News Archive

LU recognizes four faculty members as 2017 University Merit Award recipients

Lamar University will honor four faculty members with 2017 University Merit Awards in recognition of superior teaching, scholarship and service to the university. Merit Awards will be presented to Ali Beheshti, Perumalreddy Chandrasekaran, Mahdi Safa and Xing Wu at the faculty awards ceremony April 12 at 1 p.m. in the University Event Center, 8th floor of the Mary and John Gray Library.

The 2017 Merit Award recipients:

Ali Beheshti

Beheshti, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is in his fourth year of university service and second year of service to Lamar’s College of Engineering. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree from Isfahan University of Technology in Esfahan, Iran. He later came to the United States and earned a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.

Prior to joining LU, Beheshti was a visiting professor and research associate at Texas A&M University. He is recognized for his research and leadership in Lamar’s Multiscale Tribology and Contact Mechanics Laboratory.

Beheshti has taught three undergraduate courses in statics, dynamics, and tribology and a master’s course in tribology at LU. He consistently receives high praise from students and colleagues for teaching style, blending a variety of traditional and new techniques to engage his students. He meets one-on-one with every student, every semester.  

In his first year at Lamar, Dr. Beheshti secured more than $175K in research funding from federal and state sources and, at the moment, has about $1.3M in pending proposals. It is worth mentioning that he has also assisted three students in securing funding for their undergraduate research projects, an effort which is one of Lamar’s strategic initiatives.

Beheshti has authored or co-authored 19 peer-reviewed articles and presented 15 conference papers and posters at professional meetings around the world. He has served as an editorial board member and proposal and manuscript reviewer for a number of academic and trade journals and publishing houses.


Perumalreddy Chandrasekaran

Chandrasekaran, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is in his sixth year of university service and fifth year of service at Lamar University. He earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in chemistry from the University of Madras in Chennai, India and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay. Before joining Lamar, he taught and conducted research at Tulane University and Cornell University.

Chandrasekaran has taught 10 undergraduate courses and labs and four graduate courses at LU. He developed and instructed two upper-division inorganic chemistry courses, and he helped revise the general chemistry lab.

In addition, he has served on 11 master’s committees, supervised five undergraduate research projects and participated in 29 capstone project committees. He receives glowing evaluation scores.

Chandrasekaran has authored or co-authored nine 28 peer-reviewed publications and received four Lamar Research Enhancement Grants for almost $50k. He is a peer reviewer for six chemistry journals.

Chandrasekaran demonstrates his dedication to committee leadership and service through his chairmanship for the Sabine Neches American Chemical Society Chapter, presentations for area high school chemistry students and participation as Faculty Senator.


Mahdi Safa

Safa, assistant professor of construction management in the College of Business, has served LU for two years and has worked as a faculty member for five years. He received a Masters of Business Administration from Wilfird Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Waterloo. He also holds several professional certifications.

Safa has taught 15 different courses in four disciplines at graduate and undergraduate levels during his two years at Lamar University, continually receiving high praise from his students. A student of effective pedagogy, he uses a variety of instructional techniques to enhance student learning.

Safa is an active member of six professional associations. He has received a Research Enhancement Grant, a TEXO Foundation grant and funding from LU’s new Center for Advances in Port Management.

He has authored or co-authored 16 publications and published several industry reports, a textbook and proceedings papers. He serves as a manuscript reviewer for several journals and publishers.

Safa has been a member of several university committees including the Port Management Steering Committee and the LU Green Squad. He serves several community groups such as Habitat for Humanity, the Women and Children’s Shelter, the Beaumont Children’s Museum and the Beaumont Rotary.


Xing Wu

Xing Wu, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, is in his fifth year of service in the College of Engineering. He earned two degrees, a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering and a Master of Science in management science and engineering, from Tsinghua University in Beijing. He also received a Master’s degree in civil engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Last, he earned a Ph.D. in transportation engineering from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Before coming to LU, Wu spent a post-doctorate year at Northwestern University and six months as a visiting scholar at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. A registered professional engineer, he specializes in transportation engineering.

Since joining LU, Wu has taught 11 classes at the graduate and undergraduate level, and he supervised several thesis and dissertation students. Wu developed and taught popular courses in transportation engineering, risk analysis and geographic information system applications. He brings real-world demonstrations to his classes so students can link abstract ideas to concrete examples, and the success of his techniques has led him to present at a professional workshop.

Wu is involved in several professional associations, including committees of the National Transportation Research Board, the Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences, the Intelligent Transportation Systems Society and LU’s Center for Advances in Port Management.

Wu has served as principle investigator or co-principle investigator on eight funded projects worth more than $300k, and has co-authored 19 peer-reviewed journal articles that received over 400 citations. He has four manuscripts currently under review, has co-authored four proceedings papers, and he serves as a manuscript reviewer for a dozen professional journals in the areas of energy and transportation sciences.   

Wu has contributed to the university through committee and service work and has provided transportation expertise to the City of Beaumont.