16 Engineering and Applied Sciences faculty recognized at UB's Celebration of Excellence

Awardees honored for research, service and teaching

Adapted from a UB Now story

Published November 4, 2020

Sixteen faculty from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences earned 17 awards at UB's annual Celebration of Faculty and Staff Academic Excellence.


Continuing what has become the “new norm” in the era of COVID-19, UB’s annual recognition of outstanding faculty and staff has gone virtual.

The Celebration of Academic Excellence website offers a central location where members of the UB community can explore the extraordinary achievements of the university’s faculty and staff.

“The annual celebration of excellence is an opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions of our faculty and staff in the areas of research, teaching and professional service,” says Robert Granfield, vice provost for faculty affairs. “Please join me in acknowledging the many successes of this year’s honorees, as well as our previous award winners.”

The website includes a congratulatory video message from President Satish K. Tripathi and Provost A. Scott Weber, as well as a listing of faculty and staff who received select SUNY and UB awards during the previous year, among them SUNY Distinguished Professors, SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence, 50 Years of Service Award, and various research, teaching and mentoring awards.

Meet the SEAS honorees

SUNY Distinguished Professors

Joining the ranks of SUNY Distinguished Professor, the highest rank in the SUNY system, is:

John Crassidis

John Crassidis, the Samuel P. Capen Chair Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is internationally renowned for his work on control, estimation theory and filtering as applied to nonlinear stochastic dynamical systems. He is the director of the Center for Multisource Information Fusion, the only dedicated fusion center in the United States. Crassidis has made numerous findings that have had a profound impact on space situational awareness, space navigation and space station safety. A fellow of both the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Astronautical Society, Crassidis has conducted research that has improved the detection and tracking of man-made objects orbiting the Earth and helped keep astronauts safe during space missions. His discoveries and innovations have been used on the International Space Station, employed on a wide range of weather satellites, and deployed for mission‐critical initiatives by the Air Force, Navy and NASA.

Amit Goyal

Amit Goyal, SUNY Empire Innovation Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and director of UB’s RENEW Institute, is an internationally recognized materials scientist lauded for his groundbreaking scientific advances and technological innovations. The author or co-author of more than 350 technical publications, Goyal was ranked by Thompson-Reuters’ Essential Science Indicators as the most cited author worldwide in the field of high-temperature superconductivity from 1999-2009. He has 88 issued patents, a majority of which have been licensed to industry. Over the years he has received more than 60 grants exceeding $40M in funding.  He serves on several Scientific Advisory Boards and on several National Academy Review and Advisory Panels.  He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors and a fellow of eight leading professional societies. He has received numerous awards including the E.O. Lawrence Award, bestowed by the U.S. Department of Energy Secretary on behalf of the President. In 2019, he was awarded the UB President’s Medal in recognition of “Outstanding scholarly or artistic achievements, humanitarian acts, contributions of time or treasure, exemplary leadership or any other major contribution to the development of the university and the quality of life in the UB community.”

Krishna Rajan

Krishna Rajan, the Erich Bloch Chair and Empire Innovation Professor in the Department of Materials Design and Innovation (MDI), is a world-renowned expert in the field of materials informatics who has provided extraordinary leadership to his field for more than 30 years. Rajan has received international acclaim for his seminal research applying information science and data-intensive methodologies to the discovery, quantification and numerical modeling of a range of structural and functional materials. Further, his wealth of expertise has led to the development of innovations in areas ranging from drug delivery to superalloys. The influence of his work has been recognized through numerous international recognitions, including the Alexander von Humboldt Award from Germany, the CSIRO Distinguished Visiting Scientist Award from Australia and the CNRS Visiting Professorship award from France. As the founding chair of MDI, Rajan has helped place UB and SUNY at the forefront of materials research and innovation.

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

The SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes outstanding teaching ability through superb classroom performance.

Johannes Hachmann

Associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, Johannes Hachmann, is held in the highest regard for his teaching excellence and mentorship. A dedicated and innovative instructor, Hachmann develops modeling and data mining software that he incorporates into the classroom, challenging his students to tackle real-world application problems with contemporary tools. Active in advancing new curricula, Hachmann is a key contributor to the cross-disciplinary Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering (CDSE) program. In addition, he helped launch and advises UB’s Engineers Without Borders, which provides students valuable opportunities to positively impact the world through responsible engineering practices.

Kwang Oh

Professor of electrical engineering, Kwang Oh, inspires students to think critically about the broader implications of problems by framing them in the context of real-world situations. Oh developed the Wearable and Implantable Sensors course that has been extremely popular among students for years. An innovative educator, Oh has leveraged federal and industry grants and collaborated with on-campus organizations to develop structured undergraduate and graduate research experiences in his Sensors and Microactuators Learning Lab. In 2019, Oh received a Qualcomm Faculty Award for research that “inspires students and sparks new approaches in key technology areas.”

UB President Emeritus and Mrs. Meyerson Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring Award

This award, which was established in the Spring of 2011, recognizes the outstanding faculty mentorship that currently exists at UB and seeks to encourage further faculty commitment to and participation in the undergraduate research and creative experience.

Lora Cavuoto

Lora Cavuoto, an associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, directs the Ergonomics and Biomechanics Lab, as well as the SurgE Surgery Ergonomics and Human Factors Lab. Her research interests include the biomechanics of obesity, modeling worker fatigue development, and human factors concerns in laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgery. An excellent teacher and mentor, she has worked with more than 30 undergraduate students on these research projects, and she has taught numerous courses. She also leads the department’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-sponsored Occupational Safety and Health Training Program.

