Chancellor's Award for Research Excellence

The Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence is given annually to a WSU Vancouver faculty member whose research quality and quantity are exemplary, and whose work has had a positive influence on the broader community. It is the university’s highest research honor.

Praveen Sekhar

Associate Professor, School of Engineering and Computer Science

Image of Praveen Sekhar

Praveen Sekhar’s research is grounded in the interdisciplinary field of electrochemical gas sensors, which intersects disciplines such as electrical engineering, chemical sciences, applied physics and materials science. He has achieved the heights of international recognition in his field while remaining down to earth: His research is aimed at making people safer and the world a better place to live.

Sekhar directs WSU Vancouver’s Nanomaterials-Sensor Laboratory, where he and his students are working on solutions related to environmental pollution, national security, energy security and Internet of Things applications. For example, he is the principal investigator on a project funded by the National Science Foundation that addresses the need for a flexible wireless gas sensing device at high temperatures for many applications—notably for use by first responders during emergencies such as forest fires and terrorist attacks. He has established research partnerships with several local industries. He involves undergraduate and graduate students in his research, not only giving them experience but also connecting them with people who could be important in their careers.

Sekhar’s international reputation has brought recognition not only to him but to WSU Vancouver. Recently, he was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a selective international award given for significant contributions to the field. He is also a Humboldt Fellow, a prestigious honor that took him to the University of Cologne, Germany, to conduct research for a year. The work involved graduate students from both the University of Cologne and WSU Vancouver. He was invited to speak in Japan and has collaborated with scientists there. He has led and organized both national and international conferences and symposiums. In addition, Praveen was an invited panelist to an energy summit hosted by Baker Hughes Company. The NSF frequently calls on him to review interdisciplinary proposals on chemical sensors. He is associate editor of the Journal of the Electrochemical Society and vice chair of its sensor division.

Sekhar is committed to diversity in engineering research through collaborating and mentoring women, immigrants and persons of color. He empowers students to believe in their potential, with timely, hands-on research experience that fosters scientific curiosity and helps advance their careers. He treats his graduate students as collaborators. He is well known for being unfailingly kind, inclusive of his peers, and generous with his time.

Sekhar earned his bachelor’s degree at Coimbatore Institute of Technology in India, and his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of South Florida. He joined WSU Vancouver in 2011.

Past award recipients

2022 – 2023
Deepti Singh

2021 – 2022
Ed Hagen

2020 – 2021
Dave Kim, Mechanical Engineering

2019 – 2020
Marcelo Diversi, Human Development

2018 – 2019
Bala Krishnamoorthy, Mathematics

2017 – 2018
Cheryl Schultz, Biological Sciences

2016 – 2017
Candice Goucher, History

2015 – 2016
John Harrison, School of the Environment

2014 – 2015
Tahira Probst, Psychology

2013 – 2014
Thomas Tripp, Business

2012 – 2013
Jane Lanigan, Human Development

2011 – 2012
Christine Portfors, Neuroscience

2010 – 2011
Stephen Kucer, Education

2009 – 2010
WenZhan Song, Engineering

2008 – 2009
Joe Cote, Business

2007 – 2008
Tamara Holmund Nelson, Education

2006 – 2007
Amy Wharton, Sociology

2005 – 2006
Barry Hewlett, Anthropology

2004 – 2005
Clayton Mosher, Sociology

2003 – 2004
Michael Morgan, Psychology

2002 – 2003
John Bishop, Biology

2001 – 2002
Susan Finley, Education

2000 – 2001
Hakan Gurocak, Engineering

1999 – 2000
Sally Hacker, Biology

1998 – 1999
Ed Brook, Geology

1997 – 1998
Meridith Newman, Public Affairs

1996 – 1997
Sue Peabody, History

1995 – 1996
Charles ‘Cap’ Peck, Education

1994 – 1995
Carol Siegel, English

1993 – 1994
Jerry Goodstein, Business