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  • ConnCenter


Sept. 8, 2021

The University of Louisville’s 2021 winners of the Outstanding Performance Awards have been named, and two of this year’s winners are from the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research at the J.B. Speed School of Engineering.

The staff employees were selected by a committee of peers and recognized for their work in exemplifying the Cardinal Principles. More information about this year’s winners is available on the Employee Success Center’s website.

Joshua Spurgeon, PhD, is a Research Engineer and Theme Leader for Solar Fuels research focused on economically viable approaches to solar water splitting, electrosynthetic fuel formation, and advanced electrocatalysts.

Spurgeon has been successful in winning significant grants for the Conn Center, including the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award. He has published 26 articles in five years in the Conn Center, including four articles with exceptionally high impact factors of 30+, and many highly cited works. He also has been granted one patent on solar-driven hydrogen generation from humidity in the air, and he has two other patents pending through UofL.

Joshua Spurgeon, PhD

Hank Paxton, Research and Development Engineer at the Conn Center, nominated Spurgeon for the award. In the nomination form, he said, “Josh has displayed strong service through community outreach activities that broaden the impact of the Conn Center’s activities. He has been dedicated to his students and tries his best to always be involved and accessible while mentoring graduate students. He perseveres through tough challenges and research problems, and always takes the time to try to make sure that students are learning along the way. He also cares about his students as people and tries to build group unity beyond work activities,” said Paxton.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for this performance award,” said Spurgeon. Everyone here at the Conn Center is working hard on technology to improve our world, and we definitely owe our successes to teamwork, creativity, and persistence. I certainly would not have been able to accomplish what I have without my excellent colleagues that breathe life into the Center including Eunice Salazar, who is at the center of it all and helps me navigate grants and the university system; Andrew Marsh for his guidance, vision, and articulation on behalf of the Center; our Director, Mahendra Sunkara, an effective leader and mentor who helped me transition to being a research leader; and of course, the Conn Center and our clean energy vision would not be possible without Hank Conn and his dedication.”

Eunice Salazar, Unit Business Manager, Conn Center, is responsible for all financial operations, including requisitions, invoicing, accounts receivable/payable, reconciliation, and pre-/post-award grant accounting. She was nominated by Andrew Marsh, Assistant Director, Conn Center. “Her consistently positive attitude and ‘take on anything’ mentality have characterized Ms. Salazar’s outstanding service to the university since her hire in 2013, and especially in her expanded capability as UBM since 2016. Eunice responds decisively and carefully to [her] barrage of daily administrative tasks and activities with the Cardinal Principles as her guide, consistently enabling the center staff, researchers, students, associated faculty, and industry collaborators as they navigate university, state and federal accounting and operations regulations. She maintains the center’s business dealings with a clear ethical compass and ensures training and adherence to best practices in accountancy,” said Marsh.

“I’m honored to be acknowledged and am glad to work with the Conn Center team,” said Salazar. “They are all bright, high performers, and keep me on my toes! I thank God for giving me a good brain. I appreciate Andrew (Assistant Director) for taking the time to nominate me and Dr. Sunkara, our Director, for his continuous leadership that challenges us to excellence,” said Salazar. “A shout out to Mr. Hank and Ms. Rebecca Conn, of course, for their unwavering support to the University and the foresight to help establish the Center to focus on an area that’s much needed in our world.”

Marsh added, “Congratulations to Eunice and Josh, and all the OPA recipients, for the peer recognition of positive impact, exemplary conduct, and genuine achievements. Your spirit brought to task every day defines greatness.”


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