2019 SEAS Faculty and Staff Awards

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences recognizes faculty and staff excellence through a yearly awards program. Recipients are nominated by fellow faculty and staff and vetted by awards committees: one for faculty and the other for staff.   

award winners.

Staff Awards

Service Recognitions

Faculty Awards

Furlani Family Scholarship

The Furlani family has graciously pledged $100,000 to create an endowed fund in honor of Edward Furlani, a School of Engineering and Applied Sciences faculty member and alumnus who passed away suddenly in 2018. The gift will fund two annual scholarships for undergraduates, one from the Department of Chemical Engineering, and the other from the Department of Electrical Engineering, who plan to go on to graduate school to pursue a career in research.  

This year's recipients are Joshua Hazelnis (chemical engineering) and Salvatore Piazza (electrical engineering).

Joshua Hazelnis, Salvatore Piazza, Karen Furlani, Jon Bird and Mark Swihart.

Joshua Hazelnis, Salvatore Piazza, Karen Furlani, Jon Bird and Mark Swihart. Photo credit: Onion Studio, Inc.

Best Teaching Faculty of the Year Award

This award is presented to teaching faculty members for outstanding educational contributions to SEAS.

Winners:

Francine Battaglia, Tamara Kofke, Sabrina Casucci and Rajan Batta.

Francine Battaglia, Tamara Kofke, Sabrina Casucci and Rajan Batta. Photo credit: Onion Studio, Inc.

Sabrina Casucci, Industrial and Systems Engineering, for outstanding contributions to on-line education by developing a very creative online graduate course IE 564: Lean Enterprise, which uses short video sessions, online chat rooms, virtual team assignments, and auto-graded assignments that serve as a “proof of concept” for collaborative and effective learning in engineering via online courses.

Tamara Kofke, Chemical and Biological Engineering, for transformative impact on the chemical and biological engineering undergraduate laboratory experience. Her commitment to hands-on practice in the laboratory to complement and build deep critical thinking, and her dedication and time to oversee the student activities for every session is exceptional.

Early Career Researcher of the Year Award

This award is presented to assistant professors for outstanding research contributions to SEAS.

Winners:

Francine Battaglia, Souma Chowdhury, Jung-Hun Seo, Xiu Yao and Rajan Batta.

Francine Battaglia, Souma Chowdhury, Jung-Hun Seo, Xiu Yao and Rajan Batta. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Souma Chowdhury, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, for his publications and significant research funding in design optimization, AI, and swarm robotics. He has established himself as a leading scholar on the topics of unmanned aerial vehicles, including the design of decentralized swarm systems that cater to emergency response and defense applications.

Jung-Hun Seo, Materials Design and Innovation, for his significant contributions in low-dimensional single crystalline semiconductors by investigating ways to overcome deficiencies and develop a new class of ultra wide bandgap high power electronics that are substantially compact and have superior power convergence efficiency.

Xiu Yao, Electrical Engineering, for outstanding contributions to the development of efficient power systems for use in emerging engineering applications, improving the performance of both existing and future DC power systems, enabling their wide adoption as efficient and reliable interfaces to renewable resources, energy storage units, and modern electronic loads.

Early Career Teacher of the Year Award

This award is presented to assistant professors for outstanding educational contributions to SEAS.

Winner:

Jaroslaw Zola, Computer Science and Engineering, for demonstrated outstanding passion and dedication to mentoring and teaching undergraduate students outside of the classroom. His unwavering commitment to improve student learning is evidenced by exceptional student participation and engagement and is reflected in student feedback.

Francine Battaglia, Jaroslaw Zola and Rajan Batta.

Francine Battaglia, Jaroslaw Zola and Rajan Batta. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Senior Researcher of the Year Award

This award is presented to associate or full professors for outstanding recent research contributions to SEAS.

Winners:

Francine Battaglia, Uttam Singisetti, Jing Gao, Tarun Singh, Gang Wu and Rajan Batta.

Francine Battaglia, Uttam Singisetti, Jing Gao, Tarun Singh, Gang Wu and Rajan Batta. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Jing Gao, Computer Science and Engineering, for seminal research on the development of truth discovery methods that detect reliable information sources and identify trustworthy facts from multiple conflicting pieces of information, impacting a wide range of domains that have abundant multi-sourced data but suffer from the issue of veracity.

Tarun Singh, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, for high impact contributions in the field of precision motion controller design under uncertainty. His pioneering contributions include innovative scientific advancements in global sensitivity analysis, analysis and synthesis of acoustic metamaterial, and nonlinear estimation for disparate applications including Type 1 Diabetes.

Uttam Singisetti, Electrical Engineering, for sustained contributions to the development of emergent nitride-based compound semiconductors and wide-gap oxides, and to the implementation of new electronic devices based on these materials. His work combines atomistic modeling, transport theory, and complex nanofabrication, to realize optimized devices that have substantial impact on next-generation power electronics.

Gang Wu, Chemical and Biological Engineering, for prolific scholarship and contributions to the development of advanced materials for electrochemical energy conversion and storage technologies. He is recognized for groundbreaking work in developing next generation low-cost fuel cell catalysts that eliminate the use of platinum, known as platinum group metal-free (PGM-free) electrocatalysts.

 

Senior Teacher of the Year Award

This award is presented to associate or full professors for outstanding recent educational contributions to SEAS.

Winners:

Francine Battaglia, Jun Zhuang, Jennifer Zirnheld and Rajan Batta.

Francine Battaglia, Jun Zhuang, Jennifer Zirnheld and Rajan Batta. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Matthew Ringuette, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, for outstanding teaching performance and effectiveness as Director of Undergraduate Studies in Aerospace Engineering. He developed a new course MAE 339: Aerospace Engineering Lab and redesigned MAE 424 Aerodynamics to emphasize real-world relevance, critical-thinking, and problem-solving using modern simulation tools.

Jun Zhuang, Industrial and Systems Engineering, for a sustained record of teaching excellence, and whose passion and talent for teaching inspires students to pursue graduate education. He is recognized for developing a popular and innovative online class IE 412e/512e: Decision Analysis, in which he piloted new online teaching methods.

Jennifer Zirnheld, Electrical Engineering, for a unique and sustained record of excellence in teaching, which enhances conventional classroom instruction by coupling a broad array of experiential learning activities. These experiences enhance student learning through exposure to hands-on research problems that provide insight into the challenges and demands of the professions that they enter.

Unsung Hero Award

This award is presented to a staff member(s) who contributes significantly to a SEAS department, but whose role and support for the department may not be as visible as some others.

Winner:

Rajan Batta, Christina Escobar and Virginia Stever.

Rajan Batta, Christina Escobar and Virginia Stever (accepting the award for Ken Smith). Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Ken Smith, manager of computer operations in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, for his willingness to volunteer to help people throughout the school. He continually goes out of his way to help others with work that is not necessarily related to his job, such as helping with K-12 outreach activities, and doing photography for a number of SEAS departments and offices as well as outside the school, such as UB Athletics.

Dean's Award for Excellence in Service

This award is presented to a staff member(s) whose extraordinary service contributions have significantly enriched their SEAS department with exceptional achievements and superior performance.

Winner:

Bin Chen, Research Administrator in the Department of Electrical Engineering, for her vital role in enhancing research productivity in the department. She works tirelessly with faculty on the administration of sponsored research, navigates how to best manage sponsored funds, and serves as a liaison with several other offices on campus including SPS, ORA and RF HR as well as other departments and offices in SEAS. Her commitment and professionalism are exemplary.

Rajan Batta, Bin Chen and Christina Escobar.

Rajan Batta, Bin Chen and Christina Escobar. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Rising Star Award

This award is presented to a staff member(s) who demonstrates quality performance that indicates continuous development into an exemplary SEAS employee.

Winner:

Rajan Batta, Tooba Khilji and Christina Escobar.

Rajan Batta, Tooba Khilji and Christina Escobar. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Tooba Khilji, Director of Administration in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, for her leadership and outstanding commitment to the department.  She directed the department’s successful strategic planning process, and under her leadership, the morale among ISE staff is higher than ever.  In her time with ISE, she has effectively handled a whole gamut of administrative issues, including faculty appointments, start-up package expenditures, work authorization and other human resource issues. She carries out all tasks with professionalism, efficiency and care.

Cause for Applause Award

This award is presented to a staff member(s) who exemplifies achievements related to SEAS activities over and above assigned responsibilities.

Winners:

Christina Escobar, Holly Evert, Rajan Batt and Xinnan (Simon).

Christina Escobar, Holly Evert, Rajan Batt and Xinnan (Simon) Peng. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Holly Evert, Assistant Director of Communications, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, for her work to ensure that the school's 30+ websites are in compliance with accessibility law. She volunteered to be the SEAS accessibility liaison, learned the tool Siteimprove and taught others how to use it, and drafted and instituted a new Online Document Policy for SEAS.

Simon Peng, machine shop experiential instructor, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, for his work to develop infrastructure to support excellent research and educational experiences, expand experiential learning programs and improve the academic support infrastructure in the engineering machine shop. School pride has grown among current students, and his willingness to give shop tours, often outside of normal working hours, has enhanced recruitment of new students.

Outstanding Customer Service Award

This award is presented to a staff member(s) who provides exemplary service to SEAS faculty, staff, students and other constituents within/outside their department.

Winner:

Rajan Batta, Jennifer Wojcik and Christina Escobar.

Rajan Batta, Jennifer Wojcik and Christina Escobar. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Jennifer Wojcik, assistant director of administration in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, for building strong relationships with faculty, staff and students in the department. She acted as Interim Director of Administration, and helped to recruit a permanent candidate for the position. She assists everyone in a professional and courteous way and is very knowledgeable and highly reliable.

Service Awards

10 Years of Service

  • Kathy Bartelo
  • Amanda Casali
  • Hui Meng
10 years of service awards.

10 years of Service Award: Rajan Batta and Kathy Bartelo. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

20 years of service awards.

20 years of Service Award: Rajan Batta and Jennifer Wojcik. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

20 Years of Service

  • Kris Schindler
  • Kathy Bernard
  • Donna Banach
  • Jennifer Wojcik