RENO – The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents recently announced the winners of this year’s Regents’ Awards, granted to researchers and advisers across the state’s eight institutions who demonstrate excellence in both research and education. Three University of Nevada, Reno faculty members were awarded this year. UNR faculty members have been awarded the Regents’ Researcher Award and Rising Researcher Award for the past three years, and the Academic Advisor Award for the past two.
Faramarz Gordaninejad – Regents’ Researcher Award: Mechanical Engineering Foundation Professor Gordaninejad has been at UNR for 28 years, is a leading expert in his field and the recipient of the 2012 Regents’ Researcher Award. Since joining the University in 1984, Gordaninejad has become one of the world’s leading experts in the field of “smart fluids and flexible solids,” which can change their properties in milliseconds under application of a magnetic field. Such materials are used in cars to increase safety and comfort, he said.
“The main effort has been on fundamental understanding of smart materials’ behavior and the development of smart systems, which can control damping and stiffness properties of variety of land vehicles, mechanical systems and structures in order to reduce shock and vibration, and increase safety,” Gordaninejad said.
Qizhen Li – Rising Researcher Award: Li received her doctorate degree in material science and engineering from the Ohio State University in 2004, and joined UNR in 2006. Since then, Li has been awarded more than $1.6 million from federal agencies including Department of Energy, National Science Foundation and NASA.
Last spring, Li was awarded more than $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to develop, study and experiment with magnesium-based nanoporous materials. Currently, Li is working on two federally funded research projects involving magnesium-based advanced lightweight structures and materials, which could be used for various structural, energy and bio-applications.
“The desire to work with magnesium particularly comes from its light weight, biocompatibility and biodegradability,” Li said.
Cynthia Birk – Regents’ Academic Advisors Award: Birk, a lecturer and academic advisor in the College of Business, is one of this year’s recipients of the Regents’ Academic Advisor Award. Birk began advising students in 1998, and believes that her role as an advisor isn’t limited to helping students pick classes. For Birk, the advising and mentoring function she performs includes recruitment, orienting students to the major, career counseling and professional networking. Birk said she receives many calls from former students looking for advice on career prospects or updating her on their lives post-graduation.