Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) recognized six distinguished members of its academic community during the university's annual Honors Convocation today. The awards honored four faculty members, a staff member, and a graduate student for outstanding research, teaching, advising, and contributions to the community.
"The Board of Trustees is very familiar with how you bring value to WPI," said Stephen E. Rubin '74, chairman of the WPI Board of Trustees, as he welcomed guests to the convocation. "It is through your teaching, advising, research, and community service. That is the spirit of WPI, and it is what makes this university so special."
Sergey Makarov, professor of electrical and computer engineering, received the Board of Trustees Award for Outstanding Teaching. Established in 1959, the award recognizes faculty members for excellence in teaching coupled with outstanding professional contributions. According to his award citation, Makarov is known for his passion and dedication to teaching, his willingness to go beyond all expectations, and the way he cares for each individual student. An energetic and humble teacher who takes the time to get to know the students, to focus on their individual needs, and to gently push them to achieve more than they thought they could, he earns praise from students for the time and effort he takes to assure that they understand the material and, when they fail, to know where they went wrong.
José Argüello, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, 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. Argüello is internationally recognized for his research on proteins that transport heavy metals across cell membranes. As these micronutrients participate in many basic biological functions, a better understanding of the transport mechanisms has implications for medicine, nutrition, and environmental science. Argüello's work has received more than $4 million in external funding, produced nearly 70 journal articles that have been cited more than 1,200 times, and has led to many invitations to present his research findings around the world and to prestigious appointments with the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
Marsha Rolle, assistant professor of biomedical 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. According to her citation, Rolle is caring, dedicated, and passionate about her field and her students. They say she makes them feel supported and challenged, with one noting that Rolle's goal is to prepare engineers who can think critically. Despite a challenging workload, she always makes time for her advisees and further serves students in her field as advisor to Alpha Eta Mu Beta, the biomedical engineering honor society. Many of her students credit Rolle for their successes, academic and professional.
Christine Drew, associate director of research and instruction services in WPI's Gordon Library, 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. Drew, known for her enthusiastic service to WPI and her passion for helping students discover library services, has also had a positive impact on numerous organizations beyond the campus as a champion of literacy (for example, as a co-organizer of the “Big Read” project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts) and as a tireless advocate for environmental issues and environmental preservation (for example, supporter of the Regional Environmental Council’s annual Earth Day clean-ups.)
Jeanine Skorinko, assistant professor of social science and policy studies, 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. Skorinko was honored for "innovations that have revitalized the undergraduate psychology program, placing empirical research at the core of student learning." She makes research a core component of her classes, and, through the establishment of the Social Science Participant Pool and the Social Psychology Inquiry Lab, she has made research opportunities and assistantships available to the growing number of psychology majors and other interested students. The success of her approach is reflected in a "strong record of student publications, presentations, and awards in major psychological research outlets."
Zoë Reidinger, a PhD candidate in biomedical 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. Students praise Reidinger for her technical knowledge, her friendliness, her approachability, and her commitment to student learning. Faculty members appreciate her timely response to student assignments, particularly writing work, and her openness and availability with talk to students about their work.