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At Rensselaer


Georges Belfort, the Russell Sage Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, was named the 2008 recipient of the American Chemical Society E.V. Murphree Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. The award recognizes outstanding theoretical or experimental research in industrial or chemical engineering, and pays tribute to Belfort’s distinguished career, marked by seminal contributions in liquid-phase
pressure-driven membrane-based processes, bioseparations engineering, interfacial science, and affinity separations.

Arturo Estrella has joined Rensselaer as head of the Department of Economics. Formerly senior vice president for the research and statistics group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Estrella also has taught at a number of universities, including Columbia and Harvard. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in economics from Harvard University. He also holds a master’s in mathematics from the University of Michigan as well as the University of Puerto Rico. He received his bachelor’s in philosophy from Columbia University.

Erin Crotty ’92 was appointed Rensselaer director of community relations in June. In her new position Crotty will work with Institute leadership to encourage and facilitate an expanded role for faculty, staff, and students in local neighborhoods. She also will bolster the connections between the Institute and local governments and businesses, and foster community involvement with Rensselaer. Crotty was the first female commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). She earned her master’s in urban and environmental studies at Rensselaer.

Fengyan Li, assistant professor of mathematical sciences, has been named a 2008 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow. The award recognizes 118 fellows from 64 colleges and universities for conducting research at the frontiers of physics, chemistry, mathematics, neuroscience, economics, computer science, and computational and evolutionary molecular biology. The fellowship is awarded for a two-year period and carries a grant of $50,000. Li’s research focuses on the design, analysis, and implementation of computer algorithms for solving problems arising in sciences and engineering.

G. Ramanath, professor of materials science and engineering, has been appointed director of the Center for Future Energy Systems. Ramanath is an internationally recognized researcher in the area of nanomaterials and thin films. He has developed a thriving research program in nanomaterial synthesis, assembly, and property measurements for applications in emerging nanodevice and energy technologies during his tenure at Rensselaer. He has been published extensively, presents regularly at international conferences, and has been recognized with several prestigious awards for his research.

Ricardo Dobry, Institute Professor, received the William H. Wiley Distinguished Faculty Award. Established by Edward P. Hamilton ’07 in memory of William H. Wiley (Class of 1886), the award honors those who have won the respect of the faculty through excellence in teaching, productive research, and interest in the totality of the educational process. Dobry was honored for “excellence across the board in teaching, service, and scholarship.”

George Plopper, associate professor of biology, was awarded the Board of Trustees’ Outstanding Teacher Award during Rensselaer’s 202nd Commencement. The award was established in 1994 to recognize outstanding accomplishments in classroom instruction.

Frank Wright, director of the undergraduate program and clinical assistant professor in the Lally School of Management & Technology, was the recipient of the David M. Darrin Counseling Award, presented during the May Commencement ceremony. He is recognized for his unwavering commitment to his students and his passion for teaching. The recipient of the award, which was established by David M. Darrin ’40, is selected by Phalanx, Rensselaer’s student leadership honorary society.

Daniel Gall, associate professor of materials science and engineering, received the Rensselaer Early Career Award during Rensselaer’s 202nd Commencement in May, which honors productivity in both teaching and research. The award is given to a faculty member who has been at Rensselaer for a minimum of three years and a maximum of 10 years.

B. Wayne Bequette, professor of chemical and biological engineering, was recently elected a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Bequette’s research spans a wide range of topics, from biomedicine and healthcare to energy and sustainability. He is currently working to develop a closed-loop artificial pancreas for diabetics, with a built-in glucose monitoring system to alert individuals if their blood sugar level is too low.

James Crivello, professor of chemistry and chemical biology, received the Jerome Fischbach Faculty Travel Grant, which is funded by Jerome Fischbach ’38 for contributions faculty members have made to the education and motivation of students.

Mark Changizi, assistant professor of cognitive science, received the Class of 1951 Outstanding Teaching Award Fellowship in May 2007, established by the Class of 1951 to recognize faculty members for their outstanding accomplishments in education.

C. James Li, professor and member of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering faculty since 1993, passed away following a yearlong battle with cancer. Li had a distinguished career and was internationally recognized as an expert in the field of sensor-based control of manufacturing processes/equipment, and mechanical diagnostics. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the National Taiwan University and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to joining Rensselaer, he had spent six years on the faculty in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Columbia University. Li was a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a member of the International Society of Micro-computer and Mini-Computers.

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by the Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590. Opinions expressed in these pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the policies of the Institute. ©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.