For several years, the mentoring work of Jeffrey Rimer, Abraham E. Dukler Professor in the William A. Brookshire Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has been recognized internally. He has earned research and teaching excellence awards from the Cullen College of Engineering and the University of Houston in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2022. He also received two awards from the University of Houston for mentoring students – the Early Faculty Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research in 2014 and the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award in 2022.
Now though, Rimer has been honored by an external organization. The Conference of Southern Graduate Schools has presented him their 2023 Outstanding Mentor Award, from a field of 102 member organizations.
“Receiving this award is a tremendous honor, and extremely humbling given the importance of mentoring in our profession,” he said. “Being recognized in this way is particularly special because the opportunity to work with graduate students is what motivated me to become a professor, and what continues to be a source of inspiration.”
According to the CSGS, the award acknowledges and honors a person who has enjoyed outstanding success in mentoring graduate students in the Southern Region. The award is open to full-time, tenured faculty members that have a demonstrated track record in mentoring graduate students at the master's or doctoral level.
Rimer is currently mentoring 17 graduate students, as well as four undergraduates, three postdocs and several high school students during the summers. In the past five years, he has had 15 students earn their doctorates. These graduates were employed in a variety of positions upon earning their degrees – as assistant professors, as postdocs at MIT and the University of Minnesota, as researchers for large companies like Samsung and UOP Honeywell.
“This award would absolutely not be possible without the many graduate students that I was lucky to advise. Mentoring is a two-way street that requires the willingness and dedication of advisees,” he said. “I have been fortunate to have worked with so many amazing students.”
Rimer joined the faculty of the Cullen College of Engineering in 2009. He earned his doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 2007. Before being hired at the University of Houston, he was a postdoctoral fellow at New York University's Molecular Design Institute from 2007 to 2009.
In 2021, Rimer was named a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors and was picked as an associate editor for the American Chemical Society's journal, Crystal Growth & Design. Through only three months of 2023, he or members of his group have been listed authors for 11 papers, and they had 21 papers in 2022.
Rimer's most recent NSF grant, “Understanding and Exploiting the Favorable Role of Non-Stoichiometric Oxygen in Bulk Metal Oxide Catalyzed Partial Oxidation of Light Alkanes,” runs through January 2025. He also receives funding from the Department of Energy, the Welch Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Navy Research, the American Chemical Society and numerous other industries.