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Release: Immediate

Four professors honored for contributions to UI College of Engineering

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Four University of Iowa College of Engineering professors recently were honored for their individual contributions to the College.

The four, who were recognized by Dean Richard K. Miller at the College's April 15 annual faculty/staff awards luncheon, are: Pedro J. Alvarez, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Victor G. J. Rodgers, associate professor of chemical and biochemical engineering, for teaching; Jerald L. Schnoor, professor of civil and environmental engineering, for research; and Wilfrid M. Nixon, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, for service.

Alvarez has teaching interests that include biological processes in wastewater engineering, environmental microbiology, and biotic and abiotic transformations of xenobiotic compounds. Writing in support of his nomination, faculty and students noted his willingness to work with students beyond the classroom, including such activities as directing the work of two award-winning students and enhancing science and engineering opportunities for minority students. His research interests include: the implications and applications of biological treatment processes to remove hazardous substances from contaminated water, wastewater and soil, catabolic enzyme expression under various substrate and electron acceptor conditions, and the fate and transport of toxic chemicals in aquifer systems.

Alvarez, who came to the University in 1992, is a professional engineer, registered in Michigan and Iowa, and was recently inducted by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers with Diplomat status. He is the recipient of the Career Award from the National Science Foundation (1995), Best Paper Award from the EPA/HSRC for Regions 7 and 8 (1995), and the Outstanding Achievement Award in Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan (1991).

Rodgers has research interests in applying membrane separation processes to diverse fields, ranging from the removal of particulates from groundwater to the development of artificial organs. His teaching awards include the UI's Collegiate Teaching Award (1998), the Hawkeye Engineer Excellence in Teaching Award (1995 1996 and 1997), and the Excellence in Engineering Teaching Award (1991) from the UI chapter of Tau Beta Pi, a national engineering society. He was also the 1992 recipient of the UI's James N. Murray Faculty Award (Most Outstanding Young Professor Award). As one 1997 chemical engineering graduate and former student wrote in seconding his nomination, Rodgers blends a "formidable knowledge " of subject matter with an "entertaining teaching style" and a willingness "to sacrifice his time to help us understand the concepts."

Rodgers, who came to the university in 1989, has published extensively in professional journals and serves as chair of the college's graduate admissions office. He spends a portion of his free time, along with his identical twin brother, Vincent, a UI associate professor of physics and astronomy, encouraging young black students to pursue careers in science, mathematics and engineering.

Schnoor, a UI faculty member since 1977, is the UI Foundation Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The most recent of his numerous honors was his selection as the Association of Environmental Engineering Professors (AEEP) Distinguished Lecturer for 1998, the highest honor bestowed by the AEEP, which includes some 700 North American faculty members and is the only organization of its kind to represent environmental engineering faculty. Under the terms of the award, Schnoor has been delivering two lectures at about 20 universities across the United States since March.

Schnoor, co-director of the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, has research interests that include water quality modeling, hazardous wastes remediation, and global atmospheric trace gases. He is the co-author of more than 100 journal articles, editor of four books, and author of the popular textbook, Environmental Modeling, published by John Wiley and Sons, 1996. He is an international authority on environmental engineering, having led many international projects, testified before Congress on several occasions, and served as an advisor to William Ruckelshaus, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, on issues involving acid rain. As professor and departmental chair Forrest M. Holly Jr. wrote in nominating Schnoor for the award, "His record of scholarly productivity and research leadership sets a high standard for the rest of the department and college."

After earning his bachelor's and doctoral degrees from Cambridge University in 1981 and 1985, respectively, Nixon conducted research and directed the ice laboratory at Dartmouth College's Thayer School of Engineering. He came to the UI's Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research in 1987 as a research engineer and, in 1989, became an assistant professor. His research interests include: the mechanical behavior of ice, especially compression, fracture and fatigue of ice; the adhesion of ice to a variety of surfaces and methods to diminish that adhesion; the use of ice (with suitable reinforcement) as an Arctic and cold region construction material; the behavior of frozen soils, the processes involved in ice/structure interactions, and the development of constitutive models for ice. His interests also include the mechanical behavior of other brittle materials such as rocks, ceramics and concrete.

As professor Holly noted in his letter of nomination, "His (Nixon's) departmental service, in particular, has played a decisive role in our increased undergraduate population and favorable retention rate." Examples of Nixon's numerous activities and contributions include: Faculty Advisor to the Student Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (1992-96); three-year member of the Engineering Faculty Council, including 1996-97 chair; host and winner of Regional Concrete Canoe Competition, and national contest participant (1993); and Faculty Advisor, Associated Students of Engineering (1992-97).