Four members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy receive awards at the 2017 Academic Recognition Ceremony.
On April 27, 2017, four members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy received awards at Wayne State’s annual Academic Recognition Ceremony. Department advisor Dawn Niedermiller received the Outstanding Contributor Award. The Outstanding Contributor Award is presented in recognition of significant accomplishments during the previous academic year and emerging leadership among junior academic staff. Graduate student Ed Kramkowski won the Garrett T. Heberlein Award for Excellence in Teaching. This award recognizes graduate students who demonstrate instructional excellence. It is designed in part to elevate the attention given to teaching as part of graduate education and the preparation of graduate students to serve as college and university teachers. Finally, Prof. Ed Cackett and Prof. Abhijit Majumder both received Career Development Chair Awards. Career Development Chairs are awarded to recently tenured faculty as part of the university’s program to support the teaching and research endeavors of faculty members in the developmental stages of their scholar careers. They were established to provide recipients financial support, encouragement and recognition at a critical time in their careers.
Congratulations to all! The citations for each of the awards are given below:
Outstanding Contributor Award
Dawn Niedermiller is an Academic Advisor I in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. She presented many planetarium shows over a four-year period, and was a co-creator of the Camp Cosmos Summer Program, serving as program director for two years. Ms. Niedermiller became passionate about student success and began her employment as an academic advisor in 2013. She serves on various department committees and this past year served as a Local Organizing Committee member for the WSU-hosted national Conference of Undergraduate Women in Physics. She currently serves as the Academic Staff Steering Committee secretary. During this past academic year, Ms. Niedermiller additionally took on the role of academic advisor for a three-month period for all undergraduate students in the Department of Chemistry. Dawn has also recently collaborated with colleagues across campus and has made presentations at local, state, regional and national conferences on a variety of topics including student success, career planning and LGBTQ awareness.
Garrett T. Heberlein Endowed Award
Edward Kramkowski has been an essential part of the effort of the Department of Physics and Astronomy to shift from lecture and quizzes to more active learning models. In recent years, he has served as the head graduate teaching assistant in charge of disseminating best practices to other student teachers. Mr. Kramkowski is part of a team of faculty and GTAs who are testing new curricular methods in lab sections, making them more conceptual and inquiry-based, and he will lead that effort for other GTAs. He is distinguished by an abiding interest in pedagogy, mentoring and assessment of new programs. His students note that he strikes a productive balance in the lab between allowing students independence and providing structure. He is able to communicate his passion for the subject, has the patience to convey complex concepts, and has been available to answer students queries outside of the lab’s hours. He is the first Ph. D. students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy to incorporate pedagogical scholarship in his dissertation. Mr. Kramkowski is a pioneering GTA in his department who has had a significant impact on students in his program in the best tradition of this award.
Career Development Chair Awards
Professor Edward Cackett is conducting innovative and groundbreaking research in the field of astronomy. The major focus of his research is elucidating the properties of accreting compact objects, neutron stars and black holes, thereby learning about matter under extreme conditions. He is a world leader on the study of accreting systems and the use of the reverberation mapping technique. Since arriving at Wayne State, he has published 62 papers in refereed journals, with 11 involving postdocs and students in his group. He has received more than $1 million in externally funded research grants, the most important being an NSF CAREER award. Professor Cackett is also an excellent mentor for both graduate and undergraduate students. He played a crucial role in establishing the B.A. program in astronomy int he Physics department. His proposal for the Career Development Chair is based on his ongoing research efforts in the department. He intends to study the environs of a supermassive black hole system with the Hubble Space Telescope initially. He also plans to study reverberation and reflection in neutron star low-mass X-ray binaries. Finally, he proposes to use two new X-ray satellites that are becoming available in the next year. The proposed work is well-thought-out, enabling excellent opportunities for Professor Cackett and his graduate students to continue with groundbreaking research in the field of astronomy.
Professor Abhijit Majumder is one of the top experts in the development of theoretical techniques for understanding the dynamics of high-energy nuclear collisions. He is best known for his innovative and authoritative body of work on jet quenching, and was the first to propose that jet transport coefficients needed for event generators can be calculated from first principles using lattice Quantum Chromodynamics. Professor Majumder’s leadership and expertise has been recognized with a major collaborative award from the National Science Foundation under the Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation program. Professor Majumder’s plans are threefold: theoretical development, collaboration and deployment, and training and development. Extensive travel and time dedicated to training and research are necessary to carry out this rather ambitious collaborative project, along with the management of the JETSCAPE collaboration. Professor Majumder plans to use his Career Development Chair to keep WSU at the top of the field, continuing to cary out research into jet modification at the highest level, along with successfully competing for the large center funding solicitations that will become available in the near future.