COLLEGE STATION — Dr. Sandun Fernando of the Texas A&M University System’s biological and agricultural engineering department, College Station, has been awarded a 2014 Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence in teaching.
The award was presented Jan. 6 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Conference held at Texas A&M University in College Station.
The Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence were established in 1980 to recognize the commitment and outstanding contributions of faculty and staff across Texas A&M AgriLife and provide opportunity to celebrate the achievements of those honored.
Fernando has held a joint appointment in teaching and with Texas A&M AgriLife Research since 2008. He holds a doctorate and master’s degree in agricultural and biological systems engineering from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and a bachelor’s in agricultural engineering from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.
In his AgriLife Research position, Fernando works on “bio-inspired” design of materials and processes for producing energy and power.
In his nomination letter for Fernando, Dr. Stephen Searcy, head of the biological and agricultural engineering, wrote: “Dr. Fernando is a teacher and mentor who facilitates student learning through meticulously structured courses and lectures. His dedication and excitement for learning are contagious! They evoke enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and stimulate his students’ desire to learn complex engineering subjects. He ensures students understand the nexus of theory and application, ultimately helping them apply the concepts they are learning in the classroom to solving real-world problems. His lecture modules consistently present an excellent balance of theory and practice.”
Seaborn Carter, a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Needs Fellow, wrote: “One interesting aspect of Dr. Fernando’s leadership in the classroom, surprisingly, includes temporarily stepping down as the leader to provide opportunities for his students to grow in their communication abilities. More specifically, Dr. Fernando may allow students to briefly teach him about something they are very excited about, such as their participation in TAMU traditions they have recently experienced. He has an uncanny ability to infuse the information from the brief teaching into lessons that are intrinsically motivating to his students.”
The award nomination noted how student evaluations, previous recognitions, and student and colleague endorsements, all reinforce Searcy’s and Carter’s statements.
Fernando’s teaching awards and recognitions include: Biological and Agricultural Engineering Professor of the Year Award, 2011; TAMU System Teaching Excellence Award, 2011, TAMU Student Led Award for Teaching, 2010; junior and senior Advisor to the BAEN American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Student Club for two consecutive academic years; Montague Center for Teaching Excellence Scholar, 2010; Biological and Agricultural Engineering Excellence in Teaching award, 2010; and the Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching, 2014.
Fernando is also a member of numerous professional and honorary societies, including: Registered Professional Engineer, Texas Board of Professional Engineers; American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering since 1999; member of Institute of Biological Engineers since 2004; member of the American Chemical Society since 2005; Gamma Sigma Delta- Academic Honor Society, inducted in 2001; Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, since in 2006; and Alpha Epsilon, the honor society of Agricultural, Food and Biological Engineering, inducted in 2011.