctive approach to education, to its important research and scholarship, and to the betterment of the campus and the region.

Satya Shivkumar, professor of mechanical engineering, received the Board of Trustees Award for Outstanding Teaching. The award recognizes faculty members for excellence in teaching coupled with outstanding professional contributions. Shivkumar is known for the passion he applies to his research in biomedical materials and polymer properties and for bringing that passion to his classroom, often integrating current work, applications, and journal articles into his courses and student projects. An enthusiastic and creative teacher, he seamlessly integrates the latest educational technology—from SMART Board systems to CPS clickers—into his classes. (Professor Shivkumar, on right in the photo, is pictured with the 2007 outstanding teacher, John Goulet.)

Dalin Tang, professor of mathematical sciences, received the Board of Trustees Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship. The award recognizes continuing excellence in research and scholarship by faculty members over a period of at least five years. Tang is internationally recognized for his work in mathematical simulations of cardiovascular flow problems and for using computational fluid dynamics to investigate the vulnerability of large arteries to plaque rupture and for human ventricle modeling and surgery optimization. His innovative research, which has resulted in more than 75 papers and book chapters, three patents, and WPI's first NIH RO1 grant, has helped solve real-world medical problems and made a significant contribution to health care.

Holly K. Ault, associate professor of mechanical engineering, received the Board of Trustees Award for Academic Advising, which recognizes the important role that academic advisors play in guiding and mentoring students through stages of professional and personal development. Ault has shown great enthusiasm and diligence in her role as an academic advisor to mechanical engineering majors, advisor to first-year students through WPI's Insight program, and faculty advisor for Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. She is known for her exemplary guidance on academic and non-academic issues and for her open, friendly, and helpful attitude that encourages students to feel comfortable approaching her with difficult issues. (Professor Ault is advising projects in Copenhagen and was unable to attend the convocation.)

Kenneth Stafford, director of WPI's Robotics Resource Center, received the Denise Nicoletti Trustees Award for Service to Community. Established in 2003 in memory of WPI’s first tenured female faculty member in electrical and computer engineering, it is presented to a member of the faculty or staff in recognition of passion and action in serving the needs of a community. Stafford's endless contributions to the WPI and Worcester communities include his leadership of WPI's Air Force ROTC detachment, taking the Mass Academy team to the FIRST Robotics championship, service as an academic and organization advisor, and support of numerous K-12 and community service programs at WPI and in Worcester.

Constance Clark, assistant professor of humanities and arts, received the Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award. Presented in memory of a longtime faculty member in WPI's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, the award recognizes innovation in undergraduate education. Clark was recognized for her novel approaches to the teaching of the history of science and technology. For example, in her popular course on cars and car culture she uses active discovery to lead students to explore the influences of automobiles on American culture, the environment, and the design of cities and suburbs. She is currently developing a modified laboratory setting with fossil and osteological specimens--similar to a "naturalist's cabinet" of the 19th and early 20th centuries--to engage students in the kinds of hands-on practices and classification exercises scientists used at the time.

Kurt Ferreira, a PhD candidate in electrical and computer engineering, received the Teaching Assistant of the Year Award, which recognizes the contributions graduate students make to the quality and success of WPI’s undergraduate curriculum. Ferreira has been described as one of the best teaching assistants who has ever worked in his department. A person of integrity, sensitivity, and humility, he communicates a respect for students and respect for WPI in everything he does and is “quick and kind” in all of his interactions with undergraduates and faculty. (Ferreira, center, is pictured with WPI President Dennis Berkey, right, and Richard Sisson, Dean of Graduate Studies.)