Three CSE faculty members named Distinguished McKnight University Professors

Awards recognize outstanding and high-achieving University of Minnesota professors

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/13/2023)—Three College of Science and Engineering faculty members are among nine recipients of the University of Minnesota’s 2023 Distinguished McKnight University Professorship, an award given to outstanding faculty who have made significant advances in their careers while at the University and recently achieved full professor status. Recipients are chosen based on merit, research accomplishments, and leadership activities, among other factors.

Each faculty member will receive a research grant of $120,000 over five years, to be used for expenditures related to the recipient’s research and scholarly activities. They will also maintain the title of “Distinguished McKnight University Professor” for as long as they remain at the University.

2023 CSE Distinguished McKnight University Professors

Aditya Bhan

Aditya Bhan is a professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. His research exploits catalytic chemistry to control and facilitate new reaction pathways for synthesis of fuels and chemicals from low carbon-intensity feedstocks. Bhan’s scholarship is grounded in fundamentals of mechanistic understanding, detailed chemical kinetics, and quantitative mathematical description of reaction systems as they exist in realistic and complex reaction environments.

Mohamed Mokbel

Mohamed Mokbel is a professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Computer Science and Engineering. His research interests lie at the intersection of system building and spatial computing. Mokbel’s work addresses challenges raised by the ubiquity and unique characteristics of spatial data, produced from a myriad of devices ranging from smartphones to satellites. His group has enriched the computing system infrastructure by building spatially aware, widely used systems, tools, and techniques for spatial big data management and analysis, machine learning, location privacy, recommender systems, and social networks.

Rafael Fernandes

Rafael Fernandes is a professor in the University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy. His research focuses on quantum materials and their unique properties, which offer promising opportunities for technological applications. Quantum materials are enabled by the often-exotic collective behavior of the electrons inside them, subjected to the intricate laws of quantum physics. Fernandes’ research has provided a window on this secret life of electrons, shedding new light on how they conspire to realize unusual quantum phases, most notably quantum analogs of liquid crystals.

Additional University of Minnesota faculty members receiving 2023 Distinguished McKnight University Professorships:

  • Jerica Berge, Family Medicine and Community Health Medical School, Twin Cities
  • Bianet Castellanos, American Studies, College of Liberal Arts, Twin Cities
  • Ellen Demerath, Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, Twin Cities
  • Joseph Gaugler, Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, Twin Cities
  • Jessica Hellman, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences, Twin Cities
  • Pinar Karaca-Mandic, Finance, Carlson School of Management, Twin Cities

Read more about the 2023 University of Minnesota Distinguished McKnight University Professors.