During the Iowa State University Convocation ceremonies held on September 26, seven outstanding College of Engineering faculty and staff members were among those honored with awards for their positive impact on the university in a range of fields from research to teaching.
This year was President Gregory Geoffroy’s final year of giving the convocation address. Read an overview of his remarks, as well as see a complete list of all the awardees.
Ross Martin Mehl and Marylyne Munas Mehl Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and professor of computer science
ISU Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research
A Fellow of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Srinivas Aluru is widely regarded as a pioneer in the field of high performance computational biology. He is in demand worldwide as a professional leader and lecturer, and has elevated high performance computing at Iowa State to international prominence. His contributions to genome assembly have reduced the computation time from months to days; his software packages are widely used in academia and industry; and his former students serve on faculties and in research laboratories.
Scientist in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory and adjunct professor of physics and astronomy, and of electrical and computer engineering
Professional and Scientific Research Award
Rana Biswas has been awarded for his outstanding contributions to research in the fields of amorphous and nanocrystalline semiconductors; for the design of novel photonic and plasmonic materials and devices; and for improving light absorption in solar energy conversion materials. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and has published more than 100 journal papers. His work has led to significant improvements in the stability of amorphous Silicon materials and devices, to higher efficiency thin film solar cells, and to the development of efficient thermal emitters for the detection of toxic gases. Biswas is a highly accomplished physicist who has provided much to the research community.
John Downing is an internationally renowned scientist with more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers, including articles in Science and Nature. At Iowa State University, he teaches an average of two courses each semester; has successfully mentored 17 graduate students; maintains a Limnology Laboratory that has trained over150 individuals in research-related activities; and has participated on or chaired numerous departmental, college, and university committees. He is recognized throughout the state for his expertise on and public outreach in support of surface water quality within Iowa.
Chuck Glatz attained the title of University Professor for his consistent dedication to the improvement of Iowa State. In addition to his exemplary record as a faculty member in both teaching and research, Glatz has made contributions throughout his 35-year career at Iowa State through his work with the Honors Program, the Center for Teaching Excellence, and the Faculty Review Board. He has also served in several important leadership roles, including as College of Engineering Equity advisor, department chair of CBE, and interim dean of engineering. His dedication to the university and his students is a credit to the university.
Michael Kessler’s research includes self-healing structural composites; polymer matrix composites for extreme environments; and bio-renewable polymers and composites. He is an associate of Ames Laboratory and the Center for Crops Utilization Research. Along with over six million dollars of funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF); ACS Petroleum Research Fund; Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program; Department of Defense; and NASA, he was awarded the Army and the Air Force Research Offices’ Young Investigator Awards, the NSF CAREER Award, and the Elsevier Young Composites Researcher Award. He has published over 60 journal papers, holds five patents, and presented more than 100 talks.
Sri Sritharan launched and sustained a diverse, high-impact, high-energy research program during his nearly twelve-year tenure here at Iowa State, to an extent that far exceeds the norm for faculty at the mid-career academic level. His creative technical expertise and passion for advanced research within seismic, precast concrete, and soil-foundation-structure-interaction disciplines has generated a stir in the research community. He has also recruited and advised an excellent cadre of graduate students, post-doctorates, and undergraduate students. His efforts have gone far to raise his department’s national and international research profile. A fellow of the American Concrete Institute, Sritharan has attracted funding from state and federal agencies and has received several awards from professional organizations for his research and creative accomplishments.
Johna Wolfe is known for going beyond the call of duty to provide a warm, welcoming, and supportive environment for undergraduates. She challenges a wide range of students —transfer students, double majors, and student-athletes—to achieve excellence based on individual goals. She has consistently received excellent ratings from students on her advising and her “sincere concern for her students.” Her impact is truly significant in that colleagues “wish their children will have the opportunity to work with someone as caring and professional as Johna when they attend college.”