Awards of Excellence celebrate College's distinguished array of talented educators

Fifteen College of Engineering educators were honored at the 2022 Faculty and Lecturer Excellence Awards Banquet on April 22 in the Kurtz Atrium at Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering. It was the 20th year for the event.

Fifteen College of Engineering educators were honored at the 2022 Faculty and Lecturer Excellence Awards Banquet on April 22 in the Kurtz Atrium at Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering. It was the 20th year for the event.

The internal awards ceremony is held each year to recognize and celebrate achievements in teaching, research, mentorship, and outreach. This year’s recipients were selected for a wide range of talents, including: groundbreaking discoveries and inventions; expertise in online classrooms and labs; encouraging students to become global citizens; guiding mentees to high-level careers; making game-changing contributions to the curriculum; positively placing Purdue in the national spotlight; fostering a sense of community for fellow faculty; and creatively engaging students in the classroom.

Video testimonials illustrating the recipients’ impact on the College and Purdue preceded each award presentation.

Mung Chiang, the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering and executive vice president of Purdue University for strategic initiatives, greeted the guests of honor and those gathered to support them.

“The 15 recipients of these 10 faculty and lecturer awards in 2022, across the categories of teaching and mentoring, research and innovation, and leadership and service, represent the caliber and impact of Purdue Engineering faculty,” Chiang said. “We thank the nominators, the selection committees and all the teams behind the recognized work for attaining the pinnacle of excellence at scale.”

Dean Mung Chiang welcomes award recipients, families, and friends to the annual Faculty and Lecturer Awards of Excellence Banquet, held April 22 at Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering.

2022 Award Recipients


Dean A.A. Potter Undergraduate Teaching Award

Elliott Slamovich
Professor, School of Materials Engineering

For leadership in developing hybrid Materials Engineering courses that have served increasing numbers of students equitably while maintaining instructional quality, and for his deeply engaging instructional approach that inspires students to use their technical expertise to address broader social challenges.

In his 30 years at Purdue, Slamovich has made a name for himself as a faculty member with a student-centric approach to teaching and learning. He has carried out foundational changes in the content and delivery of materials processing, selection, and design. In 2013, he was the first instructor to add a “Boilercast” section that he created to enable the growth of MSE enrollment while maintaining quality of instruction. 

He is a seven-time recipient of MSE’s Schumann Best Undergraduate Teacher Award and also has been honored with an NSF CAREER Award, the General Motors Outstanding Distance Learning Award, and is a fellow of the Purdue Teaching Academy.

Early Career Teaching Award         

Neera Jain
Assistant Professor, School of Mechanical Engineering        

For promoting classroom engagement through the use of innovative course materials, and for her longstanding commitment to continual improvement of instructional effectiveness.

One of the hallmarks of Jain’s control systems and thermodynamics courses is the design of effective materials to promote classroom engagement. Students rate her as kind, positive, observant and knowledgeable in class and inviting and helpful outside of the classroom.

Jain’s open-door policy has spurred conversations with students about previously unspoken struggles as well as educational and career goals. She has supervised seven undergraduate students through independent study projects and 10 more as paid undergraduate research assistants. With her help, one student received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and is now pursuing a PhD at UC Berkeley. Jain was named a Purdue Outstanding Engineering Teacher based on high teaching evaluations and is the recipient of the 2021 Violet Haas Memorial Fellowship.

Early Career Teaching Award

Timothy Rogers, Assistant Professor
Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering

For creating a welcoming and inclusive environment that enhances student learning, and for continually updating lectures and labs to reflect the latest practices used in industry and research.

Rogers entices students to attend his lectures through the promise of interactivity and a dynamic learning environment customized for each class. He generously meets with students outside the classroom, and those who have taken his career advice have accepted job offers at companies like Facebook, Intel, Google, and Microsoft.

Based on student feedback, he restructured lab quizzes, rehauled the course’s lecture slides to reflect an updated view of microcontrollers, and modernized content by tying in the latest machines and practices used in both industry and research. He is the recipient of the Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Teacher Award and the Hesselberth Award for Teaching Excellence, and he has been included in the list of Outstanding Engineering Teachers for three consecutive semesters.

