Class of 2024 Selects Outstanding Faculty

Monday, June 10, 2024

Graduating seniors in each undergraduate degree program in UC Santa Barbara’s College of Engineering select one Outstanding Faculty Award recipient every spring. The Outstanding Faculty for the Class of 2024 are Michael Doherty (chemical engineering), Yoga Isukapalli (computer engineering), Jonathan Balkind (computer science), Galan Moody (electrical engineering), and Trevor Marks (mechanical engineering). Three of the five awardees — Balkind, Moody, and Marks — are first-time recipients of the accolade. Here is what the recipients had to say about being recognized.

Michael Doherty joined the UCSB Chemical Engineering Department in 2000. Since then, the chemical engineering professor has amassed numerous recognitions, including the American Chemical Society’s E.V. Murphree Award for Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, inclusion among the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ “One Hundred Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era”, and election to the National Academy of Engineering. Graduating seniors added another honor to Doherty’s list, selecting him for the 2024 Outstanding Chemical Engineering Faculty Award. 

“I choose to work in a university because this is where the students are. Teaching is one of my passions, and I learn so much from teaching and hope that the students do too,” said Doherty, who has received this award multiple times in his career, most recently in 2017. “This recognition suggests that students are actually developing their knowledge, skills, and trade-craft form the senior-design course that I co-teach with [assistant teaching professor in chemical engineering] Joe Chada and [chemical engineering professor] Eric McFarland.

Doherty noted that students have taken the senior capstone design project very seriously this year, and that all the teams are working “hard and smart” to find creative solutions. He commended their ability to overcome the challenges of remote instruction during the pandemic and to make the most of in-person learning once it resumed. He says that the department’s faculty members hope that students finish their final year with more enthusiasm and passion than when they finished their first year. 

“We take teaching very seriously in the Chemical Engineering Department; it is one of our strengths,” said Doherty, who plans to retire during the next academic year. “I am delighted to be recognized one last time before I retire.”

When asked about what final message he had for the Class of 2024, Doherty said, “Lead by example.”

For the sixth year in a row, graduating seniors selected Yoga Isukapalli for the Outstanding Computer Engineering Faculty Award. 

 Isukapalli joined UCSB’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department as a tenure-track teaching professor in winter 2017, after several years working as a staff scientist in the Wi-Fi division at Broadcom, a semiconductor manufacturing company. 

“Receiving the Outstanding Faculty Award from graduating computer engineering seniors, whom I have taught in multiple classes, is a significant recognition for me,” said Isukapalli, who also received the university’s 2020-21 Distinguished Teaching Award from the Academic Senate. 

Isukapalli’s primary role is running the undergraduate capstone program for the Computer Engineering Program. The projects are focused on developing students into professionals by pairing them with industry or academic experts to create an engineered solution for real problems. 

“I have enjoyed seeing them mature as professional engineers,” Isukapalli said. “It is gratifying to know that they feel I have positively impacted their growth and development as computer engineers. I am honored to have had the opportunity to contribute to their educational experience.”

Graduating seniors selected Jonathan Balkind, an assistant professor, to receive the 2023-‘24 Computer Science Department’s Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award.  Like the members of the Class of 2024, Balkind joined the UCSB community in fall 2020, during the pandemic. 

“Receiving this award is incredibly exciting and a major honor,” said Balkind. “Many of our graduating class started at UCSB at the same time as I did, and we have been through the trials of starting during the lockdown, and then moving from online to in-person education together. To receive their recognition is very meaningful as a result.”

Balkind’s research group, the ArchLab, designs new computer systems and architectures, while collaborating with experts in programming languages, systems, security, and circuits. Researchers in his lab are aiming to make the systems more efficient, more secure, and easier to build. 

He has a few messages for the graduating seniors in the Computer Science Department.

“Their persistence in the face of adversity has been really inspiring, and this will serve them well for their future lives,” said Balkind. “I encourage them to take the time to appreciate their achievements and to relax and recover from many grueling years of work. Their efforts have paid off and now is the time to appreciate that with their friends and family, who have been cheering them on along the way.”

Galan Moody, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, designs, fabricates, and tests integrated quantum photonic devices and quantum materials relevant for quantum information processing, communications, and sensing. Since joining the UCSB faculty in 2019, Moody has received numerous accolades, including an Early CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and a Young Investigator Research Award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Graduating seniors have awarded him another distinct honor, naming him the Electrical Engineering Program’s Outstanding Faculty Award, a recognition that Moody describes as “special.”

“Getting the chance to teach such amazing students is what pulled me back into academia five years ago,” said Moody. “I feel fortunate to be able to teach many classes with labs, and I love seeing students’ faces light up when things begin to ‘click’, and they begin to really understand difficult concepts through hands-on learning.”

Moody said that the Class of 2024 endured many challenges over the past four years, in addition to the rigorous coursework. He has been impressed by their perseverance, and their ability to adapt to changing circumstances and find ways to stay connected and engaged, especially through research projects, capstone projects, and internships. 

“When I think of students in the Class of 2024, they embody a spirit of determination and resilience, and they’ve proven that they can thrive in challenging situations,” said Moody. “As they continue their careers, I have one piece of advice: find what you’re passionate about, and use all the skills and knowledge that you’ve developed at UCSB to follow your passions and make impactful contributions to the world.”


Trevor Marks has been a part of UCSB’s Mechanical Engineering Department since 2002, when he started as an undergraduate student. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he stayed at UCSB and earned his PhD in mechanical engineering, later accepting a position as a research and development (R&D) engineer, a position that he has held for more than a decade. His primary duties as R&D engineer include mentoring, managing the undergraduate education and design labs, and supporting students and faculty with their research projects. Students rewarded Marks for his hard work and dedication to their success by selecting him to receive his first Outstanding Faculty Award. 

“I am deeply honored and humbled to have been selected by students for this award,” said Marks, who as a graduate student in 2010 received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from graduating seniors. “Teaching has always been a passion of mine, and to be acknowledged in this way is incredibly meaningful. This inspires me to continue striving for excellence in my work and to constantly seek ways to enhance the learning experience for my students.”

This year’s graduating class holds a special place in Marks’s heart, because students have shown incredible resilience and adaptability by completing their first year remotely. Marks says that students have demonstrated remarkable strength and determination, which bodes well for their future endeavors.  He had a few messages to graduates.

“As you embark on this new chapter of your lives, remember to embrace change with an open mind and a fearless heart,” said Marks. “Stay true to your passions, never stop learning, and always believe in the power of your dreams. Congratulations, Class of 2024; the world awaits your brilliance and boundless potential!”

Related People: 
Michael Doherty, Galan Moody, Jonathan Balkind, Yogananda Isukapalli
2024 Outstanding Faculty (clockwise from top left) Galan Moody, Trevor Marks, Jonathan Balkind, Yoga Isukapalli, Michael Doherty

2024 Outstanding Faculty (clockwise from top left) Galan Moody, Trevor Marks, Jonathan Balkind, Yoga Isukapalli, Michael Doherty