Our congratulations go to Professors Margaret Eppstein, Jeff Frolik, Donna Rizzo, Rich Single, and Christian Skalka who have joined the ranks of newly tenured faculty.
"Tenured appointments represent milestone accomplishments for faculty," says Domenico Grasso, dean of the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS).
The collective teaching experience of these individuals spans 63 years. Each journey began differently, yet each has ended up in the same place.
Margaret Eppstein has taken a rich but non-traditional route to tenure. She originally came to UVM in 1981 as a graduate student in zoology, but after a year she transferred to the Department of Computer Science where she earned an M.S. in 1983 and subsequently joined the Computer Science faculty as a lecturer. After her two sons entered grade school and while continuing to teach full time, she returned to graduate school at UVM and earned a Ph.D. in environmental engineering in 1997, after which she became a research assistant professor with joint appointments in computer science and environmental engineering, supporting her position as the principal investigator on grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
In 2002 she entered the tenure-track as an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science in an interdisciplinary position in Computational Biology, and in 2005 she received a secondary appointment in Biology. Eppstein loves doing interdisciplinary research that draws on her diverse educational background and interests, and in 2002 she was appointed as a founding director of the Complex Systems Center.
"I think it must be a record," she says with a big smile, "to have earned tenure after 24 continuous years on the UVM faculty. It's not the route I would have predicted for myself, but I've had the unique opportunity to experience UVM as a graduate student in three departments, as a full-time lecturer, a full-time researcher, a tenure-track faculty member, and also as a parent of two UVM undergraduates, which has all helped me to understand UVM from a variety of perspectives. Now I look forward to continuing to contribute to the UVM community as a member of the senior faculty."
Jeff Frolik joined UVM as an assistant professor in electrical engineering in 2002. He holds his degrees in electrical engineering from University of South Alabama (B.S. '86), University of Southern California (M.S. '88) and University of Michigan (Ph.D. '95). He spent seven years working as a satellite systems engineer, first with Hughes Aircraft and then as a consultant. His first academic appointment was at Tennessee Technological University in 1998.
At UVM, he has been faculty advisor to the IEEE student branch and the AERO hybrid race car team. He's been principal investigator on two NSF grants for curricular innovation and on industrial-sponsored research grants in the area of wireless sensors. He also leads the Sensor Networks & Wireless Workgroup (SN*W) and has mentored nine UVM graduate students to completion.
"In coming to UVM," Frolik says, "I saw an opportunity to make a difference both in teaching and research. Being granted tenure without giving up these principles is pretty satisfying."
Donna Rizzo joined UVM in 1991 as a graduate student and received the first Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from UVM CEMS in 1994. After completion of her degree, Rizzo started a small business in Burlington called Subterrean Research, Inc., having won five Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the federal government (NSF, DOE and USDA). The business focused on subsurface environmental solutions including: interpreting/visualizing subsurface monitoring data; applying design optimization methods to groundwater and soil remediation systems; and devising integrated environmental education programs.
In 2001, Rizzo decided to teach fluid mechanics as an adjunct faculty member and fell in love with the students. Professor Richard Foote encouraged her to apply for an assistant professorship position in civil and environmental engineering, and thus began her ongoing tenure-track faculty position. "I can't wait to see what's next," Rizzo says.
Richard M. Single joined UVM in 2001 as a research assistant professor in Medical Biostatistics and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. He earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany. During the completion of his M.S. in applied mathematics at SUNY Stony Brook, Single became interested in statistical methods while working on a project in air pollution epidemiology. After finishing his Ph.D. in statistical genetics at Stony Brook, he spent three years working as an assistant professor in the Mathematics Department at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, followed by a few years in the Bay Area of California. While in California, he worked with a statistical consulting firm and then did post-doctoral work in statistical genetics in the Department Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley.
Single's primary research interests are in population, evolutionary, and statistical genetics, with a particular emphasis on the study of immune-related genes. The objectives of his research are to improve our understanding of the global distribution of polymorphism in immune-related genes, the selective and demographic forces that have shaped these distributions, and the implications of these complex genetic systems for anthropological, disease association, and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation studies. Single currently serves as co-chair of the Human Genetic Diversity and Biostatistics Project for the 15th International Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Workshop to be held in Rio de Janeiro Brazil in September 2008.
Christian Skalka joined UVM in 2002 as an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science. Skalka's path to tenure at UVM began with a B.A. in philosophy and mathematics from St. John's College (1991), followed by an M.S. in logic, computation and methodology from Carnegie Mellon University (1997), then a Ph.D. in computer science from John's Hopkins University.
While these academic experiences seem diverse, the progression of Skalka's career reflects his consistent underlying interest in the formalization of intelligence, especially via mathematical logic. While at UVM Skalka has pursued research funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in languages, logics, and systems for computer security. More recently, he has studied languages for and applications of wireless sensor networks. His related work on snowpack monitoring systems has allowed him to tap into the amazingly varied intellectual talent at UVM focused on tackling environmental problems.
"I am honored to receive tenure at UVM," says Skalka, "and excited to continue my research, to mentor our fine students, and to serve the state of VT."