University honors four faculty for scholarship, teaching

Posted: July 20, 2021

Four College of Engineering faculty received 2021 distinguished awards for scholarship and teaching from The Ohio State University.

Distinguished University Professor

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Umit Ozkan

Distinguished Professor Umit Ozkan, chair of the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, received Ohio State’s highest faculty honor—the title of Distinguished University Professor. She is one of only 68 awardees to receive the honor, which dates back to 1987.

Martha Chamallas, who holds the Robert J. Lynn Chair at the Moritz College of Law, was also named a 2021 Distinguished University Professor.

“Distinguished University Professors Chamallas and Ozkan represent the best of Ohio State,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron. “Both have made countless contributions to their fields and to the Ohio State community over the years.”

The Office of Academic Affairs awards the Distinguished University Professor title to full professors who have exceptional records in teaching, research, scholarly or creative work, and service. Distinguished University Professors automatically become members of the President’s and Provost’s Advisory Committee and are awarded a $30,000 grant to support their academic work.

Ozkan’s work focuses on unraveling the complex processes that mediate chemical and electrochemical reactions. Specifically, she is known for her ground-breaking research in heterogeneous catalysis, in which she and her team are exploring the nature of active sites on catalyst surfaces. The goal, ultimately, is to design catalysts with the desired molecular architecture for specific reactions. This finds application, for example, in catalytic water treatment to decontaminate groundwater and in the development of alternative electrocatalyst materials for cleaner, environmentally friendly fuel cells.

Ozkan is internationally recognized and highly cited, with more than 200 refereed publications, seven patents, 15 books and book chapters, and over 140 invited and keynote lectures to her credit.

She is a fellow of the American Chemical Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Institute of Chemists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and serves on the editorial boards for 10 of the top catalysis journals.

When she was hired in 1985 as an assistant professor, she was the first woman to join Ohio State’s chemical engineering department and was the only woman on its faculty for 19 years. She was the first woman to serve as associate dean for research at the college and the first woman to serve as the chair of her department. Ozkan has received every major award the college offers, including being named a College of Engineering Distinguished Professor. In 1999, Ohio State recognized her as a University Distinguished Scholar.

“As a proud Buckeye who called Ohio State her academic home for more than 36 years, I am extremely humbled by this recognition,” Ozkan said. “I would like to share it with all my graduate and undergraduate students, who kept challenging me to be a better teacher, a better researcher and a better citizen of the world.”

Distinguished Scholar Award

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Linda Weavers

Linda Weavers, professor and John C. Geupel Endowed Chair in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering, received a 2021 Distinguished Scholar Award in honor of her exceptional scholarly accomplishments.

Weavers is an internationally recognized leader in the development and application of ultrasound technologies to treat contaminants in engineered and natural water systems. She has made foundational contributions to the fundamental understanding of how temperature, pressure and short‐lived intermediate reactive species contribute to the breakdown of organic materials in water and solid phases. Findings from her work have implications for the destruction of hazardous contaminants during water treatment. She has over 100 publications and one patent.

One colleague nominator stated, “She is without a doubt one of the world’s most renowned experts in the area of sound energy harnessed for environmental remediation. Professor Weavers’ work has led to fundamental and practical advances in the areas of oxidation chemistry, degradation of emerging and persistent environmental pollutants, and enhancement of water quality.”

Weavers is also co-director of the Ohio Water Resources Center, the federally-authorized Water Resources Research Institute for the state. 

“Linda is not only an eminent scholar in her field, she is also highly respected among her faculty peers at Ohio State as a research leader in water,” said another colleague. “She is leading impactful interdisciplinary water research both on campus and across the state of Ohio.”

Among her many accolades, Weavers received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and the American Association of University Women Emerging Scholar Award for her research. She twice received the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors.

Distinguished Teaching Award  

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Rebecca Dupaix

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Rebecca Dupaix received a 2021 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, which recognizes superior teaching.

Students rave about Dupaix’s efforts to create a welcoming environment for her students, her ability to make difficult material accessible and to infuse lectures with real-life examples to aid in understanding, her willingness and availability to help students, and her mentorship of women students.

“Rebecca Dupaix is devoted to her students and to her craft,” one of her student nominators wrote. “She cares deeply about teaching and it showed through her preparation and enthusiasm in the classroom.”

Dupaix’s faculty colleagues note that she is as dedicated to the department as she is to her students. As associate chair of undergraduate studies for the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Dupaix was responsible for the department’s conversion to online learning last fall. As part of this, she created an online teaching resource of best practices, and helped find solutions to issues experienced by faculty and students.

She also coordinates a series of seminars and events for women graduate students to help them get to know women faculty members and build a community. Students consider her a mentor and role model, as well as an excellent professor.

“Rebecca is a caring and inclusive person,” one of her colleagues stated. “She will support students regardless of where they're coming from. Her ultimate goal is to promote understanding and learning for all students, no matter the difficulty they may encounter with the class topic, and she makes them feel welcome and valued while doing so.”

An Ohio State faculty member since 2003, Dupaix has also received the Excellence in Teaching award from Ohio State Mechanical Engineering Industrial Advisory Board and the student-nominated Above and Beyond award from Pi Tau Sigma. 

Headshot of ​ Li-Chiang Lin  ​
Li-Chiang Lin

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Assistant Professor Li-Chiang Lin also received a 2021 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching.

His students note his passion and proficiency as a teacher and praise his ability to make dense, technical material understandable and engaging.

“Li-Chiang Lin’s passion for teaching is made apparent every day. His students are always his top priority, no matter how busy he gets,” wrote one student nominator. “Every class he teaches is meticulously planned and well thought out, and his lectures are engaging and interactive. Even in online classes, he still handwrites the notes for every class to keep students involved and avoid the common disconnect in virtual teaching brought on by passive presentations. The effort he puts into making his classes meaningful and understandable is unmatched.”

Colleagues and students alike praised Lin’s efforts to adapt and be flexible while teaching during the pandemic. He developed pre-recorded lectures and created special discussion forums for each lecture. He quickly communicated with students and continued to provide his hallmark assistance remotely, prompting one student to share that “Despite teaching in an online environment, I don't feel as though I'm learning any less in this class than I would in person.”

Lin also mentors students who are interested in pursuing a career in science and has inspired several students to pursue further study in their field.

“Professors like Dr. Lin are the reason why my career goal is to become a professor; the feeling of inspiration he has instilled in me is something I would like to be able to share with others,” wrote another student nominator. “As an educator, he is fair, passionate, and inexhaustible. As a person, he is genuine and kind. I am a better person for having the opportunity to learn and work under him, and you would be hard-pressed to find a student who did not have good things to say about this incredible professor.”

A member of the Ohio State faculty since 2016, Lin has also received the College of Engineering’s Charles E. MacQuigg Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Categories: AwardsFaculty