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Alumni, Faculty and Students Win Prestigious National Awards

College of Engineering alumni, faculty and students have been selected as the recipients of several prestigious awards including the Chicago Illini of the Year, the Lemelson-MIT Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Gates Fellowship, and an Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research.

Gene Corley (B.S. 1958, M.S. 1960, Ph.D. 1961), an alumnus from Civil and Environmental Engineering, was recently named a 2004 Chicago Illini of the Year, in recognition of his significant accomplishments with respect to analyzing buildings damaged by bombs, earthquakes, fire and tornadoes. Corley led the investigations into the damage caused by the 9-11 attacks and the Oklahoma City Murray Federal Building bombing in 1995, and also served as an expert advisor during the investigation of the 1993 fatal fire at the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas. Corley credits the excellent training that he received at the University of Illinois, including his undergraduate studies and his research work as a graduate student, for preparing him extremely well for his investigative work. Corley was one of three UIUC alumni to receive this award. The other recipients were former Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, Corinne Wood, and Cary McMillan, Chief Executive Officer of Sara Lee Branded Apparel.

AnHai Doan is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science who has received the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Award for 2003, an award that is presented annually for the best doctoral dissertation in computer science and engineering. Professor Doan is scheduled to recieve this award, which is considered to be the “Rookie of the Year” award, in June of 2004. This is the first time that someone focused on database research has won this award. Doan completed his Ph.D. in 2002 at the University of Washington and his dissertation was titled “Learning to Map between Structured Representations of Data.”

Professor Nick Holonyak from Electrical and Computer Engineering, recently received the Lemelson-MIT Prize, a $500,000 award that is considered the “Oscar for Inventors.” Holonyak received this award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology due to his invention of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), tiny semi-conductor-based lights which are used in DVD players, CDs, alarm clocks, traffic lights and many other products that we all take for granted. Today’s LEDs are more energy efficient and last 10 to 100 times longer than incandescent lights, so they could eventually cut lighting energy use worldwide and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor David Herztog from Physics has received a 2004 Guggenheim Fellowship to further his research on two high-profile projects in precision electroweak physics, namely precision measurements of the Fermi constant and the muon anomaly. The Guggenheim Foundation selects up to 200 Fellows out of 3500 applications each year. Applicants are matched against others working in their own field as well as against all others in the competition in a rigorous selection process and their work is reviewed by a network of several hundred advisers.

Joannah Metz, also from Physics, has been named a Gates Cambridge Trust Scholar for 2004. She will begin a one year master’s program in polar studies next year at the University of Cambridge, England. This is the third consecutive year that a Physics student has been named a Gates Scholar. Metz has three majors – engineering physics, astronomy and geophysics – and focuses her attention on the extraterrestrial. She will spend her time at Cambridge studying glacimarine sedimentation, the delivery of sediments from ice sheets to the ocean and the patterns of sedimentation formed by this process. Metz is one of only 31 U.S. students to receive this merit-based scholarship, which was established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Patrick Draper, another Physics undergraduate student, has been named a 2004 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar. This prestigious scholarship recognizes outstanding academic performance and demonstrated promise in scientific research. Draper is the seventh winner from the UIUC Theoretical Astrophysics and General Relativity undergraduate research team to be selected for this award. Draper was selected from 1,113 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by faculty from colleges and universities across the entire country.

David Pekker, a Physics graduate student, was selected to represent the U.S. at the annual Nobel Laureates meeting in Lindau, Germany in June. This annual meeting provides an opportunity for Nobel Laureates in chemistry, physics, and physiology/medicine to have informal interactions with students and young researchers. The June meeting will focus on physics. Pekker is sponsored by the Department of Energy, which along with the National Science Foundation and the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, can invite groups of top young researchers to participate in this meeting.

Brian DeMarco, an Assistant Professor of Physics, has received a prestigious 2004 Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research. This is one of only 26 such awards made in all branches of science and engineering this year and is intended to confer honor on outstanding new faculty members, to support their research, and to encourage their teaching and research careers. DeMarco is no stranger to prominent awards as his work as a Ph.D. student was named by Science magazine as one of the top ten scientific discoveries of 1999. His graduate work consisted of extending magnetic trapping and evaporative cooling techniques used to produce atomic Bose-Einstein condensates to create the first quantum degenerate Fermi gas of atoms. DeMarco joined the Department of Physics in 2003.

Roger Plummer, a former University of Illinois trustee, has been awarded the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award. Plummer received his B.S. in Engineering Mechanics in 1964 and is believed to be one of only two people to serve on all three of the UI’s major boards — the Alumni Association, Foundation and Board of Trustees. He dealt head-on with difficult and controversial issues, including Chief Illiniwek, and earned widespread respect for his accomplishments. Plummer is the retired President and Chief Executive Officer of Ameritech Information Systems. Plummer was chosen for this award from over 400,000 alumni for his extraordinary commitment, dedication, and service to the advancement of the University of Illinois.


Contact: Rick Kubetz, College of Engineering, 217/244-7716,editor

(posted 18 May 2004)

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