And the Engineering Faculty Awards Go to …

Six honorees recognized for outstanding teaching, research and service

John O’Haver. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Six faculty members in the University of Mississippi School of Engineering were recognized for their outstanding achievements in teaching, research and service this academic year.

The Outstanding Teaching Award is a long-standing tradition that involves a schoolwide student nomination process. All teachers ­– from full-time professors to part-time adjunct instructors – are eligible for this award.

Students were encouraged to consider nominating teachers within the School of Engineering who have had a significant impact on their lives in the classroom.

The Senior Faculty Teaching Award went to John O’Haver, professor of chemical engineering.

“Teaching has always been the more important, the most lastingly significant part of my job. And the most fun,” said O’Haver, a UM faculty member since 1996. “It is very meaningful that others see my attempts to do the best I can at it.”

As an example of the rewards of teaching, O’Haver offered this anecdote:

“A student walked up to me at the end of the final and says, ‘I just flunked your final. I’ll see you next year. This was my favorite class. Thank you.’”

Grace Rushing. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Grace Rushing, instructor in civil engineering, and Taiho Yeom, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received the Junior Faculty Teaching awards. Excerpts from students’ letters reveal why they were nominated.

“She (Rushing) teaches so many classes to us, and still has time to work on her own research, as well as is willing to help with any big questions we may have,” one letter stated.

“Grace really understands what we are all currently going through and knows the best way to teach her classes due to that.”

Another student wrote that “hands down” (Yeom) is his favorite professor at the university.

“I have had Dr. Yeom for multiple classes, and he is the most organized and brilliant professor I know,” the letter stated. “He has such a high understanding about whatever material he is teaching yet explains it in a way where it can easily be understood and remembered. He provides excellent resources that make it possible for each student to succeed.”

Taiho Yeom. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Yeom said that, next to teaching, his award is the best honor he has received in his life so far.

“My parents, who had been elementary school teachers, were especially happy when they heard the news,” he said. “Every time I come out of a classroom after teaching, I feel alive and rewarded, myself, from interactions with students.”

The Faculty Research Award recognizes and rewards outstanding research accomplishments with a lasting impact on fields spanned by the engineering school.

Brian Platt. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Faculty Research awards were presented to Brian Platt, assistant professor of geology and geological engineering, and Hakan Yasarer, assistant professor of civil engineering.

“Receiving this award encourages me to continue striving toward excellence through ongoing scholarly activities,” said Platt, whose research involves using modern soils and burrowing animals to help reconstruct ancient environments and climates from fossilized soils and burrows.

Hakan Yasarer. Submitted photo

“This award is unique because it comes from the UM School of Engineering, which includes researchers in a broad range of disciplines well outside of my own. I am lucky to have been involved in collaborations with many of them,” Platt said.

The Faculty Service Award recognizes and rewards tenured or tenure-track faculty who excel in carrying out the service mission of the School of Engineering. Nikki Reinemann, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and affiliate assistant professor of chemical engineering, received this award.

Nikki Reinemann. Submitted photo

“I have not previously been recognized for my outreach efforts, so this award has been fulfilling for me,” said Reinemann, who joined the UM faculty in 2018. “As a woman in STEM, I am passionate about broadening and diversifying the STEM workforce.

“Leading organizations like the American Chemical Society and Biomedical Engineering Society allows for such opportunities, such as through the ACS movie series that highlights women and minorities in the sciences.”