Materials Faculty, Students and Staff Receive College Awards

A number of Materials faculty, students and staff received College of Engineering awards for their consistently high performance and/or their outstanding service to the College in 2018.

Distinguished Service Award:
Dr. Richard Knight

Richard Knight

In addition to Dr. Knight’s duties as Teaching Professor, he has served as Associate Department Head since 2009. He is also the department’s faculty Undergraduate Advisor, laboratory facilities coordinator and Chemical Hygiene Officer (CHO). Additionally, he serves on numerous curriculum and assessment committees at the department, college and university levels.

Beyond teaching in traditional settings, Knight is a leader in educational recruitment activities including the popular MATE 100 two-day freshman introductory course and Materials Camp, a week-long scholarship-based summer camp for 28 rising high school juniors and seniors, sponsored by ASM International® and hosted in our department.

As an active member of the university community, Dr. Richard Knight goes above and beyond what is required of him to play a key role in our outreach, facilities, curriculum, accreditation, and safety.

Outstanding Innovation Award:
Dr. Wei-Heng Shih

Wei-Heng Shih

Dr. Shih is an inventor and an entrepreneur dedicated to improving society through direct application of his research. His expertise lies in ceramic processing and its applications.

Since 2003, Shih has received 37 US patents on technologies ranging from ceramic materials to nanotechnology to energy generation and storage to bio and chemical sensors to medical devices. For his high innovative productivity, he was inducted as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2014. Four of his technologies have been licensed by four companies. These companies have raised, in aggregate, more than $4M to date to bring the technologies to market.

Shih is a highly innovative researcher with a demonstrated commercialization record. His inventions have had a positive impact on society, addressing difficult issues in healthcare and energy.

Outstanding Academic Advisor Award:
Sarit Kunz

Sarit Kunz

Ms. Kunz provides individual attention to Materials students starting in the freshman year when Kunz makes a concerted effort to connect with new students, letting them know that our department is a warm and inviting place to call home. She also coordinates our Peer Mentor program in which Materials juniors are paired with freshmen to help acclimate them to Drexel and get them connected to the department.

Of particular note is the care, confidentiality, and concern with which Kunz handles the most sensitive of situations. She is a resource to faculty and staff in issues related to academic performance, student mental health, and accommodations.

Kunz is not only a knowledgeable advisor, she also cares deeply about the welfare and future of each of our students, going above and beyond her regular responsibilities to advocate for their well-being and success.

Outstanding PhD Student: Yuan-Ping (Peter) Li

Peter Li

Yuan-Ping (Peter) Li is a dual MD/PhD student conducting research in Assistant Professor Hao Cheng’s Nanobiomaterials and Cell Engineering Laboratory. Li's work focuses on using biomaterial scaffolds for immune cell modulation in the context of autoimmmune diseases, with the goal of creating well-controlled microenvironments for the recruitment and reprogramming of key immune cell types in situ for inducing antigen-specific tolerance. Prof. Cheng’s lab has added an entirely new and promising avenue of research based on Li’s work, which has resulted in four peer-reviewed journal publications, one as first author.

In recognition of his achievements, Peter received a 2017 Koerner Fellowship and a 2017 Graduate Student Association Travel Grant. He also has proven track record of obtaining funding for his research.

Li is highly inquisitive and analytical, and always looking for a new or better method to accomplish research goals.

Outstanding MS Student: Patrick West

Patrick West is a 5th year BS/MS student completing his master’s thesis research in Anne Stevens Assistant Professor Ekaterina Pomerantseva’s Materials Electrochemistry Group, working to develop synthesis conditions for the preparation of manganese oxide nanowires with tunnel crystal structures, which are promising cathode materials for Li-ion and Na-ion batteries. Independently, he developed both an entirely new rotational disk electrode (RDE) testing approach to examine electrocatalytic activity and materials modification techniques, such as acid leaching and cobalt-doping, which led to more than doubling the electrocatalytic activity of tunnel manganese oxide nanowires.

West is co-author of one publication and is currently completing a first author manuscript. He has also had poster presentations of his work at the Stanford Undergraduate Research Conference in April 2016, the Drexel Week of Undergraduate Excellence in the spring of 2017, and the 232nd Electrochemical Society Meeting that took place in October 2017 in National Harbor, MD.

West’s persistence in the face of challenging questions, and his ability to identify important problems and promising approaches effectively advance his research and its potential to address a crucial global need.

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