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From left: Alex Craig, Wolfgang Fink, Kelly Simmons-Potter, Judith Su

Four Engineering Faculty Earn UA Awards of Distinction

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Four Engineering Faculty Earn UA Awards of Distinction

May 25, 2023
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Kelly Simmons-Potter, Wolfgang Fink, Alex Craig and Judith Su have made local, national and global impacts.

Four engineering faculty members have won Awards of Distinction from the University of Arizona for their work ranging from research to outreach to innovation. These individuals have made a difference on local, national and global scales. A recognition event is planned for spring 2024.

“I’m proud and pleased to see these four engineering faculty members recognized for their dedication and service,” said Craig M. Berge Dean of the College of Engineering David Hahn. “They perform at the highest levels of scholarship and exemplify the values that make the University of Arizona and the College of Engineering welcoming, mission-oriented environments.”

Professor of electrical and computer engineering Kelly Simmons-Potter earned the University Distinguished Outreach Faculty Award. Simmons-Potter has been heavily involved in outreach throughout her career, at every education level. She has particularly worked with Indigenous communities and with solar power.

"I was shocked and deeply honored to have won this award. I did know that I had been nominated but had not anticipated actually being selected as the awardee," Simmons-Potter said. "I am proud to receive this award and join the incredibly accomplished and distinguished group of prior awardees."

The Office of the Provost stated Simmons-Potter’s nomination documented exceptional environmental, social and economic impact through more than $45 million of grant funding for sustainability, STEM pipelines, Indigenous resources and sovereignty, and photovoltaics.

Associate professor of electrical and computer engineering Wolfgang Fink earned the University Faculty Service Award. Created in 2022, the award recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated significant leadership and impact in service activities, such as community engagement, academic societies and university committees.

Fink was selected for his “astonishing commitment to STEM education.” He is a fellow of the Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers, a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a College of Engineering da Vinci fellow, among many other honors. He has more than 260 publications and 27 U.S. and foreign patents to date.

Assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering Alex Craig earned the Early Career Scholar Award, which recognizes faculty members at the forefront of their disciplines for highly valued contributions to teaching, creative activity and service. Craig works at the cutting edge of hypersonics research, including co-leading $10 million in funding to upgrade the UA's hypersonic facilities and related research infrastructure.

Since joining the UA in 2016, Craig has served as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on nine different funded contracts and grants, placing him among the top 20 funded faculty in the College of Engineering last year.

Assistant professor of biomedical engineering Judith Su earned the Early Career Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award, which honors faculty who demonstrate significant involvement in expanding the impact of research to the public good through innovation and commercialization.

At her “Little Sensor Lab,” Su develops biomedical sensors focused on ultra-sensitive, single-molecule detection. These precise sensors can be used to screen drug candidates as well as early detection of biomarkers for cancer and Alzheimer’s. In addition, Su has seven issued patents, five of which have been licensed.

“She is highly regarded locally, nationally, and internationally for her outstanding research contributions in the field of ultrasensitive optical sensors, her dedication as an educator, and her service to the University of Arizona, and to the broader scientific community,” Hahn said.

According to Kathleen Melde, associate dean of Faculty Affairs and Inclusion for the College of Engineering, the awards give UA the chance to spotlight faculty contributions, and every year, there are more deserving faculty than can be recognized. For that, she encourages people to reapply.

“My favorite part of these awards are the personal stories, often of research persistence, that go behind the recognitions,” Melde said. "We are proud of our faculty and appreciate the work and effort that goes behind these award nominations. Most often, the nominators are colleagues who feel strongly about supporting their peers."