“We could never have asked for a better teacher than Dr. Barsoum,” quipped PhD alumnus Aaron Sakulich (BS ’05, PhD ’09), adding “because Dr. Z never would have listened to us anyway,” as he quoted fellow alumnus Tom Henriksen (BS ’05) in a cheeky tribute to Distinguished Professor Michel Barsoum in honor of his 30 years with Drexel Materials.
From locations as far as Hong Kong, Vancouver, South Carolina, Texas, Massachusetts, and as nearby as the Philadelphia area, alumni, colleagues, family, and friends came together at Drexel’s Paul Peck Alumni Center the evening of Friday, June 3 to celebrate Barsoum’s ongoing career as a mentor, researcher, and teacher.
With a slideshow of images of Barsoum through the years assembled by alumna Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman (BS ’02, PhD ’07) running in the background, Department Head and Professor Michele Marcolongo kicked off the formal program. She first introduced Professor Emeritus Roger Doherty, who spoke of hiring Barsoum to improve upon the ceramics field within the department and the long-term benefits of his hire, with his successes in multiple research arenas.
Following Doherty, Sakulich brought a lighthearted tone to the event in his roast of his formal faculty advisor. He collected quotes from fellow alums on social media, reminiscing about unique and memorable moments in class, in the lab, and in group meetings with the esteemed professor.
Barsoum’s wife, Patricia Lyons, then spoke, detailing the personal side of living with her very own mad scientist. Lyons elaborated on Barsoum’s love of science from an early age, starting with several stories of experimentation gone awry and later about party tricks at her young son’s birthday party. She described his love of sailing and sailing adventures with his students and applauded his passion for “life, his family, his work, his friends.”
Alumnus Dr. Miladin Radovic (PhD ’01), chair of the alumni event committee for the celebratory event, presented his former advisor with a special copy of Barsoum’s own book that included handwritten messages collected from a number of his former advisees.
On behalf of the department, Marcolongo presented Barsoum with an image created by PhD alum and current postdoc in the Nanomaterials Group Dr. Babak Anasori (’14) of a composite of a research image from Barsoum’s group’s research with a photo of Barsoum sailing superimposed onto it. The frame was signed by Barsoum’s colleagues in the department.
Finally, Barsoum himself had the opportunity to share a few words. He spoke about the atmosphere of the department and how, despite counter offers at other universities, he has remained at Drexel Materials largely because of the people and the wonderful feel he has for the department.