2014 Academic Honors Convocation

Northeastern celebrates scholarly excellence

Honoring students, faculty, and staff at the university’s fourth annual Academic Honors Convocation.
April 17th, 2014

Northeastern on Wednesday afternoon cel­e­brated the outstanding scholarly accom­plish­ments of students, faculty, and staff at the university’s fourth annual Aca­d­emic Honors Convo­ca­tion.

This event honors a select few who channel their extraordinary talents and passion into trans­for­ma­tive research and schol­ar­ship, exceptional teaching and mentoring, and innovation in higher education—on campus and across the globe.

In his remarks, Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun noted that the annual event allows the Northeastern com­mu­nity to see the uni­ver­sity at its best by showcasing the remarkable work being done by its members.

“We are here to cel­e­brate the achievements of our community,” Aoun told hundreds of students, faculty, and staff who had gathered in the Curry Student Center Ballroom.

The full list of the Northeastern com­mu­nity members recognized at the Aca­d­emic Honors Con­vo­ca­tion can be found here.

Two former Northeastern pres­i­dents, John A. Curry and Richard M. Free­land, received Pres­i­den­tial Medallions—the university’s top honor. Aoun thanked both Curry and Free­land for not only making Northeastern better, but for also creating more oppor­tu­ni­ties for today’s students, faculty, and staff.

Curry, who served as pres­i­dent from 1989 to 1996, was the first Northeastern alumnus to go on to lead the uni­ver­sity. “Thank you very much for this honor you bestow on me today by my alma mater,” Curry said. “It means so much to me.”

Free­land, who served as pres­i­dent from 1996 to 2006, said when he saw an adver­tise­ment for the position 18 years ago, he called it the best job in American higher education.

“When I met with the search committee, I said this is the only job I really truly want,” Free­land said of the presidency. “And after I got the job I told the faculty that it was a dream come true.”

Eight faculty members received the Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Professor honor, the highest honor Northeastern can bestow on a faculty member. The recip­i­ents were Nadine Aubry, dean of the College of Engineering; Arun Bansil,professor of physics; Albert-​​László Barabási, dis­tin­guished professor of physics; Ahmed Bus­naina, professor of engineering; Arthur Coury, professor of chemical engineering; Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs; Terry Fulmer, dean of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences; and Vinod Sahney, professor of mechanical and industrial engineering.

“These faculty members have achieved inter­na­tional recognition and dis­tinc­tion for con­tri­bu­tions to edu­ca­tion, artistic creativity and expression, and research that is trans­for­ma­tive in their fields,” said Wendy Parmet, associate dean for aca­d­emic affairs and a Northeastern law professor.

After he received the Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Professor medal, Barabási cel­e­brated by taking an onstage selfie with Aoun.

Other faculty members who were honored included Laura Lewis, a chemical engineering professor whose research on alternative energy tech­nolo­gies continues to push the boundaries of iden­ti­fying and harnessing alter­na­tive energy from natural sources. She received the Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Award.

Tova Olson Sanders, a faculty member in the Graduate Education programs of the College of Pro­fes­sional Studies, and Dennis Shaugh­nessy, exec­u­tive professor of Entrepreneurship and Inno­va­tion, both received Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Dagmar Sternad, who directs the Action Lab at Northeastern and is an inter­na­tion­ally known authority in the field of exper­i­mental and com­pu­ta­tional motor neu­ro­science, was recognized as the recipient of the 50th annual Robert D. Klein Uni­ver­sity Lecturer Award, given to a tenure or tenure-​​track faculty member who has contributed with distinction to their field of study.

Just as impressive as the faculty accom­plish­ments were those of the under­grad­uate honorees, whose achievements spanned many dis­ci­plines, including engineering, political science, and health services.

“Our under­grad­uate students are accomplished entre­pre­neurs, they are inno­v­a­tive, they are con­fi­dent, they are global, and they are highly engaged,” Director said.

Three North­eastern stu­dents—Theo Bowe, S’16, Tushar Swamy, E’15, and Greg Allan, E’16—are among the 283 sophomores and juniors nationwide who received the Barry W. Goldwater Schol­ar­ship, which honors students who demonstrate outstanding potential and intend to pursue a career in math, science, or engineering.

Stanislas Phanord, SSH’14, was twice rec­og­nized for earning a Fulbright Schol­ar­ship and Rangel Graduate Fel­low­ship. The Fulbright Schol­ar­ship is a merit-​​​​based award that provides funds for U.S. cit­i­zens to study, conduct research, or teach inter­na­tion­ally. The Rangel Graduate Fel­low­ship is given to 20 indi­vid­uals to support them through two years of graduate study, internships and pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment activ­i­ties, and entry into the Foreign Service.

Northeastern also presented honors to several accomplished student scholars. Seniors Brooke Gasson, SSH’14, James Manis­calco, S’14, and Matthew Schmidt, BHS’14, received Hodgkinson Awards, one of the university’s highest honors for grad­u­ating seniors. Meanwhile, Erin Cooney, BHS’14, and Zuren Tai Zhang, E’14, were honored with the des­ig­na­tion of Pres­i­den­tial Global Fellow, given on the basis of students’ aca­d­emic standing, lead­er­ship qual­i­ties, and understanding of the importance of the global expe­ri­ence to their education, personal devel­op­ment, and career goals.

Seven graduate students also earned awards for their outstanding work in research, teaching, com­mu­nity service, and expe­ri­en­tial learning. Among them were Sujeet Akula, a doctoral can­di­date in physics who is rec­og­nized as one of the 50 most promising young researchers in the­o­ret­ical elementary particle physics, and Ziyao Zhou, a doctoral candidate in electrical and computer engineering who has published more than 20 papers in respected journals.

The Empower Campaign Team received the Outstanding Teamwork Award, while Linda J. Allen, uni­ver­sity reg­is­trar, Leroy S. Jackson, Jr., a schol­ar­ship aca­d­emic advisor, and Maureen L. Timmons, the director of dining services, were given the Outstanding Service Award.

- By Joe O’Connell


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