5 Pegasus Professors Honored at Founders' Day

5 Pegasus Professors Honored at Founders’ Day

(Photo by Nick Russett)

Five of UCF’s top researchers received the highest academic honor awarded today by the university, the 2016 Pegasus Professor Award.

The Pegasus Professors are selected from among faculty who’ve been at the university at least five years and have conducted research or creative activities that have made national and international impact. The professors each receive a $5,000 stipend and $5,000 in research grants.

This year’s recipients named at Founders’ Day ceremonies were Waldemar Karwowski, Yongho Sohn and Jiann-Shiun Yuan, all from the College of Engineering & Computer Science; and Zenghu Chang and Graham A.J. Worthy of the College of Sciences.

Waldemar Karwowski is a professor and chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering & Management Systems. Since joining the university in 2007, he has secured more than $2 million in funding, and has been published in many journals and edited dozens of books.

Karwowski is co-editor of the Theoretical Issues of Ergonomics, having served as editor from 2010 to 2014. As chair of the department, he has established focused research and academic programs in systems engineering and health care, streamlined graduate program offerings, and built key relationships with professional organizations and major corporations such as IBM.

He mentors dozens of undergraduate, master’s and doctoral. students. During his tenure, the industrial engineering graduate program was ranked 35th in 2014, up 13 spots from the prior year by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools guide

“I would like to note that Dr. Karwowski is one of the most productive Ph.D. advisors in the university,” wrote Debra Reinhart, assistant vice president in the Office for Research and Commercialization.

“Dr. Karwowski’s scholarly productivity has been extensive and of consistent high quality. He has an excellent international reputation and academic presence in human-factors engineering, ergonomics and systems engineering that now benefit UCF,” wrote Charles Reilly, associate dean for Academic Affairs.

Under Karwowski’s leadership, the first UCF international Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering degree is being offered in partnership with the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola in Lima, Peru. Also, a fully-online master’s degree in the Healthcare System Engineering program has been approved and will be offered in the fall.

“It is quite evident…that Prof. Waldemar Karwowski distinguishes himself in excellence in the areas of research and service and has had a significant impact on education,” wrote Professor Emeritus Gavriel Salvendy of Purdue University in recommending Karwowski.

Yongho Sohn is a professor of materials at the College of Engineering & Computer Science and the associate director for the Materials Characterization Facility, Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center at UCF.

Sohn, at UCF since 2001, is a well-known expert in the field of diffusion and thermal barrier coatings and his research is important to aerospace, automotive and nuclear industries. He has received numerous grants from both governmental and industrial organizations and foundations. At UCF, he also has received both research and teaching awards.

Sohn is nationally and internationally recognized for his work in materials, metals, alloys, ceramics, metal matrix composites, microstructure, diffusion, thermal barrier coatings and nuclear fuels, among others.

Calling his work “outstanding by any measure,” Kevin Coffey, a professor of materials, science and engineering at UCF, recommended Sohn and praised his ability to bring “new life” to the Materials Characterization Facility by securing an additional $6 million in new instruments.

“He has managed the staff engineers maintaining the instruments and providing technical assistance to the internal and external users of the MCF, which include federal agencies, federal laboratories, universities (both in U.S. and abroad) and industry,” Coffey wrote. “The MCF has grown under his management to serve 100 students, 50 faculty members, and 25 external clients in a typical year. His dedicated efforts, operating and maintaining this valuable user-facility for UCF, are surely the type of service that the Pegasus Professorship was intended to recognize.”

Sohn has been published extensively in journals, and supervises and mentors dozens of doctoral and graduate students at UCF. He holds multiple degrees, including a Ph.D. from Purdue University, which in January recognized him with the Outstanding Materials Engineer Award for 2016.

One of his former students, Ashley Paz y Puente, praised him as one of the “best professors I have seen throughout my academic career” and credited him with inspiring her to major in materials science and engineering at UCF.

“Dr. Sohn is the epitome of what the Pegasus Professor Award represents. His excellence in teaching, research, and service makes him very deserving of this award, but his care and concern for the success of each of the students in his research group makes him an even better candidate. I deeply appreciate all that he has done to help me develop as a scientist and as a person,” Paz y Puente wrote.

Jiann-Shiun Yuan has been at UCF since 1990 and is a professor in the electrical and computer engineering division. He is director of the MIST Center (Multi-functional Integrated System Technology), which is a joint partnership between UCF and the University of Florida to study materials, sensors, actuators, power sources and electronics that will interconnect the internet to the physical world in the future. The MIST Center is funded through $880,000 National Science Foundation money coupled with some $4 million from industry and government partners.

Yuan, built a world-class research program in semiconductor device modeling, simulation and circuit reliability at UCF “starting from nothing,” wrote Mubarak Shah, interim dean of Graduate Studies at UCF in recommending Yuan for the award.

“Jiann-Shiun has made significant contributions during his 26 years of service at UCF. His efforts and accomplishments are a testament to the belief that it is possible to build a top research group from the bottom up,” Shah wrote.

