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Idaho State University

Professional Achievement Award Winners

Professional Achievement Award recipients are alumni who have made important contributions to their careers or profession, to the social, political or economic well-being of the world around them and have shown continued community and civic involvement in addition to their association with and contributions to Idaho State University. Individuals selected for these prestigious awards have been out of school at least 10 years and have excelled in their chosen field, attaining significant success and accomplishments.

College of Science and Engineering Professional Achievement Award Recipient

Man posing for a professional picture

Brent J. Stacey, Idaho Falls

College of Science and Engineering

Stacey, who earned a degree in computer science from ISU, recently retired as associate laboratory director for National and Homeland Security at Idaho National Laboratory and is now a senior advisor for the laboratory director. As INL’s associate laboratory director, he was responsible for a major national security technology development and demonstration center employing over 500 scientists and engineers across $300 million in programs. He was responsible for INL’s Nuclear Nonproliferation, Critical Infrastructure Protection, and Defense System missions. Previously, Stacey served as INL’s chief information officer and as INL’s director of technology deployment. He has more than 40 years of experience in information technology and cyber security in electric utility and government markets serving in various roles for small- to mid-sized domestic and international companies. Stacey is the founder and currently the president and chief executive officer of the Idaho Regional Optical Network, a nonprofit organization chartered to advance Idaho’s science, research, education, health care and state government through access to very high-speed and cost-effective bandwidth.

College of Science and Engineering Outstanding Student Award Recipient

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Eighdi Aung, Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)

Honors Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering and Physics,

Although the adjustment to a new country was initially difficult, Aung has excelled both academically and socially. His double major in mechanical engineering and physics, paired with honors distinction, is a challenging combination, but Aung continually exceeds his professors’ expectations. He is graduating with a 3.57 GPA.

Aung has shown great research ability for an undergraduate, conducting independent research, which he has already presented. His work on identifying stall precursors in jet engines has far-reaching practical applications. He has a peer-reviewed full-length manuscript that has been accepted to the ASME Turbo Expo.  His transformative work led to an invitation to submit a feature paper in the Journal Turbomachinery Flow Analysis.

Aung has not only excelled in the classroom, he has been exceptionally involved in the ISU community. He has made lifelong friendships at ISU that have become like family to him. He has helped other students, volunteering as an Honors Envoy, Honors Mentor, and an ISU Emissary. He is a member of Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honors Society, has served as the treasurer for Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society and as secretary for the ISU American Nuclear Society.

A student posing for a picture

McKenzie Mangun, Caldwell

Honors Bachelor of Science Chemistry, College of Science and Engineering – Natural and Physical Sciences

Mangun has been described by one professor as a “truly exceptional student who comes around once in a lifetime.” The local American Chemical Society named her Organic Chemistry Student of the Year, the Inorganic Chemistry Student of the Year, and the Physical Chemistry Student of the Year—all three separate awards. Mangun has a 3.98 GPA.

Her research experiences have had great breadth and depth.  She stands out from other undergraduate students for her commitment to creating new knowledge in chemistry and sharing it with others. She made significant contributions to a project that resulted in a peer reviewed paper.  Her hard work in another research project has had noteworthy results, which has led to two papers in the writing process, with several forthcoming national conference presentations.

She is the recipient of 10 scholarships, including the Idaho Governor’s Cup, the ISU Presidential Scholarship and the National Science Foundation S-STEM Scholarship. She is also a violinist with the Idaho State Civic Symphony and was awarded the Idaho State Civic Symphony Scholarship (2015-2017).

An especially rewarding part of her ISU career has been organizing and participating in chemistry outreach activities to local grade school students, in which she was able to motivate young students to be curious and excited about science.

Outstanding Student Award Recipients Awarded by the Graduate School

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Alyssa Millard

Master of Science Degree in Biology, Graduate School – Masters Recipient

A true biologist at heart, Millard has successfully combined ecological and sociological research in a way that impressed her professors – but Millard writes her favorite thing about ISU is that her visits to “field sites monthly usually included seeing a moose or two.”

Her research brought together two very different fields—instream ecosystem functioning and the sociological effects on surrounding populations. The ecological research involved monthly field work and intensive lab work. Her social research involved identifying and interviewing approximately 30 landowners, contractors, scientists and watershed organizations about their perspectives on the success of stream restoration. The complexity of combining this kind of research into one project is something that even senior faculty can have a difficult time doing.

In addition to her research, Millard was active in the Biology Graduate Student Association and was a Bengal STEM participant.

Student posing for a picture

Omid Heidari, Ghaenshahr, Iran

Doctorate Degree (Ph.D.) Mechanical Engineering, Graduate School – Doctoral Student

Heidari has had to make large sacrifices to obtain his doctoral degree at ISU. An international student from Iran, Heidari hasn’t seen his parents in more than four years. Luckily, with his drive to succeed, coupled with support from his wife, Andrea, Heidari is graduating with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. He has attained a 3.95 GPA.

Heidari listed the “peaceful, supportive and motivating environment for students” as his favorite thing about his ISU experience.

He worked under a National Science Foundation project for virtual reality rehabilitation. Under this project, he successfully created efficient models of the human upper extremity using motion capture; he analyzed the motion synergies of the arm, and he developed virtual reality programs to train stroke patients.  In his project, he collaborated with the Department of Physical Therapy.

He is currently working on augmented reality for industrial robots.