The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Illinois International Programs are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022 International Achievement Awards. The International Achievement Awards recognize outstanding alumni, faculty, and students whose exceptional work, service, and/or scholarship has made a significant, global impact.
The 2022 award recipients will be honored at a private awards ceremony on October 18, 2022. The awards ceremony will be live-streamed beginning at 7:45pm Central Time and can be watched at this link: https://go.illinois.edu/InternationalAchievementAwards.
The 2022 International Achievement Award recipients are:
Professor Arun Chaiseri
Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth International Alumni Award for Exceptional Achievement
Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement
Charles C. Stewart International Young Humanitarian Award
Illinois International Graduate Achievement Award
Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth International Alumni Award for Exceptional Achievement Recipient
Professor Arun Chaiseri
Professor Arun Chaiseri (M.S. Civil Engineering, 1960) has made tremendous contributions to the development of civil engineering practice and construction technology in Thailand. He taught civil engineering at Chulalongkorn University until 1976 and established ACS engineering consulting company in 1977. ACS has fostered the development of young engineers. Many university students around the world are trained at his company.
Professor Arun has combined academic research in structural engineering and latest construction technology, including large-diameter bored pile, micro pile, wind-tunnel testing of long-span structures to be used in his country for the first time. His works include more than 20 high-rise and several iconic buildings in Bangkok.
Professor Arun is also known for his dedicated service to his profession and his contribution to the public. He was the President of the Engineering Institute of Thailand under the King’s Patronage from 1994-1997 and was the First President of the Council of Engineers of Thailand in 2000.
Learn more about Professor Chaiseri's life and career.
Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement Recipient
Dr. Richard Cooke
Richard Cooke is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) at UIUC. He is a world-renowned, highly regarded expert in drainage engineering. He has been leading research and extension efforts on increasing the efficiency of drainage-related management practices and developing protocols for their design. His upbringing in Jamaica has provided him with a unique perspective on the international importance of effective and sustainable management of water resources. It is through this lens that he has devoted a substantial part of his professional career to engaging with professionals in various countries, including Sierra Leone, Brazil, and India, who are in dire need of advice, mentoring, and resources to address their water management challenges.
For the past several years, Professor Cooke has been working with Njala University in Sierra Leone to determine the feasibility and economic viability of a new system for lowland development. This systems approach involves graduate students from the participating departments working on different aspects of a single project. In addition to developing the research capacity and research culture at Njala University, the impact of this study is twofold. First, it will increase rice productivity and increase food security by introducing efficient water management, improved rice cultivars, and staple crops. Second, it will investigate the impact of improved agricultural practices on farmers’ socio-economic conditions in the context of Sierra Leone where little research currently exists.
He also serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Agricultural Engineering at Njala University in Sierra Leone and focuses on capacity building through workshops in GIS Applications in Soil and Water Engineering, Nonpoint Source Pollution Modeling, and Research Methodology. He has supervised two PhD students to completion. His students are advancing research in rainfall harvesting, which has extended the single cropping season to two and three seasons per year in upland areas and inland valley swamps, respectively. Both PhD awardees are also strategically extending their research across Sierra Leone and into to neighboring countries in West Africa. Professor Cooke was instrumental in initiating the accreditation of the Agricultural Engineering program at Njala University and the development of Assuring Quality Higher Education in Sierra Leone, a project funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
In other international activities, Professor Cooke has provided leadership or participated in international work on drainage and water quality in Brazil and India. In addition, he has mentored and traveled with students working on Engineers Without Borders projects in Cameroon and Malawi. He has also supervised students working on semester-long water quality projects in Cameroon.
Described by colleagues, collaborators, and students as a highly intelligent and extremely thoughtful engineer and scholar with a true passion for improving the quality of life for people around the world, Professor Cooke’s contributions have been recognized through many prestigious awards, including the 2021 ACES Faculty Award for Global Impact, 2020 ACES Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension, and 2020 Gunlogson Countryside Engineering Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers for outstanding contributions nationally and internationally in enhancing the performance, water quality, and monitoring of drainage and rainfall harvesting systems. Additionally, Professor Cooke received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award for the 2020-2021 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. He was named the 2014 Mentor of the Year by the Njala University Society for Academic Advancement and was named an Honorary Lifetime Member and received the Silver Shovel award for outstanding contributions from the Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association.
