Two top Wright State University educators are recipients of the 2017 Affiliate Society Council (AFC) Outstanding Engineers and Scientists Award.
Honored by the council were Lisa Kenyon, associate professor of biological sciences and teacher education and Robert J. Kegerreis Distinguished Professor of Teaching; and Pratik Parikh, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical, Industrial and Human Factors Engineering as well as director of the Data Analytics and Optimization Laboratory.
The AFC is comprised of about 50 local chapters of professional science and engineering organizations, including the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame, the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. The awards have been given out for more than 40 years.
The awards were presented on Oct. 10 at the University of Dayton during a ceremony attended by nearly 200 people. Kenyon and Parikh were also honored with a proclamation from the Ohio Senate.
“It feels like you’ve been honored and recognized for all of the efforts, which often go unnoticed by external people,” said Parikh.
Kenyon’s research focuses on student learning and teaching about scientific practices in K-12 and teacher education.
“My mission has always been to foster a culture of science in teaching that focuses on scientific practices being at the forefront of learning,” she said.
Kenyon’s teaching initiatives are implemented in science major, non-science major and education courses at Wright State, and her collaboratively developed middle school science curriculum is used nationally.
She is finishing two National Science Foundation-funded projects spanning 11 years called Supporting Scientific Practices in Elementary and Middle School Classrooms and a second called MoDels. Both are collaborations with Northwestern University, Michigan State University and other institutions.
Kenyon initiated the Ph.D. Biomedical Science Education Track in Biomedical Sciences. Her lab has consistently provided undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to become involved in science education research at every level. Those students continue to be leaders in the field.
Kenyon holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a master’s in wildlife and fisheries sciences from Texas A&M and her Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction-science education from the University of Houston. Her postdoc in science education research was completed at Northwestern.
Parikh earned his Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech in 2006 and joined the faculty at Wright State in 2009.
He was honored by the AFC for his mentorship, curriculum development, in-class and distance teaching, educational outreach and for serving as faculty adviser to the Wright State student chapter of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers.
From the first year he started teaching at Wright State, he began incorporating experiential learning through industry tours, guest lectures and online content as part of his courses to enable students relate theory to practice.
He has been the major adviser and mentor to over 25 students (five Ph.D., eight master’s and several undergraduate) through funding from the National Science Foundation, the Veterans Administration and the State of Ohio. His mentorship enabled his advisees to win national scholarships, best-paper awards at international conferences and graduate student awards at Wright State. Many of his students landed internships and jobs at Honda, Anheuser-Busch, Penske Logistics, WestRock and other major companies.
As one of the faculty fellows selected by the dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, Parikh has visited over 15 area high schools in the past four years, interacting with teachers, counselors and nearly 400 students, to demonstrate how engineers make a positive impact on human life.
As the faculty adviser, Parikh turned around the nearly moribund Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers student chapter to the highest honor from his professional society five years in a row. He unites the professional and student chapters via regular events, including guest speakers, senior design events and tours, to enable students to gain a 360-degree perspective of their engineering major — from product innovation to process improvement.
Parikh has received the Outstanding Advisor Award from both the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers and Wright State, the university’s President’s Award for Early Career Achievement and the college’s Outstanding Faculty Award.
“I believe education should not be restricted to in-class teaching; it’s beyond that,” he said. “It’s mentorship, empowering students, getting them experiential learning.”