Celebrating excellence at CEE

The hard work and excellence of 19 current and former CEE faculty, staff and students were celebrated on Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Annual Awards Luncheon, held in the seventh floor of the Institute Library.

Nominated by their peers, all candidates for the awards were reviewed by a faculty nominating committee that included Dr. David Frost, Dr. Reginald DesRoches, Dr. Jim Spain, Dr. Marc Stieglitz, Dr. Phanish Suryanarayana, Dr. Jochen Teizer, Dr. James Tsai, and Dr. Jingfeng Wang.

Dr. Reginald DesRoches and Eaman Fatemi

Normally given in the spring, the awards were bestowed at the end of the fall semester to allow all recipients to be considered for College and Institute-level awards in the spring of 2014.

Receiving the award for best Undergraduate Research was Eaman Fatemi, who has worked with Dr. Kimberly Kurtis on plant-based fibers as a shrinkage mitigation method for concrete.

Honored with the J.L. Chameau Research Excellence Award was former CEE doctoral student Dr. Topraj Gurung, who was unable to attend the ceremony because he now works for Google, in Mountainview, CA. While he was at Georgia Tech, he was advised by Drs. David Frost and Jerek Rossignac.

Candace Brakewood Samuel Snow

Recognized with one of two Bill Schutz Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards was doctoral student Candace Brakewood, who has worked with Dr. Kari Watkins on the graduate Transit System Planning & Design course. Brakewood was unable to attend, but the other Schutz Award recipient, Samuel Snow was on hand to accept his award, recognizing his work with Dr. Jaehong Kim in conducting a course last spring.


Robert Simon, Tracy Boothe, Shanta Hutchins, Kenneth Irwin  Dr. Reginald DesRoches


The Professional Support Excellence award could not be given to just one person this year. Instead, an entire department -- Student Services -- was recognized for giving students and the School exceptional service. Accepting the award were four of the five student services stars, Dr. Tracy Boothe, Robert Simon, Shanta Hutchins and Kenneth Irwin. A fifth member of that team, Jimmy Hardin, was unable to attend.

The Best Ph.D. Thesis award went to Dr. Suengdae Oh, who is currently a post-doc at the University of Illinois. His advisor, Dr. Kostas Konstantinidis, described Oh as a "good thinker" whose research is having strong implications for biocide use in hospitals. Dr. Oh was unable to attend.


Dr. Reginald DesRoches, Lisa Tuttle

Receiving the award for Excellence in Administrative Support was Lisa Tuttle, whose work with the Development Department and the External Advisory Board was widely applauded by all. Dr. David Frost commended Tuttle's work with the Strategic Plan Advisory Group, noting that she was able to "herd cats" with "great efficiency and a smile."

Honored with the Outstanding Staff Leadership award was Crystal Hanson, the administrative support professional to the CEE water group. In bestowing the award upon Hanson, Frost praised her for "serving as the axle or primary contact between a broad range of internal and external stakeholders during CEE's move back into the Mason Building."

He went on to quote Rudyard Kipling's iconic poem, "IF."

Crystal Hanson

"'If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you...' -- need I say more?"

Professor Don White was recognized with the Leadership in the Use of Technology award, an honor that is given annually to a faculty who adopts and develops innovative technology-centered teaching techniques. Dr. White's active involvement in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) was praised. In announcing White as the recipient, Dr. Frost noted that his colleague's distinctive car was often in the Mason parking lot before 7 a.m. and could frequently be seen there well after others had left for home at the end of the day. On this particular occasion, however, White's car (and he) were not able to attend.


Dr. Kari Watkins

Receiving the Bill Schutz Junior Faculty Teaching award was Dr. Kari E. Watkins, who was lauded for her enviable CIOS scores as well as for her prodigious work outside the classroom. A CEE alumna, Watkins has been extremely active supporting alternative forms of transportation both in Atlanta and in Washington State, where she helped to develop the OneBusAway application.

The CEE Senior Faculty Teaching Award went to Dr. Ching-Hua Huang who, Frost noted, was "appreciated by students for her clarity in explaining complex concepts and even has a reputation for assigning challenging homeworks."

The recipient of the CEE Excellence in Research Program Development award was Dr. Kostas Konstantinidis, who has developed a research program that has brought in more than $2.5 million over the last three years, all while supporting 15 graduate and post-doctoral researchers.


Dr. Reginald DesRoches congratulates
Dr. Ching-Hua Huang

"In between advising research students and writing proposals and papers, he makes frequent appearances on NPR, National Geographic, MSNBC, and Public Radio Germany," said Frost."We’ll have to ask him if the latter interviews are in English, German or that well-known hybrid language, Greek-German."

Dr. Carlos Santamarina was recognized with the CEE Research Innovation award for his achievements in researching gas hydrates.

Santamarina led a team of researchers to develop a suite of instrumented pressure chambers that were successfully deployed in Sapporo Japan this past January to measure mechanical, hydraulic, electrical, and biologic properties of gas hydrate-bearing pressure cores recovered from the Eastern Nankai Trough.


Dr. DesRoches and Dr. Kostas Konstantinidis

"This marks a significant milestone towards being able to prepare for methane hydrate production  testing," Frost noted.

The Interdisciplinary Research Award went to Dr. Susan Burns, whose work studying natural and man-made geomaterials is well respected by her colleagues.

"With substantive and externally recognized contributions to fields as disparate as environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering and sustainable development, Dr. Burns is a valued ambassador for the school," Frost said.



Dr. DesRoches and Dr. Santamarina

Recognized with the CEE Sustained Research Award was Dr. Spyros Pavlostathis, whose "Hellenic passion" was praised by Dr. Frost.

"Dr. Pavlostathis has excelled in all facets including securing funding, conducting research, advising and graduating students, publishing peer-reviewed papers in the most respected journals...He is an accomplished researcher and author over a sustained period."

Dr. DesRoches and Dr. Burns






Dr. DesRoches
and Dr. Pavlostathis