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Baker, Fan, and Bardin Selected as Outstanding Engineering Faculty

Wei Fan

Wei Fan

Dean Tim Anderson has announced that faculty members Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, Joseph Bardin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, and Wei Fan of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department have been selected as outstanding faculty in the College of Engineering for 2016.

In his announcement, Dean Anderson said that “Dr. Baker received the Outstanding Senior Faculty Award. She was cited by the selection committee for her outstanding record in research, teaching, and service, as well as her demonstrated leadership as a senior faculty member. Doctors Bardin and Fan are co-recipients of the Barbara H. and Joseph I. Goldstein Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. The outstanding scholarly contributions of both of these young faculty members led the committee to take the rare step of recommending joint awardees.”

All three award winners will be recognized during the COE Senior Recognition Celebration to be held on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

In nominating Professor Baker, MIE Head Sundar Krishnamurty wrote that “Professor Baker is a world-recognized leader in her field of energy economics. Over the years, she has demonstrated an outstanding record of accomplishments in her research field, as evidenced from her research funding, scholarly publications and presentations, and the honors and awards that she has received.”

Baker is currently the Principal Investigator (PI) on the $3.2 million NSF IGERT award, "Wind Energy Engineering, Environmental Impacts, and Policy.” In 2010, she received a large NSF Science of Science & Innovation Policy award to study how best to choose a portfolio of technology policies in a world where uncertainty is the rule rather than the exception. In 2008, she received a prestigious NSF Career Award for her innovative research designed to assist federal officials identify the most cost-effective energy technologies for carrying out the nation’s climate-change policies. She is also the PI on the NSF REU site award, the Co-PI on a NOAA grant, and the PI on a contract from the European Research Council.

“Overall, Professor Baker has been the Principal Investigator on peer-reviewed awards totaling more than $5 million, with Co-PIs from a broad set of departments around campus,” wrote Krishnamurty. “Professor Baker’s research productivity includes 35 refereed journal publications, 47 conference presentations, 19 invited workshop presentations, and 24 invited lectures.”

The MIE department head also said that a true measure of the impact of Professor Baker’s work can be found by the citations of her work in a wide-range of scholarly publications such as Science, Nature, Climate Change, and Journal of Economic Theory (plus Environmental Science & Technology, Technological Forecasting And Social Change, Energy Policy, Energy Procedia, Energy Economics, and Global Environmental Change), among others. In 2009, she won the Campbell Watkins Energy Journal Best Paper Award, generally considered the leading journal in the field. In addition, based on her reputation as an authoritative figure in the area of innovative decision analytic approaches, Professor Baker has been invited to serve on the editorial boards of the leading journals in her field, including Energy Economics, Decision Analysis, and IEEE Transaction Engineering Management. Professor Baker is the Director of the UMass IGERT Offshore Wind Energy Program that includes more than 25 members of faculty from the College of Engineering, the College of Natural Sciences, the School of Behavioral Sciences, and the Isenberg School of Management.  For her passion and commitment to her graduate students, Professor Baker was recognized as the first winner of the UMass Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award in 2014.

In his nomination letter for Professor Fan, ChE Department Head John Klier said that Fan “has raised over $1 million in funding from the DOE Energy Frontier Research Center and via his own single investigator work, and is actively involved in cutting edge and very creative collaborative proposals with [ChE] Professors [Peter] Monson and [Scott] Auerbach. He was also awarded for 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award on 2014. He is the author of over 70 publications, including Nature, Angewandte Chemie, Journal of the American Chemistry Society and Journal of Physical Chemistry, and four issued or pending patents. As a result of his contributions, Wei is a leading expert in the synthesis and characterization of hierarchical zeolites, which are very promising materials for maximizing both selectivity and yield of valuable chemicals during thermochemical conversion of biomass.”

Fan’s research is focused on zeolite synthesis for applications in sustainable fuel and chemical production, with emphasis on hierarchical porosity to allow for optimization of reaction / diffusion balance and use of hard templates for regulation of zeolite structure. Klier said that Fan’s work “brings a unique and leading focus on transport phenomena in zeolites and zeolite crystallization processes.”

In addition to research, Wei has had outstanding success as a teacher, as substantiated by his recent selection as one of the two 2016 College of Engineering Outstanding Teachers.

Klier said that Fan also has established an exemplary record of service in his short six-year tenure with UMass. “Since the time he joined our department, he has served as Faculty Advisor to the Student Chapter of American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He has been an effective mentor for the students leading them in organizing a very successful regional conference and winning awards both regionally and nationally. He has also served as faculty mentor to the Chem-E car team and has been an outstanding contributor to Open House events and outreach activities. He is also contributing significantly to the graduate program as the admissions coordinator for Chinese students.”

Fan currently serves as treasurer of the New England Catalysis Society and was a member of the organizing committee of the annual meeting of the North East Corridor Zeolite Association.

He is the elected programming chair for his field at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and is responsible for organizing 12 sessions at the Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

In his nomination statement for Bardin, ECE Head Christopher Hollot said that “The reason for nominating Dr. Bardin is that as a tenure-track faculty member he has been honored with three prestigious young faculty awards: ONR YIP Award, 2015; NSF CAREER Award, 2014; DARPA Young Faculty Award, 2011. Winning just one of these awards is cause for celebration. Winning two is rare. But receiving three is unprecedented – certainly for our department, and perhaps so in our college and campus.”

Bardin has also published six journal papers, participated in 13 conference proceedings, and received more than $4 million in research grants as a PI.

Hollot said thatBardin is an electronic-device expert, an experimentalist, and an electronic circuits and systems design engineer who advances basic knowledge with an eye on impactful applications.”

Hollot added that “During his Ph.D. at Caltech, Dr. Bardin specialized in the noise limitations of transistors and designed state-of-the-art amplifiers for application in radio astronomy. He came to UMass Amherst in January 2011 and, with his team of students, has made fundamental contributions in understanding the performance limitations of transistors – and then conceiving and building world-class performing electronic systems that have enabled productive collaborations with: Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; the UMass Astronomy Department and the National Radio Astronomy’s Green Bank Telescope; ECE colleague Professor Qiangfei Xia in developing the world’s smallest (nanoscale) radiofrequency

switch (reported in Nature Communications); NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to increase deep-space communication performance by developing systems for detecting single photons from faint optical transmissions.”

“We believe that ONR Young Investigators, including Joseph Bardin, are among the best and brightest young academic researchers this country has to offer,” the Chief of Naval Research said about Bardin’s ONR YIP Award. “Dr. Bardin is one of 36 investigators selected for this award from an outstanding group of 383 applicants who responded…He emerged successfully from a very competitive pool because of his academic achievements, his ability to contribute to the strength of the nation’s research and development, and the exceptional support provided by university administrators.” (April 2016)