EPICC Awards honor faculty, staff exemplifying college's core values

On Oct. 17, Cornell Engineering held its inaugural EPICC Awards ceremony, celebrating both staff and faculty whose work exemplifies the college’s core values: excellence, purpose, innovation, community, and collaboration.

“While this program is new, the values it celebrates are embedded in Cornell Engineering’s culture and have long been embodied by our most successful staff and faculty,” said Lynden Archer, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering. “I want to thank all the committee members who made this happen, as well as this year’s nominators, nominees, and winners for their commitment to recognizing persons in our community who — often behind the scenes — do the work that inspire others and showcase our college at its best.”

Over the summer, Cornell Engineering community members had the opportunity to nominate their colleagues to be recognized – as individuals or as teams – for embodying one or more of the core values. A committee made up of the college’s associate deans evaluated all the submissions and determined the winners in each category.

In addition to being recognized at the event, EPICC award winners received both a physical and monetary award in honor of their contributions to Cornell Engineering.

Here are the 2022 EPICC Award winners in each category:


Nelly Andarawis-Puri, the Clare Boothe Luce Associate Professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was recognized for her founding of the Cornell Future Leaders in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering (FLAME) Summer Program.

Annie Eller, the assistant to the director of the Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, was awarded in recognition of her consistent contributions throughout the school, including her active participation in their diversity and inclusion efforts and her work with students and faculty to create a welcoming and respectful environment for all.

Sue Shipman, the associate director of human resources, was selected for a sustained level of high performance and commitment to excellence throughout her 12 years serving both Cornell Engineering and Cornell Bowers Computing and Information Science.


Jonathan T. Butcher, a professor in the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, and Ryan Sauvé, who previously served as the undergraduate program coordinator in the Meinig School and is now the assistant director of Engineering Learning Initiatives, won for the development and launch of the undergraduate major in biomedical engineering.

Newton de Faria, a professor of practice, in the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, was chosen based on his dedication to the school’s Master of Engineering program and his leadership in developing an M.D.-M.Eng. program in collaboration with colleagues at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Lisa Schneider-Bentley, the director of Engineering Learning Initiatives, won for her steady work to make sure that her team and the students they serve are working at the highest levels of professionalism and with an eye to the highest purposes.


Todd Cullen, Dorah Abdullah, Mike Woodson and Scott Yoest, members of the college’s information technology team, addressed an unmet technology-related research support need in a creative and efficient manner that has benefitted the entire campus and earned them an inaugural EPICC award.

Heather Parente, the director of budget and finance, was recognized for her outstanding technical skills, her ability to pilot and socialize new models and tools with leaders and financial staff across the college ability, and her knack for rapidly comprehending and evaluating new concepts and issues and their interdependencies.

Jeffrey D. Varner, a professor in the Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering of Professor, won for overseeing a revamp of their Ph.D. milestones and timelines during his two years as Director of Graduate Studies.


Wendy Bakal, an executive assistant in the dean’s office, won for her critical support of Cornell Engineering’s Belonging at Cornell committee, and her warm communication and empathy for community members, especially in times of need.

Julia Dshemuchadse, an assistant professor in Materials Science and Engineering, was honored for the way in which she empowers and includes others, including frequently identifying opportunities for students to get involved outside of their direct research.

Cheri Sigmund, the assistant to the director in Applied and Engineering Physics, won for her seemingly effortless manner of generating a strong sense of inclusion throughout her 28 years of service to Cornell.


Scott Campbell, Beth Kunz, Dontavius Seaborn, Amanda Augustyn, Robyn Koren, and Ginger Jung, members of the admissions team, Jami Joyner, Cindy Mosqueda, Nadine Porter and Chris Casler-Gonçalves in Diversity Programs in Engineering, won for modeling how collaboration between teams leads to excellence. The two offices have partnered for years on recruitment efforts, yield events and support for students and their families as they transition from prospect to admit to matriculant.

Claudia Fischbach-Teschl, the Stanley Bryer 1946 Professor of Biomedical Engineering, was honored for her numerous exceptional and sustained contributions to enhance collaborations not only within Cornell Engineering, but also across various colleges at Cornell, both in Ithaca and New York City.

Jessie Hilliker, the assistant to the directors in Electrical and Computer Engineering, was recognized for her attention to detail, volunteerism, and collaboration with others as she works to ensure that any gaps in operations are addressed both within ECE and throughout the college more broadly.

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