Yang Liu Named 2024 Vulcan Materials Company Teaching Excellence Award Winner

May 13, 2024
Yang Liu

By Kelly Jordan

Yang Liu, PhD, Chair and Gangarosa Distinguished Professor in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health, was selected as the Emory recipient of the 2024 Vulcan Materials Company Teaching Excellence Award. This award honors “outstanding professors from select member campuses of the Georgia Independent College Association.”

Liu was selected for his “exceptional teaching, commitment to students, and leadership to enhance the campus (and Atlanta) community” and was nominated by a number of his PhD students, including Sabrina Chow.

“As faculty and chair in our department, Professor Liu approaches teaching and mentorship from multiple angles,” says Chow. “In addition to all the responsibilities that he has as chair of the department, Professor Liu continues to teach courses in remote sensing and runs his lab group, supporting the training of numerous master’s and doctoral students at Emory. Through his collaborations and under his guidance, his students have had the opportunity to support projects at the international scale and learn from experts in the field in class."

Liu notes he enjoys interacting with students both inside and outside the classroom as he introduces new data, tools, and knowledge to advance their understanding of environmental health sciences. In terms of his teaching approach, Liu says he likes to be as practical as possible and teaches with real-world data and hands-on experiences.

“I guide students' learning experience toward what they will likely encounter in their work environment after graduation. For example, in EH 587, in order to enhance students' knowledge of a subject, I ask students to critique a technical paper as if they were journal reviewers. In EH 586, I ask students to prepare a full grant proposal in response to a mock notice of funding opportunity, and pitch it to a senior CDC administrator (also our adjunct faculty member) as judge.”

In addition to his role as chair and professor at Rollins, Liu serves as an adjunct professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech, and is director of the Emory Climate and Health Research Incubator. Liu’s research interests include satellite aerosol retrieval and product design, applications of satellite remote sensing in public health research, climate change and health, machine learning, and spatial statistics.          

Liu’s receipt of the Vulcan Materials Company Teaching Excellence Award is one of many accolades he has received over the course of his career. Additional recent notable achievements include his selection for the American Geophysical Union Geohealth Section Award (2023), being named the 2020 Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator, and more.