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Milestones

Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer, has been recognized as one of the “25 Great Public Servants of the past 25 years” by the Council for Excellence in Government. She was cited for her “remarkable service to the nation as Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a leader in the advancement of science.” The 25 Great Public Servants were selected, by a committee of Council Trustees, for their “outstanding leadership in government at all levels and the example they set for up-and-coming public servants across the country.”

Peter Fox has joined Rensselaer as the newest chair of the Tetherless World Research Constellation, which was created in 2006. Fox, who brings extensive experience as both a data and solar-terrestrial scientist, will serve on the faculty of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Fox spent the past 17 years as chief computational scientist at the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Since 2003 he has also served as a member of the Universities Space Research Association virtual institute for the Study of Solar Variability on Climate. Fox earned both a bachelor’s honors degree and doctorate in mathematics from Monash University.

Anthony Ortolano, Rensselaer head athletic trainer, has been named the trainer of the United States Men’s Lacrosse Team. He will serve the team as it prepares for and competes in the 2010 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship in Manchester, England. Ortolano, who has been at Rensselaer since 1985, was also part of the most recent U.S. Men’s Lacrosse Team, the 2006 squad that played in the world championship game. Ortolano has also served as an athletic trainer at the NCAA National Championships, the Empire State Games, and since 1994 as the head athletic trainer for the Summit Lacrosse Tournament in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Lisa Trahan has been appointed to the newly created position of assistant vice president for the student experience in the Division of Student Life. Trahan will have primary responsibility for the oversight, planning, creation, and development of programs and activities that will further enhance the student experience. She joined Rensselaer in 1997 and served most recently as dean of the first-year experience and interim director of residence life at Rensselaer. Trahan and her staff’s efforts have resulted in 12 awards, since 2001, from the National Orientation Directors Association in several categories related to the quality of the First-Year Experience initiative.

Robert Degeneff ’74, emeritus professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering, received the 2008 Herman Electric Transmission and Distribution Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The award honored Degeneff for his innovative and pioneering contributions to the computation and understanding of electrical systems and transformers. After serving in the U.S. Air Force and working at General Electric for 17 years, Degeneff joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1989. He is also president of Utility Systems Technologies, a company he founded in 1991. Degeneff received his master’s degree and doctorate in electric power engineering from Rensselaer, respectively, in 1967 and 1974.

James Hendler has been named assistant dean for information technology (IT) in the School of Science. Hendler is also the Tetherless World Senior Constellation Professor of Computer and Cognitive Science at Rensselaer. In his new role, he will lead the current master’s and undergraduate degree programs in IT, and will help guide the faculty teaching courses within the IT curriculum and direct curriculum development and enrollment. He also will be working with the faculty to enhance the IT track in the multidisciplinary science Ph.D. and to recruit top students to that program. Hendler joined Rensselaer in January 2007 from the University of Maryland.

David Duquette, the John Tod Horton Distinguished Professor of Materials Engineering, was reappointed in October by President George W. Bush to serve as a member of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB). A metallurgy and corrosion expert, Duquette was first appointed to the NWTRB in 2002. Created in 1987, the NWTRB advises the Secretary of Energy, Congress, and the White House on sound science policies regarding the disposal, packaging, storing, and transportation of high-level nuclear waste. The board’s members are recommended to the White House by the National Academy of Sciences.

Martin Hardwick, professor of computer science, has been named acting head of the Computer Science Department. Hardwick joined Rensselaer from Texas Technological University in 1985. He is the author of numerous papers and articles on engineering database systems and concurrent engineering. Hardwick received both his bachelor’s degree and doctor-ate from Bristol University in the United Kingdom. He replaces Jeff Trinkle, who is stepping down as head of the department to focus on his robotics research and teaching.

Kenneth T. Lally, longtime member of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees and benefactor of the Institute, died Nov. 7, 2008. A business leader and entrepreneur in the Capital Region, Lally was recognized for taking control of the historic W. & L.E. Gurley Co. and making it a success. Lally served as a trustee or director of civic and educational institutions, and was one of the founders of the Capital Region Technology Development Council. He and his late wife, Thelma, were noted philanthropists in the region. In honor of their signature gift to Rensselaer in 1995, the School of Management was renamed the Kenneth T. and Thelma P. Lally School of Management and Technology.

Hendrick C. Van Ness, professor emeritus of chemical engineering at Rensselaer, died Nov. 6, 2008. Van Ness joined the faculty of Rensselaer in 1956, and in 1983 was named Institute Professor. He retired in 1989, but remained active in the campus academic community. A prolific researcher and writer, Van Ness was widely known and respected as co-author of Introduction to Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics, the best-selling title in the history of chemical engineering. Annually since 1991, the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer has honored a rising star in the field with the Van Ness Award, named in his honor.

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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. ©2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.