Faculty and students honored at college's annual awards banquet

June 11, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences celebrated exceptional students and faculty for their academic excellence, service and leadership during its annual Wilson Awards Banquet held at the end of the spring semester. The awards banquet is the college’s annual celebration of faculty and student accomplishments and is named in honor of Matthew and Anne Wilson, major benefactors of the college, and recognized nearly 60 students and fellow faculty with awards.

“We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of our faculty and staff,” said Lee Kump, John Leone Dean in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. “This annual award celebration offers the college an opportunity to honor and recognize the hard work of our faculty and students.”

This year’s recipients are listed below.

Celebrating excellence in research awards

Wilson Award for Excellence in Research 

The Wilson Award for Excellence in Research is the college’s highest research honor. This award is given in recognition of scholarly or creative excellence represented by a single contribution or a series of contributions around a coherent theme. The contribution may be original basic research or may represent the application of knowledge in the creation of a process or device useful to society. Recipient:

  • Erica Smithwick, professor of geography

Wilson Research Initiation Grant

The Wilson Research Initiation Grant was established to provide an extra spark to the research career of a junior faculty member. Recipient:

  • Hamid Emami-Meybodi, assistant professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering, selected for his proposal “A Diffusion Perspective on Solvent Injection in Ultratight Oil Reservoirs”

E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Faculty Fellowship

The E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Faculty Fellowship was created to support faculty of exceptional creativity who propose highly innovative approaches to major contemporary challenges in the earth, energy and material sciences. Recipients:

  • Alexander Klippel, professor of geography, selected for his proposal “Transforming Education, Communication, and Decision-Making Paradigms for Earth and Geospatial Sciences”
  • Meng Wang, assistant professor of environmental systems engineering, selected for her proposal “Dynamics of Reactive Nitrogen Released into Environment in Biological Nutrient Removal Processes”

George H. Deike, Jr. Research Grant

The George H. Deike, Jr. Research Grant is awarded in support of an innovative research project. Recipient:

  • Randy Vander Wal, professor of energy and mineral engineering and materials science and engineering, selected for his proposal “Transitioning to the H2 Economy Using Shale Gas”

Celebrating excellence in teaching awards

Wilson Award for Excellence in Teaching

This award is given in recognition of outstanding teaching represented by performance in a single course of instruction or a series of contributions around a coherent theme. The contribution may represent application of knowledge in a traditional classroom setting, field course or online education. Recipient:

  • Maureen Feineman, associate head for undergraduate programs in geosciences

G. Montgomery and Marion Hall Mitchell Award for Innovative Teaching

This award was created in 1998 to recognize faculty members in the college who use innovative teaching techniques in their courses. 

Recipients:

  • Ismaila Dabo, assistant professor of materials science and engineering
  • Eugene Morgan, assistant professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering

George H. K. Schenck Teaching Assistant Award

This award was created to honor and recognize an exemplary graduate student teaching assistant in the college. Recipient:

  • Michelle Ritchie, doctoral candidate in geography and climate science

John T. Ryan, Jr. Faculty Fellow

This award was created to provide supplementary funds to an outstanding faculty member in the college to further their contributions in teaching, research, and public service. Recipient:

  • Mort Webster, professor of energy engineering

Celebrating excellence in service awards

Wilson Award for Outstanding Service

Created in 1999, the Wilson Service Award recognizes exceptional service contributions to the college, the University and the community. Recipient:

  • Venkatraman Gopalan, professor of materials science and engineering

Faculty Mentoring Award

The Faculty Mentoring Award honors a faculty member who invests in the success of others, whether it is a new faculty member, a student or a staff member. This award recognizes the generous contribution of time and energy it takes to mentor in teaching, research and service. Recipient:

  • Jeffery Kohler, George H. Jr. and Anne B. Deike Endowed Chair in Mining Engineering

Faculty Advising Award

Created in 2013, the Faculty Advising Award is given in recognition of outstanding advising undertaken by faculty members to enhance the student’s experience at Penn State. Recipient:

  • Jon Nese, associate head for undergraduate programs in meteorology and atmospheric science

25-Year Service Awards

  • Eugene Clothiaux, professor of meteorology
  • Raymond Najjar, professor of oceanography
  • Suzanne Mohney, professor of materials science and engineering
  • Andrew Nyblade, professor of geosciences
  • Ann Taylor, assistant dean for distance learning, director of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute
  • Johannes Verlinde, professor of meteorology

