An Emory & Henry College professor who is an internationally recognized expert in interfacial fracture and has developed a materials research lab at the college has been awarded the 2014 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, given annually by the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia.
Dr. Michael Lane, an E&H professor of chemistry and a 2000 graduate of Stanford University, was recognized for his research and his successful efforts with students, many of whom have gone on to become researchers, physicians, and educators. The award marks the sixth time Emory & Henry has been recognized with SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award.
Also recognized by SCHEV this year was Dr. Kelly Bremner, E&H theatre professor, who was named a finalist for the Rising Star Award, which recognizes professors for excellence at the beginning of the teaching careers. Bremner is an award winning director who encourages students to help audiences break down barriers – between the audience and the stage and between audiences and the world beyond the stage.
A 1995 E&H graduate, Lane came to Emory & Henry after serving as a research manager for IBM at the TJ Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. In that capacity, he led a team of scientists investigating interfacial adhesions and their various applications to the nanotechnology involved in such devices as semiconductors.
He returned to teach at Emory & Henry out of a desire to give back to his alma mater and a commitment to help more young people find success in the sciences. “I know first hand the difficulty students have in identifying opportunities in science and how important their professors in science are in helping them engage new fields. For many students, much as it was for myself, they simply have not been exposed to the wide variety of scientific disciplines and vast breadth of research opportunities available to them. Just as my own professors at Emory & Henry encouraged me to pursue all available avenues of research, I believe one of my most important jobs is to help current students realize opportunities in science they hadn't considered,” Lane said.
“Once I am able to get the students involved, their own ingenuity and creativity take over and they go on to work on projects and achieve at levels that are truly amazing. When difficulties arise, either in applying to graduate programs or while they are in graduate school, I use my own experiences to provide guidance or advice. Ultimately our students are successful because of the tremendous young people that they are - bright, hard working, and steadfast - and my contribution is more as a guide to possibilities than anything else.”
Lane has built a dynamic research group focused on the role of interfacial chemistry in determining properties of complex systems. Many of Lane’s students have gone on to pursue doctoral degrees, with full tuition and average stipends of $23,000, in materials science. They credit their work in his lab for expanding their scientific horizons.
“Dr. Lane introduced me to the field of materials science and showed me the huge variety of research that I could do,” said Kyle Clark, a 2009 E&H graduate. “He is largely responsible for my success at Emory & Henry and for my continued studies at the University of California, Berkley.
Dr. Michael Duffy, an E&H physics professor, said Lane employs a unique teaching style that encourages students to explore their subjects rather than be taught through a traditional lecture. Lane, he said, “has been wildly successful, with a small army of students deeply involved in his cutting-edge research.”
Lane’s honor represents the sixth consecutive year that Emory & Henry has won a major state award for teaching. Last November, Emory & Henry celebrated Dr. Scott Boltwood, an English professor who was named the 2013 Virginia Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
During the last 26 years, Emory & Henry has won 16 state and national awards for teaching. Of those awards, six have been given by SCHEV.