News Archive

Three faculty members earn University Merit Awards

Lamar University has honored three faculty members with 2012 University Merit Awards in recognition of outstanding performance in the classroom. Award recipients are assistant professors John Zhanhu Guo, chemical engineering; Qin Qian, civil engineering; and Melissa Rusher, deaf studies and deaf education.
        A university-wide committee selected them from junior faculty members nominated by committees from LU colleges. Lamar officials presented the awards at a reception and program April 11 in the University Reception Center of the Mary and John Gray Library.
        While scholarship and service to the university and community are an important consideration in granting the Merit Awards, the most important criteria for selection are classroom performance and interaction with students, said Stephen Doblin, provost and vice president for academic affairs. Here are profiles of the 2011 Merit Award recipients:
        John Zhanhu Guo earned a bachelor of science degree from Shandong University, a master of science from Beijing University and a doctor of philosophy from Louisiana State University – all in chemical engineering. Now completing his fourth year at Lamar, he has received wide praise and excellent reviews from his students and colleagues, Doblin said.
        University Professor T.C. Ho, chair of the Dan F. Smith Department of Chemical Engineering, said that “due to Dr. Guo’s knowledge of the subject area and fairness to his students, he has been a very popular professor, one who also attracts undergraduates to research.”
        Several undergraduate students have joined him in a National Science Foundation-supported research project on advanced polymer nanocomposites. Other students have worked on projects in advanced materials processing and rheology. Emphasizing problem-solving skills and active and collaborative exercises in his classes, Guo opens his research to student members of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and accompanies them to conferences.
        Guo has published more than 80 articles, several of which have received awards. “His papers have been referenced or cited more than 1,100 times – a most impressive number and one indicative of the high quality of his research,” Doblin said. “To support his research and students, Dr. Guo has successfully written grants and other external-funding requests that have pulled to Lamar almost $1 million. Support for his projects has come from sources such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), Baker-Hughes Corp. and Northrup-Grumman Corp.
        He is a member of professional associations and often serves as chair at conferences. He serves as a reviewer or referee for journals or publishing houses and also as associate editor of a journal and on the editorial board of two others. He has held two NSF fellowships; has been a committee member of international congresses; and is a grant reviewer for a variety of national and international agencies, including the NSF and Department of Energy.
        Guo supervises the Integrated Composites Laboratory for the chemical engineering department and coordinates research for two visiting professors, one post-doctoral student, five Ph.D. students, two doctor of engineering students and seven master’s students.
        Jack Hopper, dean of the College of Engineering, wrote:  “(His) research activity has been nothing short of exceptional . . . His collaboration with industry is notable, and his support from funding agencies, particularly the National Science Foundation, is a strong indicator of the high quality of his research.”
        Qin Qian, in her fourth year at Lamar, earned a bachelor of science in geology from Nanjing University, a master of science in software engineering from The University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and a master’s and Ph.D. – both in civil engineering – from The University of Minnesota. Hydrology and environmental engineering are her areas of academic expertise, and she has quickly established herself as one of Lamar’s finest young faculty members, Doblin said.
        “Dr. Qian works very hard to make students learn, and she has been one of my favorite professors,” one of her students wrote.  Positive student evaluation scores and comments lend support to her reputation for instructional excellence. She created and offered three new courses and redesigned two others. She has supervised 14 master’s students, chaired two thesis committees and evaluated 20 graduate-student comprehensive examinations.
        “For a young faculty member, Dr. Qian has built a strong and impressive research record,” Doblin said. She and her colleagues have submitted 16 proposals to agencies such as the NSF, Texas Advanced Research Program, Department of Agriculture and Texas Department of Transportation. Six of the proposals have been funded, bringing a total of almost $500,000 to her research.
        Qian has been involved in the Civil Engineering Advisory Council, Chi Epsilon National Civil Engineering Society and civil engineering summer camp activities. She has authored refereed articles and proceedings publications and conference papers. She holds membership in a wide array and large number of civil engineering professional societies and associations, and she serves as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation, Texas Department of Transportation and highly regarded scientific journals. She has served the campus and community in many ways, from open house and assessment duties to community board membership and serving as a science fair judge.
        “Her resume demonstrates her commitment to classroom scholarship and service excellence,” Hopper wrote. Added Robert Yuan, chair of the Department of Civil Engineering:  “With more than 40 years in civil engineering, I have observed the careers of many professors. I can attest that Dr. Qian is truly outstanding in her research, teaching and service.”
        Melissa Rusher, in her seventh year at Lamar, earned a bachelor of science in deaf education from The University of Tulsa and master’s and deoctoral degrees in deaf studies and deaf education from Lamar. Rusher has taught four undergraduate and 24 graduate courses – the entire graduate course inventory. She has served on 27 master’s and doctoral committees, eight as chair.
        Rusher is a leader in practitioner-researcher-trainer reviews for school districts; is involved in a multi-university remote tutoring project; has served on a multi-state master teacher initiative; and has incorporated leading technologies in all her courses.
        “She has received abundant praise from both students and colleagues for her instructional activities,” Doblin said.  “Her course evaluation data indicate excellence, and her outreach to distance students has earned her high praise from students and professional peers.”
        Rusher’s instructional activities overlap with her research and funding efforts. She is a talented grant writer who, along with colleagues, has received grants totaling more than $5 million, Doblin said. Most of this funding has come from the U.S. Department of Education.
        Active in professional circles, Rusher is a panel reviewer and grant evaluator for the Department of Education; serves on the Council of Education of the Deaf as an accreditation team member; and has been a professional consultant for other universities. She is author or co-author of journal articles, professional publications and conference or workshop presentations.
        Rusher has served on departmental, college and university committees. She has been involved with the State Board of Educator Certification, numerous school districts, the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and the local deaf community. In her spare time, she owns and operates Dragonfly Educational Services.
        “Dr. Rusher is an active mentor of students . . . is active in the field of grant writing . . . is active in her disciplinary organizations,” wrote Russ Schultz, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication. “Her list of publications is most impressive.”