Max Zhang elected the Irving Porter Church Professor of Engineering

Sibley School Professor Max Zhang has been elected the Irving Porter Church Professor of Engineering by the Cornell University Board of Trustees.

The Trustees noted Zhang’s dedication to academic excellence, environmental justice, and community engagement as well as his work’s focus on moving toward a sustainable and equitable society.

Zhang, who joined the faculty of Cornell Engineering in 2006, has focused much of his research on projects that have an impact in real people’s real lives. Working with community partners, he leads several efforts on the electrification of the heating sector, characterization of renewable resources and solar development.  Zhang is also contributing to the understanding of the effects of airborne particulate matter and gaseous pollutants on ambient air quality, indoor environmental quality, and climate change, using numerical models and experimental techniques. 

His field experiments with Internet of Things (IoT)-based solutions in the energy and environmental systems led him create an initiative to design the first statewide public IoT network in the U.S.  Combining broadband with Low Power Wide Area Network to bridge the digital divide between rural and non-rural America, this initiative has already enabled a wide range of impactful research and community engagement activities such as microclimate monitoring at solar farms across New York State, IoT-integrated food cabinets to address food security, and telehealth applications to fill the primary care gap in rural communities.

David Erickson, the S.C. Thomas Sze Director of the Sibley School, said "I truly admire Max’s remarkable achievements and contributions in the fields of energy and the environment. His dedication to academic excellence, environmental justice and community engagement has made long-lasting impact towards a sustainable and equitable society. The combination of this with his academic success make him an excellent candidate for an endowed chair."

The honor came as a surprise to Zhang, who did not know he was under consideration for the named professorship. “The word ‘exciting’ does not fully capture how I feel about this,” Zhang said. “I feel humbled and grateful that my work is being recognized by Cornell. I am very fortunate to be at a place that sees the value in the sort of work I do. It is exciting to be part of the Sibley School, the College of Engineering, and Cornell where I have so many amazing colleagues, students, and collaborators.”

You can learn more about the work of Zhang’s Energy and the Environment Lab here.

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