Alumni Achievement Honorees for 2014 Announced

School’s Annual Medal of Excellence Award Event Recognizes Innovation in Industry, Education, Research, and Service

Six distinguished Rutgers University School of Engineering alumni have been selected to receive the school’s most prestigious awards for professional achievement and service to the community. The Medal of Excellence and Distinguished Alumni awards recognize the contributions made by School of Engineering graduates in advancing innovation and technology across a diversity of professions and disciplines. The awards will be presented on Thursday, October 2, 2014 at a dinner event with alumni, faculty, students, and industry and government leaders, on the Rutgers New Brunswick campus.

This year’s honorees include alumni whose contributions in pharmaceutical research and development, planning and public policy, organizational procurement, and market research have furthered economic development and contributed to technologic advancements and economic development for New Jersey and the nation. In addition, a Dean’s Award for Service is presented to a School of Engineering alumnus who, through personal commitment and dedication, has contributed to strengthening the school and its programs. The Distinguished Engineer Award is given by the Rutgers Engineering Society, the official alumni group for the School of Engineering.

“The 2014 honorees showcase the outstanding achievements of the school’s alumni and also demonstrate the diversity of careers that encompass an engineering degree,” said School of Engineering Dean Thomas Farris.  “Rutgers University engineering graduates make an important impact, sparking innovation that strengthens New Jersey’s economy and shapes lives around the globe.”

The 2014 Medal of Excellence honorees include:

Medal of Excellence Award
James W. Hughes, Ph.D. ENG’65, GSNB’71
Dean, Edward J.  Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

James W. Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University since1995, is a nationally-recognized academic expert on demographics, housing, and regional economics providing extensive budgetary and economic testimony before many New Jersey State Legislative committees, policy briefings both in Washington and Trenton, and consulting to numerous federal, state, and local public bodies as well as private and corporate clients. He has produced 37 major economic/demographic/housing studies on New Jersey and the New York region as director of the Rutgers Regional Report. He was recently a member of Governor Christie’s Housing Opportunity Task Force and served on the NJ Governor’s Commission on Jobs, Growth and Economic Development, and the Governor’s Logistics Council, as well as corporate boards and task forces. He was named a Distinguished Fellow of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties and has been both a Woodrow Wilson and Ford Foundation Fellow. 

Distinguished Alumnus in Industry and Commerce
Joanna L. Martinez ENG’75, GSNB’77
Executive Managing Director, Chief Procurement Officer
Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.

Over her career, Joanna Martinez has created ways in which procurement and supply chain help grow a company’s bottom-line. Today, in her role as chief procurement officer for Cushman & Wakefield, she brings innovations to the firm and to its facilities management clients. Before joining C&W she created global sourcing at Alliance Bernstein L.P., a leading investment services firm, and held engineering, management, procurement, and supply chain roles at Diageo PLC and within the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. Martinez has received numerous awards for innovation, among them recognition by the New Jersey ISM.  Joanna has been a guest speaker at Columbia and De Paul Universities and often speaks at professional events. This year, she was named a Supply and Demand Chain Executive Pro to Know.

Distinguished Alumnus in Education and Research
Mark C. Zimmerman, Ph.D. GSNB’85
Venture Leader
BetaLogics Division of Janssen Research and Development, LLC

As a scientist engaged in research focused on regenerative medicine and tissue engineering projects related to bone and cartilage regeneration, wound healing, vascular biology, and diabetes, Mark Zimmerman is currently a Johnson & Johnson venture leader responsible for research, product development, and commercialization of a cellular product to treat insulin-requiring diabetes. Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, Zimmerman was a member of the faculty at the University of Medicine and Dentistry-New Jersey Medical School (now Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences) in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Distinguished Young Alumni
Robert Stianchi ENG’05
Commercial BioVentures, Merck

Robert Stianchi is the director of Commercial BioVentures at Merck leading marketing research and marketing support related to biosimilar products. As an expert in the global biosimilars market and off-patent biologics in the United States, he most recently led initiatives to shape Merck’s biosimilar commercialization strategy, including advancements in contracting and tendering, device development, and customer services and support.

The Dean’s Award for Service
Charles Chang GSNB’75
Topline Products Company

From his earliest days in the cosmetics industry as a packaging engineer and later as founder and president of Topline Products, Charles Chang has made a name for himself as a creative innovator and a global leader in the cosmetic packaging industry. He pioneered the introduction of packaging solutions from Asia to North America and holds 30 patents worldwide. His long and respected association with Rutgers and the School of Engineering includes establishing and serving as chairman of the Rutgers Packaging Engineering Advisory Board. He is also a member of the School of Engineering’s Industry Advisory Board and the Rutgers Foundation’s Board of Overseers.

Distinguished Engineer Award (Rutgers Engineering Society Honor)
Charles R. Kurkjian, Ph.D. ENG’52

Widely regarded as one of the foremost experts in the area of glass mechanics, Charles R. (Chuck) Kurkjian will be honored for his work in the field of glass science and technology. Elected to the National Academy of Engineering—one of the highest professional honors accorded to an engineer—Kurkjian was recognized for his contributions leading to the development of long optical fibers.  Over a 45 year career at Bell Laboratories, Kurkjian published numerous papers and was awarded seven patents. He continues to be an engaged with Rutgers and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

The 2014 recipients will be honored at the Medal of Excellence Awards dinner in Trayes Hall at Rutgers Univeristy. The event begins with cocktails at 6:00 p.m., followed by dinner and dessert and the evening’s presentations. Each honoree will be formally recognized at the event.

Tickets are available for $125 per person. Proceeds from this event benefit the Rutgers School of Engineering Scholarship Fund.  This fund rewards the school’s most talented and deserving students by providing critical financial resources and educational opportunity. To purchase tickets or request sponsorship information, call Rebecca Perkins at 908.580.0946 or visit the event’s website at