By Edwin L. Aguirre
Prof. Joey Mead of the Department of Plastics Engineering, a highly regarded teacher and researcher, has been named Distinguished University Professor, the top accolade bestowed on a UMass Lowell faculty member. The award honors an educator who is recognized by peers for outstanding contributions over a number of years to teaching, research and service to the university community.
“I am truly honored by this award,” says Mead. “I hope that I can continue to contribute to the university in a positive way.”
“Prof. Mead is a research dynamo, with a productive career in materials science, polymer engineering and nanomanufacturing,” notes Prof. David Kazmer, chair of the department. “Her research productivity is outstanding, as documented by scholarly publications, external grants and sponsored research that have generated professional acclaim. She has also provided and continues to provide exemplary service and teaching.”
In his nomination letter, Kazmer stated that many of UMass Lowell’s signature research centers and programs have been or are currently being led by Mead. These include the Nanomanufacturing Center of Excellence, the Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing, the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NMMI) Flexible Hybrid Electronics (NextFlex) and the National Science Foundation Industry-University Cooperative Research Center for Science of Heterogeneous Additive Printing of 3D Materials (SHAP3D).
“In each of these areas, Prof. Mead has provided a guiding vision for advanced manufacturing based on innovative polymeric material systems applied at commercial scales. It is this mission, to take materials technology from the lab to pilot and commercial scales, that both government and industry sponsors have found so appealing,” wrote Kazmer.
Kazmer went on to say: “Prof. Mead’s distinguished record of accomplishments is the embodiment of UMass Lowell’s motto: ‘Learning with Purpose.’ There is no faculty member among us that better represents what UMass Lowell is and aspires to be than Prof. Mead.”
“In the course of securing more than $10 million in research funding, Prof. Mead has involved many faculty, including many junior faculty who benefited from the foundational work she did,” says Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Julie Chen.
“For example, in the recent NextFlex effort and the prior NSF Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing, as well as with multiple industry partnerships, her leadership and effort in helping UMass Lowell get connected has led to many other faculty being successful in receiving their own research grants,” says Chen.
Mead currently holds nine patents and has published nearly 65 technical papers in peer-reviewed journals. She has also advised more than 50 graduate students, and their work has led to over 300 research publications.
Mead worked for more than 10 years as a materials engineer at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Watertown prior to joining the UMass Lowell faculty in 1996. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1981 and her master’s and doctorate degrees in polymer science in 1984 and 1986, all from MIT.
Mead is the 10th professor to receive the award since it was established in 2008. Her three-year term as Distinguished University Professor will run through August 2020. Previous honorees include Susan Braunhut (Biology), 2008–2011; Ken Geiser (Work Environment), 2009–2012; Robert Giles (Physics), 2010–2013; Regina Panasuk (Education), 2011–2014; Stephen McCarthy (Plastics Engineering), 2012–2015; Laura Punnett (Work Environment), 2013–2016; Pradeep Kurup (Civil Engineering), 2014–2017; Holly Yanco (Computer Science), 2015–2018 and Robert Forrant (History), 2016–2019.
As part of the award, Mead will receive a salary supplement as well as one course reduction for each semester of her term. A reception will be held in the fall to celebrate Mead’s appointment; she will deliver the annual University Professor Lecture in the spring.