2013 Distinguished Maine Professor and Presidential Award Winners Named

Four faculty members in physics, insect ecology, finance and computer science will receive the University of Maine’s top annual awards May 11 as part of Commencement activities on campus.

Professor of Physics Robert Lad, director of UMaine’s Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology (LASST) is the 2013 Distinguished Maine Professor, an award presented by the University of Maine Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding achievement in the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

University of Maine President Paul Ferguson announced that Professor of Insect Ecology Francis “Frank” Drummond is the 2013 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award recipient. This year’s Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award recipient is Professor of Finance Richard Borgman. Professor of Computer Science George Markowsky is the recipient of the Presidential Public Service Award.

“These annual awards offer us an opportunity to not only honor the outstanding achievements of the very best of our faculty members, but also to celebrate the teaching, research and outreach contributions of all our faculty who are at the heart of the UMaine community,” says Ferguson.

The award recipients will be honored at the Faculty Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon, noon–1:30 p.m., May 11 at Wells Conference Center.

The following faculty descriptions are excerpted, in part, from the nomination packages submitted to the selection committees.

Dr. Robert Lad, 2013 Distinguished Maine Professor Award

Bob Lad has been a member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy since 1988 and, for the past 16 years, has directed the Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology (LASST), an internationally recognized interdisciplinary center for surface science, nanotechnology, sensors, and materials science research. He received the 2006 University of Maine System Trustee Professorship and the 2004 UMaine Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award. Lad, an internationally recognized materials researcher, has been a primary member of many of the LASST project teams, serving as principal or co-principal investigator on more than $35 million in research and development grants. Many of the projects, such as the current research on high-temperature sensors for use in jet engines, power plant generators and other extreme environments, have led to major advances and assisted Maine industries in their development and manufacture of high-tech products. Most recently while on sabbatical last year, Lad’s expertise aided the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s solar programs as he, concurrently, pursued his ongoing interest in finding new areas of research that can connect to Maine. Lad has a talent for blending fundamental and applied research, which is reflected in his collaborations with more than 30 Maine companies. The research teams he has led includes undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, thus, training the next generation of physics and engineering researchers and industry leaders. In addition to his research, Lad teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. His 200-level Introductory Quantum Physics course is legendary, not only for how Lad excites students about the field, but also how he engages them by interfacing examples of ongoing research with the rigorous theory. Current students, alumni and colleagues describe Lad’s enthusiasm for education, research and outreach as contagious.

Dr. Francis Drummond, 2013 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award

Entomologist Frank Drummond has been a member of the UMaine community for a quarter-century. He is a professor in the School of Biology and Ecology, and University of Maine Cooperative Extension. The breadth of his career is reflected in his research interests that range from pollination ecology to insect pest management, and scientific techniques that span statistical modeling and computer simulation to molecular genetics. His research venues range from Maine’s blueberry and potato fields to Australian sugarcane plantations. Drummond has always worked in cooperative research with other researchers at UMaine and beyond. Today, his productivity and project diversity involves 60 research colleagues. Drummond has been the principal or co-principal investigator on more than $15.7 million in research funding. That funding includes USDA grants investigating the genetics of blueberry production and pollinator conservation to address colony collapse disorder in honeybees. Since joining the UMaine community, Drummond has been leading bee research, focused on their health, conservation and role as crop pollinators. As an applied entomologist, Drummond finds solutions to important agricultural insect problems, especially in Maine. One of his many successful efforts to help farmers manage the blueberry maggot fly, an effort that saved growers money and reduced the environmental impact of insecticide applications. With several UMaine colleagues, Drummond has researched and developed organic methods for blueberry production — the only complete organic insect pest management plan for wild blueberry production in North America. Drummond also created a model to predict the impact of human activity on streams, which became the basis for Maine law and informed national Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

Dr. Richard Borgman, 2013 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award

Rick Borgman joined the Maine Business School faculty in 1995. He received the Maine Business School’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011. Borgman is cited as an enthusiastic teacher whose excellence has shaped the lives of numerous students, and whose deep knowledge of his subject results in engaging courses. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in finance, and has led a 2009 MBA study trip to Japan. Student evaluations reflect their appreciation of Borgman’s ability to effectively link theory with current developments in the business world, and apply this knowledge creatively to complex situations. Repeatedly, students comment on Borgman’s ability to seize learning opportunities from current events and correlate them with theoretical class presentations. One student noted that Borgman’s classroom was a place “to savor the pleasures and rewards of learning.” Borgman also is known for his excellent organization of course subject matter and his emphasis on developing students’ writing and analytical skills. He has developed numerous cases for classroom use that target concepts students need to learn; one case earned him the Maine Business School’s 2012 Research Award. Borgman also is involved in curriculum development at the graduate level. He served as adviser to the MBA Association from 1997–2003, and was director from 2001–04. He chaired the Maine Business School Graduate Committee from 2004–11, and was a major architect of UMaine’s revised MBA program that launched in 2004. Maine Business School alumni cite the difference Borgman made in their successful careers through his teaching excellence, outstanding mentoring and inspiration.

Dr. George Markowsky, 2013 Presidential Outstanding Public Service and Outreach Award

George Markowsky joined the University of Maine faculty as the first chair of the Department of Computer Science in 1983. He serves as associate director of the School of Computing and Information Science, and is a cooperating professor in the School of Policy and International Affairs, and in Mathematics and Statistics. Markowsky’s extensive public service record is testimony to his ceaseless vision in advancing people’s knowledge outside the classroom. He has provided leadership in the promotion of the computational sciences, providing outstanding, dedicated professional service to UMaine and the state. Markowsky has organized countless activities to promote the many facets of computer science and its importance to modern society. His vision of exposing students to the latest advancements culminates in events that raise student aspirations and public awareness. Those events include the Northeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, a game programming project for first-year computer science majors, and the 2008 Green Supercomputing event. Markowsky’s service and outreach go far beyond campus, including his advocacy for the importance of university research in the state’s economy as a member the UMaine Faculty Five in the 1990s. Also during that time, Markowsky was founding president of the Maine Software Developers Association, which became the trade organization for all high-technology companies in the state called TechMaine. Currently, Markowsky serves as president of the Bangor Foreign Policy Forum and serves on the Maine Advisory Board for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. In 2010, Markowsky received the Outstanding Achievement Award for Leadership and Outstanding Contributions in Cybersecurity Education from the World Congress in Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Applied Computing. Also that year, he received an honorary degree from the Ternopil National Economic University for his work in establishing the American-Ukrainian School of Computer Sciences and Technologies and for his role for establishing a municipal area network in Ternopil, Ukraine.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745