Two School of Engineering professors earn distinguished professor rank

August 5, 2021 - by Kim Delker

Two professors in The University of New Mexico School of Engineering have earned the title of distinguished professor.

Fernando Garzon, professor of chemical engineering, and Kerry Howe, professor in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, have been promoted to the distinguished level.

UNM defines distinguished professors as those who “have demonstrated outstanding achievements and are nationally and internationally renowned as scholars.” It is the highest faculty title the university bestows, and only a handful of professors are honored with the rank each year.

photo of Fernando Garzon
Fernando Garzon

Garzon joined UNM in 2014 as a jointly-appointed faculty member with Sandia National Laboratories, coming from Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is currently the director of the Center for Microengineered Materials and is an Academic Alliance Professor and continues to conduct joint research with Sandia.

His research interests include low-environmental impact electro-synthesis of fuels, the development of advanced gas sensors, fuel-cell materials technology, upgrading of light hydrocarbons, advanced manufacturing of ceramic materials technology, solid-state ionic devices for reconfigurable electronics, and sensors with ultralow detection limits for uranium and arsenic groundwater contamination.

Garzon is a fellow and past president of the Electrochemical Society and received the Department of Energy Fuel Cell Program Research Award in 2009. He is also the winner of Scientific American’s Top 50 Science and Technology Achievements for 2003 award and received the LANL Fellows Prize for Research Leadership.

Garzon earned his bachelor’s degree in 1982 and his Ph.D. in 1988, both in materials science and engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

Howe has been the director of the Center for Water and the Environment since 2013, where he leads the $5 million National Science Foundation-sponsored Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) Center for Water and the Environment project.

photo of Kerry Howe
Kerry Howe

First funded in 2014, it was renewed for another $5 million over five years in 2020. Phase 1 of the CREST project focused on generating new knowledge about watersheds, treatment technologies for contaminated water, and interactions between water and energy production. Phase 2 is building on previous successes while expanding and redirecting the water-related research with new research questions, new partnerships with institutions, and a new emphasis on recruiting and retaining Native American students, a population that may be under-represented even among CREST centers.

Howe joined UNM in 2002 and is the recipient of awards including the Harrison Faculty Recognition Award, Stamm Outstanding Faculty Award and Regents’ Lecturer.

He received a bachelor’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984, a master’s in environmental health engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1986, and a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001.