Samueli School Presents 2020 Faculty Awards

Faculty recognized for their research, teaching or service are, top row from left, Chang Liu, Joshua Mauney, Lee Swindlehurst, Tayloria Adams, and bottom row from left, Kristen Davis, Ayman Mosallam, Diran Apelian, Martha Mecartney.

Aug. 17, 2020 - Samueli School of Engineering Interim Dean Michael Green announced the honorees of the 2020 Faculty Awards at a Zoom town hall meeting Aug. 12. More than 125 faculty and staff participated in the call in which Green congratulated the recipients. This is the seventh year for the awards which acknowledge and honor the valued contributions of faculty. Nominations for each category must meet specific criteria and are submitted through department chairs. Awardees are selected by a voting committee that consists of the dean and associate deans. Here are this year’s honorees.

Excellence in Research

Early Career: Chang Liu, associate professor, BME

Since coming to UCI in 2013, Chang Liu has been remarkably productive at highly impactful research. His  OrthoRep technology, in which genetic mutation of DNA can proceed at unprecedented rates, allows him to conduct groundbreaking experiments that previously were deemed impractical. The work has multiple applications, including engineering of modified enzymes, the rapid evolution of antibodies, and tracking single-cell fates during embryonic development. He has raised substantial funding and published his work in pre-eminent peer-reviewed journals. He has received multiple career development awards and was most recently recognized with innovator awards from the Moore Foundation and the American Chemical Society.

Mid-career: Joshua Mauney, associate professor, BME

Joshua Mauney performs exceptional fundamental and applied research in tissue engineering. He has more than a decade of experience in the development of medical devices for diseases of visceral hollow organs. A world renown expert, he has published 40 peer-reviewed articles, generating more than 2,600 citations. As an associate professor in biomedical engineering and urology, Mauney’s research involves bridging disciplines to make translational advances. He also specializes in the creation of novel large animal models of urinary tract and gastrointestinal disease for preclinical medical device testing. He has a distinguished track record of training clinician scientists in translational research and has been the mentor to 15 clinical fellows during his tenure at Harvard Medical School and UCI.

Senior Career: Lee Swindlehurst, professor, EECS

Lee Swindlehurst is among the world’s leading experts in signal processing and wireless communication with a long list of accomplishments. His outstanding body of original, high impact contributions to MIMO (multi-input, multi-output wireless systems) technology and his seminal papers on zero-forcing, have been standard reference for researchers worldwide for over 15 years. His idea of block-diagonalization, with over 3,000 citations, has become so essential to MIMO that it is no longer considered necessary to cite reference to its origins. Swindlehurst’s more recent research is focused on making massive MIMO a reality, with a promising idea that one-bit ADCs will reduce its computational burden. His work was recognized in May with the best paper award at IEEE’s International Conference on Communications. Other best paper awards include the Baker Prize Paper, the IEEE Communication Society Stephen O. Rice Prize, and the 2017 IEEE Signal Processing Society Donald G. Fink Paper Award.

Faculty Innovation in Teaching

Early Career: Tayloria Adams, assistant professor, CBE

Tayloria Adams is an innovative and dedicated instructor, energetic adviser and charismatic transmitter of the school’s inclusive excellence principles. She has successfully integrated research practices into core undergraduate courses and has implemented group homework assignments to mimic working with a team of engineers. Student comments show that her conscientious approach fosters a positive, inclusive classroom environment as well as effective pedagogical methods. Together, these promote learning, high standards, and highlights the centrality of her personal investment in the success of her students. It is not surprising that the Engineering Student Council nominated her as CBE Professor of the Year this past year. As one student put it, “Honestly, I loved Professor Adams. Her notes were very clear, she had a clear speaking voice, she always did her best to answer questions and she was very available throughout the quarter. She has a tough-love approach to teaching, but it's clear that she just wants us all to do well and learn as much as we can.”

Mid-career: Kristen Davis, associate professor, CEE

Kristen Davis is an excellent and enthusiastic classroom instructor with a thoughtful approach to teaching. This includes inspiring passion through context-based science education, talking explicitly about the role of failure in scientific learning and discovery, rewarding risk-taking when grading, and requiring revision of submitted assignments in response to comments and questions. Davis also improves instruction by blending conventional classroom lectures with laboratory experiences, hands-on practice and the implementation of industry-standard software. Her overall instructor ratings from students are consistently high. Students appreciate her commitment to incorporating these multiple pedagogical methods of instruction, as reflected in comments such as, “Kristen has a contagious passion for the material, and her enthusiasm and energy are the only reason I convinced myself to wake up at 6 every morning to come to class. Kristen is a strong lecturer; she is organized, prepared, energetic and very knowledgeable.”

Senior Career: Ayman Mosallam, professor, CEE

Ayman Mosallam believes the objective of the engineering educational process is to produce globally competent engineers and leaders ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges. His course assignments are designed to translate theory to practice, and he uses his own experience as an engineer to give students a better grasp of concepts in real life. He integrates information technology into the curriculum. In his mechanics of composites course, Mosallam required students to develop a computer code capable of analyzing composite laminates with different fiber architectures. His teaching ideas have been well received by students, as evidenced by this student testimonial: “Love that the class is not just based on solving problems but theoretically thinking about real world issues and understanding how to apply what we’re learning in class. I also like that homework assignments are research based. Going home, researching and reading about a topic and writing about it has forced me to do my own learning and not just rely on classroom and textbook material.”

Samueli School 2020 Innovator of the Year: Diran Apelian, Distinguished Professor, MSE

Diran Apelian is internationally recognized for his innovative research in the field of materials processing, contributing advancements in molten metal processing and filtration of metals, aluminum foundry engineering, droplet-based manufacturing, semisolid metal processing, additive manufacturing and materials recovery and recycling. Apelian has over 700 publications to his credit, 18 patents, and 15 books written, edited or co-edited. With his colleagues and students, he has founded five companies. He is a recipient of the 2016 Bernard Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering Education and of ASM’s Gold Medal (2016). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, European Academy of Sciences, and the Armenian Academy of Sciences. A unifying theme of Apelian’s work is to solve problems that have impact and contribute to the sustainable development issues facing society. A good example of this is his work on Li-ion batteries. The impact of making things that can be disassembled, and reused to reduce carbon footprint and energy consumption are prominent motives of the inventions.

Faculty Service Award: Martha Mecartney, professor, MSE

Martha Mecartney has had a long and continued record of university, senate, school and department level service during her many years here at UCI, including chair of the Academic Senate and chair of the engineering faculty. In all her roles, an important agenda was diversity and inclusion. Mecartney established a subcommittee on diversity, which recommended providing faculty the opportunity to share information on diversity activities on all promotion and merit reviews. She has changed the face of our graduate programs in both MSE and CBE, working tirelessly to land campus diversity fellowships to ensure that our students had competitive offers. She landed the first NSF Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate grant at UCI, which has increased diversity among STEM Ph.D. programs. Mecartney also secured extramural fellowships for our graduate students, tapping into the GAANN program at the U.S. Department of Education. She has been a strong and devoted advocate for women and other underrepresented groups in higher education and her major contributions to service on our campus reflect this. She served as the lead organizer for the UCI Faculty Women’s Association, a precursor to the UCI NSF ADVANCE program. In summary, Mecartney has served the campus well with her leadership, and her contributions will have a lasting positive impact on the climate for faculty and students for many years to come.

– Lori Brandt