Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer, has been appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). PCAST is a 20-member, private sector advisory group, drawn from industry, education, research institutions, and other nongovernmental organizations. The council will advise President Obama on national strategies that “…will nurture and sustain a culture of scientific innovation.”
Frank Spear, professor and head of the Department of Earth and Environ-mental Sciences, was appointed the Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor of Science Education. Spear has an international reputation for developing techniques to analyze the mineral and chemical reactions that form the crystalline rocks making up Earth’s crust. His goal is to develop methods researchers can use to create a tectonic history of terrain.
Leila Parsa, assistant professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering, has been selected by the Office of Naval Research as an aspiring researcher of the U.S. Navy’s 2009 Young Investigator Program (YIP). Parsa will receive a three-year research grant up to $510,000. The YIP program seeks to nurture creativity and balance between risk and opportunity and recognizes those who show exceptional promise for cutting-edge research.
Robert Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. ’59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer, has been named one of the Scientific American 10. Linhardt is featured in the June 2009 edition of the popular science and technology magazine for his lifesaving work with the commonly used blood thinner heparin alongside nine other global innovators including philanthropist and business leader Bill Gates and President Barack Obama. Linhardt, who is among the world’s foremost experts on heparin, has helped make the currently available heparin safer for patients and is leading the effort to create a safer, fully synthetic alternative to the current heparin.
Lupita D. Montoya, assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, was the recipient of the David M. Darrin Counseling Award at this year’s Commencement. She is recognized for her commitment to undergraduate student counseling and the enhancement of the student experience. The recipient of the award is selected by Phalanx, Rensselaer’s student leadership honorary society.
James Crivello, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, has received the 2009 Herman F. Mark Senior Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society’s Polymer Chemistry Division, in recognition of his outstanding research and leadership in polymer science. Crivello holds more than 23 issued or pending patents and is widely recognized for inventing some of the world’s most advanced polymers.
Xi-Cheng Zhang, J. Erik Jonsson ’22 Distinguished Professor, received the William H. Wiley Distinguish-ed Faculty Award at Commencement. 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.
Tarek Abdoun ’94, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, was awarded the 2009 Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers. This award recognizes Abdoun’s significant contributions to the study of soil and soil-structure systems and his innovative and highly creative research.
Russell Ferland, assistant professor of biology, was awarded over $1 million by the New York State Department of Health for his research in two classes of genes known as filamins and formins, which are important in controlling the formation of both brain and bone stem cells. His team will analyze mouse bone and neural stem cells to determine what changes within an organism when these genes are altered or removed.
Ravi Kane, the P. K. Lashmet Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, has won the 2009 Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society Division of Biochemical Technology. Kane’s research focuses on the interface of nanotechnology and biotechnology.
Michael Shur, the Patricia W. and C. Sheldon Roberts ’48 Professor of Solid State Electronics, has been named a fellow of the Materials Research Society. The title of fellow is reserved for those who are notable in their research accomplishments and have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of materials research, worldwide.
Harry Apkarian ’46, a longtime member of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees and friend of the Institute, died March 3, 2009. After a long career at GE, in 1961 Apkarian co-founded Mechanical Technology Inc. to create and commercialize new technologies. In 1994, he founded Transtech Systems Inc., a manufacturer of high-tech equipment for the road construction industry. Apkarian was instrumental in the formation of the Rensselaer Incubator and the Rensselaer Tech-nology Park. He was influential in the development of several local companies including MapInfo (now Pitney Bowes MapInfo Corp.), the region’s largest software developer. In 2008, the Rensselaer Alumni Association bestowed its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, on Apkarian.
Warren Bruggeman ’46, longtime member of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees, died April 29, 2009. Bruggeman retired in 1985 as vice president and general manager of General Electric’s worldwide Nuclear Energy Operations. Devoted to New York’s Capital Region, he directed and advised the Center for Economic Growth and Capital Region Technology Development Council. He was chairman of the Rensselaer Board’s Community Relations Committee and the Rensselaer Technology Park Committee, and an instrumental figure in the growth of the Tech Park into one of the region’s most successful economic engines. He and his wife, Pauline, were honored for their generosity to Rensselaer with the creation of the Pauline Urban Bruggeman and Warren H. Bruggeman ’46 Complex in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies.