UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Karen Thole and Qiming Zhang have been named recipients of Penn State Faculty/Staff Awards.
The annual awards recognize high levels of academic excellence, outstanding leadership and meritorious service and are given to those who exemplify best practices and achievements among Penn Staters reflecting the University's mission of teaching, research and service.
Thole, professor and head of the mechanical and nuclear engineering department, is the recipient of the 2015 Howard B. Palmer Faculty Mentoring Award.
The award honors and recognizes outstanding achievement by a faculty member with at least five years of service who effectively guides junior faculty.
It is named for Howard Palmer, who served as senior associate dean of The Graduate School from 1984 to 1991.
Nominators praised Thole for implementing a lunch series, which pairs senior faculty speakers or representatives from various academic support units with junior faculty members, and a junior faculty mentoring program, which provides assistance to junior members in securing promotions and tenure, as well as methods for securing and diversifying research.
Qiming Zhang, distinguished professor of electrical engineering and materials science and engineering, will be honored with the Faculty Scholar Medal.
Established in 1980, the award recognizes scholarly or creative excellence represented by a single contribution or a series of contributions around a coherent theme.
Zhang has pioneered the field of electrocaloric polymers and has developed technology of the future — high-efficiency, environmentally friendly cooling materials and devices.
His work has been published in more than 280 peer-reviewed publications and has been cited more than 14,000 times.
A nominator noted, "Dr. Zhang's work is inspired by the global need to increase the energy efficiency of common devices. His efforts have significantly enhanced the reputation of Penn State."
Thole and Zhang will receive their awards along with 31 other faculty and staff honorees at a ceremony April 15 at the Nittany Lion Inn.