NSM Faculty Garner Five UH Awards, Including All for Research

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics faculty have captured five University of Houston awards, with three chemists sweeping all research awards bestowed this year.

NSM's five winners – the most of any college – were among the 2009 recipients of the university's most prestigious faculty awards given each spring to honor the best teachers and researchers.

Professor Arnold Guloy, Associate Professor P. Shiv Halasyamani and Assistant Professor Olafs Daugulis – all in the Department of Chemistry – each won the Excellence in Research and Scholarship Award, which is given annually to three faculty members (one for each rank of tenured or tenure-track professor) with outstanding research achievements.

The two other NSM faculty members recognized were Professor of Chemistry Eric Bittner, named a John and Rebecca Moores Professor, and Rebecca Forrest, physics instructor, who won a Teaching Excellence Award. 
This year's Excellence in Research and Scholarship Award is the second for Halasyamani, who won the honor five years ago when he was an assistant professor. Having published more than 80 research papers, Halasyamani's "research accomplishments and publication record clearly distinguish him as one of the top young chemists of his generation," attested a colleague from Northwestern University.

The research award in the category of full professor went to Guloy, recognized worldwide for his pioneering research and creativity in the field of solid-state chemistry. He is well known for his breakthrough work into a first-time, low-density synthetic form of the chemical element germanium.

"The broad-based nature of his research and the importance his materials have to real-world applications have generated considerable excitement in the solid-state chemistry, physics and materials science and engineering communities," stated the nomination form for Guloy.

Daugulis won the research award for the assistant professor rank, just the latest honor for one of chemistry's rising stars. Last year he was named an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar for research into simplifying the process of forming compounds that can be used in many everyday products.

Colleagues praised his exceptional research contributions, with one nominator writing that Daugulis "has distinguished himself both nationally and internationally as a highly insightful and remarkably creative young scientist."

Along with the award, Daugulis, Guloy and Halasyamani each will receive a $5,000 stipend.

Their fellow chemistry faculty member, Bittner, was recognized for outstanding work in both research and teaching. Bittner, who in 2007 was named a Guggenheim Fellow, now can add Moores Professor to his list of accolades.

In addition to his seminal work on trajectory-base methods for performing quantum mechanical calculations, nominators commended Bittner"s work in the classroom.

"In an era where teaching has been watered down to placate students, professor Bittner held the line in his courses," one supporter wrote in a letter. "Despite his high expectations, students respond well to him."

The five-year renewable award includes a $10,000 annual stipend.
Physics' Forrest, recipient of a Teaching Excellence Award, also was recognized for her dedication in the classroom. From helping students master the basic mathematical skills necessary to succeed in physics to developing new experiments used in the advanced laboratory, she is credited with being the driving force behind the creation of new courses and improvements in existing ones within the physics department.

One of her former students attests that Forrest "is very passionate about the material, and her genuine enthusiasm inevitably sparks the students' interest and desire to learn more, to explore beyond the required material."

The award comes with a trophy and a $5,000 prize. 

To learn more about all the faculty award winners, go to http://www.uh.edu/uhtoday/2009/faculty-awards/index.html