Published May 17, 2013
Liesl Folks, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is the recipient of a national award recognizing her mentorship of science and engineering students.
The AVS Excellence in Leadership award, first issued in 2012, is presented by AVS: Science and Technology of Materials, Interfaces and Processing. AVS is the former American Vacuum Society, a nonprofit professional organization of roughly 5,000 members that is affiliated with the American Institute of Physics.
AVS is unusual in that it is an interdisciplinary society that supports networking among academic, industry, government and consulting professionals. It spans all disciplines related to basic science, technology development and commercialization of materials, interfaces and processing.
Folks is the second UB researcher to receive the award in the past two years: Joseph A. Gardella Jr., UB’s John and Frances Larkin Professor of Chemistry, received the inaugural AVS Excellence in Leadership award in 2012.
Folks has a long record of support for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational programs, from pre-K through 12th-grade initiatives to helping launch a graduate educational program in magnetics, which is her field of research. That program, sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), offers summer study opportunities to roughly 100 graduate students globally each year.
“Mentoring can play an important role in advancing the careers of young people in STEM fields and it has been a great joy for me to play even a small part in helping some great young scientists and engineers to advance,” Folks says. “It is a great honor to be recognized by the AVS for these activities. I certainly have benefited from great mentoring during my career and am delighted if I can help others even a little through mentoring activities.”
An internationally recognized expert in nanotechnology and magnetism, Folks holds 14 U.S. patents and is the author of more than 50 peer-reviewed papers. Prior to arriving at UB in January, Folks worked for more than nine years at HGST, a hard disk drive company in San Jose, Calif. Before that, she worked at IBM Almaden Research Center, also in San Jose, for six years.
She is president of the IEEE’s Magnetics Society and served in 2012 on the congressionally mandated panel for the Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, facilitated by the National Academy of Sciences.