Founders’ Day Celebration to Honor New Pegasus Professors

Founders’ Day Celebration to Honor New Pegasus Professors

Five professors soon will join a distinguished group of faculty members at the University of Central Florida: Pegasus Professor Award recipients.

The Pegasus Professor Award is the highest academic honor an educator can receive at UCF. Honorees must be nominated, have worked at the university at least five years and have conducted research or developed programs that have made national and international impact. Each recipient receives a $5,000 stipend and $5,000 in research grants.

The 2017 Pegasus Professor recipients are David Hagan, Jayanta Kapat, Jana Jasinski, Alain Kassab and Robert Folger. The UCF community is invited to see them recognized as part of the 2017 Founders’ Day celebration on April 5 at 3 p.m. in the Student Union’s Pegasus Ballroom.

David Hagan, associate dean for academic programs and professor in the College of Optics & Photonics, has been at UCF since 1987 when he was an assistant professor and one of the founding faculty members of CREOL, the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers, one of the research centers in the college. He is responsible for the operation of CREOL’s master’s and doctoral degree programs, recruitment, research, advising, class scheduling, examinations and more.

“Through all these years, he has been instrumental in guiding the academics, developing the curriculum, teaching the courses and helping make CREOL the internationally recognized center, and now academic unit, that it has become,” wrote Eric Van Stryland, professor, trustee chair and founding dean of CREOL in his letter of recommendation for Hagan.

Hagan has developed five courses for CREOL, taught 14 different courses and has directed 24 Ph.D. student dissertations. His own research focuses on nonlinear optics, which has received U.S. Department of Defense funding and has earned him the designation of “highly cited researcher” by the Institute for Scientific Information. Journal publications have cited his research more than 12,400 times. Plus, he’s garnered more than $21 million in research contracts and grants during his time at UCF.

One of his most recent professional endeavors was leading the creation of a new bachelor’s of science degree in photonics science and engineering at CREOL, which is expected to soon receive accreditation by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology Inc.

Jayanta Kapat, a faculty member at UCF since 1997, is a professor in the College of Engineering & Computer Science’s mechanical and aerospace department. He is the founder of UCF’s Center for Advanced Turbines and Energy Research (CATER) that is a hub for research and development of advanced turbomachinery and energy systems. Kapat and CATER’s team have garnered national and international recognition for their efforts in advancing research of turbomachinery for power generation, aviation and space propulsion.

Kapat also has been instrumental in UCF’s development of partnerships with top industry companies including General Electric, Siemens and Mitsubishi, among others.

“Professor Kapat represents UCF’s vision to be America’s Partnership University,” wrote Associate Professor Seetha Raghavan in a letter of recommendation for Kapat. He’s also led a partnership with Florida State University to help advance the state’s aerospace industry through the Florida Center of Advanced Aero Propulsion that provides workforce training and develops new technologies.

Personally, he’s garnered more than $14 million in research grants and has mentored and graduated 20 Ph.D. students, 45 master’s students and 16 bachelor’s degree honors in the major students.

“Professor Kapat is a true academic leader and has made invaluable contributions to UCF and to the turbomachinery scientific community,” wrote Yoav Peles, professor and department chair of UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Jana Jasinski, a professor of sociology, is known worldwide for her research on violence against women and intimate-partner violence. Her co-authored book published in 2010, for example, “Hard Lives, Mean Streets: The Experience of Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women,” helped shine a light on an existing social issue and filled a gap that existed in research.

“Dr. Jasinski is one of the world’s leading experts on violence against women and she has produced some of the most important scholarly publications in her field,” said Walter DeKeserdy, director of the Research Center on Violence and professor at West Virginia University. DeKeserdy and Jasinski worked together on the Feminist Criminology’s editorial board when Jasinski was editor-in-chief from 2010-2014.

Jasinski’s contributions to UCF range from developing academic programs to mentoring and graduating Ph.D., master’s and bachelor’s degree students. She headed up the creation of UCF’s sociology doctorate program by drafting its proposal, becoming its first program director and creating its departmental culture. Since, she’s personally supervised nine Ph.D. students who have gone on to careers in academia, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“All of her work supports her dedication to equity and justice, and in all areas, her contributions elevate the people and institutions with whom she works,” wrote College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson.

Jasinski has been at UCF since 1999.

Alain Kassab, a UCF faculty member since 1991, has helped bring international recognition to UCF through research, collaborations, and enhancement of the mechanical and aerospace engineering curriculum.

His research spans several disciplines, including computational methods in heat transfer and fluid flow, inverse problems, boundary element, meshless methods and in bioengineering, producing more than 300 scientific papers and two books. His research has been supported by NASA, the U.S. Department of Education, the American Heart Association, Orlando Health, Siemens, the U.S. National Science Foundation and more.

He’s organized and chaired 10 international conferences at UCF that brought top industry professionals and organizations to campus and, in turn, increased awareness of UCF among attendees.

In the College of Engineering and Computer Science, he led the committee that crafted the bioengineering minor degree program, was the committee chair and lead author of the master’s in biomedical engineering that was created in fall 2016, and he currently is leading a committee that’s creating a proposal for a Ph.D. program at UCF in bioengineering.

“In his 26 years of service to UCF, he has maintained an ever-expanding high-quality research program, and he has made a mark at UCF through his contributions to graduate education, student mentoring and engagement, and program development,” said Manoj Chopra, a civil engineering professor at UCF.

Kassab has mentored to graduation 14 Ph.D. students and 27 master’s degree students. Plus, he’s the faculty advisor for the mechanical engineering honor society Pi Tau Sigma, the biomedical engineering society chapter at UCF and the UCF fishing club, the Reel Knights.

Robert Folger, a distinguished alumni endowed professor in the College of Business, has helped bring international awareness of UCF through his research and through conferences that focus on the study of management.

Folger is the co-founder of organizational justice, a modern field within the study of management that focuses on employee perceptions of fairness in the workplace. He’s also the creator of two of the three most commonly used theories for examining organizational justice, wrote UCF Pegasus Professor Robin Roberts about Folger. These accomplishments have helped him become a highly cited researcher, with his work being cited by others more than 23,000 times, according to Google Scholar. His work also has led him to hosting a biannual conference that’s drawn a wide range of national and international scholars and researchers to UCF.

In addition to his personal research, which has garnered nearly $90,000 in grants, he’s been instrumental in aiding others with theirs. Twenty-three of his former doctoral students collectively signed a letter of recommendation for Folger’s Pegasus Professor nomination.

“When I tell my students to follow their research passions and to always think before reading, they are receiving Rob’s wisdom through me,” wrote Rebecca Greenbaum, associate professor at Oklahoma State University and one of Folger’s former doctoral students. “I speak about Rob with such affinity that my students see him as the epitome of what it means to be a professor.”

Folger has taught a wide array of courses including business ethics, organizational behavior, negotiation and conflict resolution, research methods in human resources management and others since coming to UCF in 2003.

For more on the Founders’ Day celebration, see here.