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VCU Honors Outstanding Faculty, Student Scholars

Virginia Commonwealth University’s 30th annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation honored outstanding faculty and recognized some of the university’s best and brightest student scholars.

Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU; Beverly Warren, Ed.D., Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs; and Sheldon Retchin, M.D., CEO of the VCU Health System and vice president for health sciences, spoke during the ceremony, which took place Sept. 6 at the Siegel Center.  

“It’s really important that we take time to recognize the very best,” said Rao, who thanked the faculty for making VCU remarkable and told the student scholars they are both motivated and motivating.

Following his address, Rao turned to the annual awards, which recognize four faculty members who have distinguished themselves and the university through their commitment to excellence, service, teaching and scholarship.

Supriyo Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D., School of Engineering, received the Distinguished Scholarship Award.

Bandyopadhyay a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering with a courtesy appointment in the physics department, is internationally recognized for his research in the field of nanotechnology. His work has impacted electron transport in nanostructures, electrochemical self-assembly, computational nanostructures and spintronics, a rapidly developing nanotechnology.  

Suzanne M. Ruder, Ph.D., College of Humanities and Sciences, received the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Ruder, a professor of organic chemistry for nearly 25 years, was one of the first researchers in the nation to apply the Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) method in a large classroom setting. She is considered a national expert on the method, which allows students to work together in small groups and exercises that force the students to interact and explore course concepts.

Richard R. Brookman, M.D., School of Medicine, received the Distinguished Service Award.

Brookman, a professor in the department of pediatrics, has served as the sole board-certified adolescent medicine specialist at VCU for many years and was the only teaching preceptor in the Adolescent Health Services clinic for eight half-days a week from 1981 until 1990 and for 10 half-days a week from 1991 until 2010.

Daniel H. Conrad, Ph.D., professor in the School of Medicine, received the University Award of Excellence.

Conrad, a professor in the department of microbiology and immunology, was one of the first researchers to identify the molecular parameters of cell receptors for Immunoglobin-E, which binds the primary antibody that causes allergies. Conrad’s work has uncovered ways of antagonizing those receptors in the hopes of reducing the severity of allergic reactions like asthma and eliminating human allergies altogether.

“Today is a chance to celebrate excellence from you, our faculty, as well as our university student scholars,” Warren said. “At VCU, we want to be laser focused on academic quality and student success.”

The ceremony also recognized 367 University Student Scholars, who have successfully completed 54 to 84 credit hours and are on track to receive Latin honors when they reach commencement.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s 30th annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation honored outstanding faculty and recognized some of the university’s best and brightest student scholars.

Richard R. Brookman, M.D., speaks at the 2012 Faculty Convocation
Richard R. Brookman, M.D., speaks at the 2012 Faculty Convocation