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Wai Kin “Victor” Chan, assistant professor of decision sciences and engineering systems, was one of 83 “rising stars” chosen from among 260 applicants to participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) 13th annual U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium. Designated by the NAE as the “nation’s brightest young engineers,” Chan and other honorees poole d their insights and talents to examine real-world challenges facing all engineers during the event held Sept. 24-26 at Microsoft’s research and development facilities in Redmond, Wash.

Robert Palazzo, director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies and professor of biology, has been named provost. In the position he will work closely with the academic divisions to develop leading academic programs and to develop a world-class instructional and research faculty. He also will collaborate with the vice president for research to strengthen the research mission of the Institute. Palazzo has been a leader in Rensselaer’s academic community since joining the Institute as a professor of biology in 2002.

George Makhatadze has been named Constellation Chaired Professor in Biocomputation and Bioinformatics. Makhatadze’s research focuses on the engineering and design of proteins and enzymes, and he uses experimental and computational methods to study the interactions of proteins with other biological macromolecules. He most recently served as professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University College of Medicine. Makhatadze has written more than 80 academic papers on his research and holds three U.S. patents. He received a bachelor’s in biophysics from Georgia State University and a doctorate in biochemistry and biophysics from the Institute of Protein Research at Pushchino and Moscow Physico-Technical Institute.

Heidi Newberg, associate professor of physics, applied physics, and astronomy, is a recipient of the 2007 Gruber Cosmology Prize for the Supernova Cosmology Project, a research experiment she conducted in collaboration with other researchers in 1998. The collaboration shed light on the fact that our universe is expanding, giving rise to the idea of dark energy. The Gruber Prize honors a leading cosmologist, astronomer, astrophysicist, or scientific philosopher for theoretical, analytical, or conceptual discoveries leading to a fundamental advancement in the field. Newberg and the other award recipients will share a $500,000 prize.

Susan Gilbert has been appointed head of the Biology Department in the School of Science. Gilbert comes to Rensselaer from the University of Pittsburgh where she served on the faculty of the Department of Biological Sciences for the past 12 years. During her time with the university, she was a member of the Molecular Biophysics and Structural Biology Graduate Program and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Gilbert is recognized for her research on cell motility and molecular biomedicine and is an NIH Career Development Award winner. She received a bachelor’s in chemistry from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and a doctorate in cell biology from Dartmouth College.

Tarek Abdoun, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, received the 2007 Early Career Award during Rensselaer’s 201st Commencement in May. The prize recognizes early career achievement and is funded and awarded by the faculty. The award honors productivity in both teaching and research, and is given to a faculty member who has been at Rensselaer for a minimum of three years and a maximum of 10 years.

Susan Sharfstein, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, was given the Class of 1951 Outstanding Teaching Award in May 2007. Established by members of the Class of 1951 in recognition of their 50th Class Reunion, the award honors and rewards faculty members for their accomplishments and outstanding performance in undergraduate teaching. Nominations are reviewed by a committee, which recommends the award recipient to the president for approval.

John Schroeder, professor of physics, applied physics, and astronomy, is a recipient of Rensselaer’s annual Jerome Fischbach ’38 Faculty Travel Grant. The grant permits a member of the faculty who has been associated with the Institute for 20 years or more to participate in an international meeting as a representative of Rensselaer. It is given by the Faculty Committee on Honors to express appreciation for a faculty member’s contributions to the education and motivation of students.

Kevin Craig, professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, was awarded the Trustees’ Outstanding Teacher Award during Rensselaer’s 201st Commencement. Established in 1994 through the generosity of members of the Board of Trustees, this award recognizes outstanding accomplishments in classroom instruction. Selection is made based on evidence of sustained outstanding teaching as reflected by student and peer evaluations, and letters of support from colleagues, alumni, and students.

Linda Layne, the Alma and H. Erwin Hale ’30 Teaching Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences, received the William H. Wiley 1866 Distinguished Faculty Award during Rensselaer’s May 2007 Commencement. The prize honors those who have won the respect of the faculty and was established in 1977 by the late Edward P. Hamilton ’07, who was a trustee of Rensselaer for 34 years. The award is based on excellence in teaching, productive research, and interest in the totality of the educational process.

Gary Bedrosian ’73, clinical associate professor of physics, applied physics, and astronomy, was the 2007 recipient of the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA) Teaching Award. The honor was created in 1994 to recognize current members of the faculty for their outstanding teaching techniques, contributions to the campus experience, and commitment to students. The award is given to a faculty member who is readily available to students, possesses a warm, supportive attitude, and treats students as valued colleagues within the community of scholars.

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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. ©2007 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.