Graduate Student Mentorship Award

Xianfan Xu
James J. and Carol L. Shuttleworth Professor of Mechanical Engineering

For empowering graduate students from diverse backgrounds to achieve great success in their professional pursuits, including thirteen who are now faculty members at world-class universities and many others holding positions of leadership in industry.

In his nearly 27 years at Purdue, Xu has mentored an astounding 168 graduate and undergraduate students. One former student received the NSF’s highest honor for early-career scientists and engineers. He enthusiastically recruits students from diverse backgrounds and encourages them to achieve overall professional growth by cultivating communication skills, critical thinking, independence, and teamwork.

Xu has to his credit 216 published journal papers, eight book chapters, 320 conference papers, and 140 keynote, plenary, and invited lectures. His publications have attracted more than 20,000 citations. He is the recipient of the ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award, the highest lifetime achievement honor in the field of heat transfer.

Graduate Student Mentorship Award

Venkatesh Merwade
Professor, Lyles School of Civil Engineering

For harnessing his graduate students’ individual needs, strengths, and capabilities, guiding them to win multiple national research grants and fellowships and achieve rewarding careers in academia and industry.

Merwade spearheaded multiple NSF-sponsored projects with worldwide significance. Under his guidance, students have addressed the water shortage in developing countries and developed a technique for predicting flood risks in large basins in data-poor regions. His unwavering support of his students has resulted in them winning competitive research grants and fellowships.

Merwade himself has earned a cadre of awards, including Purdue Civil Engineering’s Roy E. & Murna G. Wansik Teaching Award (2021) and the Highly Commended Paper Award from the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management for an article in the Journal of Flood Risk Management.

Online Education Award

Christopher Brinton
Assistant Professor, Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering

For his track-record of innovation and leadership in online education, which has enabled him to deliver a suite of innovative, high-quality online data science courses to Purdue students as well as to Cummins Inc. and Eli Lilly and Company employees.

Brinton’s well-received innovative flipped classroom model in the fall of 2020 entailed lectures delivered virtually via Zoom in the evenings, with regularly scheduled class times utilized as recitations. Students described his materials as simple to find, read, watch and interpret. Building on that model, he co-led an effort to transform the material from this class into a multi-course online data sciences series for industry employees.

In just his second year of teaching, Brinton received ECE’s 2020 Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Teaching Award, becoming the most junior faculty member in the school to ever receive this honor.

Lecturer Award

Beth Hess, Senior Lecturer
School of Mechanical Engineering

For her unique approach to student learning that empowers students to embrace their own resourcefulness and curiosity as they learn to solve engineering problems, and for tirelessly supporting faculty and graduate student colleagues’ pursuit of teaching excellence.

Whether it’s through her approachable nature, sharing her viewpoint as a mechanical engineering alumna, or relaying her experiences in industry, Hess has the keen ability to connect with students. As suggested by her near-perfect instructor evaluation scores, students routinely name her as their favorite ME instructor, and often, their overall favorite at Purdue.

In her teaching of ME 290, historically one of the lowest-ranked required courses, she embedded 70 upper-division students to serve as peer mentors. Positive perceptions of the course were dramatic. Hess earned ME’s Mission & Core Values Award in Spring 2021 and has been included in the College’s list of Outstanding Engineering Teachers five times.

Lecturer Award

Waterloo Tsutsui, Lecturer and Lab Coordinator
School of Aeronautics and Astronautics

For enhancing student learning through the implementation of virtual labs and innovative animations in his courses, and for contributions to the scholarship of teaching and learning.

In response to a dramatic enrollment surge that could not be accommodated with existing physical facilities, Tsutsui in 2018 introduced virtual labs as part of the course work for AAE 20401. Later that year, he was part of a multi-disciplinary group of faculty who received funding from Purdue’s Instructional Innovation Program to implement additional virtual labs. In Fall 2021, he created and implemented animation in the course to close the gap between virtual lab exercises and aircraft structures in the field.

