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Sanyal, Szczecinski named Richards Faculty Fellows in engineering

Oishi Sanyal and Nick Szczecinski

Oishi Sanyal (left) and Nick Szczecinski (right) were named J. Wayne and Kathy Richards Faculty Fellows.

Two assistant professors in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University have been named J. Wayne and Kathy Richards Faculty Fellows in Engineering.

Story and photos by Paige Nesbit, Director of Marketing and Communications


Oishi Sanyal from the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and Nick Szczecinski from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, were appointed to the three-year positions, which provides funds to support and grow their respective research programs.

The fellowships are the result of a $1 million gift made in 2014 by alumnus J. Wayne Richards and his wife, Kathy. The endowment at WVU provides flexible funds to allow the College to hire, retain, reward and recognize faculty members who have not yet achieved tenure.

“Kathy and I are honored to have the ability to support and recognize these two outstanding young faculty members as they work to grow their research profiles,” Richards said. “We congratulate them and we look forward to seeing how the fellowship helps them bring their research to fruition in the years to come.”

Sanyal noted honoring Wayne and Kathy’s legacy by using the funds to expand the application of membranes beyond desalination and wastewater treatment, and to build a nationally reputed research program at WVU. 

“In my view, membranes are poised to play a very important role in decarbonization efforts,” Sanyal explained. “I am very grateful to Wayne and Kathy Richards for creating this opportunity in the Statler College. I am honored to be chosen for this title and I will strive to live up to the expectations that come with this recognition.” 

Szczecinski plans to use this opportunity to work with neuroscientists to expand the capabilities of robots that can walk, which will enable humans to explore and traverse extreme terrains everywhere, including farms and orchards, mines, underwater on the sea floor, and on other planets.

“Thank you to Wayne and Kathy Richards for providing this funding,” Szczecinski said. “The college and my department have been supportive of my research, and the further support of this fellowship gives me the confidence to continue what I'm doing and double down on my research direction. This funding will help cover the costs of traveling with students to academic conferences, which enrich students' educational experience and publicize the research they are performing at the Statler College.” 

Sanyal received her bachelor’s in chemical engineering in 2011 from Manipal University in India and her doctorate in chemical engineering from Michigan State University in 2016. Sanyal's research focuses on developing advanced membranes as the next generation separation tools for water treatment and gas separation.

Szczecinski received his bachelor’s (2012), masters (2013) and doctorate (2017) in mechanical engineering from Case Western Reserve University. His research focuses on modelling the nervous systems of animals to build and control robots through collaborations with neuroscientists from Europe and North America.&

"Oishi and Nick are exceptional young and talented faculty members in our College and very deserving of this prestigious honor. I am proud of them and look forward to seeing all the great things they will accomplish in the future," said Pedro Mago, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College. “The Wayne and Kathy Richards Faculty Fellows is an outstanding program, and I am extremely grateful to Wayne and Kathy for their strong and continued support to our College and faculty.”

Natives of South Charleston, West Virginia, the Richards’ have a history of support to the Statler College and to WVU athletics. In 2012, the pair pledged $250,000 to the Statler College Building Fund to help fund construction of its new Advanced Engineering Research Building. In 2013, they pledged $1.25 million to the Mountaineer Athletic Club for enhancements to the football complex.

Richards has dedicated years of service to the College and University on the Statler College Advisory Committee and WVU Foundation Board of Directors. After earning his bachelor’s degree in mining engineering from WVU in 1981, he spent 25 years in a number of senior operational, and sales and marketing positions with Schlumberger. He currently serves as president and CEO of GR Energy Services in Sugar Land, Texas. Kathy earned her degree in dental hygiene at WVU Tech in Montgomery.



Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, contact our Marketing and Communications office:

Phone: 304-293-4135