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2020 Withrow Awards

April 27, 2020

Fifteen honored during the 30th Annual Engineering Awards at MSU

The celebration may be remote, but the top faculty and staff awards in the MSU College of Engineering in 2020 stand as a testament to excellence and distinguished contributions even in the age of the novel coronavirus.

Fifteen faculty and staff members are receiving some of the college’s most prestigious awards this spring.

“We may not be together in the same room at this point, but we are pleased to recognize our colleagues who have done great things,” said Engineering Dean Leo Kempel.  “More than ever, we recognize those members of the Spartan Engineering Family who consistently do exceptional things for our students.”

The Withrow Endowed Teacher/Scholar/Service Award program was established through a gift from MSU alumni Jack Withrow (BS, MECH EGR, ’54; MBA ’71) and Dottie Withrow (BA, speech therapy and elementary education, ’55) to recognize members of the college who have demonstrated excellence in instructional and scholarly activities and rendered distinguished service to the university and the student body.

The 2020 awards and recipients are:

Lori Larner honored for her dedicated and creative service.
Lori Larner honored for  dedicated and creative service.

Gloria Stragier Award for Dedicated and Creative Service 
This award is presented annually to a staff member in the College of Engineering to recognize exceptional and creative job performance and/or concerned and creative leadership.

Research administrator Lori Larner has provided more than 30 years of service to MSU, including 22 years in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). As one colleague said, “Lori is a perfect example of what an excellent staff member can be in the day-to-day operations of a department.” And a graduate student added: “she is a fantastic research administrator, but also a therapist, role model, friend, and mother figure.”

Top staff service award goes to Kyle Liechty.
Top student service award goes to Kyle Liechty.

Withrow Student Service Award
This award is presented to an adviser, academic specialist, or non-tenure-track instructor for outstanding service to students in the college.

Kyle Liechty, academic specialist in The Career Center, has established himself as a trusted mentor, friend, and role model to countless Spartan Engineers. Garth Motschenbacher, director of employer engagement at The Center, said Kyle’s commitment to students approaches “legend” status. “Kyle’s belief in students comes through the minute they meet him and is consistent throughout all of their interactions. Kyle never gives up on the process or the person,” he added.

Withrow Global Leadership Award
This award recognizes faculty and staff members who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in advancing global scholarship through research, teaching and outreach.

Volodymyr Tarabara receives Global Leadership Award.
Volodymyr Tarabara receives Global Leadership Award.

Volodymyr Tarabara, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has played a leading role in developing strategic partnerships for MSU throughout Europe and Eurasia. Since joining MSU in 2004, he has led and collaborated on research and outreach projects with a wide range of prominent scholars in France, Georgia, Germany, Norway, Singapore, Turkey, and Ukraine. He has also lectured in several universities in Africa, Asia and Europe.

He was awarded an honorary degree by the Agricultural University of Georgia, Tbilisi, last year – after serving as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Georgia in 2014- 2016. He was honored for his environmental engineering efforts toward a safe and sustainable water supply.

Withrow Excellence in Diversity Award - Emerging Accomplishments
This award recognizes faculty and staff members who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in advancing diversity through research, teaching, and outreach.

Galit Pelled, a professor of biomedical engineering, radiology, and neuroscience, is a leader in neuro-engineering and a champion in promoting diversity and inclusion.

Galit Pelled honored for emerging accomplishments in diversity.
Galit Pelled honored for emerging accomplishments in diversity.

During her short time at MSU, she has made significant contributions to promoting an environment of excellence and inclusion and dedicating herself to building inclusive communities.

She is the leader and principal investigator of the MSU Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant Award, designed to build comprehensive and synergistic leadership programs in the college for women. She also works with the Academic Advancement Network to lead women’s leadership opportunities for faculty. She directs a diverse lab with 12 students, representing underrepresented and disabled groups.

Withrow Exceptional Service Award
This award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional institutional, public, and community service. Nominations are submitted by department chairpersons to the dean and associate deans for final selection.

Susan Masten recognized for exceptional service.
Susan Masten recognized for exceptional service.

Susan Masten, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, has a significant track record of service to the university, the engineering profession, and the community, highlighted by extensive efforts to improve public health and welfare. She has been developing drinking water treatments for 30 years and is focused on treatment technologies to mitigate lead in drinking water.

She is a member of the Michigan Board of Drinking Water Examiners and was appointed to the State of Michigan Science Advisory Committee on PFAS chemicals. Her recent efforts include leading the independent lead testing of premises and public schools in Flint. She is the adviser to the Environmental Engineering Student Society and the MSU Chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

Her many awards include the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors/Wiley Interscience Outstanding Educator Award, the MSU Curricular Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Award, and the Lyman A. Ripperton Environmental Educator Award by the Air and Waste Management Association.

The 2020 Withrow Teaching Excellence Awards recipients are:

Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering – Truman Surbrook
Biomedical Engineering – Erin Purcell
Chemical Engineering and Materials Science – Stephen Kamin
Civil and Environmental Engineering – Annick Anctil
Computer Science and Engineering – Arun A. Ross
Electrical and Computer Engineering – Hassan Khalil
Mechanical Engineering – Patton Allison

This year’s Withrow Distinguished Scholar Awards go to: 

Junior Scholar – Erin Purcell – Biomedical Engineering
Junior Scholar – Jiliang Tang – Computer Science and Engineering
Senior Scholar – Venkatesh Kodur – Civil and Environmental Engineering

Join in the celebration - Read more on the 2020 Teaching Excellence Awards and 2020 Withrow Distinguished Scholars.