Cardinal Cadence Spring/Summer 2013

Beyond the textbook

Helen Lou and Ann Die Hasselmo2013 University Professor Helen Lou inspires students to change the world.

Lamar University honored Helen Lou, a professor in the Dan F. Smith Department of Chemical Engineering, as the 2013 University Professor, with officials applauding her as one of the world’s most productive environmental researchers and an outstanding faculty member who has contributed significantly to the successes of her department.

The professorship, awarded for life, is the most prestigious faculty award conferred by Lamar’s academic community. President James Simmons conferred the medallion of University Professor “as a lasting symbol of this high honor and esteemed title.”

“I am here today not because of what I do but because of you, who support me, challenge me, push me and love me,” Lou said in accepting her award. In teaching, she said, she challenges her students to think beyond the textbook and beyond the numbers. “Together,” she tells them, “we can change the world.”

This year, Lou also became the second Ann Die-Hasselmo Scholar, made possible by the creation and funding of the Lamar University Faculty Excellence Endowment by Ann Die Hasselmo ’66. Honored as Lamar’s 1986 Regents’ Professor, Hasselmo was a longtime faculty member whose career path later took her to top university administrative positions and other roles devoted to strengthening academic leadership. Hasselmo and her husband, Nils, attended the ceremony, which is underwritten by the endowment.

“Dr. Lou is committed to scholarly activities that foster knowledge, discovery and innovation in research and engineering education,” said Jack Hopper, dean of the College of Engineering. “She is an exceptionally gifted instructor, receiving recognition year after year from her students and professional peers. She is one of Lamar’s premier researchers and is recognized widely for her service to the university, industry and the profession of chemical engineering.”

Recently, Hopper noted, Lou was listed among the “Top 100 Most Talented” by Shanxi Province in China—a province of almost 40 million people.

“Dr. Lou has been an outstanding faculty member, contributing significantly to the recent successes of the chemical engineering department,” said T.C. Ho, her department chair.

Lou has made significant contributions to Lamar, chemical engineering and, most importantly, to her students, said Stephen Doblin, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “In her steady, humble and focused manner, Dr. Lou has grown into one of Lamar’s most productive and accomplished faculty members. She is appreciated by her students, admired by her colleagues and respected by her national and international peers. Her standard of excellence is readily evident throughout the university.”

Lou is one of the world’s most productive environmental researchers, Doblin said. She has published 28 peer-refereed journal articles, authored six book chapters, served on four invited international panels and delivered more than 100 professional papers—in just 12 years of service.

Since 2002, Lou has been principal investigator or co-principal investigator on 33 funded projects. To fund these efforts, she has received more than $2.1 million in funded research. She was honored in 2009 as University Scholar and in 2004 with a Merit Award.

After receiving a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Zhejiang University, she earned master’s degrees in chemical engineering and computer science and a doctor of philosophy in chemical engineering from Wayne State University. Early in her career, she was a petrochemical engineer in China, but her true calling was in academics where her areas of interest include momentum and heat transfer, process controls, optimization processes and sustainability.

Lou has received four funded projects totaling $75,000 to enhance instruction, including two from the National Science Foundation and one from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance. She serves as faculty advisor for Lamar’s chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and as a mentor to undergraduate chemical engineering majors. Lou is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Chemical Society, Sigma Xi scientific research society and Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.

A Registered Professional Engineer in Texas, Lou has held office in professional organizations, has chaired dozens of sessions at professional conferences and meetings around the world and is an editorial board member for several professional journals. She is a proposal reviewer for the National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation, Texas Emerging Technology Fund, Texas Hazardous Waste Research Center, Gulf Coast Hazardous Substance Research Center and national research agencies in South Africa, Qatar and the People’s Republic of China.