Charles C. Stewart International Young Humanitarian Award Recipient
Anna is the Deputy Country Director at One Acre Fund Tanzania. One Acre Fund is a social enterprise that provides financing for smallholder farmers for agricultural inputs and training on best agricultural practices to over 1 million farmers in six countries in East Africa. In Tanzania, Anna’s team distributes $15 million of agricultural inputs to 75,000 clients across 360 villages in the Southern Highlands.
Anna works with the 400+ person field extension team who deliver training on best agricultural practices. Anna also works with the research and development team who identify new agricultural products to scale to farmers and execute One Acre Fund’s impact evaluations. During her tenure at One Acre Fund, the team has scaled and distributed 3.5 million fruit, timber, and soil improving tree seedlings as well as 32MT of hybrid sunflower seed, driving a total additional profit for One Acre Fund farmers of $1.2 million. In seasons to come, she hopes to scale soil testing as an offering to clients and continue to advance One Acre Fund’s agroforestry and integrated soil fertility management interventions as key climate change adaptation strategies for One Acre Fund clients.
Anna received a MSc in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Illinois in 2017 and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois in 2011. As part of her graduate work, Anna was a Borlaug Fellow at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Tanzania where she completed a year of field research examining farmers’ perceptions of fertilizer quality. In between her studies, also spent four happy years working at the University of Illinois Education Abroad Office
Illinois International Graduate Achievement Award Recipient
Hanwei Wang earned his B.S. degree in mathematics and physics from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China in 2019. He worked as a research intern at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Hong Kong in 2018. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is interested in applying his knowledge in physics to biomedical engineering and consumer electronics by inventing technologies and products that can benefit people’s life. His work broadly covers the topics of wireless power transfer, nanophotonics, and biomedical imaging.
Hanwei has always been curious about the physical world and passionate about investigating those mystical phenomena. He demonstrated a strong interest in physics since middle school and became fascinated by the elegant equations related to those physical laws. He began his research career as a high school student by participating in the Chinese Young Physicists Tournament, a competition for young Chinese physics enthusiasts to solve real-world physics problems. Due to his outstanding performance, he was selected as one of the national team members and obtained the first gold medal for China in the 2014 International Young Physicists Tournament. From then on, he started to show his talent in innovation and leadership. Later, he received the highest honor of Shing-Tung Yau Science Award, which led him to be directly admitted to Tsinghua University. During his undergraduate study, he kept his interest in research and technological innovation. He participated in multiple research projects related to spectroscopy, condensed matter physics, phased-array antenna, and wireless power transfer. As an undergraduate student, he published 6 academic articles, one of which was published in IEEE Transactions on Industry Electronics, being one of the best journals in the field. He also received the highest honor for technological innovation from Tsinghua University.
When Hanwei joined the University of Illinois, he sought to extend the physical principle of metamaterials to low-frequency magnetic fields, so they can be used for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), wireless power transfer, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. He developed a theory with temporal coupled-mode theory and demonstrated its application in both MRI and wireless power transfer. His work was selected as a cover page of the journal VIEW and reported in the news release of Holonyak Micro & Nanotechnology Lab, Grainger College of Engineering, University of Illinois public account, and the website of Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry. Besides his research in magnetic metamaterials, he also built up an optical force microscopy system to characterize the near-field forces given by nanoantennas and nanoparticles. His works were published in top journals such as Nature Nanotechnology, Nanophotonics, and Photoacoustics. The technologies he developed resulted in two patents and more than 10 publications. His achievements have been widely recognized by numerous fellowships including Hong, Mccully, and Allen Fellowship, Yee Memorial Fund Fellowship, and Mavis Future Faculty Fellowship. He is also one of the finalists of the Illinois Innovation Award and Andrew T. Yang Research Award.
Hanwei is enthusiastic about contributing to scientific and engineering communities through providing education, mentorship, and services of a high standard. He volunteered to be a teaching assistant in advanced courses such as digital image processing and integrated circuit theory and fabrication. He was nominated by his students for the Olesen Award and selected as an excellent teacher in 2020. He has mentored over 10 undergraduate students. Most of the students were greatly inspired and decided to continue their studies in graduate schools. He has served as a mentor in Illume Research for 3 years. His students were admitted to top universities around the world including Imperial College London and Cambridge University. Hanwei also pays attention to providing peer review services of high quality. He serves as a reviewer for top journals in the field including IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics and Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics. He is a trusted reviewer of the Institute of Physics, which is an honorable recognition offered to the top 15% of reviewers in the field. He wishes his enthusiasm and efforts could result in useful technologies and valuable contributions to society that will have a long-lasting benefit to our lives.