2022 College of Engineering Award Recipients Announced

Dean Sharon L. Walker is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022 College of Engineering Awards. These individuals have been chosen for their exceptional performance and outstanding contributions to the college.

Headshots of three women and six men
Top row (l to r): Christine Fiori, Dagmar Niebur, Fei Lu, James Shackleford, Franco Montalto
Second row: Masoud Soroush, Christopher Sales, Wayne Hill, Micalena Sallavanti, Barbara Interlandi

Faculty Awardees

Outstanding Service Award

Christine Fiori, PhD, program director of Construction Management and clinical professor in the Department of Engineering Leadership and Society at Drexel since 2015, has been a steadfast contributor to her program, department, college, and the University. This past year, she was instrumental in stewarding an extremely successful reaccreditation process for the construction management program, which was recommended for a full six-year reaccreditation by the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE). Fiori is the co-author of the recently published, “Handbook for Building Construction: Administration, Materials, Design and Safety.”

Outstanding Teaching Award

Dagmar Niebur, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been dedicated to students and curricular innovation. Niebur has developed 12 distinct undergraduate and 10 graduate courses. She has led the way in online course development for the department, paving the way for the department’s Master of Science in Electrical Engineering online degree program. She has also used her expertise to instill best practices for assessment and academic integrity into the online program. Niebur is additionally an internationally recognized leader in power systems education and has previously served as a Program Manager at the National Science Foundation.

Outstanding Early-Career Research Award

Fei Lu, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, conducts research in the general area of power electronics, with specific expertise in the sub-fields of energy conversion and wireless power transfer. He has developed techniques to protect the integrity of power systems by novel methods, employing wideband semiconductor devices capable of protecting the power grid.

Outstanding Mid-Career Research Award

James Shackleford, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, conducts research in diverse fields ranging from medical imaging to high-performance computing to operating systems, and his research contributions lie at the unexplored intersections of these sub-fields. His seminal research combining high performance computing, nonlinear processing algorithms, and multiscale quantification techniques has resulted in high resolution imaging capabilities in identifying multiple forms of cancer. Shackleford is co-founder and a lead author of the open source Plastimatch medical image registration software.

Outstanding Career Research Award

Franco Montalto, PhD, professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering and an expert in urban hydrology, is a leader on the modeling and assessment of “green infrastructure” including green roofs, rain gardens, and permeable pavements. An acknowledged thought-leader on the impact of climate change on urban hydrologic systems, he serves as the Director of the North American Hub of the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) and was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve as a member of the 4th New York City Panel on Climate Change. He is currently a Provost Fellow in the Climate and Sustainability Program.

Outstanding Innovation Award

Masoud Soroush, PhD, professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, has achieved innovations in gas-separation technologies, cybermanufacturing, and on-demand modular manufacturing. He has been involved in decades-long research collaborations with industry, including DuPont, Axalta, Air Liquide, and Near-Miss Management, and has received 10 NSF-GOALI grants as PI. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and a senior member of IEEE. Among many honors, Soroush is a recipient of AIChE’s 2021 Institute Award for Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology, for addressing a series of industrial gas problems and transferring his technologies.

Inclusive Excellence Award

Christopher Sales, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, is a champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion related to STEM education. He has collaborated extensively with the Drexel LSAMP program (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) and the Franklin Institute STEM Scholars program, which works to increase urban teachers’/students’ matriculation into college and careers in STEM. He has also served as a mentor to the Academy of Natural Sciences Engineering WINS (Women in Natural Sciences) program.

Staff Awardees

Exemplary Dedication Staff Award

Wayne Hill, Executive Director of Technical Operations and Infrastructure, has recently celebrated 40 years of dedicated service to Drexel. In his current role, Hill supports the college infrastructure and oversees computing and technical services. He exhibits tremendous dedication, wisdom, and leadership in his approach to his work. Hill is a graduate of the first cohort of Drexel Leaders 20/20 and a recipient of the 2005 Harold Myers Award for Distinguished Service.

Outstanding Professional Staff Award

Barbara Interlandi, Research Manager in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, has been at Drexel since 1998. In her role, she supports faculty in proposal preparation, research budget monitoring, and mandatory reporting. Interlandi also assists with student hires, including aiding international graduate students with documentation, and departmental finances. She is known as a detail-oriented, patient, well-organized, beloved, and essential member of the department and college.

Outstanding Academic Advising Award

Micalena Sallavanti is Senior Academic Advisor in the Undergraduate Advising Center, serving the Departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, and co-lead for the Engineering Learning Community (ELC). She assists students with course registration, academic planning, and understanding academic policies, and she has designed plan of study templates and a communication plan used by the departments she serves. She has additionally developed a robust ELC peer mentorship program. Sallavanti leads the college’s UNIV E101 effort, developing curriculum and providing guidance to the entire team of instructors. She is a member of NACADA’s First Year Steering Committee and was awarded a Certificate of Merit of the Outstanding Advising Award - Primary Advising Role through NACADA.

Student Awardees

Outstanding PhD Student Awards

Varun Natu recently completed his PhD in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Natu’s research in the Layered Solids Research Group focused on developing methodologies to improve MXene processing, production, yield and consistency to enable mass availability of MXenes for a variety of applications. He has filed four patents, published 31 research papers while at Drexel, including eight as first author, and has an h-index of 15. He has served as a mentor to other students and led a ceramics demonstration for the MATE 100 two-day course for incoming first-year students. Natu additionally served as the student representative on the Materials Characterization Core Advisory Committee.

Luis Rebollar is a PhD student in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering conducting research in the Tang Lab. His research looks to understand the origins by which the reversible hydrogen reaction progresses at alkaline pH. He has published four first-author articles in high-impact journals with two more in preparation. Rebollar has also served as President of the Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association and the University-wide Graduate College Student Association.

Outstanding BS/MS Student Award

Triet (Tony) Truong is a BS/MS student pursuing a BS in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and an MS in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering with the Baxter Research Group. Truong has been a STAR student and is a co-author on two published papers. He assists the college with recruitment and regularly volunteers as a student panelist at open house events. He also serves as a peer mentor and tutor for first-year students for the Engineering Learning Community.

Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award

Joshua Perez is a senior in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (CAEE) conducting research in the Advanced and Sustainable Infrastructure Materials (ASIM) Group on a National Science Foundation-funded project producing sustainable aggregates (so called SPoRA) from solid waste coal combustion ash and its leaching impact. He has served as president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and team leader of the CAEE concrete canoe team.

Abby Sofia Pollock is a junior in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics. She conducts research in the Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Group and is currently working on a research project funded by the USDA, which targets the development of automated procedures for the detection of Spotted Lanternfly egg masses in Pennsylvania. She is an avid volunteer for the department, working many open house and admitted student day events. She is additionally an Engineering Learning Community (ELC) peer mentor, where she organizes ELC events for community-building and, in conjunction with academic advisors from the college, has assisted in teaching UNIV 101.

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