Career Connection Faculty Award

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About the Award

The Career Connection Faculty Award is an annual award celebrating Mason faculty and staff who make a positive impact on students' career goals, employment plans, or graduate school preparation. Recipients go above and beyond the expectations of their role and devote extra time and energy to helping students prepare for life after Mason. Nominations are made by students in the early part of each spring semester. Find out more about the nomination criteria.

Dr. Harbir Antil
Dr. Harbir Antil

2020 Award Winner: Dr. Harbir Antil

Dr. Harbir Antil is the Director of the Center for Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence (CMAI) and an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, George Mason University. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation, AirForce Office of Scientific Research, Department of Navy, and Department of Energy. He has published many articles in leading journals and has given numerous plenary lectures at national and international meetings. 

Optimization problems constrained by partial differential equations are his passion. Some of these real-world problems include: designing an aircraft wing or bridges, inverse problems in imaging science, targeted drug delivery in biology, acoustic testing for the components of an aircraft etc. Dr. Antil’s work focuses on designing and implementing algorithms to solve such problems. He is also known to work with practitioners. In particular, his joint work on Reduced Order Quadrature with physicists is playing a crucial role at Advanced LIGO in detecting Gravitational Waves.

He is a firm believer in bringing new research ideas into the classroom as soon as possible, therefore he regularly teaches new special topics courses such as Adaptive Finite Element Methods, Deep Learning, Optimization and Uncertainty Quantification, Fractional Partial Differential Equations, and Optimization Problems Constrained by Partial Differential Equations. He organizes a weekly research seminar for graduate students to help train them on advanced research topics. He is also an organizer of the Applied and Computational Math Seminar at GMU where he regularly invites researchers from all over the world. 

He has a wide network of national and international collaborators in academia, national laboratories, and industry. He is the lead organizer of the annual East Coast Optimization Meeting, which is a joint venture between George Mason University and Sandia National Laboratories. He is also a co-organizer of the Sayas Numerics Day (formerly DelMar Numerics Day) which is a joint venture between GMU, University of Maryland College Park, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and the University of Delaware. 

Dr. Antil brings a great deal of passion to his work with undergraduate students, Ph.D. students, and postdoctoral researchers. He finds it very satisfying to mentor students, knowing that he is helping to create the next generation of scientists for academia, national labs, and industry. His unique training approach and number of collaborations has led his Ph.D. students and postdocs to secure opportunities at top institutions such as Naval Research Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, University of Maryland College Park, and Rice University. 

Past Award Recipients

2019: Susan Howard, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Term faculty with the School of Integrative Studies in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), Susan Howard combines theories from the behavioral and social sciences, emerging immersive and mobile technologies, human-centered design, with innovative business practices to not only understand root causes of problems but to design entrepreneurial solutions to address pressing social, environmental and health problems. She co-founded a women-owned and managed small business with offices in Washington, D.C. and Delhi, and is considered a thought-leader in the use of media and technology for behavior change. 

Susan has an undergraduate degree in English from Wesleyan University, a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Hawaii and is a doctoral candidate in Environmental Science and Policy with a focus on One Health at George Mason University. Susan was a 2017 Recipient of a Stearns Center Teaching Distinction Award.

2018: Dr. Michael E. von Fricken, College of Health and Human Services

Dr. Michael E. von Fricken is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Global and Community Health. His research interests include vector-borne disease surveillance, control, and pathogen discovery. He has ongoing projects in Kenya, Mongolia, and Haiti focusing specifically on emerging pathogens transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks, and has conducted international training workshops on appropriate field methodology and data management for vector borne disease research. His work has had a direct impact guiding treatment policies of Rickettsial infections in Mongolia and the management of malaria in Haiti. He received his PhD from the University of Florida and completed his postdoctoral fellowship with Duke University, Division of Infectious Disease. He is now currently a Research Associate with the Smithsonian Institution, National Zoological Park, and holds a Visiting Scientist designation with the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) Diagnostic Systems Division, based out of Fort Detrick, MD.

2017: Dr. Dann Sklarew, College of Science

Dr. Dann Sklarew is an Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy in the College of Science and the Associate Director of the Potomac Environmental Research Education Center (PEREC). As a Smithsonian Fellow, he developed a nitrogen budget for the Rhode River basin (MD), validating demographic and agricultural census data. For EPA's Office of Water, he contributed to policies on watershed management and storm water pollution control. Dr. Sklarew has investigated various ways to help diverse partnerships address common ecological problems, including producing and writing a video documentary, Turning the Tide: Sustaining Earth's Large Marine Ecosystems; directing the UN-sponsored IW:LEARN project, and participating in a collaboration of international experts examining Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley.

2016: Carla Fisher, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Dr. Carla L. Fisher joined George Mason University in 2011 as an assistant professor in the department of communication. Prior to joining Mason she was an assistant professor with Arizona State University where she also served as coordinator of research in the Family Communication Consortium. 

Dr. Fisher received her Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University with a focus on family, health, and aging communication. She was a National Institute on Aging (NIA) Pre-doctoral Fellow completing interdisciplinary training in human development/aging that included a minor and graduate certificate in gerontology as well as international studies at the Institute of Gerontology, University of Jönköping, Sweden. Recently she was selected for post-doctoral training in health behavior theory in the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) fifth Advanced Training Institute. 

2015: Cindy Parker, School of Business

Dr. Cindy Parker received her bachelor's, master's, and PhD in organizational psychology from George Mason University and has been as assistant professor of management at George Mason for 10 years. 

Before coming to Mason, Dr. Parker worked for over nine years in private industry as a management consultant, focusing on a variety of human resource initiatives. Her previous work experiences include: Consortium Research Fellow at the Army Research Institute, statistician at the American Medical Student Association, associate research scientist at the American Institutes for Research, and assistant vice presidents at Aon Consulting.

Her consulting assignments focused on enhancing human potential and effectiveness at work and included such projects as development, validation, and implementation of employee selection and assessment procedures, leadership assessment and development, job analysis and competency modeling, development and validation of performance management systems, and product development.

At Mason, Dr. Parker teaches two human resource management courses in the School of Business and serves as the faculty advisor for the student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. Dr. Parker is a five-time recipient of the School of Business Undergraduate Teaching Award.

2014: Brian Alexander, Schar School of Policy and Government

Brian Alexander is an adjunct instructor in George Mason University's Department of Public and International Affairs, where he has been a student since fall 2007. His approach to scholarship is similar to his approach to teaching: to engage in creative critical thinking on issues of power and justice while actively participating in the professional worlds of public policy and politics.

In addition to his work as a student and instructor at George Mason, Brian works as a government relations professional. He has worked for firms such as Booz Allen Hamilton and IBM, and he currently advises small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations on change management and government affairs. He lives in Alexandria and enjoys most of all spending time with his wife Caroline and their two daughters, Kitty (five) and Phoebe (three).