Three at Florida Tech Earn Faculty Excellence Awards

MELBOURNE, FLA.—Three Florida Institute of Technology faculty members earned the university’s 2008 Faculty Excellence Awards for outstanding performance. They are Lisa K. Perdigao, assistant professor of humanities and communication, Kerry Bruce Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching; Michael S. Grace associate professor of biological sciences, Andrew W. Revay Jr. Award for Excellence in Service; and Virender K. Sharma, professor of chemistry, Award for Excellence in Research.

Perdigao has been a Florida Tech faculty member for four years. Previously, she taught at Boston College, Northeastern University and Merrimack College. While at Florida Tech she has developed successful models for composition, literature and cultural studies and has supported students on senior capstone projects, independent studies on globalization and thesis defenses. The more unusual courses she has taught include Fantasy Literature, Latin American Literature, John Irving and Postmodernism, Adolescent Literature and Literary Theory.

Recommendations for the teaching award include one from former student Bayly White. She said, “Dr. Perdigao can easily be described as one who is extremely motivated, driven and dedicated toward the success of her students. She embraces each student’s individuality and unique potential while maintaining high expectations for her entire class.” Perdigao earned a doctoral degree at Northeastern University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Boston College.

Grace is director of Florida Tech’s High Resolution Microscopy and Imaging Center, which he developed. It includes state-of-the-art electron microscopes, a laser-scanning confocal microscope and other research instruments, obtained through grants and contracts valued at nearly $3 million.

He is also faculty adviser to Florida Tech’s Sigma Psi chapter of Tri-Beta, the biological sciences honor society. The chapter regularly wins top awards at regional and national conferences. Grace organized and hosted the last Tri-Beta national convention.

A strong proponent of public outreach, he frequently lectures to school groups, and to audiences at zoos, science centers and designated natural environments. He is a member of the Brevard Zoo conservation committee and organizes the zoo’s annual Reptile Weekend. He is a judge for regional science fairs, a coach for Odyssey of the Mind and an adviser to the nature club at Educational Horizons Charter School.
Grace earned doctoral and master’s degrees at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech in applied biology.

Sharma’s research is on the chemistry and application of ferrates in water and wastewater treatment. Active in developing innovative and cost-effective methods for reducing the level of contaminants in the aquatic and coastal environments, he has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles. Considered an expert, he has been invited to give seminars on this topic at many prestigious institutions around the world. His studies have earned him research grants from the National Science Foundation, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization, among others. He has succeeded in receiving external funds of more than $1 million for his research.

Sharma earned a doctoral degree from the University of Miami, a master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, and another master’s and bachelor’s degree from the University of Delhi, India.

The three, selected by the Faculty Excellence Committee, were honored at Florida Tech’s Spring 2008 Honors Convocation in April. 

PHOTO: From left, Florida Tech Provost T. Dwayne McCay; Virender K. Sharma, professor of chemistry; Lisa K. Perdigao, assistant professor of humanities and communication; and Florida Tech President Anthony J. Catanese. Not pictured: Michael S. Grace, associate professor of biological sciences.

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