News 2023: College of Engineering recognizes faculty and staff for outstanding service
College of Engineering recognizes faculty and staff for outstanding service

The College of Engineering honors Banafsheh Seyed-Aghazadeh and Dapeng Li, winners of the 2023 Faculty Award for Excellence in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the 2023 Outstanding Staff Award

Dean Jean VanderGheynst and Banafsheh Seyed Aghazadeh
College of Engineering Dean Jean VanderGheynst and Assistant Professor Banafsheh Seyed-Aghazadeh

The College of Engineering announced this week the winners of the 2023 Faculty Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the 2023 Outstanding Staff Award.

Faculty Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Banafsheh Seyed-Aghazadeh is the 2023 recipient of the College of Engineering Faculty Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Seyed-Aghazadeh is also the director of the Laboratory for Fluid-Structure Interactions Studies (FSI Lab) at UMassD.  

This award recognizes Seyed-Aghazadeh's contributions to various initiatives that support students historically underrepresented in STEM, including her service as the first faculty advisor for the UMass Dartmouth chapter of Out in STEM (OSTEM), a club that provides a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ students in STEM.  

"She has demonstrated a strong dedication to creating a welcoming and inclusive learning environment for all students," says Dr. Jean VanderGheynst, dean of the College of Engineering.  "Dr. Seyed-Aghazadeh’s efforts to recruit and mentor diverse undergraduate and graduate research assistants in her lab have also resulted in multiple fellowships and recognitions for her students." 

The ad hoc committee also commended Seyed-Aghazadeh’s collaboration with the Kaput Center for STEM Education Research and Innovation on an outreach activity at local middle schools, and the "STEAM Your Way to College" summer camp, targeting culturally and linguistically diverse learners and emergent bilingual students. This effort helped to identify instructional and conceptual scaffolds required to support youth in lab settings and broaden participation in STEM among underrepresented youth. This finding was presented at the American Physical Society, Division of Fluid Dynamics Outreach and Diversity session, in November 2022.   

At the national level, Seyed-Aghazadeh has served as a faculty mentor in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) ENGAGE program. In this capacity, she has promoted diversity and actively assisted graduate students in achieving a balance between their research pursuits and other aspects of their lives.  

Outstanding Staff Award 

The 2023 winner of the College of Engineering Outstanding Staff Award is Professional Technician Dapeng Li from the Department of Bioengineering.  

The Outstanding Staff Award recognizes a College of Engineering staff member for exceptional service to the college, commitment to the college's values, and notable contributions to the community of faculty, students, and staff. Li’s nominators noted his dedication to representing the department and college in many different outreach capacities, from providing virtual lab tours during virtual open houses, to hosting in-person department events for prospective students. "Dr. Li has been a very effective ambassador for the department and college," says Dean VanderGheynst.  

Li teaches a required first-year course, BNG 101, plus several lab sessions associated with biomechanics, biomeasurement and control, and biosystem analysis and design. He also supervises projects in the bioengineering capstone design course.