Yuan has taught thousands of undergraduates and hundreds of graduate students. He is widely published and has presented papers at hundreds of conferences internationally and has written two definitive books in semiconductor device simulation and integrated circuits. He has led the department of electrical engineering with quality programs, and in 2016, it was ranked 52nd in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. He has developed the department’s curricula in the areas of semiconductor device modeling and simulation, integrated circuit design and microelectronics/nanoelectronics.

Yuan, a native of Taiwan, has established international collaborations with Tianjin University in China and the National University of Kaohsiung in Taiwan for exchange students and collaborative research, with some of those students and educators traveling to UCF for study and sharing of expertise.

In praising his work to inspire students, Michael Georgiopoulos, dean of the College of Engineering & Computer Science, wrote “He frequently involves under-represented minority students to participate into his research; this contributes to UCF’s goal of being more inclusive and diverse.”

Kien A. Hua, director of the Data Systems Lab at UCF added: “Dr. Yuan’s success in mentoring his students is evident with his graduates joining the top institutions and employers all over the world.”

Zenghu Chang is a professor of physics, optics and photonics who has held a joint faculty appointment at UCF’s College of Optics & Photonics and the Department of Physics since 2010. He is the founder and director of the Institute for the Frontier of Attosecond Science and Technology (iFAST). Chang’s work with power lasers and attosecond pulses have made significant national and international contributions in the field.

The dean of the College of Sciences, Michael D. Johnson, summarized the importance of Chang’s work on attosecond pulses, including his demonstration of the shortest laser pulse ever produced, at 67 attoseconds: “Why does this matter? It allows us to examine aspects of nature that have never been viewable before. As van Leeuwenhoek’s microscope revealed a then unknown world – bacteria, blood cells, and an extraordinary variety of life – so attosecond lasers let us observe something never before seen: The motion of electrons on the atomic scale. This opens the door to an entirely new ability to understand and control chemical reactions and biological systems, and will lead to a new technology of chemical, biological, and materials design.”

According to College of Optics & Photonics Dean Bahaa Saleh, Chang successfully secured $12.3 million in external funding since 2010 and mentored hundreds of students.

“By developing and teaching five new courses in physics and optics and photonics, with excellent student evaluations, and by effectively mentoring a large pool of postdocs and graduate students – some now employed at prestigious places – Dr. Chang has demonstrated excellence in education,” he wrote.

Johnson, of the College of Sciences, wrote that “Dr. Chang’s presence at UCF has allowed us to build a strong faculty cluster in attosecond research in the Physics Department and the College of Optics & Photonics – exceptional young scientists attracted to UCF because of Dr. Chang’s stature and his desire to help them succeed.”

Graham A.J. Worthy is the chair of the Department of Biology at UCF and heads the Sustainable Coastal Systems cluster, which brings together faculty from multiple disciplines to focus on natural and human-related impacts to coastal ecosystem health, restoration and sustainability.

Worthy came to UCF in 2001 as the Hubbs-SeaWorld Professor of Marine Mammology and a Distinguished Research Professor. His research has significantly revolutionized the area of conservation, highlighting the connection between environmental change and ecological success. Writes Michael Johnson, dean of the College of Sciences, “His contributions are central to the emerging field of Conservation Physiology.”

Worthy’s research focuses on the health and ecology of marine mammals including dolphins, porpoises, manatees, seals and sea lions. He is best known for his pioneering work comparing data from captive animals to those in the wild. His development of new technologies in both captive and field tests have been crucial to the advancement of marine mammal science.

Worthy has been an integral part in securing $3 million in grants since coming to UCF. He has made significant scientific contributions to conservation efforts in Florida, including studying the health of marine mammals in the Indian River Lagoon, red tide in the Choctawhatchee Bay estuary in the Florida Panhandle, and the effects of the Deep Water Horizon spill on the health of marine mammals in the Gulf.

He is co-founder of the Comparative Nutrition Society, serves on the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program Technical Advisory Committee and on the board of Oceans, Atmosphere and Climate Association of Public Land-Grant Universities. He has served on the Board of Governors of the Society for Marine Mammology.

In letters recommending, him, he was praised for his work as an extraordinary teacher and mentor. He is involved with local elementary, middle and high schools and engages high school students to participate in his research alongside undergraduates and graduate students. Some of his students have gone on to become leaders in the conservation field, with some on the faculty of Columbia University, University of California at San Diego, University of Hawaii, University of Alaska, and some work in federal and state conservation and resource management agencies.

“Dr. Worthy is an extraordinary scientist whose reputation attracts quality students with innovative research projects to the university while promoting the reputation of UCF’s world-class conservation biology program,” wrote Dr. Ann Spellman, a Ph.D. graduate of UCF’s Conservation Biology program.

Worthy has been widely published, and has successfully secured dozens of grants from diverse sources and mentored dozens of graduate and doctoral students.

In recognizing Worthy’s work with the cluster, Olav Oftedal, emeritus scientist of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, wrote, “The success of this important effort will depend, in part, on the skills, diplomacy, hard work and inspired leadership of its director. I believe you have the right man for the job.”