Two from SEAS named SUNY Distinguished Professors

Michael Constantinou and Johannes Nitsche.

Published November 13, 2014

Michael Constantinou and Johannes Nitsche were appointed SUNY Distinguished Professors, the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system, at the SUNY Board of Trustees’ meeting on November 6.

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Named Distinguished Professor in recognition of national or international prominence in the field was Michael Constantinou, professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering.

Johannes Nitsche, professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, was named a Distinguished Teaching Professor, which recognizes outstanding teaching at the graduate, undergraduate and professional levels.

One of the world’s leading scholars in the area of seismic protective systems, Michael Constantinou has had a profound impact on earthquake engineering in the U.S. and around the globe. His research has been employed to ensure the stability and safety of some of the world’s most prominent structures located in some of the most seismically active and highly populated regions of the world, from the San Francisco International Airport and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to on- and off-shore gas platforms in Greece and Russia. As deputy director of UB’s Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL), Constantinou has been principal or co-principal investigator on more than $30 million in externally funded research. His four patents — one in use and three pending after filing innovation disclosures — are described by colleagues as having the capability to protect millions of people from the effects of earthquakes, storms and other extreme events.

Johannes Nitsche, who serves as director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, is internationally known for his theoretical research in biological transport processes and dermal absorption. His teaching efforts have been recognized with numerous awards, among them the 1995 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and designation as the AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) Professor of the Year in 1996, 2002 and 2005. Nitsche’s contributions to teaching include development and implementation of the Spiral Learning Initiative in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, which has revolutionized the undergraduate curriculum in the department. He also played an instrumental role in revising the graduate curriculum to strengthen training in mathematics and computation. Nitsche recently received a book contract from Springer to write a problem-based textbook on transport phenomena that has the potential to be used by a growing number of bioengineering programs.

The rank of distinguished professor is an order above full professorship and has three co-equal designations: distinguished professor, distinguished service professor and distinguished teaching professor.

The SEAS faculty members were among 11 from across the SUNY system appointed by the trustees at last week’s meeting.