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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

President's Report 2018

President's Report 2018

President's Report Cover
Send a request for a printed copy to: presidents-report@lists.rpi.edu

BREAKING PARADIGMS

Today’s complex, interdependent challenges encourage us to view emerging concerns from new vantage points.

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A letter from President Shirley Ann Jackson

DISCOVERING NEW POSSIBILITIES ALWAYS HAS BEEN PART OF OUR MISSION AT RENSSELAER.

portrait of President Shirley Ann Jackson

We are explorers, inventors, and those who challenge conventional barriers, while maintaining our focus on facts, logic, and quality. The borders between disciplines may be useful, but they are human-made barriers and may be limiting as we seek to work creatively. This is why we deliberately work to revisit accepted paradigms and work across barriers that can divide thinkers and problem-solvers.

We face complex, interconnected global challenges as humanity seeks to allocate valuable natural resources, to provide sufficient food, water, and energy, to respond to a changing climate, to create a sustainable infrastructure, to mitigate disease and support human health, and to provide national and global security. Our best responses to these challenges must be transformational. They cannot be answered well by any single discipline, sector, nation, or geographic region.

At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, we are using The New Polytechnic rubric to redefine ourselves. It provides a basis for collaborating across disciplines and sectors and regions to harness the power of these tools and technologies to address the key intersecting challenges and opportunities of our time.

This approach follows a tradition that sets us apart and led to our becoming a polytechnic institute, finding the value in bringing science and engineering together. It takes advantage of the inquisitiveness and daring that led to our contributions to the space program and our entry into new areas like bioengineering. At the same time, we continue to respect the rigor, care, and respect for facts that is part of our heritage.

The best way to explore the spaces where knowledge, needs, and insights intersect is by bringing together people with different perspectives within a respectful community. As a technological research university that is deliberately residential, Rensselaer catalyzes collaborations that take advantage of the expertise, skills, and diverse points of view of our whole community, including students, faculty, alumni and alumnae, and administrators.

Today’s complex, interdependent challenges force us to work across disciplines, and, more, they encourage us to view emerging concerns from new vantage points. That exposes otherwise unimaginable solutions.

With this in mind, we purposely have created programs, organizations, projects, and places that bring together unique networks of our people that support the development of fresh ideas and provide innovative answers. And, even as we investigate our world through novel approaches, we insist on the rigor of careful experimentation, evidence, and testing.

For example, our deeper understanding of the potential for data to reorganize and reveal new possibilities, together with our mastery of powerful tools for computation, analytics, and visualization, is creating new areas of investigation in health, finance, and environmental science.

Within the framework of The New Polytechnic, Rensselaer is forming something vital to our world—combining our mastery of state-of-the-art tools with our tradition of rigor and adherence to evidence and truth as we introduce new ways to collaborate and cooperate. Each project under the aegis of this approach is a new experiment in building networks for innovation, and this creates new templates. As we achieve new levels of understanding, we renew our dedication to creating change that matters deliberately by reaching out to larger communities beyond our campuses.

A hallmark of the Institute has been participation through work with other universities, governments, and businesses. This is another vital way we look beyond borders and restrictions that often can constrain the application of ideas in new areas. We have never restricted ourselves merely to pushing the limits of science and technology. We have always helped to integrate and facilitate the use of new concepts and capabilities within society at large.

Change is inevitable, so we embrace it. By doing so, we rededicate ourselves to leading essential transformations that will benefit humanity.

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Year in Review

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2017

July

Two projects designed and built by students in the School of Architecture are recognized among “The Best Student Design-Build Projects Worldwide 2017.”

2017

July

Assistant Professor Jacob Shelley is developing plasma-based ambient mass spectrometry instruments that could lead to user-friendly analyses with broad capabilities for applications in law enforcement, manufacturing, and health care.

2017

August

A new approach to optical imaging makes it possible to quickly and economically monitor multiple molecular interactions in a large area of living tissue—technology that could have applications in medical diagnosis, guided surgery, or pre-clinical drug testing.

2017

August

A team of researchers shows that wood frogs that evolved increased tolerance to pesticides showed greater susceptibility to a dangerous virus, although they also demonstrated reduced susceptibility to a parasitic worm.

2017

September

The fourth annual Rensselaer Research Showcase offers government and private sector research partners an opportunity to learn more about insights emerging from research in biotechnology and the life sciences, and the current climate for the biopharmaceutical economy that work supports.

