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2019 Commencement Awards and Honors

The University of Rochester will recognize the outstanding contributions of distinguished alumni, educators, and scientists by bestowing the Eastman Medal, Hutchison Medal, and awards for scholarship and teaching. These awards will be presented at the 169th Commencement ceremonies on May 17, 18, and 19, and at the Simon Business School ceremony June 9.

The Eastman Medal

Recognizing outstanding achievement and dedicated service in honor of the University’s great benefactor and the founder of Eastman Kodak Company

Donna Strickland ’89 (PhD)

Donna Strickland ’89 (PhD), a pioneer in the field of laser physics, received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics.

A professor of physics at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, Strickland will deliver the College’s Commencement address on Sunday, May 19. She will also speak at the University’s doctoral ceremony on Saturday, May 18, where she will receive the Rochester Distinguished Scholar Award, which recognizes doctoral alumni who have led distinguished careers in academia, private enterprise, public service and the arts.

In October 2018, Strickland became the third woman ever to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics, and the first woman laureate in University history. She and Gérard Mourou, former engineering professor and scientist at the University’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), were together recognized with the 2018 Nobel Prize for revolutionizing the field of high-intensity laser physics. Mourou was Strickland’s PhD advisor during the time they pioneered chirped-pulse amplification. Known as CPA, this work was the basis of Strickland’s dissertation.

The goal of their research was to show how high-intensity light changes matter, and how matter affects light in this interaction. Until the introduction of CPA, the peak power of laser pulses was limited because of the damage the pulses caused to the material used to amplify them. Strickland and Mourou worked together to overcome the problem, developing the groundbreaking CPA technique that involves stretching the laser pulse thousands of times, amplifying the pulse in a laser material without damaging it, and recompressing it in time back to its original duration. Today, CPA has applications in corrective eye surgeries and other surgical procedures, as well as quantum computing.

Strickland received a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, before earning her PhD in physics from Rochester in 1989. She serves on the LLE’s Visiting Trustee Committee and will speak to the group on May 15.

Barbara H. Iglewski

Barbara H. Iglewski, professor and chair emerita in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, has contributed landmark research on how bacteria cause infections. Her laboratory was the first to discover that bacteria use a communication system to coordinate attacks on human cells and initiate disease, and her work launched an entire field of study into how the system works in many types of bacteria. Several drugs that interrupt the bacterial communication process, thereby preventing infections, have been developed based on her work.

Iglewski was the first female department chair at the School of Medicine and Dentistry and a trailblazer who paved the way for many other female scientists and leaders in Rochester and across the country. She pursued a career in science after accompanying her father, a country physician, on house calls. She received her Ph.D. in microbiology from Penn State University, and was recruited to the University of Rochester in 1986 to serve as chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

She holds seven patents, has published more than 180 papers and book chapters, and has received many awards and honors, including from the National Institutes of Health and the American Society for Microbiology. In 2015, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and has been recognized with the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Lifetime Mentoring Award (2009), the Susan B. Anthony Lifetime Achievement Award (2001), and the Arthur Kornberg Research Award (1999). She served as president of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) from 1987 to 1988, and chaired its publications board from 1990 to 1999.

The Charles Force Hutchison and Marjorie Smith Hutchison Medal

Recognizing alumni for outstanding achievement and notable service

Ruth Anderson Lawrence ’49M (MD)

Ruth Anderson Lawrence ’49M (MD), Northumberland Trust Professor of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, is an internationally renowned expert on breastfeeding and infant nutritional needs. She has pioneered practices through both clinical work and research that have greatly influenced medicine across the country and enhanced the lives of countless newborn children.

Following her graduation from SMD in 1949, she spent her internship and residency at Yale University School of Medicine—the first woman in Yale’s medical residency program—before returning to Rochester to join the faculty in 1952. Building on the experience she had working with infants at Yale, she became a strong advocate for the establishment of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Her 1980 book, Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, has become the gold-standard worldwide for the scientific understanding of human lactation and clinical breastfeeding practices. In addition to caring for infants in the Neonatology Division at Golisano Children’s Hospital, she spent several decades collecting evidence documenting the health advantages of breastfeeding, including the dynamic relationship between human milk and the developing brain, and published more than 200 papers on its benefits for both children and mothers. She is a founder of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) and founder and first editor-in-chief of the ABM official journal, Breastfeeding Medicine.

Lawrence was also one of the driving forces behind the establishment of Rochester’s first poison control center in 1954, which was just the second such organization in the country, the first to take calls from the public, and the first to serve the hard-of-hearing.

University Teaching Awards for Excellence

Heidi Tribunella—Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Heidi Tribunella, clinical professor of accounting in the Simon Business School, for 14 years has taught and developed accounting courses in the school’s undergraduate business program, in addition to graduate-level and MBA courses.

A CPA, she helped establish and now manages the Undergraduate Business Accounting Track in the bachelor’s degree business program.  She reviews the prerequisite coursework for each CPA-track student, regularly advises students, and oversees the assessment of learning in the programs.  She meets with CPA firms to promote Rochester students for entry-level positions and internships and advises undergraduates on opportunities in graduate programs. In addition, she played a major role in establishing a STEM designation for Simon’s MS in Accountancy program, which has especially been a benefit for the University’s international students.

Tribunella is recognized for her commitment to her students, beginning with reviewing every applicant into the MS program, advising them throughout their program, and assisting them with their job search. She has been recognized in the Simon School Teaching Honor Roll many times and consistently receives great evaluations from her students, many of whom comment on the amount of time she makes for them and the real-world lessons she offers to future accountants.

Chris Muir—Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Chris Muir, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has demonstrated outstanding teaching efficiency and impactful mentoring, including his mentoring of younger faculty entering their teaching careers.

Muir has consistently taught the most demanding courses in the engineering curriculum, including the senior-level capstone design courses with typical enrollments of 80 students per course, and the sophomore course on mechanics of materials, in excess of 100 students. In addition, he taught and created the curriculum for the two sophomore-level computational courses. He has been recognized by students and faculty alike as a superb teacher who has an excellent rapport with the students, and who refer to him affectionately as “coach.”

He joined the University as a full-time associate professor in 2014, and prior to this taught as an adjunct professor while working at Kodak as a senior design engineer. At Kodak, he worked on research and development, business unit commercialization projects, advanced mechanical analysis, software development, as well as held group leadership roles.

With his full-time appointment as teaching faculty, he fully immersed himself in revolutionizing the integration of manufacturing into the engineering design curriculum. He is also part of the engineering cohort in the University’s multidisciplinary Ghana Summer Field School.

Stella Wang—Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Stella Wang, associate professor in The Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program, teaches a range of first-year writing courses.  For the writing studies minor, she offers an interdisciplinary course grounded in experiential learning in interlingual and intralingual translation, audio-visual translation, and a community-engaged paraprofessional project. She is noted for being an exceptional teacher who inspires, educates and advises students long after they have left her classroom.

In keeping with the Rochester curriculum, her courses provide first-year students with possibilities for exploration, as well as the support needed for them to take advantage of these possibilities. Designed to engage and challenge, her courses have immersed students in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth narratives in “Fantasy and its Discontent,” investigated environmental issues in “Searching for Whales: Myth, Science, and Ecological Sustainability,” and interrogated the meaning of being human in “Being Homo sapiens sapiens: the brain, the mind, the heart, and full catastrophe living.”

She is known for going out of her way to accommodate difficult student schedules, provide feedback, and schedule one-on-one time to make sure her students understand her writing criticism and suggestions.

Vincent Hope—Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Clinical Assistant Professor of Marketing Vincent Hope has been a member of the Simon Business School faculty since 2001.  He brings to the classroom knowledge and professional experience from his marketing and entrepreneurial career of more than 30 years.

He began his career at Simon teaching introductory marketing courses to undergraduate students, and has since developed “real-time” corporate and community-sponsored projects for a capstone experiential course, and sponsored many independent studies and internships with undergraduate candidates.  His capstone courses involve working with organizations to provide opportunities for students to experience real-world marketing issues, visit client facilities, and present their work professionally in a work setting.  As a result, community and business leaders often offer networking and job opportunities to Simon students.

Hope teaches in the undergraduate business program and serves as the advisor for the BS in business students majoring in the marketing track.  He works very closely with students, sponsoring independent studies, internships, NSF/KEY/Take 5 programs, as well as advising students on their career objectives and providing recommendations for graduate schools.

He is also a recognized community service 501(c)(3) developer and entrepreneur, and founder and past president of Honor Flight Rochester, a community-driven organization honoring aging veterans.

Andrew White—G. Graydon Curtis ’58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Nontenured Faculty Teaching Excellence

Andrew White, assistant professor of chemical engineering, in just a few years has developed into an outstanding undergraduate mentor and teacher. He fosters student inquiry and learning through authentic learning scenarios and collaborative projects that challenge students. He exhibits great insight and knowledge in the subject matter, and at the same time shows his own curiosity and fascination in the subject matter.  This teaching style resonates with students.

White joined the chemical engineering department in January 2015. Shortly after arriving at the University, he was assigned to teach a course in statistics and numerical analysis, an area which he soon transformed from a program weakness into a strength. Following White’s instruction, students entering their third year became comfortable with statistics and could suddenly perform complex numerical methods using computers.

His academic research involves applying statistical thermodynamics and simulation methods to design new materials by data driven and machine learning approaches.  He has secured multiple sources of external research funding, including the prestigious NSF CAREER award, and has established research and teaching collaborations across campus.

Ignacio Franco—G. Graydon Curtis ’58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Nontenured Faculty Teaching Excellence

Ignacio Franco, assistant professor of chemistry and physics, joined the faculty in July 2013. Since joining the University, he has been transforming the way undergraduate and graduate students are learning physical chemistry.

In his undergraduate class, Physical Chemistry 1 (CHM 251), Franco has introduced quantum mechanics students to state-of-the-art quantum mechanical research problems in literature, which he calls “Quantum in Action.” He developed a set of original lecture modules that connect the current topic of the week with some recent publication. For example, when discussing the “particle in a box,” he used recent papers on quantum potential wells formed from optical lattices.

Franco has invested heavily in understanding how to successfully teach quantum mechanics to undergraduates by reading chemistry educational literature. This effort resulted in Franco developing a series of effective pedagogical tools based on actual research on the teaching and learning of quantum mechanics, including new conceptual problems in peer-led workshops, homework, and exams, and the incorporation of computational demonstrations. The result is a class that combines the collective, historical experience of the chemistry department with respect to peer-led learning, state of the art research in the teaching of quantum mechanics, and close connections with the current literature.

William D. Jones—William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching

William Jones, the Charles F. Houghton Professor of Chemistry, has throughout his 40-plus year career done an exceptional job teaching and mentoring dozens of graduate students. Rochester faculty who have worked directly with him offer enthusiastic support for him, and his former students uniformly provide passionate testimonials of his instruction, which has often served as a model for their own distinguished careers.

Jones has taught with clarity extremely difficult and technical chemistry subjects at the graduate level. He has also implemented innovations in graduate student professional development, teaching a graduate seminar course that covers practical issues from how to successfully pass the cumulative exams in your second year, to how to pick a research advisor. As a graduate advisor, his mentorship of his students is especially noteworthy. He gives them space to work independently and to find their own path, but he is very involved when teaching them how to perform highly technical skills.

Jones has a large circle of former students who have benefitted from his instruction and mentorship. All point to specific instances whereby their professional careers were significantly altered by his mentorship. He forever changed the way these former students approached teaching, within the classroom and the laboratory, such that they have adopted his methods and practices in their own scientific and teaching careers.