From enhancing passion for pursuit of higher degrees to restoring historic national landmarks to studying galaxies far, far away, the 2019-20 Provost’s Award for Excellence winners earned the highest distinction for Cal Poly Pomona faculty members in distinctly different ways.
Wen Cheng, a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, was awarded for excellence in teaching. Sarah Lorenzen, a professor in the Department of Architecture, earned distinction for excellence in service. And Matthew S. Povich, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, was awarded for excellence in scholarly and creative activities.
The Provost’s Awards for Excellence, made possible by a grant from the $42 million Kellogg Legacy Project Endowment, recognize faculty who have earned distinction in the three principal areas of faculty work.
As the director of the Neutra VDL Research Studio and Residences from 2007-2020, Lorenzen transformed VDL from a house in disrepair to a prominent cultural space in Los Angeles that was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2017. Her fundraising and grant procurement efforts led to a ten-fold increase in Neutra House’s yearly revenues.
Lorenzen developed a class where she teaches students about Richard Neutra’s architecture and the history of VDL, and trains them to be docents for weekend tours. She oversaw the restoration of the house, working with well-known mid-century furniture and lighting manufacturers to refurnish it to match the original interiors, and the house is now used for other educational activities in art, design, preservation, and landscape architecture.
Povich is recognized as one of the world’s experts in the study of young stellar objects, massive stars, and ionized nebulae and serves as the lead scientist for the Milky Way Project, an online citizen science platform that has engaged over 50,000 volunteers from more than 100 countries to catalog thousands of nebulae in infrared survey images.
Povich’s research grants have brought over $900,000 in funding to CPP, including the first NSF CAREER grant awarded to CPP. He has authored 59 articles in leading peer-reviewed journals, garnering 4,100-plus literature citations. The stunning imagery produced by his work has been featured in numerous press releases.
Cheng has been the principle investigator on two grants from UC CONNECT, which aims to prepare students for industrial practice and enhance their passion to pursue higher degrees. His research focuses on highway safety, statistical modeling, machine learning, traffic operation and highway geometric design.
Cheng has organized 75 presentations with students since December of 2009. He has been nationally recognized for the Young Researcher Award presented by TRB Committee on Safety Data Analysis and Evaluation for his research related to safety performance rankings in addition to earning a 2013 teaching award from the
The Provost’s Awards recipients are traditionally recognized at their college’s commencement ceremony, and there are plans to honor them at the commencement ceremonies for the 2020 graduates once those plans are determined. Due to the uncertainty that has been created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Provost’s Awards Symposium is postponed until the 2021 spring semester.