UH Bestows Farfel Award to Mike Harold, Honors Other Professors

HOUSTON, April 25, 2013 – Mike Harold, the M.D. Anderson Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and chair of chemical and biomolecular engineering, has been awarded the University of Houston 2013 Esther Farfel Award. The honor, which comes with a $10,000 cash prize, is a symbol of overall career excellence and is the highest award UH bestows on a faculty member. The Farfel Award is given in recognition of excellent service as a researcher, teacher, mentor, scholar, clinician and administrator. 


“It is a great honor to receive the Farfel Award especially since it rewards accomplishments beyond research. While I’m proud of my research accomplishments, I’m more proud of helping my colleagues and students succeed,” Harold said. “I’m greatly indebted to my students, who do most
of the work. Hopefully, I’ve helped get them prepared for the real world because that's what it's all about being a professor.”  

Harold was recently named chair of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, a position he held previously at UH, and he is principal investigator of the Texas Center for Clean Engines, Emission and Fuels located in the UH Energy Research Park.
His comprehensive outlook on education and mentorship, his research excellence and his ability to pay attention to details while keeping the overall picture in perspective were cited as a few of his attributes as an outstanding faculty member. 

“Dr. Harold is receiving this honor for an outstanding career in research, teaching, mentoring and service at the University of Houston,” said Dow Chair Professor Ramanan Krishnamoorti, the special assistant to the president/chancellor for UH Energy. “He is an exemplary intellectual leader and his academic accomplishments at UH are many. He has a deep passion for the education and dissemination of chemical engineering principles and a strong commitment to the expansion of UH as a lead institution.”

Harold has developed experimental and theoretical modeling methods to understand the interactions of reaction and transport processes in catalytic reactors. He has specific interests in applications involving the environment and clean energy. He has established himself as one of the top researchers in vehicle exhaust emissions treatment, hydrogen generation and purification in membrane reactors, and, more recently, production of hydrocarbons from biomass. 

“What I’ve tried to do in my research is work on problems that are fundamentally challenging with solutions that could have an impact in the short term. The need to reduce emissions from vehicles is a problem we’re facing here and now. One thing I learned from my years at DuPont is how to attack practical problems with a fundamental approach. I think that I've had some success with that approach, and I've had fun doing it,” Harold said. 

As the principal or co-principal investigator, Harold has received grants exceeding $20 million in external research funding. He is the author of nearly 120 peer-reviewed research articles in international journals, has given more than 160 research paper presentations at national or international conferences, and has presented 95 invited seminars/invited talks, including a keynote lecture at the North American Catalysis Society meeting in 2011. Four of his papers/presentations also received best paper awards from different groups.

As an educator and researcher, Harold has mentored or co-mentored more than 20 doctoral students. He also is an outstanding teacher, teaching courses such as undergraduate transport and graduate applied mathematics, and receiving the highest student ratings while shouldering the chair’s responsibilities. He also has been responsible for the development of a comprehensive new undergraduate program now being implemented in petroleum engineering that combines elements of fundamental engineering principles, geosciences, petroleum specific technical subjects along with business and economics.  

“Dr. Harold is an excellent classroom teacher, and the undergraduate and graduate classes that he has taught have always received the best reviews amongst the students – and not because they were easy. On the contrary, it’s because they were rigorous and challenging and yet with the clear goal of educating the students of the most critical issues and solving the problems through analytical means,” Krishnamoorti said.

Harold has also been active in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). In early 2012, he was named the seventh editor-in-chief in the 56-year history of the AIChE Journal, a position he now holds. He also served as member of AIChE’s Chemical Engineering Technology Operating Council, chair of the AIChE Publications Committee, chair of the Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division, and director of the Computer and Systems Technology Division. 

Harold received his Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Penn State in 1980 and his doctorate in chemical engineering from UH in 1985. He was on the faculty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and worked for DuPont before returning to UH in fall 2000 as chair of the Chemical Engineering Department. 

Harold was presented with the Farfel Award at an awards banquet, where other faculty members were honored for teaching excellence, advising, research and scholarship. Below is the list of recipients.

By Laura Tolley

This five-year renewable award is given to faculty who are outstanding in teaching, research and service. The recipient is awarded a $10,000 annual stipend.

