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Best-Selling Author Headlines Awards Dinner for College at NJIT

Best-selling author Sylvia Nasser whose first book, A Beautiful Mind, won the 1998 National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Biography, highlighted the recent awards dinner for students, faculty and staff for the College of Science and Liberal Arts (CSLA) at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). 

Following the talk, the following individuals were honored for their dedication and commitment to the college. 

Daljit S. Ahluwalia, PhD, chair of the department of mathematical sciences and a resident of Pearl River, NY, received the award for exceptional leadership and service.  His achievements include creating a doctoral program and founding the Center for Applied Mathematics and Statistics. The center now receives $1 million of funding annually from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and others.

Philip R. Goode, PhD, distinguished professor of physics, of Westfield, received the award for exceptional research and service.  Goode directs Big Bear Solar Observatory, Calif, which NJIT has managed since 1997.  The Center for Solar-Terrestial Research, which Goode created in 1997, operates Big Bear.  Today the center also operates the Solar Radio Array of Owens Valley Radio Observatory.  Center employees have grown in 7 years from 3 to 40.  Researchers at the center have published more than 200 papers.  The center receives $5 million in annual federal funding.

Dennis Donahue, PhD, a special lecturer of humanities, and resident of Maplewood, received recognition for exceptional teaching for someone on the instructional staff.  Students highly rate the educational value of Donahue’s courses and the effectiveness of his teaching.  “His career at NJIT reflects the best qualities that the College of Science and Liberal Arts can boast,” said Norbert Elliot, PhD, professor of English and chair of the humanities division at NJIT. 

Somanath Mitra, PhD, professor of chemistry and environmental science, of Bridgewater, received an award for service to graduate education.  Graduate students highly rate his courses in analytical chemistry and environmental analysis.   Mitra involves students in his publications and conference papers. Of the 47 papers he has written for peer reviewed journals, 38 of them list his graduate students as major/co-authors.

Donald Getzin, a general chemistry advisor, from Highland Park, received an award for service to undergraduate education.  His freshman chemistry program has a retention rate of over 80 percent.  “This is a significant accomplishment since most of the students are non-majors and a portion of them are poorly prepared for university-level chemistry,” said Carol A. Venanzi, PhD, distinguished professor of chemistry.  Getzin also began pre-testing of freshman to assign them to the appropriate track and developed a learning center.  “Students continually rate Don as one of the best instructors and often work their schedule just to be in his classes,” said Venanzi.   

Doris Sher, PhD, assistant professor of history, of Maplewood, received a service award for undergraduate education.   Previously, Sher received three other teaching awards from the university.     

Susan Sutton, an administrative assistant in the mathematics department, of North Arlington, received the outstanding staff award for her integral role in helping the math department grow and expand.  “Research funding in the department has nearly quadrupled and student enrollment has doubled,” said Ahluwahlia her supervisor.  “Each element of growth and expansion has pressured Susan to perform at a top level and she has.”

The exceptional graduate student awards were given to Lin Zhou of Harrison, and Yuriy Mileyko, of Kearny, in the math department and Heather Daniels in the humanities department.

Undergraduate student awards were given to Jonathan J. Porus, of Oakland, and Jennifer Dorn, of Franklin Park, in the math department, Jessica Olejar, of Pittsburgh, PA, in the history department, Garrette Smith in the physics department and Paul Ray, of Newark, in the humanities department.

Irini N. Bekhit, of Staten Island, NY, in the history department received the 2004 outstanding female award for the CSLA Student Leadership Award. 

The undergraduate alumnus award was presented to Bobby Hancock an actuarial analyst with American Reinsurance, Princeton.  Hancock is a resident of Neshanic Station.   The graduate alumnus award was given to John J. Gilchrist, who is with Prudential Insurance, Newark, and is a resident of Kearny.  Roman Samulyak an associate scientist with Brookhaven National Lab, Upton, NY, and a resident of Bay Ridge, NY  received an award from the math department.

Nasser was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography, and inspired a feature movie directed by Ron Howard, as well as a PBS television documentary. She is currently working on a book about 20th century economic thinkers, and has recently been named the first John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.