Withrow Distinguished Scholar Awards 2022

Feb. 1, 2022

Three researchers honored for scholarship achievements

Three faculty members in the Michigan State University College of Engineering will be awarded 2022 Withrow Distinguished Scholar honors for excellence in research scholarship during the 32nd Annual Engineering Awards. The recognitions are considered among the college’s most prestigious distinctions and will be presented on Monday, March 21, at 5:30 p.m. at the University Club.

Receiving the 2022 Withrow Distinguished Scholar Awards are:
 Senior Scholar: Kalyanmoy Deb, The Dr. Herman E. and Ruth J. Koenig Chair in Communications Systems, University Distinguished Professor, electrical and computer engineering,
• Junior Scholar: Kristen Cetin, assistant professor, civil and environmental engineering, and
• Junior Scholar: Alexandra Zevalkink, assistant professor, chemical engineering and materials science.

The awards are presented each spring in recognition of demonstrated excellence in scholarship. They are part of the Withrow Endowed Awards established through a gift from 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.

2022 Withrow Distinguished Scholar - Senior Award
Nominees have been in service to the university for more than five years and hold the rank of professor.

Kalyanmoy Deb
Kalyanmoy Deb

Kalyanmoy Deb is an internationally recognized leader in the areas of multi-criterion optimization, evolutionary computation, machine learning, artificial intelligence and their real-world applications.

He has made pioneering contributions and led in the development of the evolutionary multi-objective optimization (EMO) field by proposing state-of-the-art algorithms and demonstrating their practical applications in industries over the past 30 years. His research has made a huge scholarly impact on the scientific community, as is evident from his more than 190,000 Google Scholar citations and h-index of 127 from over 580 publications.

His proposed methodologies are adopted in multiple commercial softwares. He introduced new in-person and online graduate-level courses dedicated to the topic and regularly teaches basic undergraduate courses on electrical circuit analysis. He has influenced the research of many notable experts of multi-objective optimization field today. His students and mentees are well placed in academia and industries.

His research areas are multidisciplinary and require knowledge of mathematics, numerical analysis, signal processing, probability theory, biology, medicine, electronics, computers, learning techniques and economics. His work is used in a wide array of applications ranging from automotive, electronic, chemical products to steel-making and manufacturing processes to environmental protection and conservation.

One nominator said: “Dr. Deb’s record as an expositor of new ideas in this challenging field is phenomenal. His work on these diverse topics has resulted in more than 50 master’s and 30 Ph.D. students. His students have all been extremely successful in their professions in industry, national laboratories and academia.”

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Indian National Academy of Engineering, and the Indian National Science Academy. He is a recipient of a Humboldt Fellowship, the Lifetime Achievement Award by Clarivate Analytics, and the IEEE CIS Evolutionary Computation Pioneer Award. He has served for over 10 years on the editorial boards of the top journals in his fields of expertise.

Added a nominator: “Professor Deb is without any doubt one of the leaders of his generation and among the most impactful and most cited researcher in the field of computational intelligence.”

2022 Withrow Distinguished Scholar - Junior Awards: Kristen Cetin and Alexandra Zevalkink
Nominees have been in service to the university as instructors, assistant professors, or associate professors for not more than seven years. 

Kristen Chetin
Kristen Chetin

Kristen Cetin has demonstrated an extraordinary track record of excellence in both personal and mentored research and development. Her primary areas of expertise are buildings, building systems, and their sustainability, and energy performance. She works to improve the design, construction, retrofitting, and operation of human-occupied buildings.

Her groundbreaking research has advanced the fundamental understanding of critical international policy areas related to sustainability and resilience of the built environment. The depth and breadth of her work have led to critical insights as to energy use in manufacturing and commercial industries, as well as individual households.

One of her most recent successes was the award of a U.S. Department of Energy Industrial Assessment Center to MSU, with her named as director of a multi-university, multi-institute consortium.

As one nominator noted: “she has demonstrated extensive success in writing winning research proposals, translating this research into groundbreaking impacts of both a practical and applied nature. This work has been done with students in leading roles, reflecting her incredible efforts as a mentor.”

Since becoming a tenure-track assistant professor in January 2016, she has served as principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on approximately $8.7 million in externally funded projects. This includes nine projects as a PI and 23 in total, including supplemental funding.

These efforts have resulted in 42 peer-reviewed journal papers, including 27 with her master’s and Ph.D. students, and 19 with her Ph.D. students as first authors. This also includes 59 peer-reviewed conference papers, as well other publications. Also, she has graduated five Ph.D. students, six master’s students, and supervised 35 undergraduate students through her own research projects.

Another nominator said: “Dr. Cetin’s research accomplishments are exceptional and rarely seen for a faculty at her rank. A review of Dr. Cetin’s professional, service, and academic experience indicates a deep understanding of real-life functions of buildings and their most frequent serviceability problems. She has established herself as a leader in her specialty field.”

Alexandra Zevalkink
Alexandra Zevalkink

Alexandra Zevalkink is an exceptional scholar and teacher in materials science who demonstrates a deep passion for developing and understanding energy-related materials. Through her scholarly achievements in solid state and materials chemistry, she has developed an international reputation that has brought considerable positive attention to the department, college, and university.

As one nominator said: “She is an outstanding teacher who inspires students to follow the trail she is blazing and is an effective and passionate advocate of science and engineering to the community at large. She is developing a worldwide reputation as a materials scientist of the first degree.”

Her research unites fundamental aspects of materials chemistry with electronic and thermal property characterization to create, study, understand, and optimize materials for energy applications. She is attacking a suite of wide-ranging and challenging problems in materials science, including the development of Zintl phase materials for thermoelectric applications. Her research goal is to control solid state structure to engineer semiconductors and ceramics with targeted electronic and thermal properties that will impact a range of critical technologies.

She has already secured external funding directly for her group in excess of $2 million from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy and NASA/JPL. This includes an NSF CAREER Award. She has supported six Ph.D. students, one master’s student, and her laboratory has hosted several undergraduate students.

She has authored a total of 55 publications in refereed scientific journals (21 of these since joining MSU), which have generated 3,745 citations (Google Scholar); her h-index currently stands at 29. Many of these papers are in high impact journals in materials science and chemistry. She and her students have also delivered dozens of presentations at national and international conferences.

She has made significant contributions by teaching courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and she has demonstrated a strong passion for outreach and service.

Join the celebration! Read more on the 2022 MSU Engineering Awards that also honored Dedicated and Creative Service/Spartans WillDiversity and Service Awardsand Withrow Teaching Excellence Awards.