A Farewell and Thanks: Two Faculty Achieve Emeritus Status

Professor James (Jim) Mitchell, professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (CAEE), and Professor Raj Mutharasan, Frank A. Fletcher Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE), will be transitioning to retirement and have each been appointed Professor Emeritus, effective September 1, 2020. Both faculty members have been active members of the College and University communities, serving in leadership capacities, and will be greatly missed. The College looks forward to many years of engagement with them in their emeritus roles.

James Mitchell
Professor Jim Mitchell

Mitchell joined the Drexel faculty in 1988 as an associate professor immediately following a career of 15 years as an architect, including holding the position of principal at two design firms. He earned a BA in applied physics and an MS in fluid mechanics from Harvard University, and a master’s in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout his time at Drexel, he has been a passionate advocate for exceptional teaching, a champion of undergraduate engineering students. He previously served as the interim department head of CAEE and is the long-time developer and director of the architectural engineering program. He is the founder and former co-director of the Faculty Development Center, the precursor to today’s Teaching and Learning Center. Mitchell has twice served as associate dean of undergraduate affairs for the College, most recently from 2015 to 2019. In that role, he oversaw and contributed significantly to the College’s recent successful ABET visit. Mitchell has earned a number of awards at Drexel, including a College of Engineering Teaching Excellence Award (2013), College of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award (2004), Drexel University Senior Faculty Award, Undergraduate Level (Teaching Excellence – 2002), and Drexel University Award for Outstanding Service to the University (2001).

“I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have been a part of Drexel for 31 years,” reflects Mitchell. “My colleagues, and most especially my students, have supported and delighted me throughout.”

Raj Mutharasan
Professor Raj Mutharasan

Mutharasan joined the faculty in 1974 as assistant teaching professor, moving over to the tenure-track in 1976, and was appointed to the Fletcher Professorship in 1999. He holds a bachelor’s degree from IIT Madras, India and a PhD in chemical engineering from Drexel. His research has focused on process control, mathematical modeling of chemical engineering systems, biochemical engineering, process metallurgy, cell culture technology, and biosensors, leading to over 150 peer reviewed publications. Mutharasan has been awarded 12 patents, many on his invention of a cantilever biosensor for cancer and pathogen detection. In service to the University, he held the position of interim dean of the College from 1997 to 2000. He also led the development of the graduate MS degree program in CBE in the early 1980s. Mutharasan served as a National Science Foundation program director, initially of Nanobiosensing, and later of Cellular and Biochemical in CBET from 2014 to 2017. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, 2011), Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE, 2006), and Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE, 2001). He has served on the Editorial Boards of Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Sensors Letters, and Metallurgical Transactions B.

In recognition of his research, teaching, and service, he has received Drexel’s Research Award, 106 Award, Distinguished Service Award, and Lindback Teaching Award.

Reflecting on his time at Drexel and a look towards his post-Drexel endeavors, Mutharasan shares, “In a manner of speaking, Drexel is a rich environment for the professional growth of both faculty and students. I was fortunate to experience Drexel as a student, faculty member, and administrator. From the intense topic of biosensors and biotechnology, retirement gives me an opportunity to delve into history and ancient literature, which have always fascinated me. I will keep one eye on the development of biosensors while the other focused on travel, astrophotography, and sorting through poems of the pre-Common era.”