Weekly Memo

March 18, 2013

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

I hope Spring Break reinvigorated everyone; let's have a great sprint to end the school year!

Our faculty members continue to shine: We've just learned that Miguel Alonso, associate professor of Optics, will receive this year's prestigious Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. The award recognizes "a record of distinguished teaching, typically developed over at least eight years, as well as a demonstrated readiness to help less experienced faculty colleagues or teaching assistants master their craft." Well done, Miguel!

This continues an impressive string of teaching awards for Hajim School faculty in just the last year or so. Lane Hemaspaandra of Computer Science, for example, received the Peck award last year. Govind Agrawal of Optics and Physics, is receiving this year's Riker Award for  Graduate Teaching. Mark Bocko of Electrical and Computer Engineering was one of three recipients of the Goergen Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching announced last fall. That speaks volumes about the strength of our Hajim faculty and, above all, about the quality of education we are providing our students.
Congratulations also to Hani Awad, associate professor of Biomedical Engineering and of Orthopaedics, and a principal investigator with the Center for Musculoskeletal Research, who has received a 3-year, $300,000 grant from the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF).  Hani's Established Investigator research project will explore the hypothesis that parathyroid hormone (PTH) therapy can enhance repair of knee cartilage defects grafted with a novel cartilage allograft derived matrix (CDM) compared to standard surgical methods now used.

And a cheer for Kevin Thompson, visiting scientist at The Institute of Optics, for receiving SPIE's 2013 A.E. Conrady Award. The award is given annually in recognition of exceptional contributions in design, construction, and testing of optical systems and instrumentation. Kevin is being recognized for his efforts to discover and develop a complete aberration theory for imaging optical systems, nodal aberration theory, that applies to rotationally nonsymmetric optical systems.

Rounding out this week's list of noteworthy accomplishments is Greg Madejski, a BME PhD student in Prof. Jim McGrath's lab, who will be going to the University of Nottingham, UK, with the help of a researcher mobility travel grant. Greg will be working on "development of a Raman-compatible, dynamic, microfluidic cell co-culture system." Congratulations, Greg.

The MonoMano project continues to get good reviews. That’s the ingenious control device, designed by biomedical engineering students Travis Block, Sara Hutchinson, Dominic Marino, David Narrow, and Martin Szeto, that allows users with only one functioning arm to operate a recumbent tricycle. MonoMano took second place in the 2012 Mark Ain Business Model Workshops and Competition, received seed money last fall through the Innovocracy crowd-funding platform, and now is a finalist for the da Vinci Awards for Accessibility and Universal Design, sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Michigan chapter. The award recognizes the most innovative adaptive and assistive technologies that enable equal access and opportunity for all people, regardless of ability. There’s also a people’s choice award for the group with the most “likes” on their YouTube video, submitted as part of competition. So check out the MonoMano video by April 7, let them know if you “like” it, and pass it along! This is a great example of how engineering can help people in need, and I wish this project all the best in making its way to the marketplace.

The new Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Entrepreneurship (WiSTEE) affinity group on campus is off to a great start. Jie Qiao, the group's chair and a scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, reports that 36 women from 20 academic units turned out for the group's first meeting on March 1. Among the group's goals: fostering career growth for junior and mid-career women in STEE @UR, and entrepreneurship opportunities for women in science and technology. Rep. Louise Slaughter also has taken an interest in this group. Next meeting will be 4-6 p.m. April 5 in the Trustees Room of the Meliora Restaurant. Click here to RSVP. You can read more about the group and its upcoming events at the WiSTEE website.

As always, keep me updated and have a great week.


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean