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Chemical engineering professor receives Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award

Dr. Abdul-Majeed Azad, UT professor of chemical engineering, has been selected as the recipient of the 2010-11 Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award in Alternative Energy Technology.

Dr. Abdul-Majeed Azad works in the North Engineering Building Materials Research Lab, where the Hiedolph LR20 rotary evaporator is used for large-scale catalyst synthesis and for coating catalysts on honeycomb monoliths.

Dr. Abdul-Majeed Azad works in the North Engineering Building Materials Research Lab, where the Hiedolph LR20 rotary evaporator is used for large-scale catalyst synthesis and for coating catalysts on honeycomb monoliths.

Beginning this fall, he will spend a nine-month sabbatical in the Department of Energy and Environment at Chalmers Institute of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden.

“I’m extremely grateful to the Fulbright Foundation for this prestigious award,” Azad said. “This recognition is a testimony of the tremendous support of my family and friends and the faith that so many colleagues across the two campuses have in me.”

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs administers the Fulbright awards, which are designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and citizens of other countries.

Distinguished Chair awards are viewed as among the most prestigious appointments in the Fulbright Scholar Program. Chair holders have a prominent record of scholarly accomplishment. They also have a high degree of visibility and are frequently asked to provide guest lectures and represent the program in other ways in the host country.

The program comprises about 40 distinguished lecturing, distinguished research and distinguished lecturing/research awards spanning a wide range of academic disciplines.

Officials with the Fulbright Scholar Program said Azad stood out because of his international recognition in the field of alternative energy research. He has authored more than 90 peer-reviewed publications, has participated in a number of conferences, possesses several patents, and achieved significant grant funding.

In addition to this outstanding research, Azad consistently has been evaluated well by his students.

His work as a Fulbright Scholar will involve improving the Chemical-Looping with Oxygen Uncoupling (CLOU) process for the capture and storage of carbon dioxide that is being employed at Chalmers.

Azad’s proposed research at Chalmers aligns well with his own work at UT, where he has independently developed technologies that utilize rather than sequester carbon dioxide. The sequestration method involves pumping the greenhouse gas underground into depleted coal and natural gas mines after it is “scrubbed” from the air during the burning of solid fuels such as coal.

Utilization, on the other hand, generates synthetic gas, also known as “syngas,” by combining carbon dioxide and water vapor that could then either be used as a fuel in solid oxide fuel cells or converted catalytically into liquid fuels via the Fischer-Tropsch process.

Azad also is working with NASA on this technology as well as with the Battelle Memorial Institute for its possible commercialization.

“Dr. Azad is a great asset to this university and is a fine representative of our commitment to be a transformative leader in renewable energy,” Dr. Nagi Naganathan, dean of the UT College of Engineering, said.

“The Fulbright Award is an affirmation of his accomplishments in this area as well as our commitment,” Naganathan added. “It is great to see Dr. Azad have the opportunity to share his valued talents in an internationally collaborative fashion.”

Bioengineering professor receives lifetime achievement award

One might say that scholastic achievement has been the “backbone” of Dr. Vijay Goel’s academic career. This statement about the Distinguished University Professor of Bioengineering was reaffirmed recently when he received the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine’s (ISSLS) Wiltse Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Vijay Goel, center, received the Wiltse Lifetime Achievement Award from Robert Moore, secretary of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine.

Dr. Vijay Goel, center, received the Wiltse Lifetime Achievement Award from Robert Moore, secretary of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine.

Goel is the Endowed Chair and McMaster Gardner Professor of Orthopedic Bioengineering in the College of Engineering and the College of Medicine and co-director of the Engineering Center for Orthopedic Research Excellence at UT.

The annual award is given to scientists, clinicians and basic science researchers responsible for exceptional achievement in the field of spinal medicine, according to the group’s website. He received the award April 16 during the organization’s annual meeting in Auckland, New Zealand.

Even though it is his third such award, having received two other recognitions for his lifetime of achievements from similar organizations, Goel said he felt surprised and blessed to have won the ISSLS prize after his first nomination.

“I never thought even for a second that I would get the award, especially at the first submission — so much so that I did not make any reservations to attend the Auckland meeting, being far away,” he said.

Goel has an internationally recognized 30-year academic career in bioengineering work on spinal diseases and mechanics, as well as orthopedic and dental biomechanics more broadly.

Early in his career, he was a pioneer of three-dimensional finite element modeling of orthopedic implant-constructs and studied their load-displacement behavior. He later developed finite element models of ligamentous spinal sections at the University of Iowa, where he established the Iowa Spine Research Center.

In 2000, he joined UT as professor and chair of bioengineering and helped build from the ground up the orthopedic departmental tract comprised of courses and labs. He also collaborated with the MUO Department of Orthopedic Surgery to establish the UT Spine Research Center.

Goel has authored more than 260 peer-reviewed articles as well as two textbooks and has delivered more than 450 presentations on scientific and clinical matters. He is also a member of the editorial boards of several prominent journals.

He continues to work on spinal implants and uses his finite elements method to spur commercialization and economic growth as a consultant and scientific adviser.

“Dr. Goel is one of our most accomplished faculty members. His contributions to the broader community through his work on the mobility of spine and the design of spinal implants is truly outstanding,” said Dr. Nagi Naganathan, dean of the College of Engineering. “The ISLLS Lifetime Achievement Award is a significant celebration of his scholastic achievements.”

While at UT, Goel also has secured more than $19 million in extramural funding from national and international industries and federal and state agencies. One of his recent submissions to Ohio’s Third Frontier Ohio Research Scholar Program resulted in a grant award of $4.6 million that will allow UT to recruit another accomplished scholar in the area of spinal implants.