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Tickle College of Engineering 2020 Faculty & Staff Awards Announced

Academic and administrative colleagues of the Tickle College of Engineering show appreciation for each other every day as a matter of course. Each spring, the college makes the highest of these acknowledgements official with the annual Faculty and Staff Awards.

The accolades are traditionally observed with a banquet gathering, but due to measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, that event has been rescheduled to the fall. Until then, we present here the winners and a few words in honor of their accomplishments.

EECS has had six professors and two staff members recognized with honors in several categories:


Faculty Awards

Outstanding Faculty Service Awards
Recognize and reward superior service to and engagement with important constituents across three distinct categories.

Outstanding Outreach and Engagement Category
Chien-fei Chen
Research Associate Professor (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and Director of Education and Diversity for CURENT

Chien-fei ChenChen accomplishes important work with outreach to the local community, including the Young Scholar’s program, the Research Experiences for Teachers, and the Adventures in Stem program. In addition, she has assisted the college on many occasions with outreach efforts to members of underrepresented populations of students, including the HITES and eVOL pre-college programs, GEM GRAD Lab, Breakfast of Champions, and others.

Outstanding Service to the College Category
Daniel Costinett
Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Daniel CostinettCostinett’s efforts to increase the diversity of the college through his work with CURENT are impressive. His contributions are described by the department as “critical and formidable” to improving the culture of inclusion in CURENT.



Outstanding Service to the Discipline Category
Michela Taufer
Dongarra Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Michela TauferTaufer’s high-visibility service to the high-performance computing community has been a great asset to the college. In particular, her leadership role in the SC19 conference went a long way to raising the college’s profile internationally. More people know what great things are happening here because of Taufer’s accomplishments—an exceptional model for the college.


Staff Awards

Commitment to Excellence Award
Recognizes a staff member who has contributed at least 10 years of service to the college. This staff member, regardless of position or title, has demonstrated exceptional leadership and exemplary service to engineering students, staff, and/or the community.

Markus Iturriaga Woelfel
IT Administrator, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science

Markus Iturriaga WoelfelWoelfel shows his dedication and skill in many ways, from resurrecting broken research servers to preserve data to staying late to upgrade a stubborn software license so lab sections can proceed without hiccups. His leadership is highlighted by swiftness of response, courteousness, competence, and the ability to think outside the box to find solutions. He enables EECS to provide high-quality instruction and innovative research in an environment where change is a never-ending process.

Commitment to Inclusive Community Award
Recognizes an individual within the college who has demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion in consideration of affordability, ability, identity, and access; and an exceptional understanding of diversity and inclusiveness beyond the call of duty.

Anne Skutnik
Education Coordinator, Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks (CURENT)

Picture of Anne SkutnikSkutnik makes an influential impact in providing diversity and inclusion awareness through the CURENT program. She has been inspirational in leading efforts to improve communication to those with diverse backgrounds, identifying strategic programming to increase underserved populations in undergraduate/graduate programs, and aligning with the university and college commitment to diversity and inclusion.


Teaching Fellows

Recognize and reward superior teaching in the college. One fellow is selected to receive the Cole Award.

Ben Blalock
Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Ben BlalockBlalock has a dedication and willingness to take on challenging and time-consuming instructional responsibilities such as senior design. He remains interested in the academic progress of his students as an advising coordinator and accomplishes all of this while managing a successful research program.


Stephen Marz
Lecturer, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Stephen MarzThe awards committee was impressed with Marz’s work in teaching both service courses with high enrollments and courses with his majors to a wide range of levels, from undergraduate to doctoral students, while maintaining high student satisfaction and course rigor. Department Head Greg Peterson additionally noted Marz’s willingness to work with students facing challenges above and beyond normal expectations.

Professional Promise in Research Awards

Recognize tenured or tenure-track faculty members at the assistant or associate professor rank who have received national and/or international recognition in their fields and show professional promise in their research.

Nicole McFarlane
Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Nicole McFarlaneMcFarlane’s research focuses on developing sensors for a wide variety of sensing applications that make faster measurements, measure more samples simultaneously, are smaller, and are less costly than traditional sensing systems. Her sensing applications thus far include neutron detection, glucose sensing, bowel sound detection, and temperature measurements. These diverse applications have resulted in her publishing 14 journal papers on technological advances in the last five years. Furthermore, she has published 25 refereed conference proceedings in this same timeframe.