University honors 10 exceptional faculty and staff
Ten College of Engineering faculty and staff received 2023 awards from The Ohio State University in recognition of their distinguished scholarship, teaching, service and achievements.
Distinguished University Professor
A true pioneer in the biomaterials field, Distinguished Professor of Engineering Stuart L. Cooper received Ohio State’s highest faculty honor—the title of Distinguished University Professor. A faculty member in the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, he is one of only 75 awardees ever.
Known for his immense contributions to fundamental understanding and technological application, Cooper has broken vital new ground in understanding interactions of polymeric materials with physiological fluids and tissues. The formidable scientist, leader, teacher and mentor of world acclaim has, in many ways, served as an inspiration to the fields of biomedical and biological engineering, noted a nominator.
Cooper is a consummate scientific mentor who is welcoming and supportive of all ideas and able to stimulate individuals to think creatively. His reputation as a teacher and mentor extends to his outstanding graduate students, for whom he has always been readily available, as well as to younger faculty and colleagues in the field. He mentored 62 PhD students, many of whom have succeeded at high levels. In 2018, he won the College of Engineering Faculty Mentoring Award celebrating these efforts. He served as chair of the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from 2004 to 2014.
Cooper has won major national and international awards that derive not only from his brilliant work but his incredible service across a broad domain. His contributions were recognized at the highest level within the engineering profession when he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Other awards include Founders Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers; Founders Award, Society for Biomaterials; Founding Fellow, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering; International Award for Achievement in Biomaterials, Japanese Society for Biomaterials; Chemistry of Thermoplastic Elastomers Award, American Chemical Society; and Fellow, American Chemical Society, Polymer Division.
Distinguished Scholar Award
Jeffrey Chalmers, professor of chemical engineering, earned a 2023 Distinguished Scholar Award. One of the university’s highest annual honors, it recognizes faculty who demonstrate scholarly activity, research or creative works that represent exceptional achievements in their fields.
Chalmers is researching intrinsic magnetization cell separation and immunomagnetic cell separation, cancer detection and bioengineering. He has been the leading international researcher in mammalian bioprocess engineering for more than 30 years and his contributions have changed the way mammalian cell culture engineering is undertaken around the world in both industry and academia. In the coming decades, cell separations will become increasingly important for the next wave of biologics, both for examining diseased cells as well as treating disease with cell therapies.
“Dr. Chalmers' work has helped to pioneer commercial human therapeutics from cell cultures,” said Peter Mohler, interim executive vice president for research, innovation and knowledge. “He has created true scientific impact, both through his research as well as through his mentoring of more than 50 trainees.”
In her nomination letter, Umit Ozkan, chair of the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, highlighted the influence Chalmers has had on his field. “The importance of Professor Chalmers’ contributions to this industry is underscored by the fact that nearly 40% of all new pharmaceuticals are biologically produced and their production is based in part on some of the discoveries made by Professor Chalmers and his students over the years.”
Arriving at Ohio State in 1988, Chalmers is currently the Helen C Kurtz Chair in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, where he was recently recognized with the Clara M. and Peter L. Scott Faculty Award for Excellence in Engineering Education. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Chemical Engineering and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He holds 13 patents.
Xiaodong Zhang, the Robert M. Critchfield Professor in Engineering in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), also received a 2023 Distinguished Scholar Award in recognition of decades of research leadership.
Zhang's research interests cover a wide spectrum in the areas of high performance and distributed systems, with data management in computer and scalable systems being a common thread among his projects. He has transferred his academic research into advanced technology to impact general-purpose production systems in both hardware and software. Several technical innovations and research results from his team have been widely adopted in commercial processors, major operating systems and databases with direct contributions to the advancement of the computer and distributed systems.
“Dr. Zhang’s dedication to teaching, research, mentorship and leadership are the embodiment of the spirit of this award,” said Peter Mohler, interim executive vice president for research, innovation and knowledge.
Prior to joining Ohio State as CSE chair in 2006, Zhang was Lettie Pate Evans Professor and Chair of Computer Science Department at the College of William and Mary and served as the program director on high-performance computing at the National Science Foundation. He was recognized by ACM Microarchitecture Test of Time Award in 2020. He is also a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and a Fellow of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Fellow 2023 Distinguished Scholar Award recipient Matthew Sullivan is a professor of microbiology in the College of Arts and Sciences with a joint appointment in the Department of Civil and Geodetic Engineering.
The ‘microbiome’ is increasingly recognized to drive Earth’s ecosystems, including in humans, but it does so under constraints imposed by viruses. Sullivan pioneered viral ecogenomics as a means to study viruses in complex communities via quantitative viral metagenomic sample-to-sequence pipelines, new approaches to link viruses and hosts, and developing iVirus, a community-available analytical platform. In the oceans, Sullivan has vastly expanded our understanding of the global virosphere, established automatable scalable taxonomic approaches, and elucidated how ‘wild’ viruses evolve and even metabolically reprogram the most abundant photosystems on the planet. Outside the oceans, Sullivan has adapted these toolkits for use in extreme environments, soils and humans with each new environment leading to myriad discoveries that place viruses at the core of these microbial ecosystems.
