University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering


Cullen College Celebrates Excellence With Outstanding Service Awards

Michael Nikolaou, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering won the The Fluor Corp. Faculty Excellence Award.

Engineering faculty, staff and students recognized


The UH Cullen College of Engineering celebrated excellence in the ranks at its recent faculty and staff meeting. Joseph W. Tedesco, Elizabeth D. Rockwell Dean of the College, handed out numerous awards recognizing faculty, staff and students for their outstanding contributions in teaching, research and service.

The meeting kicked off with the announcement of the 2018-2019 Faculty Excellence Awards.

The Fluor Corp. Faculty Excellence Award, the college’s highest honor afforded to a faculty member for research, went to Michael Nikolaou, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

The Cullen College’s W. T. Kittinger Teaching Excellence Award was given to Kalyana Nakshatrala, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. This is traditionally, the highest teaching award given in the College to recognize outstanding teaching and service to the students.

Fritz Claydon, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the division of undergraduate programs and student success at the Cullen College, received the Career Teaching Award. The award is presented intermittently to faculty who have shown a lifetime commitment to the college’s students.

Miguel Fleischer, adjunct professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and Daniel Burleson, an instructional assistant professor, each recieved a William A. Brookshire Teaching Excellence Award. The award was created to recognize engineering faculty “who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to exemplifying the highest levels of teaching excellence inside the classroom.”

Typically, two college Research Excellence Awards are presented – one to a junior faculty member (non-tenured) and one to a senior faculty member for excellence in research. This year only a senior faculty member was recognized and the award went to Jae-Hyun Ryou, associate professor of mechanical engineering, known for his work with cutting-edge materials and innovative devices for energy, photonic and electronic applications. 

The college also presented its inaugural Innovator Awards this year.

Jay Adolacion, chemical and biomolecular engineering graduate student, received the Young Innovator Award. This award honors students or postdocs pursuing innovation and entrepreneurship. Hadi Ghasemi, Bill D. Cook Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering, garnered the Early Innovator Award and Wei-Chuan Shih, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, accepted the Rising Innovator Award. Venkat Selvamanickam, M.D. Anderson Chair Professor of mechanical engineering, received the top honor – the Career Innovator Award – for his contributions to innovation and entrepreneurship during his career at the Cullen College.

The Cullen College also grants two outstanding staff service awards annually. This year, Yolanda Thomas, graduate admissions assistant in the chemical and biomolecular engineering department, received the senior-level staff service award for over 10 years of outstanding service and Rachell Underwood, the College’s assistant business administrator, received the junior-level staff service award for 10 years or less of outstanding service to the college.

The college also recognized three doctoral students as winners of the 2018-2019 Best Dissertation Award: Kyoseung Sim in chemical and biomolecular engineering for the fall 2018 semester;  Chih-Hao Liu in biomedical engineering and Wenbo Luo in mechanical engineering for the spring 2019 semester.

The spring 2019 departmental outstanding dissertation awardees are:

• Jingyi Wang, electrical and computer engineering
• Aein Khabazian, industrial engineering
• Wenli Yang, materials engineering
• Wenfeng Li, petroleum engineering

The full list of Cullen College faculty and staff award recipients is below. To view photos from the Spring 2019 faculty/Staff meeting, click here

College Awards

Michael Nikolaou (ChBE)
Fluor Corporation Faculty Excellence Award

Kalyana Nakshatrala (CEE)
W.T. Kittinger Teaching Excellence Award 

Fritz Claydon (ECE)
Career Teaching Award

Miguel Fleischer (ChBE)
William A. Brookshire Teaching Excellence Award

Daniel Burleson (Office of the Dean)
William A. Brookshire Teaching Excellence Award


Teaching Excellence Awards

Dong Liu (ME) — Assistant Professor

Farah Hammami (ME) — Instructional Faculty

Kevin Ding (ECE) — Adjunct faculty/lecturer

Kosar Mozafarri (ME) —Teaching Assistant

Amirhossein Najjarbashi (IE) — Teaching Assistant 


Research Excellence Awards

Jae- Hyun Ryou (ME)
Senior Faculty Research Award


Innovator and Entrepreneurship Awards

Jay Adolacion (ChBE)
Early Innovator Award

Hadi Ghasemi (ME)
Early Innovator Award

Wei- Chuan Shih (ECE)
Rising Innovator Award

Venkat Selvamanickam (ME)
Career Innovator Award


Outstanding Staff Awards

Rachell Underwood (Office of the Dean)
Junior Outstanding Staff Service Award

Yolanda Thomas (ChBE)
Senior Outstanding Staff Service Award




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