* Steven C. Pennings, Biology and Biochemistry
* Peter G. Vekilov, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry 

Distinguished Leadership in Teaching Excellence
This award is given to a previous Teaching Excellence Award recipient who in 10 years or more of teaching has made sustained and significant contributions to education. In the subsequent academic year of the award, the recipient will mentor other faculty and serve as an adviser to the Center for Teaching Excellence. The recipient is honored with a trophy and a prize of $25,000, divided into a $15,000 cash award and $10,000 in departmental support.

* Joseph Pratt, History and Business

Career Award
This award is given to a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching over the course of his or her career of 20 years or more at UH. The recipient is honored with a trophy and a $12,000 prize.

* David P. Shattuck, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Teaching Excellence
This award is given to faculty in recognition of outstanding achievement in teaching. Recipients are honored with a trophy and an $8,000 prize.

* Richard H. Armstrong, Modern and Classical Languages
* Ann C. Christensen, English
* Thomas J. George, Finance
* Sapna Kumar, Law
* Thomas William Lowder, Health and Human Performance

Provost’s Core
This award is given to faculty in recognition of outstanding teaching in the core curriculum. Recipients are honored with a trophy and an $8,000 prize.
* Francesca D'Alessandro Behr. Modern and Classical Languages

Innovation in Instructional Technology
This award is given to faculty in recognition of outstanding achievement in teaching using innovation in instructional technology. The recipient is honored with a trophy and an $8,000 prize.
* Gangbing Song, Mechanical Engineering

This award is given in recognition of outstanding teaching by faculty instructors, clinical faculty, research faculty, artist affiliates and lecturers. Recipients are honored with a trophy and an $8,000 prize.

* Bret J. Detillier, Information and Logistics Technology
* Patricia Dorsey, Sociology
* Paige K. Evans, Mathematics 
* Kelly Y. Hopkins, History
* Aditi Marwaha, Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences
* Iain Morrison, Philosophy, Honors College
* Michael R. Newman, Accounting and Taxation
* Chad M. Wayne, Computer Science

Graduate Teaching Assistant
This award is given to graduate students in recognition of outstanding teaching. The recipients are honored with a trophy and a $3,500 prize.

* Zachary Hall, Marketing and Entrepreuneurship
* William Russey, Biology and Biochemistry
* Micki Washburn, Social Work

Group Teaching Award
This award recognizes clusters of faculty in both formal and informal programs who demonstrate a strong commitment to teaching and student success, who have worked together collaboratively to improve student outcomes and who demonstrate effective and innovative teaching. The award is presented to up to two groups. Each teaching group is honored with a group trophy and a prize of $30,000.   

Health and Human Performance Group
* Lisa Alastuey
* Charles Layne
* Rebecca E. Lee
* Prashant Mutgekar
* Anne Ogborn

Computer Science Group
* Chang H. Yun
* Jose Baez-Franceschi
* Zhigang Deng
* Olin Johnson

Two awards at the assistant professor rank are presented to those individuals who have demonstrated great potential in research, scholarship, or creative endeavors. Two awards at the associate professor rank are presented to those individuals who have established a growing record of outstanding research, scholarship or creative contributions. Awards at the full professor rank are for those who have compiled a substantial continuing record of outstanding research, scholarship or creative activities and have achieved preeminence in their field. Each recipient receives a trophy and a $8,000 prize.

Full Professors

* Michael Harold, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
* Dmitri Litvinov, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Associate Professors
* Kirill Larin, Biomedical Engineering
* Carla Sharp, Psychology

Assistant Professors
* Wei-Chuan Shih, Electrical and Computer Engineering
* Gila Stein, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

These awards are given by the UH Commission on Women in recognition of faculty scholarly achievement. Recipients receive a $1,000 prize.

* Rebecca Lee, Health and Human Performance 

* Samantha Kwan, Sociology
* Debora Rodrigues, Civil and Environmental Engineering

This career award recognizes a demonstrated excellence in supporting undergraduate research efforts and encourages mentoring relationships with undergraduate students. The recipient is honored with a trophy and a $3,000 prize.
* Rakesh Verma, Computer Science

The award celebrates the mentorship efforts of junior faculty who are in the earlier stages of their careers. The award includes a $1,500 cash prize.

* Maria Victoria Tejada-Simon, Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences

This award is given to a faculty member who demonstrates excellence in undergraduate academic advising. The recipient is honored with a plaque and a $1,000 prize.
* Helen Kathryn Valier, Medicine and Society, Honors College