After spending seven years at the University of Arizona, Sullivan began his work as an assistant professor at Ohio State in 2015. He is the founding director of the Center for Microbiome Science which encompasses more than 100 microbiologists from nine colleges across campus. His honors include election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, selection as a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigator, a Kavli Fellow and a Beckman Mentor.
Distinguished Faculty Service Award
Kay Bea Jones, professor of architecture in the Knowlton School, received a 2023 President and Provost's Award for Distinguished Faculty Service in honor of her impactful contributions to the development and implementation of university policies and programs.
A dedicated teacher, mentor and creative professional, Jones has served as a catalyst for productive change since arriving at the Knowlton School in 1985.
"Her most sustained accomplishments toward social justice can be seen in her dedication to equity for women on campus and in the profession," noted a nominator.
Instrumental in helping found The Women's Place at Ohio State, Jones was recognized as a Glass Breaker by the President and Provost's Council on Women for her efforts to improve workplace culture and uplift women across the university. An equally passionate innovator, she was awarded the College of Engineering's Ralph L. Boyer Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Innovation in recognition of her work in founding the Knowlton School's global education program in Rome, which she led for 30 years.
Distinguished Teaching Award
Material Science and Engineering Professor Sheikh Akbar received a 2023 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, which recognizes superior teaching.
Widely known for creating an engaging classroom experience in which students feel supported and empowered, throughout his extraordinary career Akbar has consistently demonstrated excellence in teaching to generations of students, noted his nominators.
A 2018 Fellow of the Electrochemical Society, Akbar received the Mars G. Fontana Outstanding Teacher Award in Materials Science and Engineering in 2016 and 2017.
Akbar's recent work focuses on synthesis-microstructure-property relations of ceramic bulk, thin-film and nano-heterostructure for electrochemical devices (sensors and fuel cells) and biomedical applications. He has co-edited two books on sensors and has published more than 260 technical papers and holds eight patents.
Abdollah Shafieezadeh, Lichtenstein Associate Professor of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering, also earned a 2023 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching.
Shafieezadeh is actively engaged in developing student‐centered learning approaches and building his cultural competencies to support students who are typically underrepresented in engineering disciplines. A College of Engineering Diversity Partner, he has also obtained an inclusive mentoring endorsement through the Better Science through Better Mentoring program.
A thoughtful, caring teacher, Shafieezadeh works to create a learning environment where complex topics are grounded in real‐world problems and actionable solutions, emulating the team workplace culture of practicing engineers, noted his nominators. Shafieezadeh directs Ohio State's Risk Assessment and Management of Structural and Infrastructure Systems lab and is the associate editor of the Journal of Structural Engineering.
Distinguished Teaching by a Lecturer Award
Patrick Sours received a 2023 Provost's Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Lecturer in recognition of his teaching excellence. Sours is a senior lecturer in the Departments of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering, and Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
An enthusiastic, patient and encouraging instructor, Sours is not only immensely successful in engaging students, but he also goes out of his way to create a culture of wellness, noted a nominator. He was recognized as a Diversity Partner in the College of Engineering's Inclusive Excellence Certificate Program. He also earned the Inclusive Teaching endorsement from the Michael V. Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning.
Sours has been active in leading three important pedagogical innovations to serve students across the College of Engineering: establishing the Humanitarian Engineering Lab, Integrating a Cultural Competency Framework into his courses and renewing the humanitarian engineering minor.
Distinguished Staff Award
Jessica Baer-Graves, manager of student services for the Knowlton School, received a 2023 Distinguished Staff Award, the university’s highest staff recognition. The award honors individuals for their outstanding achievements, service, leadership and dedication to Ohio State, as well as exemplifying the university’s shared values.
Baer-Graves champions student success, from their admission to graduation and beyond. Her innovative approach, empathy and strategic thinking has developed a culture of care for students. She established the Knowlton food pantry; established a BIPOC peer mentoring group; and organized a series of sensitivity trainings for faculty and staff.
Baer-Graves’ compassion in her personal outreach to students who exhibit signs of struggling in the classroom is unparalleled as she partners with them to find solutions and keep them enrolled in school.
Ana Casado, graduate program and grants coordinator for the Department of Engineering Education, also earned a 2023 Distinguished Staff Award for her exceptional leadership and dedication.
Casado makes a tremendous impact on the Department of Engineering Education through her approachable, empathetic nature with students and immense initiative to develop creative, innovative solutions to advance the program.
She was a key contributor in the creation of the Department of Engineering Education PhD program, in which she assisted designing co-curricular elements, established recruitment practices, and developed policies and procedures to help students transition seamlessly into the new program. Casado’s work has grown the program, and her personal connection with students has been invaluable to increasing retention and helping them determine career trajectories.