Left to right: Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Doris Carver; Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Astrid Merget; Sumanta Acharya, L. R. Daniel Professor and the Fritz and Francis M. Blumer Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering; Nina Lam, professor and chair of LSU's Department of Environmental Sciences; LSU Chancellor Michael Martin.

LSU Names 2010 Distinguished Research Masters and Dissertation Awards

LSU named Sumanta Acharya and Nina Lam Distinguished Research Masters on Tuesday, May 11, at 2 p.m. at the Faculty Club. Raluca Cozma and Jasson Vindas were also be recognized as recipients of the annual Distinguished Dissertation Awards.

Distinguished Research Master Recipients


Acharya, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, holds the L. R. Daniel professorship and the Fritz and Francis M. Blumer professorship in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is the founding director of the Center for Turbine Innovation and Energy Research, or TIER, which focuses on energy generation and propulsion research.

During his 27-year career at LSU, Acharya has developed multifaceted, continuously funded, nationally and internationally recognized research programs covering the areas of heat transfer, combustion, fluid mechanics and scientific computation. His diverse scholarly contributions include nearly 150 refereed journal articles, most of which appear in top-tier journals of his field, where he is recognized as a leader. He has also presented extensively in national and international conferences with more than 200 refereed papers.

In support of this recognition for Acharya, Richard Goldstein, member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Royal Academy of Engineering, said, “As one who has worked for many years in the film cooling area, I can truly state that he [Acharya] is probably the leading expert on numerical prediction of film cooling heat transfer, primarily through his own advances and contributions.”

Acharya’s research sponsorship portfolio, nearing $25 million dollars during his LSU career, reads as the “who’s who” of federal funding agencies and includes major efforts in the area of gas turbines (with sponsorship from several major gas-turbine companies) and computational fluid dynamics (including the highly prestigious NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship, or IGERT, grant that he leads). He has developed the necessary infrastructure and has successfully transitioned his research to impact gas-turbine industry internationally.

“Addressing problems relevant to industry is very important in engineering research and has high potential impact on economic development,” said Interim Department Chair Dimitris Nikitopoulos. “His accomplishments in this area are indicative of Professor Acharya’s abilities beyond the academic norm, which he has amply exceeded.”


Lam is professor and chair of LSU’s Department of Environmental Sciences. A renowned expert and leader in GIS, remote sensing, spatial analysis and environmental and public health, Lam’s research spans continents and decades, in both methodological and applied domains.

Her earliest, award-winning work on spatial interpolation provides a new and comprehensive framework for interpolating and integrating various spatial data and has helped in defining modern-day analytical cartography and GIS.

Lam’s subsequent work on fractals and scale, including her influential book “Fractals in Geography,” has generated many new applications and followers in the field. She developed the software Image Characterization and Modeling System, or ICAMS, as part of her NASA-funded projects, to provide innovative tools to measure environmental conditions of the Earth’s surface. The software, which is a product cumulating from her basic research on fractals, wavelets and other related spatial indices, has been accessed by researchers throughout the world.

In the early 1980s, Lam’s study on cancer mortality patterns in China had revealed the unusual clustered patterns and identified possible links between environmental conditions and cancers. Her research on the spread of HIV/AIDS in the United States was the first to confirm a national trend of HIV/AIDS spread in rural America. This pioneering research received national attention in which her research was featured and cited. Lam’s current research focuses on developing models to understand business return decisions in New Orleans after Katrina and to measure community resilience.

Lam has published one book, 56 refereed book chapters and journal articles and has served as principal co-principal investigator of 29 external grants. She has mentored 14 Ph.D. and 23 master’s students. She has served on numerous national and international advisory panels such as the National Research Council; the National Science Foundation, or NSF; the National Institutes of Health; and NASA, and was an NSF program director. In 2004, Lam was honored with an Outstanding Contributions in Remote Sensing Award by the Remote Sensing Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers. In 2006, she was selected for an LSU Distinguished Faculty Award and in 2008 was named as an LSU Rainmaker.

The LSU Council on Research has proudly presented the Distinguished Research Master awards since 1972 in recognition of outstanding faculty accomplishments in research and scholarship. The council chooses recipients from a list of worthy nominees proposed each December by the university community. Nominations are made in the categories of engineering, science and technology; and the arts, humanities and social sciences.

The Distinguished Research Master Award provides winners a salary stipend and the University Medal – the symbol of exceptional academic accomplishment at LSU.

Distinguished Dissertation Award Recipients

Cozma is the recipient of the 2010 Josephine A. Roberts Alumni Association Distinguished Dissertation Award in Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences for her dissertation titled “The Murrow Tradition: What Was It, and Does It Still Live?” This project compared the quality of news presentation between CBS during World War II, an era many consider to be the greatest in American broadcast news history, and contemporary National Public Radio’s coverage of the Iraq War II.

Dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication John Maxwell Hamilton praised this study, saying, “The bottom line is that this is an outstanding dissertation both in the quality of the research and the importance of the topic.”

Vindas is the recipient of the LSU Alumni Association Distinguished Dissertation Award in Science, Engineering & Technology in recognition of his work on His dissertation is titled “Local Behavior of Distributions and Applications.” This project studied the local and global properties of generalized functions, particularly distributions. His results went in the direction of determination of the local behavior near a finite point or at infinity by using a variety of integral transforms, most importantly, the Fourier transform, using abelian and tauberian methods.

Vindas’ major professor Ricardo Estrada praised this work, saying “Truly, this is the most impressive thesis in mathematics that I have seen in my career.”

The LSU Alumni Association and the Graduate School sponsor the Distinguished Dissertation Awards, presented annually since 1983. The awards, also representing two categories, are given to doctoral students whose research and writing demonstrate superior scholarship. Graduates at any of the three commencements in a calendar year are eligible for nomination. A committee of the graduate faculty selects the winning dissertations. Award recipients receive a monetary gift and a certificate of commendation.

Ashley Berthelot | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations
May 2010