Faculty, student excellence celebrated at annual awards banquet

Dean William Easterling (left) congratulates David Pollard, senior scientist, Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, recipient of the 2015 Paul F. Robertson Award for EMS Breakthrough of the Year. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The College of Earth and Mineral Science (EMS) hosted its annual Wilson Awards Banquet on April 26. Dean William Easterling presented more than 50 awards to students and fellow faculty.

The banquet is the college’s annual celebration of faculty and student accomplishments and is named in honor of Matthew and Anne Wilson who through their bequests are major benefactors of the college. Their endowment provides the college with support for its well-known student loan program and a number of faculty and student awards and scholarships. Matthew Wilson graduated from Penn State in 1918 with a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering.

This year’s recipients are listed below.


Wilson Award for Excellence in Research The Wilson Award for Excellence in Research is the college’s highest research honor. This award is given in recognition of scholarly or creative excellence represented by a single contribution or a series of contributions around a coherent theme. The contribution may be original basic research or may represent the application of knowledge in the creation of a process or device useful to society. This year’s recipient is:

  • James Kubicki, professor of geosciences

Wilson Research Initiation GrantThe Wilson Research Initiation Grant is intended to jump start the research of a new tenure track faculty member. This year’s recipients are:

  • Chiara Lo Prete, assistant professor of energy economics, selected for her proposal “Theory and models of price manipulation through uneconomic bidding in wholesale electricity markets”
  • Clio Andris, assistant professor of geography, selected for her proposal “The Geography of Nittany Lions before and after Penn State”

E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Faculty FellowshipThe E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Faculty Fellowship was created to support faculty of exceptional creativity, who propose highly innovative approaches to major contemporary challenges in the earth, energy, and material sciences. This year’s recipient is:

  • Kirby Calvert, assistant professor of geography, selected for his proposal “Mapping solar energy futures in the northeast: improving spatial decision support for integrated land-use and energy system planning”

George H. Deike, Jr. Research GrantThe George H. Deike, Jr. Research Grant is awarded in support of an innovative research project. This year’s recipient is:

  • Jose Fuentes, professor of meteorology, selected for his proposal “The Disruption of Plant-Pollinator Interactions by Air Pollution”


Wilson Award for Excellence in TeachingThis award is given in recognition of outstanding teaching represented by performance in a single course of instruction or a series of contributions around a coherent theme. The contribution may represent application of knowledge in a traditional classroom setting, field course or online education. This year’s recipients are:

  • Li Li, assistant professor of energy and mineral engineering
  • Brian King, associate professor of geography

G. Montgomery and Marion Hall Mitchell Award for Innovative TeachingThis award was created in 1998 to recognize faculty members in the college who use innovative teaching techniques in their courses. 

This year’s recipients are:

  • Joshua Robinson, assistant professor of materials science and engineering
  • R. Allen Kimel, assistant professor of materials science and engineering

George H. K. Schenck Teaching Assistant AwardThis award was created to honor and to recognize a graduate student in the College who has performed their responsibility as a graduate teaching assistant in an exemplary manner. This year’s recipient is:

  • Nicholas Holschuh, geosciences teaching assistant, doctoral candidate in geosciences


Wilson Award for Outstanding Service

Created in 1999, the Wilson Service Award honors exceptional achievement in service and is given in recognition of meritorious service represented by a single contribution or a series of contributions around a coherent theme. This year’s recipient is:

  • Timothy Bralower, professor of geosciences

Faculty Mentoring AwardThe Faculty Mentoring Award honors a faculty member who invests in the success of others, whether it is a new faculty member, a student or a staff member. This award recognizes the generous contribution of time and energy it takes to mentor in teaching, research and service. This year’s recipient is:

  • Eugene Clothiaux, professor of meteorology

Faculty Advising AwardCreated in 2013, the Faculty Advising Award honors exceptional achievement in the advising of undergraduate students; the contribution may represent any facet of strong academic advising, including educational planning, exposure to research opportunities, identification of internships and other aspects of advising. This year’s recipient is:

  • Yvette Richardson, associate professor of meteorology

25-Year Service Awards

  • Tze-Chiang Mike Chung, professor of polymer science
  • Chunshan Song, distinguished professor of fuel science and chemical engineering, director of the EMS Energy Institute and associate director of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment


Paul F. Robertson Award for EMS Breakthrough of the YearThis award was created in 2012 with support from a generous gift by EMS alumnus Paul F. Robertson. This award is given for singular research or teaching achievements communicated in one or a small series of articles, reports or presentations. Qualifying breakthroughs may be in research or in the scholarship of teaching. This year’s recipients honored for his pioneering research on ice sheet modeling is:

  • David Pollard, senior scientist, Earth and Environmental Systems Institute

Charles L. Hosler Alumni Scholar AwardThe Charles L. Hosler Alumni Scholar Medal was established in 1992 to recognize the achievements of alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the development of science through research, teaching, or administrative leadership with emphasis given to those who have earned doctoral degrees. This year’s recipient is:

