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K-State Today

July 29, 2016

Three from Kansas State University named to fellow status

Submitted by Mary Rankin

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers recognized three Kansas State University professors as fellows at its 2016 annual international meeting July 17-20, in Orlando, Florida.

With the number of candidates elected to fellow grade each year limited to 0.2 percent of the total membership, to have three of this year's 13 recipients from one university is a remarkable achievement.

Gary Clark, senior associate dean in the College of Engineering; Joe Harner, professor and department head of biological and agricultural engineering; and Xiuzhi Susan Sun, a university distinguished professor in the department of grain science and industry, and ancillary professor of biological and agricultural engineering, were each recognized for their "unusual professional distinction, with outstanding and extraordinary qualifications and experience in, or related to, the field of agricultural, food, or biological engineering."

Fellows must have had 20 years of active practice in the profession of engineering, the teaching of engineering, or teaching in an engineering-related curriculum.

Clark, a licensed professional engineer, was honored for his outstanding teaching, research and extension contributions to irrigation, water management, academic administration and leadership within the engineering profession. Throughout his career, he has focused on water conservation through improved irrigation system design, operation and management. At K-State, he built a comprehensive irrigation teaching and research program by revising irrigation management and irrigation system design courses, adding experiential labs and software applications to enhance student learning.

While serving as interim dean of the College of Engineering, Clark helped lead the groundbreaking and project oversight for the recently completed 108,000-square-foot addition to the college. He held a key leadership role in the establishment and execution of goals and programs of the state of Kansas' University Engineering Initiative Act to increase the number of engineering graduates from K-State.

A 32-year member of society, Clark has lent his leadership and expertise to such projects as developing the society's standards, and providing leadership in a variety of its councils and technical communities. He also is a life member of the Irrigation Association, active with the American Society of Engineering Educators and a member of Phi Kappa Phi. Clark has authored or co-authored more than 150 refereed journal articles, book chapters and technical and extension publications.

Harner, also a licensed professional engineer, was honored for advancing engineering principles and implementing innovative ideas toward a safer and more sustainable food system. A member of the K-State dairy team, he has been involved in bringing fundamental engineering principles into the design and evaluation of heat abatement systems for conventional dairy structures in the development of low-profile, cross-ventilated, free-stall building design. Dairies across the U.S. and in other countries are being built according to his cross-ventilated model.

In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of animal feeding operations, Harner has explored alternative technologies such as wetlands and vegetative filters. His expertise is highly sought after, as he has been an invited speaker at more than 120 allied industry-sponsored conferences around the world.

A 33-year member of the society, Harner has served in a variety of leadership roles, holding several membership and officer positions on key technical committees. He was honored by both the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers' Kansas section and Mid-Central regional meeting as the 2009 Engineer of the Year. He has authored or co-authored more than 270 refereed journal articles, conference papers and technical and extension publications. Harner's work has frequently adapted for mass media in more than 100 popular press magazine articles.

Sun was honored for her work in the conversion of biorenewable feedstocks and biomolecules into high-performance chemicals and polymers for biobased adhesives, plastics, coatings and medical devices. Her work has had significant impact on the biobased-products industry, demonstrating her ability and leadership to apply fundamental research to practical applications that have significant impact on humanity in terms of reducing dependence on fossil fuels, mitigating environmental pollutions and improving human health.

A recipient of several teaching awards, Sun has advised 33 graduate students and 26 postdoctoral candidates. Her success in obtaining grant money has led to more than $20 million in research awards on projects where she has served as principal or co-principal investigator. Funding agencies include the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Defense, and the National Science Foundation.

A 24-year member of the society, Sun has served as an associate editor as well as chair of two committees. Other professional memberships include the Institute of Food Technology, American Association of Cereal Chemists, Bioenvironmental Polymer Society and American Academic Association of Scientists. Sun received the lifetime achievement award from the Bioenvironmental Polymer Society and the Higuchi Research Achievement Award from the University of Kansas. She has authored or co-authored more than 310 refereed journal articles, book chapters and technical presentations. She holds 10 patents, with nine pending, and has been inducted into the National Academy of Inventors.