UT outstanding advisers, researchers and teachers were recognized last week at the Academic Honors Reception.
Each 2009 award winner received a certificate and $1,500.
Recipients of the Outstanding Adviser awards are:
Chanda Filipek, academic program coordinator in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. She joined the staff in the College of Engineering in 2007.
“She is so helpful when you need anything about your classes, college life, or if you just need someone to talk to between classes,” one nominator wrote. “She is very approachable and always has a smile on her face, and that really goes a long way.” Another wrote, “She is prompt with inquiries and is always encouraging students to apply for scholarships and research. It is really obvious that she truly cares for students and wants all of us to be successful.” And another wrote, “She treats every student in our department as if they are her only student.”
“I feel it is extremely important to form a solid advising relationship with my students that begins during recruitment and extends through graduation,” Filipek said. “This gives the students a sense of belonging and direction. It also conveys to them that I have a personal interest in their academic success and goals. By allowing myself to be easily accessed by the students and being continually student-centered, trust is developed and trust is the key component to any successful relationship.”
Dr. David Wilson, associate professor of political science. He joined the University faculty in 1970. He received one of UT’s Outstanding Teacher awards in 1986.
“During the orientation class, he made sure the whole class was not a waste of time but a 50-minute class worth going to,” one nominator wrote. “I found out about a lot of programs that the University offers and just the overall spirit of getting involved. This was very critical for me, too, because I hardly saw what friends I did have so the emphasis to get involved and meet new people on campus while having fun was a huge help.” Another noted, “You can really tell him what’s going on and it seems he has all the answers.”
“The satisfaction which I derive from advising is a reflection of my love of teaching. I view advising as an extension of teaching: both provide an opportunity to impart some knowledge and contribute to the personal and intellectual development of our students,” Wilson said. “An important quality for an adviser is the ability to relate to students. This takes time, effort, patience, and a sense of humor and perspective, but I think above all it requires that you simply like students.”
Recipients of the Outstanding Researcher awards are:
Dr. Abdul-Majeed Azad, associate professor of chemical engineering. Since joining the University in 2003, he has become internationally known in the area of nanomaterials for advanced energy systems. His work has contributed to the development and understanding of methods for the generation of clean fuels such as hydrogen using nanomaterials as well as the design and creation of a new family of catalysts and desulfurizers for fuel purification and pollution control systems.
“I have observed him developing himself and establishing a national and international recognition in the area of advance energy systems,” one nominator wrote. “Those systems adapt to the environment using nanomaterials, catalysts and sensors. Such systems have a wide range of applications in the areas of clean energy generation, fuel cells, biotechnology, aerospace engineering and automotive industry.”
Azad has written 87 journal articles, 28 papers in conference proceedings and 13 research reports. He has been awarded two U.S. patents and one Malaysian patent. While at UT, he has filed 12 patent applications and invention disclosures, and has received seven grants totaling $1.2 million as principal investigator and six grants for $5.6 million as co-principal investigator. He recently received the Nano50 award for developing a new nanotechnology-derived process to make hydrogen fuel from a byproduct of steel production.
Dr. Neil Reid, associate professor of geography and planning. He joined the UT faculty as an assistant professor in 1991 and was named associate professor in 1997. He has served as a faculty research associate, interim director and director for the Urban Affairs Center, and director of the Master of Liberal Studies Program. Reid has emerged as an internationally recognized authority on cluster-based economic development, which is a strategy that emphasizes collaboration between business, academe and the community as the foundation for a region’s economic development efforts.
“Dr. Reid’s research is being applied to improve economic conditions in new and creative ways. His work has successfully bridged the gap between the academy and the wider world,” wrote a nominator. “These accomplishments are all the more relevant to the directions and mission of The University of Toledo as his efforts focus on engaging the entities that can create and stimulate economic growth.”
His research has received more than $1.8 million in federal funding. Reid recently was appointed to the executive committee of the European ProCluster Association (EPROCA) and to the EPROCA team that will train European cluster managers this year. He is a co-founder of the Maumee Valley Growers Association and serves as the North American editor for the new journal, Regional Science Policy and Practice.
Recipients of the Outstanding Teacher awards are:
Dr. Paul Fritz, associate professor of communication. He came to UT in 1980 as an assistant professor and was named associate professor in 1985.
“I took only one class with Dr. Fritz, Interpersonal Communication, yet it had the most impact of any class I took while at The University of Toledo,” one nominator wrote. “In my profession as a police officer, communication is essential. The way I listen and speak with people can either escalate or hopefully de-escalate a situation.” Another noted, “Dr. Fritz teaches his class how to effectively use communication in job situations and in their everyday lives. He does this by sharing real-world experiences and incidents in the workplace and then showing how to deal with those situations.”
“In every class, UT students insist that I answer the question ‘How can we use this course in the real world?’ To answer that question, I need to visualize the communication problems my students endure and design helpful solutions helpful for them,” Fritz said. “The best teacher is he who never forgets what it was like to be a student.”
Dr. Sally Harmych, lecturer in biological sciences. She received her bachelor and doctoral degrees from the University in 1992 and 2000, respectively. In 2003, she began teaching as a visiting assistant professor at her alma mater and was promoted to lecturer in 2006.
“Dr. Harmych deserves this award because she is a teacher who comes to class with a great attitude,” one nominator wrote. “Her lectures engage the students on subjects that would be boring in any other class. She cares that each student fully understands the material that is covered in the course.” Another wrote, “She may not realize it, and, having hundreds of students in one class, may not think she has an impact on anyone. In my other classes — the ones with only 20 students — I do not have the same relaxed, excited, can’t-wait-to-go-to-class ambition that I do when I think of my biology class.”
“This is such an honor and a complete surprise!” Harmych said. “My teaching philosophy has always been that the student comes first. So that even in a classroom of 300 students I try to make sure every student feels like they are a part of the discussion.”
Dr. James Kamm, professor of engineering technology. He joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1974 and was promoted to professor in 1994.
“It was clear that he not only strove to teach but to develop students into engineers,” wrote one nominator. Another noted, “He shows a great interest in the students; that they recognize this is highlighted by the number of graduates who stay in touch with him after gaining their degrees.” Another wrote, “Several years after I graduated, I contacted him about becoming a professional engineer. He spent time with me by e-mail, phone and weekends going over materials that I had long given up to the scholastic world.”
“Students have enjoyed me and benefited from me, but I have enjoyed and benefited from them. Their questions are often the source of new research. Sometimes they ask questions that I’ve thought about at times and then given up on. So I take time to think about them again and see if I can go any further now,” Kamm said. “It is a great job that I have that I can pursue problems for no other purpose than that they need an answer. Usually though, if there is resolution, the whole matter will find its way into my courses.”
Dr. Sakui Malakpa, professor of early childhood, physical and special education. He joined UT in 1986 as assistant professor, was named associate professor in 1990 and professor in 1998.
“His teaching strategies are fantastic,” one nominator wrote. “He makes learning the most difficult things easy and interesting, and he incorporates everyday life experiences and humor into the course. He is a very compassionate and understanding teacher that inspires me and makes me want to learn.” Another wrote, “Dr. Malakpa is very understanding and willing to work with me. He will take away from his home life to help me understand the material, and he calls from home to make sure that I am where I am supposed to be in the course content.”
“The students truly are my source of energy and joy,” Malakpa said. “No matter what mood I’m in, when I enter the class, I’m alive and animated.”