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Lowe, Mezyk, Rahai Recognized With Academic Affairs Awards

Published: June 15, 2012

Hamid Rahai

Hamid Rahai

Academic Affairs Award for Impact Accomplishment of the Year in Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity

Hamid Rahai is the Interim Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering and a professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He joined CSULB as a part-time lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering Department, became a full-time lecturer a year later and was hired as an assistant professor in 1989 after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine.

He received both his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from CSULB in 1980 and 1981, respectively.

Rahai has a distinguished career as a teacher-scholar. He has taught various classes at both undergraduate and graduate levels in the areas of fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, heat transfer, experimental techniques, numerical methods and turbulence, and has been a consultant to the local energy and aerospace industries for the past 20 years.

He has supervised more than 60 master’s theses and projects and doctoral dissertations. In addition, he has published more than 80 technical papers, mostly with his students as co-authors.

Rahai has received more than $3 million in grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation, the Federal Highway Administration, the California Energy Commission, the California Air Resources Board, the Port of Los Angeles, the Boeing Company, Southern California Edison, Long Beach Airport and Long Beach Transit, among others.

He has been awarded a patent with Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Chair Hamid Hefazi for development of a high efficiency vertical axis wind turbine and has two pending patent applications in the areas of renewable energy and diesel emissions control.

Rahai is the founding director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Research and Services and the recipient of numerous Scholarly and Creative Activities Awards. In 2003 he received the CSULB Distinguished Faculty Scholarly and Creative Achievement Award and in 2004 he received the Northrop Grumman 2004 Excellence in Teaching Award.

Chris Lowe

Chris Lowe

Academic Affairs Impact Accomplishment of the Year in Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity

Chris Lowe’s research contributes to the understanding of many important issues and is making a difference not only within his field, but nationally and internationally.

A professor in Biological Sciences and director of the nationally renowned CSULB Shark Lab, Lowe is highly successful in funding a diverse research program that includes studies on stingrays and maternal offloading, population dynamics of barred sand bass, spread of contaminants via white croaker populations, use of newly restored habitat by California halibut and fish habitat in Baja California.

Over the past year and a half he has received numerous grants totaling more than $1 million; the largest being nearly $500,000. That grant, from the National Science Foundation’s Robust Intelligence program, allows Lowe and scientists from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to track sharks using underwater vehicles that gather and send data to scientists.

Since this January, Lowe has published seven book chapters, several of them with student authors. Over the past 18 months, he has published 18 peer-reviewed manuscripts, primarily with student co-authors, in such well-respected journals as Fisheries Research, Marine Ecology Progress Series, and Journal of Fish Biology.

Recently, he and fellow CSULB marine biologist Steven Manley published research in the journal Environmental Science and Technology showing that radioactivity from Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was present in California kelp more than a month after the 2011 tsunami.

Lowe has an extensive list of conference presentations including invited talks, keynote engagements and 13 talks with his students at national and international meetings.

Lowe has served as chair of the CSU Ocean Studies Institute’s diving control board and board of governors. He has been elected to numerous high-profile positions, serving on the Los Angeles-San Diego region working group of the California State Marine Life Protection Act; IUCN shark specialists group, World Conservation Union and co-Secretariat of the Western Society of Naturalists. He is a member of the American Fisheries Society, the American Elasmobranch Society, the American Institute of Research Fisheries Biologists, the American Academy of Underwater Scientists and the Southern California Marine Institute’s board of governors. Lowe was also among a team of experts who consulted on “Ocean in Google Earth,” a feature of the virtual globe, Google Earth. Last year, he and his students’ research on juvenile white sharks of California was featured on the Discovery Channel Shark Week show “Great White Invasion.”

Stephen Mezyk

Stephen Mezyk

Academic Affairs Award for Outstanding Faculty Mentor for Student Engagement in Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity

Stephen Mezyk’s success as a faculty mentor is evident in the achievements of his students.

Mezyk encourages his graduate and undergraduate students to present their research at national conferences such as the American Chemical Society Conference (ACS). Kimberly Johnston, the 2012 Outstanding Graduate from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, has presented her research at three different ACS conferences and is now working to publish each of her four projects in peer-reviewed journals. His graduate student, Thomas Cullen, recently presented his research at the MARC IX conference in Kona, Hawaii, following his Department of Energy workshop presentation in Chicago last November. His presentation inspired several scientists present to offer him an opportunity to pursue a doctorate and career at the Idaho National Laboratory. And Kimberly Rickman credits Mezyk with helping her secure full funding to attend the Tri-Institutional M.D.-Ph.D. program at Cornell University.

Along with Johnston, Cullen and Rickman, Mezyk, a physical chemist with interests in energy and the environment, has worked with an extensive group of research students. In the past 18 months, his six graduate students, 18 undergraduates and 12 student laboratory volunteers have all been highly successful in the number of awards and scholarships they have won, the number of articles they have co-authored, and the national and international conferences at which they have presented.

Since joining the university in 2001, Mezyk has developed a successful system to oversee his research students’ academic and progress. All students get an individual research project and become actively involved in all aspects of the work, even when it involves traveling to state-of-the-art facilities throughout the country. Mezyk is fully involved in his students’ projects, ensuring that each one provides a valuable learning experience.

Over the past 18 months, he has worked with his students to help them obtain more than $34,000 in research-based scholarships; and on 16 of his peer-reviewed publications there have been 12 CSULB student authors.

“I find it incredibly rewarding to see all of my students become confident, independent, critical thinkers, enjoying our mutual enthusiasm for science,” Mezyk said. “I am very proud to know that my mentoring efforts have made them outstandingly successful at CSULB, and ultimately helped them achieve their dreams and goals.”

–Richard Manly