2017

September

A synthetic version of low molecular weight heparin is poised for clinical trials and development as a drug for patients with clotting disorders, and those undergoing procedures such as kidney dialysis, heart bypass surgery, stent implantation, and knee and hip replacements.

2017

October

Researchers from Rensselaer and Albany Medical Center work together to develop 3D bioprinting and imaging techniques that will generate and analyze tumor models in the laboratory, with the goal of accelerating the development and optimization of personalized anti-cancer drugs.

2017

October

The Institute launches the $1 billion “Transformative: Campaign for Global Change” capital campaign.

2017

October

The School of Architecture ranks as 13th best undergraduate program in the nation by the architectural research organization DesignIntelligence.

2017

November

Study led by Rensselaer faculty and graduate students shows that surgeons who train on simulation platforms before they enter an actual operating room have higher levels of cortical activation and faster times for cutting tasks.

2017

November

The Master of Business Analytics program at the Lally School of Management is ranked as one of the top three in the nation by TFE Times.

2017

November

Findings from a team of researchers point to the potential for an increase in waterborne pathogens as a result of climate change.

2017

December

Researchers at the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications, together with the University of New Mexico and industry partner ABB, are awarded over $2 million from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

2017

December

Rensselaer students take top prizes in the North American finals of the 14th annual New York University Cyber Security Awareness Week games—the world’s largest and most comprehensive set of student-led security challenges.

2017

December

Students and graduates use zero-gravity flight in Florida to test experiment bound for the International Space Station.

2018

January

Linda Pitzi Jojo ’87, ’92G, executive vice president, technology, and chief digital officer at United Continental Holdings, and T.J. Wojnar Jr. ’80, vice president of corporate strategic planning at ExxonMobil, are named to the Board of Trustees.

2018

January

The Department of Energy announces that Rensselaer is among five organizations to receive competitively awarded, cost-shared funding as part of a $13.4 million investment in community-based advanced transportation projects.

2018

February

The Institute hosts the inaugural Engineering Innovation for Society Undergraduate Student Competition for creating devices and systems for individuals with disabilities.

2018

February

The Art Career Project and GameDesigning.org both name the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences program as among the top in the nation.

2018

March

Researchers develop a new technique using heat to enable lithium-metal self-healing to eliminate dangerous dendrite buildup in battery anodes, paving the way for more powerful battery technologies.

2018

March

A record total of 20,403 high school students file applications to attend Rensselaer.

2018

March

Rensselaer introduces a first in the nation “data dexterity” requirement for all undergraduate students to help prepare them to use datasets to define and solve complex real-world problems.

2018

April

An international team of researchers discovers water, in the form of “water-wires,” contained in another molecule could be used as a potential building block for artificial aquaporins, proteins that serve as water channels to regulate the flow of water across biological cell membranes.

2018

April

Researchers develop a method to use a byproduct in the papermaking industry to build a rechargeable lithium-sulfur battery that could be used to power big data centers, as well as provide a cheaper energy-storage option for microgrids and the traditional electric grid.

2018

May

A study of cell division offers a path for controlling the balance between cell growth and division, which is implicated in countless diseases, including cancers.

2018

May

Rensselaer graduates 1,945 students with a total of 2,010 degrees.

2018

May

Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed the Institute’s creditworthiness as A3, citing its large scale of operations, healthy student demand for its technology-oriented programs, growing net tuition revenue, strong fundraising, and President Shirley Ann Jackson’s transformative leadership.

2018

June

The Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences program ranks No. 9 nationally by Animation Career Review. The program was on the list of top game design programs in the United States and No. 7 nationally among schools offering a bachelor of science degree in game design. Among East Coast colleges and universities, Rensselaer is ranked at No. 4; on the list for private schools and colleges, Rensselaer is ranked No. 7; and among programs offered in New York, No. 3.

2018

June

One year after researchers published their work on a physiological test for autism, a follow-up study confirms its exceptional success in assessing whether a child is on the autism spectrum.
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Faculty Distinctions

Accolades and Honors

Steven Cramer, the William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was cited for “distinguished contributions to the field of chromatographic bioprocessing, achieved through combined experimental and computational approaches.”

Farhan Gandhi, the Rosalind and John J. Redfern Jr. ’33 Professor of Engineering, has received a 2018 Educator Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). An innovative researcher in the field of rotary-wing aircraft, he was awarded the AIAA Faculty Advisor Award.

