AU Press Releases

Alfred University professor to receive Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers highest honor

Olivia Graeve, associate professor of materials science in the Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University, is this year’s recipient of the Jaime Oaxaca Award, the highest national award presented by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).

The award will be presented to Graeve at the Society’s Technical Achievement Recognition (STAR) ceremony on Oct. 29 in Anaheim, CA. The Jaime Oaxaca Award is given annually to recognize "selfless and outstanding contributions to the fields of engineering and science to the Hispanic community over an extended period of time."

"I am very grateful for this honor and accept it with deep gratitude and humility," said Graeve, who joined the faculty of the Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University in fall 2008. "I also pledge to continue working for the students and faculty in this organization in a most committed way.

" For the 20 years I have been a SHPE member, I have seen wonderful achievements realized because of efforts of many people working as a team, and I feel a part of this team. At this year’s SHPE conference, for example, the largest gathering of Hispanic engineering faculty will take place. This has long been a dream of mine and I have no doubt it will lead to collaborations and opportunities for many students," Graeve said.

In nominating Graeve for the award, Edgar Lara-Curzio, director of the High-Temperature Materials Laboratory at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, noted Graeve "has been making significant contributions toward the important goal of attracting students from the demographic groups that are underrepresented in science and engineering," and much of that activity has been "channeled through the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers."

Her activities to encourage undergraduate and graduate student involvement in SHPE "have become a hallmark of the annual SHPE meeting and are a reflection of Professor Graeve’s tireless commitment and dedication to excellence and to the objective of increasing participation of Hispanics and minorities in science and engineering programs," Lara-Curzio wrote.

Graeve has organized and chaired the SHPE Graduate Institute since 2009, and has obtained National Science Foundation support for the Institute. "Dr. Graeve has managed them with competence, grace and an unparalleled commitment to their success," Lara-Curzio said.

This is not the first honor from SHPE for Graeve. She was named "Educator of the Year" by the Society in 2006, and received the best paper award at the 2009 annual meeting.

And she’s earned other professional accolades as well. The American Ceramic Society presented Graeve with the Karl Schwartzwalder Professional Achievement in Ceramic Engineering (PACE) award in 2010, and she was awarded a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation in 2007.

Other honors and awards include Faculty Member of the Year from National Hispanic University, 2000; second-place winner, National Symposium of the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists Graduate Student Technical Paper competition, 1998; Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Graduate Student Leadership award, 1997; first place, National Technical and Career Conference Graduate Student Technical Paper competition, 1997; Research Mentorship Program Fellowship, University of California-Davis, 1996-97; and TOPS Research Fellowship, University of California-Davis, 1995-96.

In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Graeve now heads the Nanomaterials Processing Laboratory at the Inamori School of Engineering. Previously, she was an assistant professor at the University of Nevada-Reno, 2002-08, and a lecturer at San Jose State University, 2001-02.

Her research interest is the synthesis and processing of nanostructured materials, including ceramic and metallic nanomaterials and amorphous/nanocrystalline composites.

She is the recipient of numerous research grants and contracts from federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Energy, as well as from private industrial partners.

She has published more than 50 papers and a book chapter on zirconium oxide properties, and co-edited two conference proceedings. Her scientific contributions have been published in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, Biomaterials, the Journal of Physical Chemistry B, the Journal of Materials Research, Nanotechnology, the Journal of Applied Physics, and Optical Materials. Her work has been presented at more than 100 invited, contributed and poster presentations at local, national and international meetings. She currently holds one patent and has three pending patent applications. She is also active in several professional organizations and associations.

Graeve holds a Ph.D. degree in materials science and engineering from the University of California-Davis, and a bachelor’s degree in structural engineering from the University of California-San Diego.