Provost Recognizes Engineering Faculty, Staff with Awards

Eight headshots of Drexel Engineering community members.
Left to right, top: Abrams. Kalra, Weyant, Sullivan. Bottom: Snyder, Waring, Lo, Najafi

Eight members of the Drexel Engineering community have earned recognition from the Office of the Provost for their contributions to teaching, scholarship and advising.

Cameron Abrams, PhD, professor and department head in chemical and biological engineering, received an award for Outstanding Career Scholarly Achievement. The award recognizes a faculty member who has sustained an extraordinarily high-level of scholarly activities which have had a major impact in the greater community and/or on public perceptions of Drexel University.

The funding from Abrams’ award will support the refurbishment of his lab’s Linux workstations, supporting computational work in molecular simulations and computational drug design. This will help in the development of new directions, including collaborative projects studying the molecular biology of SARS-CoV-2, which recently yielded the publication of a study in the peer-reviewed journal Viruses.

Vibha Kalra, PhD, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, received an award for Outstanding Mid-Career Scholarly Achievement. The award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated unusual excellence and become a recognized leader in their scholarly field.

Kahlra’s research combines material assembly and characterization, study of fundamental electrochemical behavior, in-situ spectroelectrochemistry, and device assembly and testing to develop nanofiber-based energy storage devices, including next-generation batteries and supercapacitors. She has published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and has five pending patents in the field of nanofibers for energy storage.

Christopher Weyant, PhD, teaching professor in materials science and engineering, received the Evidence-Based Teaching Award in Undergraduate STEM. The award is given annually to a full-time faculty member in a STEM department who uses pedagogical strategies that have been demonstrated in the literature to be effective in teaching students, or who has developed an innovative approach that they are evaluating in their own classrooms.

Weyant has employed several active learning approaches shown to improve student outcomes in his classes, including flipped classroom, problem-based learning, problem solving studio and student response systems.

Rosemary Sullivan, associate director of academic advising in the Undergraduate Advising Center, was recognized with the Outstanding Professional Advisor Award. The award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of advisors who guide student progress through their academic paths across the University. Sullivan currently advises mechanical engineering students in their first three years. She also coordinates the Engineering Leadership Scholars program, which is a peer mentorship and leadership development program for College of Engineering students.

Joshua Snyder, PhD, associate professor in chemical and biological engineering, and Michael Waring, PhD, professor in civil, architectural and environmental engineering, received Faculty Scholarly Materials and Equipment Awards.

For Snyder, the award will fund the purchase of a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer that will be used to identify and quantify the products formed leaving an electrochemical conversion reactor. The goal of his research is to develop a technology to replace traditional thermochemical reactors. If successful, the reactions used to create fuels from petroleum and biomass derivatives could be completed with lower energy and reduced greenhouse gas emission, making the production of fuels a cleaner and more renewable activity.

Waring will use the award to improve his ability to conduct detailed submicron particle measurement in his lab. Waring’s research explores how various household and external particles affect indoor air quality, and how airborne pollutants and toxins can be reduced from indoor environments.

James Lo, PhD, assistant professor in civil, architectural and environmental engineering and Ahmad Najafi, PhD, assistant professor in mechanical engineering and mechanics, received Faculty Summer Research Awards.

Lo will use the award this fall to support a graduate student researching how machine learning models can be used to approximate ventilation rate in buildings, a topic which became even more relevant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the research is to determine how much ventilation a space will receive if certain doors or windows are open to the outside in different weather conditions. Machine learning will help speed the modeling process versus using fluid dynamics and physical models.

Najafi will further his research on bioinspired vascular networks used as cooling applications in batteries, fuel cells, aircraft and other electronics. Using a computer program, the project can model the ideal layout of paths for cooling liquid to travel, with minimal interruption in efficacy in the case of severe blockages.