He has been recognized three times as an Outstanding Engineering Teacher and is the recipient of the W.A. Gustafon Award and the Graduate School Excellence in Teaching Award from the Center for Instructional Excellence.


Early Career Research Award

Wenzhuo Wu
Ravi and Eleanor Talwar Rising Star Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering

For pioneering contributions to nanomanufacturing, including the development of tellurene-based technologies as well as triboelectric and piezo-electrocatalytic sensors, which enable major advances in nanoelectronics, healthcare, wearable devices, and quantum technologies.

Wu is known as a pioneer of wearable triboelectric sensors using biomaterials such as lignin, chitosan, and PVA-gelatin. He has enabled the design and holistic engineering of materials for self-powered devices that can continuously monitor vital physiological signals. In the largest integration of functional nanomaterials documented to date, Wu developed the first and largest three-dimensional integration of nanowire transistors for artificial skin applications, enabling unprecedented applications in human-machine interfaces and prosthetics.

Wu is the recipient of the ARO Young Investigator Award, an NSF CAREER Award, and the TMS Functional Materials Division’s Young Leaders Professional Development Award. His Purdue research has drawn $6.8M in external federal funding.

Impact on Industry Award

Gregory Shaver
Professor, School of Mechanical Engineering

For groundbreaking partnerships with leading firms in the commercial vehicle industry, which have generated major breakthroughs in internal combustion engine efficiency, hybrid-electric powertrains, and vehicle automation systems.

With partners Peloton Technology and Cummins and sponsorship from the Departments of Transportation and Energy, Shaver’s group is advancing truck platooning technology, which uses wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communication, automated braking and acceleration systems, and complex algorithms to enable a pair (or more) of semi-trucks to safely travel in close proximity, reducing wind resistance on both vehicles.

Shaver has orchestrated state-of-the-art experimental facilities through industry partnerships and external funding in excess of $20.5M. These facilities provide a top-notch platform in which his students train to be experts in industry and academia. More than half of his former students have found employment at industry partner companies, and two former PhD students are now collaborating with industry as tenure-track faculty.

Impact on Industry Award

Wenbin Yu
Professor, School of Aeronautics and Astronautics

For the development of widely used composite materials simulation software, which has greatly enhanced the ability of leading firms in the aerospace, rotocraft, and wind energy industries to implement new composite materials in their manufacturing processes.

Yu is the creator of variational asymptotic beam sectional analysis (VABS) software, which is internationally known and often the tool of choice for modeling helicopter rotor blades. Yu and his students have developed seven computer codes, four of which have been commercialized. He created the company AnalySwift to market his computational tools commercialized by Purdue Research Foundation. The company has been awarded contracts with NASA, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Navy.

Yu’s research is embodied in 125 journal papers, more than 130 proceeding articles, four book chapters, and one book. His research has been supported by external grants totaling $46M. He was elected a fellow of ASME in 2014 and an associate fellow of AIAA in 2011.

Research Award

Xiulin Ruan
Professor, School of Mechanical Engineering

For disruptive contributions to the field of thermal transport, including the theoretical computation of four-phonon scattering and the development of ultra-white radiative cooling paint, which has the potential to significantly reduce space cooling costs and alleviate global warming.

Ruan set a skeptical scientific world on its ear when he introduced a calculation for four-phonon scattering, proving its important role in semiconductors. After his studies were validated by three independent experiments and published in three papers in Science, his theory quickly gained wide acceptance and interest in a variety of fields.

His group further utilized the theory to reduce building energy consumption by formulating the “world’s whitest paint,” the news of which was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records and more than 1,000 global media outlets. Ruan currently is partnering with industry and federal agencies toward testing and commercialization of his cooling paints.


Engagement Award         

Kerrie Douglas, Assistant Professor
School of Engineering Education

For national and international leadership in engaging engineering educators in supporting their students online at a large-scale during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Douglas became a go-to source for practical ideas, resources, and support, and she reassured faculty that they could be effective throughout the pandemic. Douglas produced videos —viewed on YouTube more than 7,500 times — targeted at faculty transitioning to online learning.

