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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

BOV selects new UDP's

By David Nutter

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 29 - April 25, 1996

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved the selection of five faculty members as university distinguished professors, the highest faculty rank at the university, at its meeting this week.

George Flick Jr. is recognized nationally and internationally for his contributions to the field of seafood science. His research and demonstration projects have resulted in the production of profitable and wholesome fish and shellfish products.

His initial work on crab-meat pasteurization has become the industry standard and all federal and state regulatory agencies use his procedure. His rapid response to the Kepone contamination in the James River prevented a major disaster in the state's oyster industry, saving it from financial ruin. Flick's expertise is frequently sought by state, regional, and federal agencies looking for assistance with safety and quality assurance in seafood production.

Flick came to Virginia Tech in 1969 to establish an Extension program to support Virginia's seafood industry, which has the third largest ex vessel landings in the United States. In 1971, he established the Sea Grant program which provided funding to support research, teaching, and public-service programs related to the needs of coastal communities.

The marine programs at Virginia Tech were further strengthened in the 1990s when Flick obtained permanent funding to implement the C-FAST (Commercial Fish and Shellfish Technologies) program at Virginia Tech. The C-FAST program brings together faculty members from four colleges having major activities in the production and utilization of fish and shellfish bioresources-Agriculture and Life Sciences, Engineering, Forestry and Wildlife Resources, and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

Flick has been named a fellow of both the Institute of Food Technologists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the first and only native English speaker to have been invited by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to serve as visiting professor at the University of Tokyo's Department of Marine Biochemistry.

Flick has served several times as president of the major national associations in the field and was awarded the Earl P. McFee Award in 1994 by the Canadian and American Chapters of the Atlantic Fisheries Technology Societies, the highest award given by these organizations.

Paul Knox, a widely admired teacher, is a professor of urban affairs and planning in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

His students consistently give his classes the highest marks. In 1989, the college conferred upon him the coveted Leonard Currie Award for Teaching Excellence.

Knox has integrated innovative teaching technologies into his courses, thus helping to move the college forward in developing creative approaches to instruction.

He joined the faculty of the college in 1984. He received both his bachelor's degree and his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Sheffield, England, the latter degree being awarded in 1972.

Beyond the classroom, Knox has established himself as an outstanding scholar in the interdisciplinary field of urbanism. He has successfully established important cross-disciplinary bridges between human geography, urban affairs, and planning.

Knox has published 12 books, including five textbooks, and authored more than 200 academic papers. His most recent text has been adopted by over 80 North American universities. Further recognition of this stature in the urban geography and planning fields is evidenced by his service on the editorial boards of the top 10 international journals.

Knox's original research has contributed directly to the establishment of the sub-field of social geography and to a paradigm shift in the field of urban geography. His pioneering work on social indicators made substantial advances in methodology and helped focus research in human geography to include questions of local and regional inequality and the study of the changing patterns and spatial distributions of marginal, vulnerable, and disadvantaged groups.

He has been listed as a "master weaver" in contemporary human geography (a designation for scholars whose work has been cited more than 100 times [excluding self-citations] during a five-year period).

James E. McGrath is recognized throughout the world as a premier polymer scientist.

McGrath's impact on education in polymer chemistry has many dimensions. When he first joined the faculty in 1975, there were only two other persons on the faculty with interests in polymer science.

He founded the Polymer Materials and Interfaces Laboratory in 1978, which marked the beginning of more formalized interdisciplinary research in polymer science. The establishment of a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for High Performance Polymeric Adhesives and Composites in 1989 with McGrath as director marked the milestone in his persistent quest for an integrated polymer science and engineering effort. With this increase in the faculty in polymer science, the numbers of undergraduate and graduate students exposed to the field have dramatically increased.

McGrath's contributions to polymer chemistry research have been wide-ranging, insightful, and imaginative in application. As stated by David Tirrell of the University of Massachusetts in his letter of support, McGrath "...has played a key role...in establishing Virginia Tech as one of a handful of leading centers for academic polymer research in this country or anywhere in the world."

He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1994, an honor accorded to fewer than five polymer scientists in the world. He has written several hundred papers, edited several books, shared in the development of nearly 40 patents, attracted millions of dollars in research funding, and supervised the research of an extraordinary number of master's and doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows.

James K. Mitchell joined the Virginia Tech Department of Civil Engineering in 1994 as the first Charles E. Via Jr. professor. He received his bachelor of civil engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1951, and his master of science and doctoral degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 1958, Mitchell joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, where he held the Edward G. Cahill and John R. Cahill Chair in the Department of Civil Engineering, and worked as a research engineer in both the Institute of Transportation Studies and the Earthquake Engineering Center. He served as chairman of the geotechnical, transportation, construction, and surveying division of the department from 1974 to 1977, and as chairman of the department from 1979 through 1984.

His primary research activities have been in the areas of soil behavior related to geotechnical problems, soil improvement and ground reinforcement, physico-chemical phenomena in soils, the stress-strain time behavior of soils, and in-situ measurement of soil properties. Much of his recent research has been in the application of work in these areas to geotechnical aspects of hazardous waste management and to remediation of sites susceptible to failure during earthquakes. He has authored more than 275 publications, including a graduate level text and reference, Fundamentals of Soil Behavior.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, he conducted extensive research on lunar soil properties and served as principal investigator for the soil mechanics experiment, which was a part of Apollo Missions 14-17 to the moon.

Mitchell is licensed as both a civil and a geotechnical engineer in California. He is a fellow and honorary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was chairman of the Transportation Research Board Committee on Physico-Chemical Phenomena in Soils from 1966-1973 and served as a member of the TRB Executive Committee from 1983-1987. He was chairman of the Geotechnical Board of the U.S. National Research Council from 1990-94, and has been appointed to the new Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment. He was vice-president of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering from 1989-1994.

Mitchell has received the Norman Medal, the Thomas A. Middlebrooks Award, the Walter L. Huber Research Prize, the Karl Terzaghi Award of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Western Electric Fund Award of the American Society for Engineering Education, and the Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In 1976, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and in 1991 he delivered the Rankine Lecture for the British Geotechnical Society.

John J. Tyson has been at Virginia Tech since 1977. He is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in the relatively new and important field of mathematical biology. His professional contributions have been considerable and cross-disciplinary.

He has guest lectured extensively and has served as a co-chair and is currently chair-elect for a 1997 Gordon Research Conference session. Tyson has been president of the Mathematical Biology Society and was recently named co-chief editor of the top journal in this field.

Late last fall Tyson was invited by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to participate in a workshop as a distinguished scientist to help guide national science policy on how biology and engineering can cross-fertilize. This will have great impact on future funding for these areas at NSF.

Tyson is also a recipient of a Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Research Excellence, among other prestigious awards. His creative mathematical approach to fundamental problems in chemistry and biology has led to significant contributions to many different fields. Thus, his research is exceptionally cross-disciplinary with the potential for general and fundamental applications in many fields.