Each year, faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences are recognized for their contributions to the college, the university, and the impact of their teaching and research at the annual faculty awards dinner. Three members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy received awards at this year’s event, which took place Thursday, December 1, 2016.
The Advising Service Award recognizes two faculty members in the college for their excellence in undergraduate advising. The recognition rewards past achievement and encourages future resources and creative efforts in departmental advising. Stuart Elston, professor of physics, (pictured left with Dean Theresa Lee) was recognized for 30 years of service as an advisor in physics. In addition to coordinating the advising efforts of the physics department faculty, Elston meets with every incoming physics major to discuss their specific interests and determine their level of preparedness. With this information, he is able to help them chart a plan for success from the very beginning of their academic career and connect them with faculty who have similar research interests. Professor Elston makes an impact on students’ preparation in the sciences long before they step foot on campus through his work with several agencies to review and devise new K-12 standards in the sciences, and his extensive collaboration with high school teachers in several local schools.
The Excellence in Research/Creative Achievement awards recognize faculty excellence in research and creative achievement at three levels: the early career, midcareer, and senior career. Robert Grzywacz, professor of physics, received a senior career award for work that led UT’s efforts to the discovery of a new super-heavy element, making Tennessee only the second state represented in the Periodic Table. Element 117 was officially named Tennessine to honor the scientific contributions of Grzywacz and colleagues at UT, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Vanderbilt University. A critical step in proving its existence came through a process Grzywacz developed to measure the decay of nuclear materials down to a microsecond. His research focuses on the decay of unstable nuclei, emphasizing nuclear processes that are critical for understanding the abundance elements in the universe. In recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the field, he was recently elected Fellow of the American Physical Society.
The James R. and Nell W. Cunningham Outstanding Teaching Award went to Marianne Breinig, professor, associate head, and director of the graduate program in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. According to her nominator, Professor Breinig qualifies for this award because of her “… phenomenal contributions to the teaching mission of the physics department, as well as the enormousness of her dedications and efforts.” She produced 18 percent of the student credit hours last year, not including overseeing the laboratories and GTAs that serve over 1,000 students. Her teaching is not just exceptional due to the volume, but also because of the innovation and quality.
Congratulations to our award winners for their achievements.
Courtesy of the College of Arts and Sciences Communications Office.