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Clarkson University Professor Kathleen Issen Honored with Distinguished Teaching Award

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Kathleen A. Issen, an associate professor of mechanical & aeronautical engineering in the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering, was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award during the University's 118th commencement ceremony today.

Clarkson University President Tony Collins (left) presents the 2011 Distinguished Teaching Award to Kathleen Issen.Issen earned her bachelor’s degree in general engineering from University of Illinois and her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in theoretical and applied mechanics from Northwestern University.

Prior to joining the Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering faculty at Clarkson in 2000, she worked in the nuclear power industry and the health care industry for 15 years. She held a sabbatical research appointment at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., in 2007. 

Since joining Clarkson, Issen’s enthusiasm and her dedication to her students has led to numerous teaching and advising awards, including the Residence Hall Faculty Award (2009), Kristin Craig Memorial Faculty Recognition Award (2007), CUSA Outstanding Teaching Award (2006), Outstanding Advisor Award (2005), and Outstanding New Teacher Award (2003).

She has been recognized by the Coulter School of Engineering for teaching excellence every semester since the 2002 inception of the program. She was selected to represent Clarkson at the prestigious National Academy of Engineering Frontiers in Engineering Education workshop in 2009. 

While she teaches courses at the upper division and graduate level, she is perhaps best known for her sophomore level courses in Newtonian mechanics (statics and strength of materials), taken by numerous aeronautical, civil and mechanical engineering students each year. 

Issen’s research focuses on the mechanics of porous materials, including theoretical modeling and experimental characterization of sandstone, metal foam and cancellous bone.

Under the most recent of several National Science Foundation awards, hers is the only research group in the nation conducting highly complex true triaxial rock mechanics experiments, to determine the three-dimensional stress states required to locally compact or fracture porous sandstone. Results can be used by engineers to better evaluate opportunities for terrestrial sequestration of carbon dioxide, and by geologists to interpret deformation structures in the earth’s crust.

Her cancellous bone work seeks to understand how osteoporosis-weaken bone leads to the vertebral compression fractures suffered by millions of Americans.  

Issen has directed a number of Ph.D. and master’s theses, and numerous undergraduate research projects. She regularly publishes her work in archival journals and presents at national and international technical society meetings.

She was co-director for a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Site, which brought students from across the nation to conduct summer research at Clarkson in nanomaterials engineering and science.

Since 2002, she has been the faculty advisor for the Clarkson University Student Section of the Society of Women Engineers, which received the Phalanx Distinguished Service Award in 2006. She is a ten-year member of the Honors Council and has advised several research-based honors theses.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University President Tony Collins (left) presents the 2011 Distinguished Teaching Award to Kathleen Issen.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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