Wenyao Xu

Wenyao Xu, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, founded and directs the Embedded Sensing and Computing Group, which investigates research topics related to hardware/architecture, operation systems, algorithms, human factors and their applications to medicine, health care and security. He has published more than 160 technical papers and two books, and he holds numerous patents. A UB faculty member since 2013, Xu has long been a mentor to undergraduates, and he has served as a research advisor for numerous undergraduate research projects.

UB Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award

Established by UB's Graduate School in 2011, this award recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding and sustained support and development of graduate students from course completion through research and subsequent career placement.

Jun Zhuang

A leader in operations research, Jun Zhuang, a professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, integrates mathematical modeling, data analytics, game theory and decision analysis to improve preparedness and recovery during natural and man-made disasters. An excellent mentor, he is always available to his students, appreciates their different abilities and backgrounds, and celebrates their accomplishments. He has received numerous awards recognizing his exceptional mentorship, including the President Emeritus and Mrs. Meyerson Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring and the Office of Student Engagement’s Exemplary Faculty/Staff Mentor Award.

UB Teaching Innovation Award

Established in 2003 to honor exceptional educational pedagogy, this award is presented to faculty who have contributed significantly to engaging students with new methods and approaches to teaching. The award recognizes faculty members whose innovative teaching methods have a demonstrable effect on enhancing student learning-outcomes.

Varun Chandola

Recipient of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Early Career Faculty Teaching Award, Varun Chandola, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is renowned for his innovative teaching strategies, especially for large section courses. For his students, he offers a unique experience that includes live (on-screen and physical) demonstrations that connect machine learning (ML) concepts to real-life experiences. Outside the classroom, students interact to better understand how ML algorithms work, and participate as data generators and decision-makers in “live experiments” to experience how an ML algorithm “thinks.”

Aaron Estes

Aaron Estes is an excellent teacher who has significantly improved student engagement and outcomes through his experiential, game-based innovations. Among his contributions, he developed motion simulator exercises in the Road Vehicle Dynamics course, the results of which he published through the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference. In addition, he implemented a variety of game-based exercises in the Dynamic Systems course including an escape room, a transient dynamics puzzle game, and a slinky game based on frequency response principles. He is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Jun Zhuang

Jun Zhuang, a professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, is lauded for his teaching innovations that led to increased engagement, inclusiveness and flexibility in his courses. He designed his Decision Analysis course in a massive open online course format while also offering both online and in-person recitations and facilitated remote group projects. In addition, he taught Undergraduate Research and Individual Problems courses in collaboration with his large and diverse research group, an unusual approach that introduced undergraduates to experienced researchers and enabled more personal attention for students.

UB Exceptional Scholars: Young Investigator Award

Introduced in 2002, this award celebrates a recent superior achievement of a scholar in their field of study. Such an achievement will have distinguished the recipient as an up-and-coming scholar, as well as earned the individual acclaim for their work, which could be a published work or other scholastic or artistic endeavor.

Changyou Chen

Changyou Chen is a rising star in machine learning and deep learning. His research aims to develop models, algorithms and theory for Bayesian machine learning, deep generative models and deep reinforcement learning. He has published more than 45 papers in tier-one conferences since joining UB in 2017. In recognition of his outstanding early contributions, Dr. Chen received a Yahoo Faculty Research and Engagement Award in 2019 and a School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Research Initiation Award in 2018. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Ning Dai

Ning Dai is an emerging leader in environmental aquatic chemistry with applications to wastewater reuse and drinking water treatment. Her recent efforts include investigating the formation of nitrogenous disinfection byproducts in wastewater-impacted drinking water plants. A prolific scholar, Dai has published more than 20 papers in top journals and received numerous speaking invitations, including for a 2019 Gordon Research Conference. She has been awarded over $1.7 million in grants, including a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award. She is an associate professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering.

Mostafa Nouh

Since joining UB in 2015, Mostafa Nouh has already gained national and international recognition for his outstanding contributions in acoustic metamaterials for noise sensing and control, wave guidance, and non-reciprocal energy transmission. Among his impressive accomplishments, Nouh has published 37 peer-reviewed journal papers including a featured article in the Journal of Applied Physics, received numerous national awards including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and was elected to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Noise Control and Acoustics Division Executive Board. He is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

UB Exceptional Scholars: Sustained Achievement Award

Established in 2002, this award honors outstanding professional achievement that has been focused on a particular body of work over a number of years. This award was created to recognize an unprecedented accomplishment in a senior scholar's career, distinguishing a body of work of enduring importance that has gone beyond the norm in a particular field of study.

Tevfik Kosar

A renowned expert on managing and analyzing digital data, Tevfik Kosar develops software platforms that improve the efficiency of computer systems. His projects include Stork, a batch scheduler specialized in data placement and movement, OneDataShare, a tool to boost data transfer speeds, and GreenDataFlow, an IBM-funded effort to reduce the energy consumption of datacenters, web servers, mobile devices and more. In recognition of the significance of his work, he has received many awards, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. Kosar is a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Tarunraj Singh

Tarunraj Singh is a pioneering researcher in the fields of precision motion-control, design under uncertainty, global sensitivity analysis, and nonlinear estimation for disparate applications. A prolific scholar, he has published more than 260 papers and delivered invited seminars at many prestigious venues. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, he is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship and the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools Outstanding Teaching Award. He is a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Gang Wu

Gang Wu, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, is internationally recognized as one of the leading researchers in the field of electrochemical energy and environmental applications with an emphasis on the development of functional materials for catalysts and energy storage. A remarkably prolific scholar, he has published over 220 refereed journal articles, most in the top journals of his field, which have garnered more than 23,000 citations, earning him recognition as a Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate Analytics in 2018. In addition, Wu holds six patents.