Branko Kerkez honored as Arthur F. Thurnau Professor

Associate Professor Kerkez is recognized for his ingenuity in undergraduate education.

Associate Professor Branko Kerkez has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to undergraduate education as one of this year’s Arthur F. Thurnau Professors. The 2021 honorees were approved February 18 by the Board of Regents.

According to the University Record announcement, “faculty members must demonstrate a strong commitment to teaching and learning, excellence and innovation in teaching, and dedication to working effectively with a diverse student body” to become a Thurnau professor.

Kerkez is recognized for launching intelligent systems as a discipline within the department and for engaging students with real-world, collaborative opportunities. For example, his section of ENGR 100: Smart Water Systems (co-taught with Professor Nancy Love) allowed first-year students to work with officials in solving water management challenges through technology. Similarly, his seminar course CEE 501: How Cities Work brought together students from various U-M departments.

Photo of students performing test
A group of CoE First-Year students test pipe sensors built for ENG 100: Smart Water Systems in the Gorguze Family Laboratory on November 30, 2018. The sensors measure vibrations in the water pipes to measure for potential leaks. Photo: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing

“We are deeply honored to have Professor Kerkez on our faculty and joining our department’s long legacy of Thurnau Professorship recipients,” wrote Professor and Donald Malloure Department Chair Jerome Lynch.

Kerkez’s commitment to collaboration extends to his Real-Time Water Systems Lab, which is open to graduate students, undergraduate student groups, senior design teams, community members and highschool students. This “Hacker Space,” originally funded by U-M’s Third Century Initiative, provides tools and supplies for safely deploying water sensor networks and systems that can reduce flooding and improve water quality.

The professorship is named after alumnus Arthur F. Thurnau and supported by the Thurnau Charitable Trust. Recipients receive $20,000 to support teaching activities, and the appointment is a title a professor will retain throughout their U-M careers.

Read the original article about Kerkez and the rest of this year’s Thurnau cohort here


Portrait of Mason Hinawi
Mason Hinawi

Marketing Communications Specialist
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering