Faculty Award for Excellence in Engagement
James Webb, College of Arts and Sciences, Physics
From the moment he first glimpsed Saturn’s rings through a backyard telescope and ran to gather family and neighbors to join in the wondrous sight, Dr. James Webb has been on a mission to fire up the world about astronomy since his arrival at FIU in 1991, he has shared his passion with the university and Miami-Dade communities through his outreach programs, public lecture series, as well as talks at planetariums, science centers and schools. His active public engagement has helped attract funds in support of remote access to telescope control rooms at partner institutions in Arizona and Chile, an astronomy scholarship and, most recently, an FIU-based student observatory – the Stocker AstroScience Center – is currently under construction at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus. Webb has written songs about science and its role in our lives and has performed them at “astronomy concerts” across the Eastern United States, widening further his sphere of influence on all with an interest in matters celestial.
Faculty Awards for Excellence in Graduate Mentorship
Jose Almirall, College of Arts, Sciences & Education, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Dr. Jose Almirall exemplifies the active, involved mentor. More than just overseeing students’ research projects, he both promotes them within the community of professional chemists and works with them to ensure they have a future in science after graduation. He does this through a very active lab that serves as a springboard for students’ attendance at national and international meetings, where they present truly cutting-edge research. They all publish regularly with the assistance and encouragement of their mentor. Some have even filed jointly with Dr. Almirall for a patent on technology to detect explosives that is being commercialized by a Florida company. This activity, along with reliance on Dr. Almirall’s strong professional network, results in a highly successful job placement rate. Upon graduating, many of his students go to work at the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the FBI, as well as private labs, a testament to the value of having an adviser who truly cares.
Stanislaw Wnuk, College of Arts, Sciences & Education, Chemistry & Biochemistry
After completing his studies in his native Poland, Dr. Stanislaw Wnuk honed his research and mentoring skills at Brigham Young University where for seven years he worked in a research group and trained graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars. The head of that research group publicly praised Dr. Wnuk’s influence and lamented his leaving. BYU’s loss, however, is FIU’s gain. With an international reputation in synthetic organic chemistry, Dr. Wnuk has a record of research supported by major grants, including ten years of continuous support from the NIH for graduate students. His passion for research and his emphasis on instilling a strong work ethic bring out the best in students and have translated into one of the most productive research groups in the department. Dr. Wnuk molds his students for success by working with them to improve their writing, presentation and networking skills. His doctoral students typically are co-authors on several publications in reputable journals and graduate within four to five years. Since 2000 he has published more than 30 papers with student co-authorship. Going one step further, Dr. Wnuk takes personal interest in his students, traveling with them to meetings, hosting dinners at his home and annually organizing an all-day canoeing trip down the Loxahatchee River.