September 25, 2018
By Bonnie Dickson
Each year, the UC Davis College of Engineering recognizes four faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and community. Faculty members are nominated by their respective departments and selected by the college’s faculty awards committee. The four professors will receive awards honoring their exceptional accomplishments at the College’s Celebration of Faculty Excellence awards ceremony and reception from 5 – 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 3 in the Shields Library Courtyard. Faculty members who received major awards and recognition from Sept. 1, 2017- Aug. 31, 2018, will also be honored at the event.
Shrinivasa Upadhyaya, a professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, has distinguished himself as an outstanding teacher and educator over the course of his 35 years of service to UC Davis. Upadhyaya is recognized as an incredibly knowledgeable teacher who is able to translate extremely complicated subjects such as experimental designs and modeling into clear, practical and relevant concepts. His development of hands-on activities and exercises that foster student learning have been key features in his teaching strategy at UC Davis and abroad. Internationally, he has developed joint engineering graduate education programs through a formal collaboration with the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology and has served as the faculty liaison for international agreements for cooperation in education with Japan, Spain and India. Upadhyaya has also been instrumental in developing courses and programs in the field of precision agriculture. As a result of his teaching approach to the course “Design and Analysis of Engineering Experiments” – particularly for students from different engineering backgrounds – Upadhyaya has become a sought-after resource for helping students plan their own thesis experimental designs. Colleagues praise Upadhyaya for his exceptional ability to “demonstrate the practical relevance of complex topics and for his kind and generous personality, which make him an outstanding mentor who has positively impacted the personal and professional lives of many students.”
During her 21-year career at UC Davis, Biological and Agricultural Engineering Professor Jean VanderGheynst led a highly-productive research program focused on the transformation, decomposition and conversion of biomass derived from plants to products. VanderGheynst’s understanding of transport phenomena and microbial consortia has been instrumental in addressing agricultural sustainability through improving the efficacy of soil solarization as an alternative to chemical fumigation for pathogen reduction. Her research is well-supported by multiple funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the California Energy Commission, the UC Office of the President, Chevron and others. VanderGheynst has authored more than 150 publications and reports and has served as a principal investigator on extramural awards totaling over $11 million and a co-principal investigator on an additional $15.5 million in contracts and grants. In addition, VanderGheynst’s outstanding leadership in developing and managing the Renewable Energy Systems Opportunity for Unified Research and Collaboration and Education (RESOURCE) program has supported and trained 30 engineering graduate students on communicating STEM to a broad audience of teachers, students and the public. In their nomination of VanderGheynst, colleagues say, “what makes her particularly special, is that she has achieved this research record in a collaborative, team-building, and collegial way.”
Cristina Davis, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is a high-profile researcher, leader and mentor who has made significant contributions to her field, to her departments and to UC Davis. Her research has resulted in more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles in high-impact journals, ten patents awarded and many additional ones filed. Beyond her contributions to a wealth of new scientific understanding in the physical sciences, Davis has also developed a wide range of new technologies with practical applications in the areas of bio-detection, detection of emerging pathogens, bioinformatics and chemical detection with applicability to environmental science and point-of-care medical diagnostics. Especially notable is her development of a micro-electro-mechanical system, or MEMS technology that can be used to identify a broad range of chemicals from environmental samples while operating on common direct-current batteries, such as a 9-volt or watch battery. In their nomination of Davis, colleagues praise Davis for her ability to “strike the right balance between fundamental and applied sciences,” and characterize her a leading researcher among the scholars of her generation.
Barbara Linke, an associate professor in the Department and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is recognized for her inventive and effective teaching, her commitment to the UC Davis research and student communities and for her nationally and internationally-recognized research in sustainable manufacturing, grinding, tool technologies and machine tool technology. Since arriving at UC Davis in 2012, Linke has published more than 20 journal articles and 22 peer-reviewed conference publications, authored a 2016 book with Springer and co-edited a new textbook, which appeared in August 2018. Her research is funded by a number of competitive research grants, including an NSF grant to integrate aerospace and manufacturing science and application in a new undergraduate course. Colleagues say Linke’s scholarly contributions are “exceptional in their importance, relevance, originality and significance and her papers are already among the best in the disciplinary areas she works in.” In addition to her research and regular teaching load, Linke has taught an undergraduate course and a first-year seminar as overload courses. She has also been consistently involved with the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) program since 2013. Colleagues say of Linke, “her service has been commendable without restraining her research and teaching excellence in any way, and her achievements at UC Davis place her among the very top of her peer group.”
The College is also pleased to honor the following faculty who received major national and international awards, fellowships and appointments, as well as the most prestigious college and university awards from Sept. 1, 2017 – August 31, 2018.