Rada Mihalcea, associate professor of computer science and engineering, was among 100 university researchers nationwide to earn a 2009 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor a beginning scientist or engineer can receive in the United States.
Mihalcea is the only professor at any Dallas-Fort Worth university to earn the recognition. She was honored by the White House for her groundbreaking research on understanding the meaning of text, a critical capability for many natural language and information processing applications, and for her exemplary commitments to education and community service.
The program recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers who, early in their careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of science and technology. Recipients receive their awards at a White House ceremony.
Mihalcea was recommended for the award by the National Science Foundation. She received the NSF’s prestigious CAREER award last year.
Srinivasan Srivilliputhur, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, received a National Science Foundation CAREER award, the most prestigious offered by the NSF for young researchers. The award supports the early career development activities of educators who effectively integrate research and education within the context of the missions of their organizations.
The grant will support Srivilliputhur’s five-year research study of ultra-light materials, focusing on magnesium-lithium alloys. Such materials could someday replace steel and result in significant cuts in fuel consumption, revolutionizing automobile construction.
Srivilliputhur also will focus on increasing the enrollment of blind students in science and engineering programs, working with the students and educators to develop course modules incorporating Braille and other useful tools.
He is the first faculty member in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering to win the CAREER award and the fifth at UNT.
He is among 162 chemists across the United States from universities and academic institutions, industry and government named fellows for their contributions to chemical research and distinguished service to the field.
Borden’s research includes the use of computers to understand and predict the behavior of molecules. He is one of the principal investigators in the National Science Foundation’s Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis, bringing together researchers across North America to find efficient and environmentally friendly methods of producing chemicals and fuels.
Borden, who joined UNT in 2004, has served as an associate editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society for 10 years.
Two UNT professors traveled and taught abroad in 2009 as part of the Fulbright Senior Specialists Program.
James Kennedy, professor of biology and director of the Elm Fork Education Center and Natural Heritage Museum, co-taught a graduate course on sub-Antarctic ecology at the University of Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Chile, where he has been a visiting professor in the graduate program in conservation and management of sub-Antarctic ecosystems for the past two years. He also is helping to develop a master of science dual degree program in sub-Antarctic bio-cultural conservation between UNT and the University of Magallanes. Kennedy’s research is in aquatic ecology with a focus on the biology of aquatic insects, specifically their biodiversity, life cycles, habitat relationships and bioenergetics. Kennedy is a founding member of the UNT-Chile Field Station.
James Meernik, professor of political science and associate dean for administrative affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences, taught a graduate-level course on post-conflict peace building at the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, in Toluca, near Mexico City. He also worked to establish a partnership between UNT and the Autonomous University that focuses on immigration research. Meernik specializes in post-conflict peace building and international criminal tribunals. He was named an American Council on Education fellow for 2009-10. The program identifies and prepares promising senior faculty and administrators for responsible positions in college and university administration. Meernik was one of 38 ACE fellows selected in 2009 in the nation, and one of two from Texas colleges and universities.
Recognized for his commitment to finding solutions to the world’s energy issues, Witold Brostow, Regents Professor of materials science and engineering, has been elected a member of the Ukrainian Academy of Petroleum and Gas. The academy, based in Kyiv, Ukraine, has members around the world.
Brostow leads UNT’s Laboratory of Advanced Polymers and Optimized Materials. Under his direction, researchers work to discover new properties and uses for plastics. The laboratory’s primary function is to find ways to improve the properties of existing materials or to create new ones that are scratch-resistant, have low friction, survive high temperatures and can sustain high impacts.
Some of the lab’s current research focuses on improving polymer coatings, including those on cookware. Since polymers are mainly made from petroleum, the researchers at LAPOM work with Ukrainian colleagues at the Lvivska Politechnika National University to find ways to reduce petroleum use in the production of polymers.
Brostow is a member of the European Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences of Mexico and the Union for Polymer Research in Berlin. He also is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in London and winner of the Fred A. Schwab International Award of the Society of Plastics Engineers.
Richard McCaslin, professor and chair of UNT’s Department of History, celebrates the first century of Texas’ oldest historical organization in his book, At the Heart of Texas: 100 Years of the Texas State Historical Association, 1897-1997, which recently won the 2007 Philosophical Society of Texas Award of Merit for the best fiction or nonfiction book published on Texas.
McCaslin, who was elected a TSHA fellow in 2006, won the Tullis Prize for his 1994 book Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October 1862. He also is the author of Lee in the Shadow of Washington, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won the Laney Prize from the Austin Civil War Round Table and the Slatten Award from the Virginia Historical Society.
UNT’s history faculty members have published more than 20 books about Texas history in the past 20 years. The TSHA moved to UNT in 2008.
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