Bieler and Liu to receive excellence in scholarship awards

March 17, 2023

Bieler, Liu and Fan to receive 2023 excellence in scholarship awards

Three faculty members in the Michigan State University College of Engineering will be recognized with 2023 Withrow Distinguished Scholar honors during the 33rd Annual  Engineering Awards. The recognitions are considered among the college’s most prestigious distinctions and will be presented on Wednesday, March 22, at 5:30 p.m. at the University Club.

Receiving the 2023 Withrow Distinguished Senior Scholar Awards are Thomas Bieler, professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Xiaoming Liu – MSU Foundation Professor, Computer Science and Engineering.

The Withrow Distinguished Junior Scholar Award goes to Qi Hua Fan – associate professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

A total of 17 faculty and staff will be honored at the March 22 dinner. See the entire list

The awards are presented annually 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.

2023 Withrow Distinguished Senior Scholar Awards
Nominees have been in service to the university for more than five years and hold the rank of professor.

• Thomas Bieler, professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

Thomas Bieler
Thomas Bieler

The list of Thomas Bieler’s accomplishments from both a scientific and an engineering perspective is extremely impressive. In 2019, The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) elevated Bieler to the Class of Fellows - considered the pinnacle award of the society.

A large part of his research has dealt with the primary and secondary processing and subsequent mechanical properties of metallic alloys. Early in his career, he demonstrated the feasibility of high-strain-rate superplasticity, a finding that has led to numerous research efforts by others. This work also helped in laying the foundation for industrial manufacturing processes such as the “Quick Plastic Forming” technique used by General Motors for aluminum alloy sheet materials.

His work has been a unique coupling of careful experimental characterization, the extraction of important observations from such experiments, and the application of appropriate modeling techniques to elucidate the important physical phenomena and parameters.

A nominator for this award called the diversity of his accomplishments “unsurpassed.” He has published widely cited papers with national and international significance, as demonstrated by an exceptional Google Scholar H-index of 55.

His research has led to nearly 350 published papers and four patents. Several of his articles have been recognized with best paper awards. Much of the research summarized in his papers has been complemented by an impressive number of edited proceedings for many of the 30+ symposia which he has organized.

His service as a member or officer is exemplified in 20 different technical, programming, accreditation, award, and journal committees, as well as the TMS-MPMD Council.

As one nominator said, “Tom is an outstanding individual. He is extraordinarily modest, caring, and giving. He always has time to help others, be they students or junior or senior colleagues in the materials field. Tom is truly a gentleman and a scholar.”

Xiaoming Liu – MSU Foundation Professor, Computer Science and Engineering.

Xiaoming Liu
Xiaoming Liu

Xiaoming Liu was named a 2023 Fellow by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest professional organization for the advancement of technology. He was named a Fellow “for contributions to facial image analysis and recognition.”

Liu is an internationally renowned scholar in the areas of computer vision, biometrics and artificial intelligence. 

Through his outstanding research contributions, he has had a profound impact in various facets of MSU's top-15 national ranked computer vision program. Additionally, he leads large-scale multi-university research programs. He is also the Anil K. and Nandita Jain Endowed Professor of Engineering and is a Fellow of the International Association of Pattern Recognition.

His main research interests lie in developing robust, efficient, and self-aware computer vision algorithms for enhanced visual intelligence. His technical expertise has been applied to a wide range of applications, such as biometrics, autonomous driving, agriculture, and medical imaging.

He has served as the sole or Co-PI on 14 peer-reviewed federal grants and 22 sole-PI industrial and foundation research awards. Since November 2021, he is the PI for the $11-million IARPA BRIAR project. This large project includes collaborators from the University Texas-Austin, Purdue University and the University of Oregon. The total funding from all 36 grants is approximately $25.1 million, with his portion is approximately $9.1 million. 

Liu has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers at top computer science conferences and journals, where 130 papers are published since he joined MSU. His major publications at MSU include 32 journal papers and 70 top conference papers.

The impact of Liu’s research is demonstrated with the high citation of his papers by other researchers. According to Google Scholar, the total number of citations of Liu’s papers since 2001 is more than 20,000, and the H-Index is 69.

Additionally, he actively engages in professional services to the broader research community. 

2023 Withrow Distinguished Junior Scholar Award
Nominees have been in service to the university as instructors, assistant professors, associate professors for not more than seven years.

• Qi Hua Fan – associate professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

Qi Hua Fan
Qi Hua Fan

Qi Hua Fan is an outstanding and recognized scholar, a leader in the fields of plasma science and technology, plasma-surface interactions and plasma enhanced coatings, as well as an exceptional teacher. Over the last 6.5 years, he has had an immense impact that is second to none for a junior level faculty. 

Fan’s primary field of expertise is nanostructured electronic materials, plasma-surface interactions and plasma enhanced coatings with applications in energy storage, energy harvesting, and water treatment.  

“He represents the very best among junior faculty and has established a highly visible and strong research program in his fields in a relatively short amount of time (since joining MSU). He has made significant contributions in his areas of expertise and is on track to achieving national and international recognition,” a nominator explained.

He has been a prolific author with more than 100 papers in high-impact peer reviewed journals. His publications have been cited by his peers over 3,000 times with an H-index of 29 and an i10-index of 71. He has been PI/Co-PI on external grants and contracts totaling more than $5 million (over $3.5 million his share) including six NSF grants, two DOE grants, and multiple state and industry sponsored grants. The latter include Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) awards that have led to the development of several important technologies for commercialization. 

He has filed 13 invention disclosures and eight patent applications as the lead inventor. He has been awarded four patents and his innovations have been selected two times for the MSU Innovation Celebration Showcase.

One nominator said, “Qi Hua Fan possesses that rare combination of excellent scientific and engineering skills, tremendous work ethic, outstanding problem-solving ability, and exceptional interpersonal skills. He stands alone as best of the best.”