NDSU Recipients of Odney, Waldron, Peltier Awards Announced

Fargo, N.D. – Three NDSU faculty members have been selected to receive prestigious university honors. Yeong Rhee, associate professor of health, nutrition and exercise sciences, was named to receive the Odney Award; Wenfang Sun, Walter F. and Verna Gehrts Professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will be recognized with the Waldron Award; and Sivaguru Jayaraman, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will be acknowledged with the Peltier Award.

The recipients will be recognized during the 15th annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence to be scheduled for later this spring. The awards are sponsored by the NDSU Development Foundation.

“We had an astonishing array of talent brought forward through the nomination process,” said Provost Bruce Rafert. “The selection committee was clearly impressed by the distinguished records of research and academic ability of our nominees.”

Rhee received 30 nominations for the Odney Award, which was established by the family of Robert Odney to recognize outstanding faculty teaching. 

“She is an incredible instructor; she presents information clearly and gives real-world situation examples,” wrote student Amanda Middaugh in a letter nominating Rhee for the Odney Award. “She is a wonderful instructor and person who has made a positive contribution to my educational experience at NDSU.”

Student Leah Gramlow wrote, “Dr. Rhee is the best teacher I’ve had in my 17 years of being a student. She cares about our understanding of the content we cover in class and she would do anything to help a student succeed in school and in life.”

Rhee, who joined the NDSU faculty in 2002, earned her doctorate in human nutrition at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. She is a registered dietitian, and a member of the American Society of Nutrition and the American Dietetic Association.

The Fred Waldron Research Award was established with the NDSU Development Foundation Board of Trustees to recognize outstanding faculty research. Sun was nominated for the honor by faculty members Gregory Cook, Mukund Sibi and Jayaraman. 

“She has been an extremely proficient researcher, an excellent educator and outstanding colleague and leader in service,” they wrote in a nomination letter. 

Sun’s nomination states she has established a world-renowned research program in the area of new materials for optical sensing, photo limiting devices, photodynamic therapy for cancer and medical imaging. It notes Sun has brought more than $4 million in extramural funding to campus, and she has had more than 15 papers published in the past year.

“Dr. Sun is an outstanding colleague who has made an outstanding impact in her field of research both locally and globally,” wrote Cook, Sibi and Jayaraman.

Sun joined the NDSU faculty in 2001. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Wuhan University in China and her doctorate in chemistry from the Institute of Photographic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. She also was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The Peltier Award was established by Joseph and Norma Peltier to recognize outstanding innovation in teaching. Jayaraman was nominated by faculty colleagues Cook and Sun and graduate student Anoklase Ayitou. 

The nominators note Jayaraman teaches with “flair and enthusiasm and brings his extensive computer expertise to help students in classroom.” The nomination states he teaches courses in physical organic chemistry and spectroscopy and a special topics course in photochemistry was carried by the Internet to students at Columbia University and the University of Miami. He also has initiated the Parents Involvement with Children Nurturing Intellectual Curiosity in Science, a collaborative program involving students, parents, high school teachers and NDSU chemistry faculty.

“Dr. Jayaraman has continued to push the boundaries of Internet connectivity by expanding his experience from the class to a new ‘literature literacy’ project connecting students and research labs at four universities to hold super group meetings,” the nomination letter said. The participating institutions include Columbia University, University of Miami, UCLA and Brown University.

Jayaraman, who came to NDSU in 2006, earned his bachelor’s degree at Bharathidasan University, St. Joseph’s College in Trichy, India; his master’s degree in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras; and his doctorate in chemistry from Tulane University, New Orleans. He also was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, New York.

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