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Honors and Awards

Three McCormick Faculty to Receive Teaching Awards

David J. Corr, Todd Murphey, and Neelesh A. Patankar are among the honorees.

Three McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science faculty members will be honored with 2014 University Teaching Awards at a ceremony Tuesday, May 20, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Guild Lounge, Scott Hall, on the Evanston campus.

David J. Corr, a clinical associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, has been named Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Clinical Professor. Todd Murphey, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Neelesh A. Patankar, a professor of mechanical engineering, have been named Charles Deering McCormick Professors of Teaching Excellence.

Jeanne Weiland Herrick, a senior lecturer in the Weinberg College of Arts and Science writing program, has been named Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Lecturer. Herrick teaches in the Design Thinking and Communication course, a joint venture between McCormick and the Writing Program.

These University Teaching Awards recognize individual faculty members who have consistently demonstrated outstanding performance in classroom teaching or who have developed significant innovations that have also influenced the methods and teaching effectiveness of other faculty.

The winners were nominated by undergraduate deans and selected by a diverse committee of Northwestern faculty, administration, and staff.

David Corr

David J. Corr has distinguished himself as a highly effective professor within McCormick. Administrators and fellow professors have recognized his dedication to students, as evidenced by his receipt of the McCormick “Certificate of Teaching Excellence” in 2011. Teaching courses that contain both graduate and undergraduate students, Corr works creatively to ensure all students understand basic engineering concepts while continuously challenging those who are ready to apply the concepts.

Filled with practical learning experiences, case studies and real world examples, Corr’s classes are among some of the most popular classes of engineering students. His Forensic Engineering course is the only one in the United States taught by a full time faculty member who has forensic engineering experience. Corr has been lauded for the time he dedicates to answering questions in and outside of class.

In fact, one student remarked, “I have rarely encountered such dedication to his students’ mastery of the material.” In addition, his peers have commended Corr’s impact on the civil and environmental engineering curriculum. He has collaborated with others to ensure cohesiveness among courses and has also created projects that require realistic problem-solving skills.

As a practicing engineer, Corr learned firsthand the importance of teamwork and communication, so he believes it is essential to teach these skills as part of his courses. Corr first came to Northwestern in 2003 as a postdoctoral research associate. He served two years as research assistant professor before joining the consulting engineering firm Exponent, Inc. He returned to Northwestern in 2008 and has since earned a solid reputation for his research with the Infrastructure Technology Institute. Corr earned a PhD and MS from University of California, Berkeley and a BS from Notre Dame.

Todd Murphey

A member of the Northwestern faculty since 2009, Todd Murphey has had an impact on engineering education both on campus and nationwide. He created and taught a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to thousands of learners around the world and continues to share what he learned during that experience with colleagues and university administrators throughout the country. As a result of that effort, he was a featured speaker at a National Academy of Engineering workshop in 2013. Moreover, Murphey brought the online learning experience to his undergraduate Engineering Analysis students at Northwestern.  That course was very well received by the students and received unusually strong student evaluations.

Student feedback in all his courses consistently indicates a comfortable learning environment in some of the most challenging engineering courses on campus. Students appreciate Murphey's ability to explain complex concepts in a way that is accessible to a broad spectrum of learners. His popularity as a teacher can be partly attributed to his willingness to incorporate project-based and experiential learning into the classroom experience. Experiential learning is also something Professor Murphey has studied, including obtaining National Science Foundation funding to develop project-based assessment tools.

Outside the classroom, Murphey has a history of both involving students in his research activities and advising student projects. Beyond campus, Murphey has won the National Science Foundation's CAREER Award and was selected as one of 15 scientists nationwide to participate in the Defense Science Study Group for 2014-15. He is also a senior editor for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Robotics journal. Murphey holds a PhD from the California Institute of Technology and a BS from the University of Arizona.

Neelesh PatankarThroughout his 14 years at Northwestern, Neelesh A. Patankar’s main teaching goal has been to “use the language of mathematics to analyze physical phenomena and apply the analysis to realistic problems.” Student feedback indicates he has achieved this goal, and thus has had a lasting impact on many of his students and advisees. Repeatedly emphasized in student feedback is Patankar’s effective teaching style. One summarized it this way, “Since the focus was on concepts versus just memorizing equations, I feel like I will remember the important material of this course.”

Among those he has advised are a Rhodes Scholar finalist and three winners of the Best Undergraduate Research and Innovation Award in Mechanical Engineering. Patankar is one of the top researchers nationwide in fluid dynamics, but he finds time to also mentor student projects. Active in administrative affairs as well, Patankar is the associate chair of the mechanical engineering department and was chair of the curriculum committee. He has also led the departmental honors program and the ABET accreditation review process. Patankar’s work has been cited in many publications, and he shares his expertise as associate editor of Journal of Computational Physics, and is on the editorial advisory board of the International Journal of Multiphase Flow.

Patankar has received recognition on campus for his efforts, including the Cole Higgins Award for Teaching Excellence and was nominated twice to the Associated Student Government Honor Roll. Nationally, Patankar was selected as a member of the Defense Science Study Group (2010-11), received both the NSF CAREER Award and the international Junior Award in Multiphase Flow and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Patankar earned a PhD and MS from the University of Pennsylvania and his BS at the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, India.

Jeanne Weiland Herrick’s main goal is to create active learners. Her students will tell you she has surpassed that goal and her impact goes far beyond academic learning. As one student attested, “Teaching from the heart and life experiences, not just from books, is what separates Professor Herrick from the rest.”

A faculty member at Northwestern since 1999, Herrick has had a profound influence on countless students across the university. She teaches students at every level from freshmen to graduate students, in several schools, including McCormick, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Continuing Studies, where she received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006. Herrick is admired for her uniquely themed courses and development of new pedagogical techniques. For example, she has successfully incorporated team conferencing into the peer review process for each of her students and she has created courses that enable her students to discover the voices of marginalized communities in Chicago.

Herrick is passionate about teaching writing to underserved populations, such as first generation college students and non-native English speakers. As one colleague described, “Jeanne has, for many years, taught courses that require excursions into different Chicago neighborhoods and that introduce students to primary research methods.” Herrick is noted for sharing her innovative teaching techniques with others: she mentors new faculty and collaborates with peers from several disciplines in engineering and communication. She has been a key contributor and instructor in Design Thinking and Communication, an innovative interdisciplinary collaboration between Weinberg and McCormick.

Outside the classroom, Herrick is an academic advisor for Weinberg freshman and faculty master of the Women’s Residential College. She also serves as the University Faculty Senate representative for the Weinberg lecturer faculty. Professor Herrick holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a M.A. from Northern Illinois University and a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Two other Northwestern faculty members will also receive teaching awards during the ceremony. They are; Rebecca Gilman, an associate professor of radio, television, and film; and Susie Phillips, an associate professor of English.