Recipients of Odney, Waldron, Peltier Awards announced
Three NDSU faculty members have been selected to receive prestigious university honors. Elizabeth Birmingham, associate professor of English, was named to receive the Odney Award; Dinesh Katti, professor of civil engineering, was recognized with the Waldron Award; and Andrew Mara, associate professor of English, was acknowledged with the Peltier Award.
The recipients were recognized during the 16th annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence May 2 at the McGovern Alumni Center. The awards are sponsored by the NDSU Development Foundation.
“We had an outstanding list of nominees this year,” said vice provost R.S. Krishnan. “The selection committee was impressed by the talent, distinguished research and academic accomplishments of the nominees.”
Birmingham received four nominations for the Odney Award, which was established by the family of Robert Odney to recognize outstanding faculty teaching.
Graduate teaching assistant Tatjana Schell nominated Birmingham for “her unmatched ongoing support of students, her genuine wish for all of them to succeed and her tremendous help in recognizing the potential of her students.”
Kaylee Jangula Mootz wrote, “Dr. Birmingham is a warm, kind and funny professor who is able to discuss difficult topics while being candid and witty. She truly cares about her students and connects with them on a one-on-one level.”
Student Maia Randklev described Birmingham as “one of the most inspirational teachers I have ever had.”
Birmingham, who joined the NDSU faculty in 2001, earned her bachelor’s degree at Rosary College. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing and doctorate in rhetoric and professional communication at Iowa State University. She was a Fulbright fellow at the Australian National University in 1991-92.
The Fred Waldron Research Award was established by the NDSU Development Foundation board of trustees to recognize outstanding faculty research. Katti was nominated for the honor by Gary Smith, dean of engineering and architecture.
“Dr. Dinesh Katti is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in the field of multiscale modeling of nanomaterials, specifically bridging molecular scale interactions to macroscale properties,” Smith wrote. “Dr. Katti has made major contributions to relating quantitatively the molecular effects of mineral protein interactions on the macroscale mechanics of human bone and seashells.”
Smith said Katti’s research has been supported through grants from the National Science Foundation, Department of Transportation, USDA, ND EPSCoR and Department of Energy in the amount of approximately $3.4 million.
Smith notes Katti has given plenary and keynote lectures at conferences around the world, and has published 158 papers, three books and seven book chapters. Katti also is associate editor of two leading journals of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Katti joined the NDSU faculty in 1996. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the National Institute of Technology, Srinagar, India; master’s degree in civil engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; and his doctorate in civil engineering at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
The Peltier Award was established by Joseph and Norma Peltier to recognize outstanding innovation in teaching. Mara was nominated by Kevin Brooks, professor and head of the English department.
Brooks’ nomination noted Mara gives new media assignments that “challenge, engage and prepare students for 21st century citizenship and workplaces.” He also said Mara practices “public, practice-based pedagogies that result in students engaging with the community” and he provides support and innovation for the department’s online courses.
In a letter of support, Kent Sandstrom, dean of arts, humanities and social sciences, wrote, “Dr. Mara is a highly talented and creative teacher.” Sandstrom describes Mara this way: “He deftly draws upon a variety of strategies and media as an instructor, including blogs, wikis, Google docs, video podcasts, Skype chats, group discussions, literacy summits and other activity-based, event-centered learning exercises.”
Mara, who came to NDSU in 2006, earned his bachelor’s degree at University of Redlands, his master’s degree in literature from Pennsylvania State University; and his doctorate in rhetoric and writing at the University of New Mexico. He also was a professional communicator at Sandia National Laboratories.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.