  • Vaclav Smil, distinguished professor emeritus, Faculty of Environment, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada


Gladys Snyder Junior Faculty GrantsThe Gladys Snyder Junior Faculty Grants are given for the development of new courses or the improvement of current offerings, for travel to professional meetings, to broaden the studies of junior faculty members and/or to recognize significant contributions in research efforts.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Sarah Eichfeld, research assistant, materials science and engineering, for her proposal “Metal Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition Processing: An Approach to Synthesizing Two Dimensional Materials”
  • Amy Huff, research associate, meteorology, for her proposal “Undergraduate Internship in Operational Air Quality Forecasting for Southeastern Pennsylvania during Summer 2015”
  • Shimin Liu, assistant professor of energy and mineral engineering, for his proposal “Coal Mine Gas: Clean Energy for the World: Research and Education”
  • Kimberly Del Bright, Giles Writer-in-Residence, for her proposal “Improving Communication Skills Using Digital Storytelling”


William Grundy Haven Memorial Award

Established in 1950 by William G. Haven to honor the memory of his son, this award recognizes excellence in scholarly writing. This year’s recipients are:

  • First Place Winner: Samuel Collitt, geosciences
  • Second Place Winner: Caitlin Kupp, geosciences
  • Honorable Mention: Calvin Eberle, petroleum and natural gas engineering
  • Honorable Mention: Matthew Flournoy, meteorology

Ellen Steidle Achievement Award

Established in 1953 by Dean Edward Steidle to honor the memory of his wife, this award recognizes students who have been active in advancing the welfare and improvement of the college. This year’s recipients are:

  • Senior: Zachary Kramer, energy engineering
  • Junior: Ryan Breton, meteorology

Edward Steidle Memorial Scholar Award

Established in 1981 to honor Edward Steidle, Dean of the College from 1929 to 1953, this award broadens the educational opportunities for EMS students. This year’s recipient is:

  • Jennifer Distefano, materials science and engineering

Jay M. and Katherine Definis Award for Outstanding Student Leadership

Established in 2005, this award honors outstanding student leadership abilities within the student organizations of the college. This year’s recipient is:

  • Carly Hinton, environmental systems engineering

GEMS Diamond Award

Established in 2006, the GEMS Diamond Award grants a lifetime membership in the Penn State Alumni Association to a graduating student who is found to have the most well-rounded involvement and achievement in both the university and community environment during their student experience while in the college. This year’s recipient is:

  • Lorraine Hossain, materials science and engineering

Student Marshals

The student marshal designation is given to the most accomplished graduate overall. This year’s student marshal is:

  • Gregory Milbourne, bachelor of science in geography (geographic information systems option), minors in Spanish, and information sciences and technology

Engineering Honor Marshal

The award is for the top-ranking graduate in an engineering discipline. This year’s recipient is:

  • Katharine Ann Maisel, bachelor of science in petroleum and natural gas engineering, minor in energy business and finance, Schreyer Scholar

Earth and Mineral Sciences Academy for Global Experience (EMSAGE)

Established in 2009, the EMSAGE program helps students develop as communicators and collaborators and prepares them to be effective leaders in their disciplines and responsible global citizens. Students may aspire to EMSAGE Laureate status by achieving notable success in scholarship, service, global literacy and experiential learning. This year’s recipients are:

  • Elizabeth Andrews, geosciences
  • Kelly Balmes, meteorology
  • Alexa Bonk, energy engineering
  • Matthew Brothers, meteorology
  • Molly Cain, geosciences
  • Jacob DeFlitch, meteorology
  • Jennifer Distefano, materials science and engineering
  • Calvin Eberle, petroleum and natural gas engineering
  • Albert Emhof, energy business and finance
  • Robert Englund, meteorology
  • Adam Fink, materials science and engineering 
  • Meredith Fish, meteorology
  • Matthew Flournoy, meteorology
  • Caroline Hallowell, materials science and engineering
  • Alexandria Herdt, meteorology
  • Carly Hinton, meteorology
  • Courtney Jackson, environmental systems engineering
  • Zakariya Khayat, materials science and engineering
  • Michael Kilmer, environmental systems engineering
  • Raleigh Koeberle, geosciences
  • Emma Kostenbader, environmental systems engineering
  • Zachary Kramer, energy engineering
  • Ethan Lucas, materials science and engineering
  • Antoinette Mastropieri, energy business and finance and geography
  • Amanda Murphy, environmental systems engineering
  • John Nicola, meteorology
  • Sridhar Pisupati, energy engineering and energy business and finance
  • Aldieno Pribadi, petroleum and natural gas engineering
  • Benjamin Reppert, meteorology
  • Britta Schumacher, geography
  • Jake Simon, meteorology and geography
  • Everleigh Stokes, geography
  • Jenna Thomas, environmental systems engineering
Last Updated May 11, 2015