School of Engineering honors faculty and staff

Faculty and Staff Engineering Awards celebrate faculty and staff research, teaching and service.

2024 Faculty and Staff Engineering Awards

The George R. Brown School of Engineering honored outstanding faculty and staff at its annual Engineering Awards reception on April 16 in the Ralph S. O'Connor Building for Engineering and Science.

The Faculty and Staff Engineering Awards program is part of the Culture & Operations pillar of the school’s current strategic plan, which calls for expanding school-level awards to reward faculty accomplishments in teaching, research and service.

“Award winners are great examples of top performers in our school, each in their own areas of strength — research, teaching and service,” said Luay Nakhleh, William and Stephanie Sick Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering. “Recognizing their hard work is one way for us to tell them that we are aware of their efforts and thankful for them.”

Faculty Awards

Outstanding Faculty Research Award: Haotian Wang, Associate Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Materials Science and NanoEngineering

This award is for the faculty member who most contributed to highly impactful publications or publicly available software, based on research conducted at Rice and published/developed during the last five years. Wang is recognized for establishing and leading the top electrified chemistry research program among his peers in the world.

Outstanding Young Faculty Researcher Award: Hanyu Zhu, Assistant Professor, Materials Science and NanoEngineering; William Marsh Rice Chair

This award recognizes outstanding research achievements, as evidenced by publications, program development results, software, and other research contributions and is given to a faculty member of rank no higher than assistant professor or assistant research professor. Zhu is honored for being not only an innovative researcher, but also an energetic mentor to his students.

Roy E. Campbell Faculty Development Award: Bezawit Getachew, Assistant Professor, Environmental Engineering; Research Faculty, NSF NEWT Center

This award provides junior, tenure-track engineering-faculty members with $10,000/year for three consecutive years to assist with research and development efforts. Getachew is praised for her innovative work and its potential impact on our society at large.

Teaching + Research Excellence Awards: Todd Treangen, Associate Professor, Computer Science and Geoff Wehmeyer, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Given annually to two faculty members (one tenured and one tenure-track), this award recognizes excellence in both teaching and research. Treangen is honored for strengthening Rice Engineering’s ties with the Texas Medical Center and for his research during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wehmeyer is lauded as a rising star within the field of heat management and energy efficiency.

Award for Excellence in Teaching in the School of Engineering: Laura Schaefer, Burton J. and Ann M. McMurtry Chair in Engineering; Professor, Mechanical Engineering

This award recognizes continued excellence in teaching and exemplary commitment to students’ education. Schaefer is honored for her pedagogical approaches that improve student retention and contribute to the diversity of the mechanical engineering student body.

Curriculum Innovation Award: Ross Thyer, Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

The recipient of this award is a faculty member who improves the quality of education at Rice University through pedagogical and curricular innovation. Thyer is recognized for his work developing new biomolecular engineering modules for undergraduate laboratory classes.

Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Adviser Award: Jeffrey Tabor, Professor, Bioengineering & BioSciences

This award recognizes the achievements of a faculty member’s doctoral students who completed all degree requirements during the last four years. Tabor is praised for the deep personal investment he makes in each of his students.

Outstanding Postdoctoral Research Award: Sohini Bhattacharyya, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Materials Science and NanoEngineering

This award honors a Rice postdoctoral researcher who has significantly contributed to a research program through highly impactful publications, proposal writing, or other endeavors. Bhattacharyya is recognized for her numerous contributions to Professor Pulickel Ajayan’s research group’s growth and grant applications.

Staff Awards

Hardy M. Bourland Award for Distinguished Service: Chan Pham, Research Administrator, Bioengineering and Aurora Zarate, Executive Assistant, George R. Brown School of Engineering

This award recognizes two staff members (one exempt and one non-exempt) in the School of Engineering whose performance is consistently outstanding or whose contributions have significantly improved the School of Engineering or Rice as a whole. Pham is praised for her timely and meticulous work on proposals, while Zarate is honored for her consistent dedication and professionalism.

Rising Star Award: Shalaina Mullen, Academic Program Coordinator, Bioengineering

The Rising Star Award recognizes a staff member who has seized an opportunity to grow and develop in their role and, as a result, has made important contributions to their unit. It is given to individuals who have begun their career at Rice within the past three years. Mullen is lauded for her unwavering support for students in the bioengineering department.

Special thanks to the School of Engineering Awards Selection Committee:

Lisa Biswal, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Matthew Brake, Mechanical Engineering
Joe Cavallaro, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Jane Grande-Allen, Bioengineering
Matthias Heinkenschloss, Computational Applied Mathematics and Operations Research
Alina Kampouri, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Marek Kimmel, Statistics
Qilin Li, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Bioengineering
Scott Rixner, Computer Science
Ming Tang, Materials Science and NanoEngineering