April 18, 2007

Yesuf wins thesis award in 15-state competition

by Tim Crosby


Jemil Yesuf

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A civil and environmental engineering graduate student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is the winner of 2007 Distinguished Thesis Award from the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools.

Jemil Yesuf, a doctoral student in engineering sciences at SIUC, previously won this academic year's Outstanding Thesis Award from the SIU Alumni Association. As the University's top thesis, officials entered the paper into that annual MAGS competition, which includes more than 150 colleges and universities from 15 states. This year, members entered 51 papers in the competition.

Yesuf's win marked the third time in six years the association has given the award to an SIUC graduate student. Joshua Der, a graduate student in plant biology, won the award last year while Chad Briggs, a psychology graduate student working with psychology and administration of justice faculty, won it in 2001.

John Koropchak, vice chancellor for research and dean of the graduate school, said the award testified to the excellence of Yesuf's scholarship and the high-quality guidance by Lizette R. Chevalier, professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at SIUC.

"MAGS members come from over a dozen states, and total over 150 institutions, including some of the most prestigious universities in the U.S.," Koropchak said. "The fact that three of our students have won this award in the last six years is an indication that our graduate students are mentored well by our faculty and prepared to compete favorably with the best anywhere."

Chevalier said Yesuf richly deserves the honor.

"It is a significant honor for him, for our program and SIUC," she said. "His overall gracious acceptance of the award and presentation of his work at the awards ceremony clearly gave us a sense of his elegant mind."

Yesuf's thesis, titled "Determination of Single and Multi-Component Adsorption Isotherms Using Nonlinear Error Functions and Spreadsheet Optimization Technique," explored ways to remove dyes used in textiles from the water leaving a manufacturing plant. He also improved certain mathematical analysis techniques using spreadsheet optimization and examined the potential of using almond shells, a mill byproduct, to remove dye from the factory effluent.

One of three anonymous thesis reviewers wrote this about Yesuf's work:

"This is an excellent thesis. It is clearly written and involves laboratory work as well as significant mathematical analysis – an excellent blend of laboratory work, mathematics, and writing. The subject matter, adsorption of potential pollutants, is practical, and the results are a significant contribution to the literature."

The Midwest Association of Graduate Schools is the regional affiliate for the Council of Graduate Schools. All members are accredited institutions of higher learning located throughout the central United States. Its primary goal is to support and encourage high quality research and improvement of standards.

Yesuf received a $500 honorarium and up to $500 more in travel expenses to defray the cost of his attending the association's annual meeting, April 10-14 in Indianapolis.

A native of Ethiopia, Yesuf earned his undergraduate degree in 1995 at Addis Ababa University.