Special Academic Recognition Awards

Paul F. Robertson Award for EMS Breakthrough of the Year

This award was created in 2012 with support from a generous gift by EMS alumnus Paul F. Robertson. This award is given to recognize achievements for a singular breakthrough in research or in the scholarship of teaching. Recipient:

  • Klaus Keller, professor of geosciences, for his pioneering research on climate risk analyses and communication

Charles L. Hosler Alumni Scholar Medal

The Charles L. Hosler Alumni Scholar Medal was established in 1992 to honor of one of our college’s former deans, Charlie Hosler. This award recognizes the very highest levels of intellectual achievement or academic service attained by alumni of the college, with emphasis given to those who have earned doctoral degrees. Recipient:

  • Stanley Benjamin, senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Celebrating junior faculty accomplishments

Gladys Snyder Junior Faculty Grants

The Gladys Snyder Junior Faculty Grants are awarded for proposals for the development of new courses or the improvement of current offerings; for travel to professional meetings; to broaden the studies of junior faculty members; or to recognize significant contributions in research efforts.

Recipients:

  • Jeremy Gernand, assistant professor of industrial health and safety, for his proposal “An Engineering Design Simulator for Risk-Related Decision Making”
  • Danielle Hickey, assistant research professor, for her proposal “Harnessing Machine Learning to Engineer Quantum Materials”
  • Joel Landry, assistant professor of environmental and energy economics, for his proposal “The Unintended Congestion Cost and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impacts of Solar Policies in California”

Student achievement awards

Jay M. and Katherine DeFinis Award for Outstanding Student Leadership

Established in 2005 to honor outstanding student leadership abilities within the student organizations of the college. Recipients:

  • Grayson Doucette, materials science and engineering
  • Virginia Marcon, geosciences
  • Vivian Rennie, meteorology and atmospheric science

Ellen Steidle Achievement Award

Established in 1953 by Dean Edward Steidle to honor the memory of his wife, this award recognizes students who have been active in advancing the welfare and improvement of the college. Recipients:

  • Senior: Andrew Patterson, geography
  • Junior: Liam Cummings, energy engineering

Edward Steidle Memorial Scholar Award

Established in 1981 to honor Edward Steidle, dean of the college from 1929 to 1953, this award broadens the educational opportunities for EMS students. Recipient:

  • Kittichote Veeranuntawet, geosciences

GEMS Diamond Award

Established in 2006, the GEMS Diamond Award grants a lifetime membership in the Penn State Alumni Association to a graduating student who is found to have the most well-rounded involvement and achievement in both the University and community environment during their student experience while in the college. Recipient:

  • Katherine Campayo, energy business and finance

Student marshal

The student marshal designation is given to the most accomplished graduate overall. Recipient:

  • Shawn Stephen Murdzek, dual bachelor of science/master of science in meteorology and atmospheric science, minor in mathematics

Engineering honor marshal

The award is for the top-ranking graduate in an engineering discipline. Recipient:

  • Muhamad S. Hakimi Bin Daud, B.S. petroleum and natural gas engineering, minor in energy business and finance

Earth and Mineral Sciences Academy for Global Experience (EMSAGE)

Established in 2009, the EMSAGE program helps students develop as communicators and collaborators and prepares them to be effective leaders in their disciplines and responsible global citizens. Students may aspire to EMSAGE Laureate status by achieving notable success in scholarship, service, global literacy and experiential learning. Recipients:

  • Katherine Campayo, energy business and finance
  • Margot Dormer, materials science and engineering
  • Beth Ann Eberle, geosciences
  • Max Glines, environmental systems engineering
  • Zachary Goulet, energy engineering
  • Joseph Grosso, geography
  • Catherine Hanagan, geosciences
  • Helen Kenion, environmental systems engineering
  • Sangyeop Kim, energy business and finance
  • Steven Langballe, petroleum and natural gas engineering
  • Shawn Murdzek, meteorology and atmospheric science
  • Anthony Preucil, meteorology and atmospheric science
  • Jake Rowe, meteorology and atmospheric science
  • Kristina Salvatore, meteorology and atmospheric science
  • Brandon Smith, meteorology and atmospheric science
  • Savanna Smith, meteorology and atmospheric science
  • Shaylee Traugh, materials science and engineering
  • Christopher Watkins, energy and sustainability policy
  • Mackenzie Williams, meteorology and atmospheric science

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Last Updated June 11, 2019