PULLMAN, Wash. — The Washington State University College of Sciences announced its 2004 award recipients at its annual recognition event Friday (April 2).
Michael Bair, a 1978 WSU physics graduate received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Bair was hired by Boeing Company in 1979. During his career there, he moved from engineering through marketing into upper management. At present he is senior vice president at Boeing Commercial Airplanes responsible for all aspects of the development the new, super-efficient 7E7 model.
Distinguished Student Awards were awarded to two seniors. Rachael Britt, a biochemistry major in the School of Molecular Biosciences from Lewiston, Idaho, was recognized for quickly mastering experimental research techniques and applying them to new problems related to regulating expression of DNA repair genes and to the catalytic activity of wild-type and mutant forms of an enzyme. Her presentations at scientific meetings are recognized as outstanding. She has several papers already published or accepted by scientific journals.
Physics major Ryan Leach from Colville, Wash., also received a Distinguished Student Award for his dedication to science. As an undergraduate he has conducted research using the tip of an atomic force microscope to modify polymer surfaces. His work has resulted in a number of discoveries that represent a significant contribution to nanotechnology. Leach has already published one paper on his findings and several more are anticipated, including one on a computer simulation he has created which models water condensation patterns. Leach has also completed the Air Force ROTC program with distinction.
The Distinguished Faculty Award went to Vince Franceschi, director of the School of Biosciences. Franceschi has recently been recognized as one of the world’s most frequently cited researchers. Franceschi is noted for his groundbreaking work on range of research projects. They include the relationship between plant structures and their functions, on the ability of plants to move large molecules from cells into adjacent phloem tubes, his co-discovery of an unknown form of photosynthesis, as well as his work on ascorbic acid transport in plants. The Institute for Scientific Information added his name to their list of the world’s most highly cited researchers in the plant and animal sciences category.
Alexander Khapalov, associate professor of mathematics, received the Faculty Advising Excellence Award for his work with undergraduate, uncertified math majors. Khapalov is noted for his commitment to his advisees and his willingness to accommodate their advising needs.
The Tom Lutz Teaching Award went to John Dahl of the School of Molecular Biosciences. Dahl teaches microbiology and wins rave reviews from his students. Student reviewers describe him as “approachable,” “inspiring” and “funny” and they even said they liked taking his tests. One thanked him for giving them a “tuition’s worth of education.”
Kirill Zhuravlev won the Graduate Student Award. Zhuravlev is expected to complete his doctorate in physics in May. His research accomplishments in the challenging field of high-pressure and semiconductor physics have made him a leader in his research group. His published work and outstanding presentations at American Physical Society conferences have earned him an invitation to a coveted postdoctoral position at Los Almos National Laboratory.
The Young Faculty Performance Award went to Guy Worthey, assistant professor of physics and astronomy. Worthey is noted for his much-cited research on stellar populations, galaxy formation and the evolution of the universe. His commitment to assisting Inland Northwest middle school teachers develop astronomy projects for their classes was also noted in his nomination.
Two Outstanding Staff Awards were bestowed. Diane Johnson Cornelius, a research technologist in the Department of Geology, won for classified staff and Ron Newton, an instructional lab supervisor in the Department of Chemistry won for the administrative/professional group.
Cornelius operates the x-ray fluorescence analytical facility in WSU’s highly regarded GeoAnalytical Lab. Her analytical skills, dedication to quality and quick responses are largely responsible for the excellent international reputation of this lab. Recently she spent many extra hours preparing a new spectrometer for service in the lab with no disruption in the production schedule.
Newton has taught organic chemistry labs at WSU since 1985 and is recognized as the developer of a new, highly efficient means of recovering and recycling organic solvents used in the labs. He has been the catalyst in WSU’s expanding efforts to improve chemistry curriculum in regional high schools. He brings high school students to do experiments in WSU chemistry labs during university holidays and has linked several high school chemistry labs to WSU’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance equipment so that high school students can conduct experiments at a distance.