Shirley Ann Jackson, president, received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. The medal honors those who have made significant contributions to African and African American history and culture, and who advocate for intercultural understanding and human rights in an increasingly global and interconnected world.

Li (Emily) Liu, associate professor of nuclear engineering and engineering physics, has been named a fellow of the Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering program—ELATE at Drexel—a professional development program for women in STEM fields.

Michael O’Rourke, professor of civil and environmental engineering, received the 2017 James M. Delahay Award from the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations. The award recognizes outstanding individual contributions toward the development of building codes and standards.

Jennifer Pazour, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, has won a Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER Award is given to faculty members near the beginning of their academic careers and is one of the most competitive and prestigious awards given by the NSF to junior faculty. Pazour also was named an inaugural recipient of the Johnson & Johnson Women in STEM2D Scholars Award.

Ganpati Ramanath, the John Tod Horton ’52 Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, has been named a fellow of the Materials Research Society “for developing creative approaches to realize new nanomaterials via chemically directed nanostructure synthesis and assembly and for tailoring interfaces in electronics and energy applications using molecular nanolayers.”

Jian Shi, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, has won a Young Investigator Research Program award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to pursue fundamental research on nanoscale complex materials that could lead to the development of next-generation energy conversion and sensing technologies. This is one of the most competitive awards for young assistant professors and researchers in the U.S.

Richard W. Siegel, the Robert W. Hunt Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, has been elected a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. A recognized leader in nanotechnology research, technology, and public policy, Siegel has been active in materials research for over 50 years.

Jian Sun, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering and director of the New York State Center for Future Energy Systems, received the 2017 R. David Middlebrook Outstanding Achievement Award from the IEEE Power Electronics Society.

John Tichy, professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, received the Donald Wilcock Distinguished Service Award from the Tribology Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is the seventh recipient of the award, which was established in 1989.

Meng Wang, assistant professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering, has won a Young Investigator Program award from the Army Research Office to develop methods to extract useful information from complex data that could lead to improved image classification and object identification in surveillance systems. The Young Investigator Program award is one of the most prestigious honors bestowed by the Army on scientists beginning their independent careers.

George Xu, the Edward E. Hood Jr. Endowed Chair of Engineering, received the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award of the Health Physics Society in acknowledgment of his outstanding contributions to the science and technology of radiation safety.

Chaired Professorships

Joe H. Chow, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering, has been named Institute Professor of Engineering.

Jennifer Hurley, assistant professor of biological sciences, has been named the Richard Baruch M.D. Career Development Chair.

Miao Yu, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, has been named the Priti and Mukesh Chatter ’82 Career Development Chair.

 

 

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Rensselaer Honors

DAVID M. DARRIN '40 COUNSELING AWARD

Eddie Ade Knowles, professor of practice, arts. 

The income from an endowment established by the late David M. Darrin '40 is awarded annually to a member of the faculty who has made unusual contributions in the counseling of students. Nominations are by students and the recipient is chosen by Phalanx, the student honor society.

JAMES M. TIEN '66 EARLY CAREER AWARD FOR FACULTY

Lirong Xia, associate professor of computer science. 

The award honors productivity in both teaching and research, with outstanding achievement in one of these areas.

JEROME FISCHBACH '38 FACULTY TRAVEL GRANT

Ishwara B. Bhat, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering. 

The award recognizes contributions faculty members have made to the education and motivation of students.

WILLIAM H. WILEY 1866 DISTINGUISHED FACULTY AWARD

Joe H. Chow, Institute Professor of Engineering, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering. 

Established by Edward P. Hamilton, Class of 1907, in memory of William H. Wiley, Class of 1866, the award honors those who have won the respect of the faculty through excellence in teaching, productive research, and interest in the totality of the educational process.

CLASS OF 1951 OUTSTANDING TEACHING DEVELOPMENT GRANT

Rob Hamilton, assistant professor, arts. 

The fellowship was established by the Class of 1951 to commend faculty members for their outstanding accomplishments in education.

RENSSELAER ALUMNI ASSOCIATION TEACHING AWARD

Wei Ji, associate professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering.

The award was created to recognize current members of the Rensselaer faculty for their outstanding teaching techniques, contributions to the campus experience, and commitment to students.

TRUSTEES' OUTSTANDING TEACHER AWARD

Richard Radke, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering.

The award was established in 1994 to recognize outstanding accomplishments in classroom instruction.

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