From March 2020 to February 2022, she spoke at 18 invited events with a combined total of more than 4,000 live attendees and 8,500 registrations and views on social media. She also delivered a webinar to prepare faculty for teaching remotely as part of a series offered by the IEEE Education Society. Nearly 3,000 people registered for her session in advance, 903 attended the live presentation, and 623 later watched the on-demand stream.

Engagement Award

Daniel DeLaurentis, Professor
School of Aeronautics and Astronautics

For advancing Purdue Engineering’s leadership in the critical areas of defense and global security by building innovative partnerships with top-level military, industry, and academic entities.

DeLaurentis has been a key factor in establishing Purdue Engineering as a leader in the critical areas of defense and global security. He has hosted high-ranking military officials, visited Capitol Hill, and served as technical advisor to the Missile Defense Agency and the World Bank. As the founding director of the Institute for Global Security and Defense, he has nurtured partnerships with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and the Army Research Laboratory.

He has connected researchers and students to national defense agencies focused on workforce development opportunities in, hypersonics, autonomy/AI systems, energetic materials, and digital manufacturing. His leadership has yielded partnerships with the U.S. Space Force and SCALE, a large Department of Defense initiative in microelectronics.

Dean H.T. Yang Leadership in Service Award

Luciano Castillo
Kenninger Professor of Renewable Energy and Power Systems in Mechanical Engineering

For his tireless efforts to mentor, empower, and support faculty colleagues within Purdue Engineering and his relentless commitment to creating a diverse environment where everyone is inspired to achieve their full potential.

Castillo is dedicated to forming strong partnerships and rapidly building a pipeline for historically underrepresented groups in engineering. He landed a $2.8M grant from ONR-Blue Integrated Partnership and organized a consortium with HBCU, minority-serving institutions, NASA, the U.S. Navy, Purdue, and industry to grow the number of underrepresented minority researchers in STEM fields.

In his role as Dean’s Faculty Fellow for Hispanic/Latino Engagement, Castillo is a fountain of ideas on how to engage with potential partners, attract a diverse talent pool, and help them succeed. His effectiveness as a graduate student mentor is evidenced by 12 former advisees now in academic careers, three NSF CAREER Award recipients, and one Young Investigator Presidential Awardee.

Find more information on our Faculty and Lecturer Excellence Award winners.

Pictured at the 2022 Faculty and Lecturer Excellence Awards Banquet are (L-R) Xiulin Ruan, Xianfan Xu, Greg Shaver, Beth Hess, Neera Jain, and Luciano Castillo.


Also recognized during the ceremony for their scholarship and achievements in the classroom, lab, and field were named faculty members:

  • Peter Bermel, Elmore Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Stanley Chan, Elmore Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering 
  • Jeffrey Greeley, Charles D. and Nancy G. Davidson Professor of Chemical Engineering 
  • Sumeet Gupta, Elmore Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering 
  • Fang Huang, Reilly Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Zubin Jacob, Elmore Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering 
  • Tillmann Kubis, Katherine Ngai Pesic & Silvaco Research Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering 
  • Zoltan Nagy, Arvind Varma Professor of Chemical Engineering 
  • Evgeniy Narimanov, Elmore Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering 
  • Amy Reibman, Elmore Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering 
  • Shreyas Sen, Elmore Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering 
  • Shreyas Sundaram, Marie Gordon Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering 
  • Satish Ukkusuri, Reilly Professor of Civil Engineering 
  • David Umulis, Dane A. Miller Head of Biomedical Engineering 
  • Pavlos Vlachos, St. Vincent Health Professor of Healthcare Engineering 
  • George Wodicka, Reilly Professor of Biomedical Engineering 

The University Faculty Scholar (UFS) program recognizes outstanding faculty who are on an accelerated path for academic distinction. In addition to meeting university criteria, Engineering UFS recipients are honored for their demonstrated impact and evidenced impact of their work and their compelling vision of the potential impact of future activities.

Newly recognized University Faculty Scholars:

  • Bryan Boudouris, Professor, Davidson School of Chemical Engineering 
  • James Garrison, Professor, School of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Tamara Moore, Professor, School of Engineering Education 
  • Michael Sangid, Professor, School of Aeronautics and Astronautics