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Modest’s Work in Radiative Heat Transfer Earns Prestigious Award

July 1, 2022

Professor Michael ModestDistinguished Professor Emeritus Michael Modest has earned the 2021 Max Jakob Memorial Award, given by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in recognition of “eminent achievement of distinguished service in the area of heat transfer.”

“The Max Jakob Award is truly the pinnacle of my career, so this really means a lot to me,” Modest said.

He joined the School of Engineering in 2009 as the Shaffer and George Professor of Engineering, a chair he held until he retired in 2017. His career included positions at The Pennsylvania State University, University of Southern California, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, San Francisco State University and NASA Johnson Space Center.

Modest has been a member of the ASME since 1974, and about five years ago, the organization made him an honorary member to recognize his “pioneering and impactful contributions in the fields of radiative heat transfer,” and came to campus to create a short film about him and his work .

“This is such a well-deserved honor for Professor Modest,” Department of Mechanical Engineering Chair Professor Ashlie Martini said. “We are proud that he is part of our department and so happy that he has remained connected to us even after retirement.”

The Max Jakob Memorial Award is the highest honor in the field of heat transfer and is bestowed annually to an eminent scholar chosen from around the world. Modest will receive a bronze plaque and an honorarium of $1,000, as well as travel expenses to accept the award at an upcoming meeting. He will be required to attend the annual ASME-AIChE Summer Heat Transfer Conference and deliver a lecture. He’s also asked to write an article for the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer.

The challenging work Modest has undertaken in radiative heat transfer and laser machining of ceramics over the span of his career has earned him many other honors and awards, too, including the ASME’s 75th Anniversary Medal; the Thermophysics Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award from the A. von Humboldt Foundation in Germany; the Heat Transfer Memorial Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; and the Premier Research and Outstanding Research awards from the Penn State Engineering Society.