Research engineer Kayhanian wins James H. Meyer award
October 25, 2012
By Dateline staff
The James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award is named after the chancellor (1969-87) who initiated the organization that would become the Academic Federation, unique in the UC system, providing a forum for academic appointees who are not eligible for membership in the Academic Senate. The federation's membership comprises lecturers and adjunct professors, researchers and scientists, librarians and Cooperative Extension specialists, academic administrators and program coordinators.
Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter and the Academic Federation are hosting the award dinner, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in the AGR Room at the Buehler and Alumni Visitors Center.
The RSVP deadline is Thursday, Nov. 1. Tickets are $35 per person, payable by:
- Credit card — Call Ceremonies and Special Events, (530) 754-2262
- Check — Payable to “UC Regents” and mailed to Ceremonies and Special Events, UC Davis Conference Center, second floor, One Shields Ave., Davis 95616
For more information, call Ceremonies and Special Events, (530) 754-2262.
His job title is research engineer, but Masoud Kayhanian does so much more: He develops courses and teaches them, he serves on thesis and dissertation committees, he played a key role in UC Davis' academic missions to Iran … and the list goes on.
In recognition of all he has done for the university, the Academic Federation has chosen Kayhanian to receive its highest honor: the James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award. It is given annually to one of the more than 1,000 academic appointees who comprise the federation.
A dinner in Kayhanian’s honor is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 8. See box for details.
“I am extremely honored and happy to receive this award,” Kayhanian told Dateline UC Davis. “I am very pleased with this recognition by my colleagues from UC Davis.”
Kayhanian received a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering, magna cum laude, from U.S. International University, San Diego, in 1980, and a master’s degree in applied mechanics and engineering science from UC San Diego in 1982.
He received a doctorate from UC Davis in 1988, in environmental and biological systems engineering, and, except for a few years in the private sector, has been at the university ever since in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
He was director of the High Solids Biogasification Project from 1991 to 1995, and associate director of the Center for Environmental and Water Resources Engineering from 2003 to 2009.
'Commendable and exemplary'
Professor Emeritus George Tchobanoglous said Kayhanian’s accomplishments with respect to the mission of the university, his contributions to the campus community and his services to the Academic Federation have been “commendable and exemplary” — and, Tchobanoglous pointed out, most of Kayhanian’s university and national service and teaching-related activities were beyond his job responsibilities.
Tchobanoglous has known Kayhanian since he came to UC Davis as a graduate student in 1984, and nominated him for the Meyer award.
“Dr. Kayhanian’s unique and innovative approach to research is based on innate ability to immediately recognize data gaps and unresolved research questions that other researchers have ignored or did not recognize, and his adeptness in securing research funding to obtain the needed data and information to answer the unresolved questions,” Tchobanoglous wrote in his nomination letter.
Kayhanian’s primary research subjects are the conversion of waste to energy, and the characteristics, treatment, fate and transport of surface runoff pollutants.
Regarding waste to energy, Tchobanoglous wrote that Kayhanian's findings "were significant in furthering the fundamental understanding of the process and in application of anaerobic digestion as a commercially viable option for energy recovery from waste materials.”
Regarding surface runoff pollutants, Tchobanoglous said of his nominee: "He has been credited in resolving some of the most challenging problems associated with highway runoff pollution.” Toward that end, Kayhanian serves on the technical advisory committee for the Caltrans Stormwater Management Program.
‘Commitment, passion for teaching’
Tchobanoglous wrote: “Dr. Kayhanian has consistently demonstrated his personal commitment and passion for teaching and sharing his knowledge with undergraduate and graduate students.”
Kayhanian has taught five freshman courses: “Water Reuse,” “Renewable Sources of Energy,” “Conversion of Waste into Energy,” “Stormwater Runoff Pollutant” and “Global Warming.” He received funding from the Academic Federation to develop a graduate course on conversion of organic solid waste into energy, and taught the course in the spring of 1996. More than a decade later, portions of the course material appeared in a chapter of the Handbook of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, published in 2007.
He also contributed to the books Integrated Waste Management: Engineering Principles and Management Issues, and Environmental Management, writing chapters on runoff from highways; and to the Handbook of Environmental Research Advances. And he wrote or co-wrote the solution manuals for three textbooks.
He has written 65 peer-reviewed journal papers, and more than 100 other papers (for professional journals and conferences) and technical reports. He is a regular reviewer for numerous environmental other journals, and serves on the editorial boards of three peer-reviewed journals.
Goodwill ambassador, at home and abroad
Outside of the lab and classroom, Kayhanian served as a member of the Academic Federation’s Executive Council, Committee on Committees and the Committee for Professional Development. And he represented the federation on the Academic Senate’s International Studies and Exchange Committee.
Kayhanian, an Iranian American, helped form the Iranian Chapter of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association and served as an elected member of the CAAA board of directors for two terms, from 2000 to 2004. He received CAAA’s Aggie Service Award in 2004 and the Outstanding Alumni Award in 2005.
Robert A. Kerr, assistant vice provost for University Outreach and International Programs, recalled Kayhanian’s volunteer efforts on behalf of Iranian students at UC Davis. One such effort, a fundraising dinner for a scholarship endowment, led to goodwill and greater educational and research ties between the United States and Iran.
Kerr said the dinner launched a relationship between then-Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef and Kayhanian and other Iranian leaders in the United States — and the chancellor eventyually made two trips to Iran (in 2004 and 2008).
“The results from those trips have been increased research and student exchange collaborations between UC Davis and leading Iranian higher education institutions," Kerr said, "as well as productive exchanges with government and religious leaders."
'Education has no boundaries'
“The significance of these results cannot be overstated. They occurred, and continue to occur, during a time of extreme tension between our two governments, where trust was at a very low threshold. Yet Dr. Kayhanian and his Iranian colleagues convinced UC Davis leadership that education has no boundaries and rises above political differences, and therefore to forge onward.”
Vanderhoef, now chancellor emeritus, praised Kayhanian’s “broadly based talent that has served him well during changing times at UC Davis.”
Kayhanian “was especially helpful to us as we worked out the strategies of our visits to Iran,” Vanderhoef said. “The guy is quick on his feet.”
Kerr, who worked with Chancellor Meyer for many years, said the late chancellor “would be proud to have his name associated with the accomplishments and achievements of Dr. Kayhanian through this award.”
Kayhanian said he is happy to be part of the UC Davis community. “With this award, when I retire, I can look back and say that I finished strong with plenty of good memories and cherishing every moment that I spent at UC Davis.”
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