Second Annual College of Engineering Dean’s Faculty Awards Reception Honors Six

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Photo by Joseph Rey Au
From left to right: Lee Todd, Lindell Ormsbee, Braden Lusk, Dean John Walz, William Murphy, Czarena Crofcheck, Greg Wasilkowski

The second annual College of Engineering Dean’s Faculty Awards Reception was held April 28 at the Hilary J. Boone Center. College faculty members were on hand to see their colleagues receive awards in the areas of excellence in research, service and teaching. The winners in each category are listed below, along with a brief biography.


Braden Lusk, Department of Mining Engineering: Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research

Braden Lusk has developed an extensive explosives and blasting research program that has significantly impacted the methods used to blast near residential areas. Orica, a worldwide leader in blasting and explosives for the mining industry, has indicated that Lusk’s novel ground vibration fundamentals and prediction capabilities will change the way operators design mine blasts. Currently, his methodology is being used at Nelson Brothers, a publically-owned coal company.

An indicator of Lusk’s research quality and respect for his contributions is the number of new projects he has received over the past two years. His research funding has totaled $1.24 million and includes awards from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science at Virginia Tech and others. In addition, Lusk has received notable attention for his study of ballistic and blast resistance on power transformers undertaken for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Lusk’s research is conducted in a world class underground laboratory that he personally developed and many companies test their products in his facility. Lusk has also directed extensive studies which have resulted in the development and testing of new mine seals and mine refuge chambers.


Lindell Ormsbee, Department of Civil Engineering: Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research

Lindell Ormsbee has been actively engaged in research, teaching and consulting in water resources and environmental engineering and has published more than 250 technical papers and reports on topics within this field.

In addition to serving as the Raymond-Blythe Professor of Civil Engineering, Ormsbee is the director of the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute (KWRRI) and the associate director of the University of Kentucky Superfund Research Center—one of 18 national centers. As a result of his leadership, the KWRRI was recognized in 2011 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Center of Excellence for Watershed Management. He was recently elected as a Fellow of the Environmental and Water Resources Institute.

Since 2010, Ormsbee has brought in $3.9 million in research awards in which he was the principal investigator as well as project expenditures of $4.2 million. Over that same period, he is associated with over $10 million in collaborative funding. He is currently co-PI on pending collaborative funding of an additional $20 million. In these research administration capacities, Ormsbee has collaborated with numerous faculty members at UK and other universities to develop highly successful interdisciplinary research proposals that have resulted in several million dollars of research funding.


Czarena Crofcheck, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering: Dean’s Award for Excellence in Service

Czarena Crofcheck’s leadership and service at the department, university and national levels reveal a passion for helping young people and expanding the field of biological engineering.

Crofcheck has helped launch her department’s U.S.-Brazil undergraduate exchange program, participated in several educational outreach projects and served as student branch advisor. A model department citizen, Crofcheck often works with high school and undergraduate students on independent research projects, judges elementary school science fairs, leads tours of the department for school groups and prospective students and has represented BAE at UK’s Engineers Day open house for the last nine years.

Crofcheck has routinely demonstrated a desire and strong ability to collaborate on larger university matters. During the transition from the University Studies Program to UKCore, Crofcheck worked many hours to create a statistical inference class that is now listed as a UKCore statistical inference course. She is currently serving on the Undergraduate Curriculum Council and is co-director of the Kentucky Girls STEM initiative.

In 2013, Crofcheck served as the national president for the Institute of Biological Engineering. Prior to becoming president, she developed programming for IBE’s annual conference, chaired the membership committee and served as treasurer.


William Murphy, Department of Mechanical Engineering: Dean’s Award for Excellence in Service

William Murphy’s lengthy service record includes a wide range of high-impact activities that have directly benefitted UK students and faculty and the engineering profession.

In 1998, Murphy was named program director of the UK College of Engineering Extended Campus Program in Paducah. Despite stepping down in 2012, Murphy remains an active contributor to the program as a faculty member and is considered the “face of UK” in Paducah.

Murphy is a Fellow of ASHRAE (formerly called the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and he recently received their Exceptional Service Award. He also serves on the national board of directors for the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) board of directors and global council. In addition to his national memberships, Murphy is a member of several university committees and is also an advisor for some of the Paducah campus’s student organizations. He frequently promotes STEM education among middle and high school students and is the director of the Paducah Area Middle School Science Fair.

In 2012, Murphy was named the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year and the West Kentucky Community & Technical College Outstanding Benefactor.


In addition to the Dean’s Awards, this year’s winner of the Henry Mason Lutes Award for Excellence in Engineering Education, Greg Wasilkowski, was recognized, as well former UK president Lee Todd, who was honored by the Kentucky Science Center earlier this year as an Ambassador of Science Literacy.


Grzegorz (Greg) Wasilkowski, Department of Computer Science: Henry Mason Lutes Award for Excellence in Engineering Education

Every semester, Greg Wasilkowski is presented with one of the most challenging teaching assignments in the Department of Computer Science—theoretical and mathematical foundations of computing. Although the content is crucial for a deep understanding of the nature of computer science, it is the exact opposite of what students expect to learn. Despite the difficulty of the material and the potential conflict of expectations, Wasilkowski is repeatedly lauded by students as an outstanding teacher.

In order to teach effectively, Wasilkowski supplements his mastery of the material with discernment, humor and seemingly boundless energy. He can detect when students are struggling, often leaving them amazed by his ability to quickly identify information or techniques that remove learning barriers. His comedic timing disarms ambivalent students and his passion and availability speak of the energy he invests in his vocation.

Wasilkowski does not believe the popular assumption that many people simply cannot do mathematics; rather, he believes many people simply do not have good teachers. This conviction has led to Wasilkowski’s practice of holding office hours five days a week and allowing for appointments outside those times. He truly cares how students perform in his classes.


Lee Todd, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering: Ambassador of Science Literacy

Dr. Lee Todd was named an Ambassador of Science Literacy by the Kentucky Science Center in January 2014 for his efforts to advance science literacy in Kentucky.  The Ambassador of Science Literacy program started in 2009 as a way to honor individuals whose lives, work and community contributions reflect the Science Center’s mission and the science literacy values the Center represents.

Todd’s creativity, open-mindedness, critical thinking, collaborative spirit and willingness to challenge the status quo make him an ideal Ambassador for Science Literacy.  He espoused the importance of S.T.E.M. studies and professional career opportunities to broad audiences during his time as University of Kentucky President and continues to do so by participating in Kentucky Science Center programs. In June 2013, Todd was the keynote speaker at the first Youth Science Summit, where he addressed one hundred teens and conveyed direct connections between passion for science, technology, engineering and math and the needs and challenges of the ever-changing world. Todd joins 14 other business leaders, educators, entrepreneurs and science literacy champions from across Kentucky who have earned this distinction from the Kentucky Science Center since 2010.


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