Jonsson School Honors More Staffers and Professors Than Ever
The Growing School Adds 'Outstanding Staff' and 'Faculty Research' Awards during Annual Banquet

Kevin Hamlen

Dr. Kevin Hamlen, associate professor of computer science, was among those honored with faculty research awards.

The Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science Appreciation and Awards Banquet doubled the number of staff and teaching awards given this year — another sign of growth in the school, which has expanded from two to six departments in recent years.

Teaching assistants and faculty were honored with four awards for each group. Two new awards were added to recognize outstanding staff members and faculty research.

“With more departments and faculty and staff members, we’ve seen more outstanding work,” said Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. “This year’s winners stood out even among all the hard workers in the Jonsson School.”

The four Teachings Assistant Awards went to Hars Vardhan and Khaled Al-Naami, both of computer science, Arezoo Modiri of electrical engineering and Corinne Gagnet of mechanical engineering. The four Faculty Teaching Awards went to Greg Ozbirn, senior lecturer, and Dr. Ravi Prakash, associate professor, both in computer science; and Dr. John Fonseka, professor, and Dr. Randall Lehmann, senior lecturer, both in electrical engineering.

Dean Mark Spong

Dean Mark W. Spong

The faculty research awards went to Dr. Kevin Hamlen, associate professor of computer science, who is recognized by both the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force for his potential as a young investigator and is highly regarded as a teacher; Dr. Roozbeh Jafari, assistant professor of electrical engineering, who has also been noted for his potential as a young investigator and funded by numerous other sources; and Dr. Hongbing Lu, professor of mechanical engineering and holder of the Louis Beecherl Jr. Chair, for his research, foresight, vision and pursuit of fundamental science and engineering problems.

Brian Nelson, head of computer science technology, was one of two inaugural winners of the Jonsson School Outstanding Staff Award. Nelson has saved the School tens of thousands of dollars through cost-cutting approaches and has educated research students on how to handle lab equipment, update software and keep computers up to date. The other inaugural winner was Lin Maute, who has served as an administrative associate to three deans and an interim dean. She organizes activities that foster unity among Jonsson School faculty and staff members and has received many compliments from the public about her attentiveness.


The local chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers received the Outstanding Student Organization Award.

The UT Dallas chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) received the Outstanding Student Organization Award. This year the organization has provided six orientations to first-year students, volunteered with the Texas Trees Foundation and committed more than 1,100 hours and raised more than $7,750 to build a human powered vehicle.

Jonsson School Staff Service Awards went to Tarun Basu, facilities director, known for his gentle demeanor and efficient contributions to the school; Kyong Edwards, administrative assistant in mechanical engineering, who goes beyond her job description to ensure new faculty and staff members have a smooth transition to the rapidly-growing mechanical engineering department; Doug Hyde, academic advisor, who volunteers to take care of complicated and difficult situations and helps students succeed; and Nithya Ramachandran, accountant, who implemented new procedures and safeguards in the materials science and engineering department that serve as models of accountability for other departments.

Most award winners received $500 and a certificate. The Faculty Research Award winners received $1,000. Dave Tanner, host of Morning Drive on Legends 770 KAAM Radio, was the event’s master of ceremonies, spouting crowd-pleasing Texas humor and sing-along-songs from the Wild West.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, new[email protected].