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Sommerfeld receives recognition for decades of research


February 7, 2011

The College of Technology and Innovation’s Milt Sommerfeld is adding another achievement to his vita – Faculty Achievement Research Award recipient.

Sommerfeld, professor and co-director of the Laboratory for Algae Research at ASU’s Polytechnic campus and the newly established Arizona Center on Algae Technology and Innovation, is among eight award recipients from the community and within ASU being recognized by the ASU Alumni Association, Feb. 24, at the annual Founders’ Day Awards Dinner. Download Full Image

Faculty excellence is at the heart of an outstanding university. Faculty achievement at ASU is recognized at the Founders’ Day event with individual awards for contributions in research, service and teaching.

Sommerfeld is being honored for his more than four decades of research in the fields of phycology and microalgal biotechnology. One of his long-standing research interests is in exploiting algae as a promising source of feedstock for biofuels, which could lead to the development of commercially viable, renewable and sustainable fuels.

He was named by Time Magazine to its list of 50 best innovators in 2008, received the governor of Arizona’s Innovator of the Year Award in Academia in 2009 and the Arizona Award for Research Excellence from the Arizona Bioindustry Association in 2010.

In recognizing this recent achievement, Sommerfeld appreciates the work and dedication of students and fellow researchers along the way. 

“It is a great honor to receive the award, and I accept it on behalf of the many undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students who have contributed to the research over many years, as well as the creative colleagues who have shared their ideas with me and the students,” says Sommerfeld.

In addition to his research, he teaches undergraduate courses in biology, phycology and independent research, and seminars for beginning graduate students. He is currently mentoring four graduate students and 10 undergraduates who are engaged in laboratory and field research activities.

“One cannot understate the importance of faculty scholarship at a university,” says Keith Hjelmstad, university vice president and dean of the College of Technology and Innovation.  “Milt is highly respected in the college – by his fellow faculty and researchers, and by the undergraduate and graduate students who have the opportunity to work beside him in the laboratory.”

The award ceremony has been a signature event for the university for decades, and honors individuals who exemplify the spirit of the founders of the Territorial Normal School of Arizona, ASU’s predecessor institution, which received its charter from the Thirteenth Territorial Legislature on March 7, 1885.

A special highlight of the ceremony this year will be ASU President Michael M. Crow’s acceptance of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America. This award honors men who have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at least 25 years prior to receiving the award for providing outstanding service to others.

For information about other winners, visit http://alumni.asu.edu/signature/events/founders-day" target="_blank">http://alumni.asu.edu/signature/events/founders-day or http://alumni.asu.edu/gallery/podcast" target="_blank">http://alumni.asu.edu/gallery/podcast.