Recognizing the impact of his tenure on students, faculty, and peers, the Board of Visitors of the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering recognized McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Robert Parker, PhD, with the 2017 Board of Visitors Award. Dr. Parker, Professor and Vice Chair for Graduate Education in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, was recognized for faculty excellence in teaching, research, and service, and for contributions to the University, the Swanson School, and the engineering discipline.
“Dr. Parker’s outstanding bona fides not only met our qualifications, but truly exceeded them,” noted Roberta A. Luxbacher, BSChE ’78, Chair of the Board of Visitors. “Most importantly, his passion for education has had a tremendous impact on student success as well as the growth of the Department. On behalf of the Board of Visitors, we are proud to recognize him with this year’s award and thank him for his contributions to the University, the Swanson School, and the field of chemical engineering.”
“In a word, Bob’s contributions to student success, department growth, and research excellence is unparalleled,” added McGowan Institute faculty member Steven Little, PhD, Department Chair and William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, who nominated Dr. Parker. “He is a game-changer and inspiration to student and faculty alike, and I can’t thank him enough for his selfless dedication to our Department.”
In Dr. Little’s nomination letter, he noted that in 2017 alone, Dr. Parker’s significant achievements included:
- promotion as the Department’s Vice Chair for Graduate Education
- graduating four PhD students
- publishing eight papers
- directing one of the Department’s National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates programs
- receiving a 4.75 OTE score in 0500 Process Systems with 63 students
- establishing ENGR 1933: Engineering a Craft Brewery, the only course of its kind taught at an engineering school
- receiving the Swanson School of Engineering’s Outstanding Educator Award
“I am honored to be named the 2017 Board of Visitors Award winner. This award truly recognizes the outstanding team of graduate students and collaborators, both clinical and within the Swanson School of Engineering, that I have had an opportunity to work closely with,” Dr. Parker said. “I thoroughly enjoy the collaborative research and problem-solving environment at Pitt, as well as my classroom interactions teaching the next generation of impactful Chemical Engineers and, for the first time, aspiring Craft Brewers.”
Dr. Parker joined the University of Pittsburgh faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2000 and promoted to Professor in 2014. His research program focuses on systems medicine and the use of mathematical models in the design of clinical decision support systems. In addition to the Outstanding Educator Award, he has been recognized for excellence in education through the Carnegie Science Center Excellence in Higher Education Award and the David L. Himmelblau Award from the Computing and Systems Technology (CAST) Division of AIChE. His commitment to a collaborative future in graduate education formed the basis of two funded Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) training programs, as well as the Systems Medicine Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.
As Vice Chair for Graduate Education, Dr. Parker is responsible for developing graduate-level training programs to support PhD students, leading graduate recruitment and admission; managing PhD timelines; collaborating with the Swanson School Office of Diversity to maintain a diverse graduate program; serving as faculty advisor of the Department’s Graduate Student Association; and, managing faculty teaching assignments.