Yang “Wendy” Liu Award for Excellence in Teaching 2023


Her pure honesty and intention was always felt by students and colleagues alike. To know Wendy was to be a better you.”

About Wendy

The Yang Liu Award for Excellence in Teaching International Students was created in memory of Yang (Wendy) Liu in recognition of her leadership among IP-IALC faculty in a number of capacities.

Wendy was an Office of International Program’s Intensive American Language Center (IALC) faculty member who taught Intensive English at WSU for nearly a decade. She was a bilingual Chinese/English speaker with a fervent passion for teaching Intensive English. She loved WSU, her students, and the IALC faculty.

Wendy demonstrated grace, empathy, and excellence in her teaching and service to the university. She helped pioneer many of our best practices in working with Eastern Asian students and helped engage students and faculty outside of the classroom. She always paid particular attention to creating an excellent teaching and learning environment for linguistically and culturally diverse students.

Wendy passed away from complications due to cancer in 2019.


Wendy’s life calls on us to be our best selves, to give to our students freely, and to look at each and every person in their best possible light.

Our 2024 award winner

Shyam Sablani, PhD, Professor of Food Engineering, WSU Pullman

Shyam Sablani, PhD, Editor and professor of Food Engineering at WSU Pullman, has been named the 2024 recipient of the Yang “Wendy” Liu Award for Excellence in Teaching International Students.

Read the entire nomination

About Dr. Sablani

Learning in a new cultural environment can be intimidating and challenging. Teaching international students is not only an opportunity to make a significant difference in their academic and career trajectories; it also provides faculty with new perspectives on many fronts. These students bring diverse technical and cultural backgrounds, unique sets of skills and learning styles, and I always strive to accommodate student needs and interests, helping them identify their interests and unique strengths, motivate them to explore new frontiers, and assisting them in finding different ways to further sharpen their skills.

Shyam Sablani

  • Professor of Food Engineering in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering
  • Fellow of Institute of Food Technologists since 2024
  • Excellence in Research Award, CAHNRS, Washington State University, 2024
  • Frozen Food Foundation Freezing Research Award, 2021
  • Excellence in Advising Award, CAHNRS, Washington State University, 2018
  • Institute of Food Technologists Marcel Loncin Research Prize, 2016

“It is most satisfying to see students succeed academically and achieve their life goals, as well as witnessing engineering creations from our lab finding practical applications in the real world.”

I received my BE from National Institute of Technology, Raipur and M.S. from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in Mechanical Engineering, and Ph.D. from McGill University, Canada in Food Engineering.  Prior to joining Washington State University in 2007, I worked as an Associate Professor at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, Oman, a research associate at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, and a senior service engineer at OMC Computers Limited in New Delhi, India.

My current research interests include development of sustainable and eco-friendly food packaging, as well as the creation of novel education tools for enhanced food science and engineering education. Our research has contributed to the development of next-generation polymer packaging for ready-to-eat meals with extended shelf life benefitting soldiers and astronauts.

My research and education program have received support from USDA NIFA-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, USFA-Foreign Agriculture Services, Washington State Department of Agriculture and Commodity Commissions, and private foundations.

I have authored more than 250 research papers in peer-reviewed journals, more than 30 book chapters and have presented more than 100 conference papers. Additionally, I have edited a handbook on Food and Bioprocess Modeling Techniques.

In terms of mentoring, I have trained more than 30 Ph.D. and MS students, as well as over 20 postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars. I have also served on more than 50 graduate student committees.

I am a member of several professional organization including the Institute of Food Technologists, the Flexible Packaging Association, and the International Society of Food Engineering. Additionally, I serve as the Scientific Editor of Journal of Food Engineering. I enjoy reading books, cooking, being in nature and taking long walks with my wife, Sunita.

The nomination

It is with immense pride and pleasure that I nominate and write a letter of support for Dr. Shyam Sablani for the Yang Liu Award for Excellence in Teaching International Students. Dr. Sablani is my teacher, advisor, mentor, and role model. I have pursued different courses offered by him and currently conducting my doctoral dissertation under his supervision. Dr. Sablani is an extraordinary teacher and researcher in the field of food engineering.

The graduate students in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering are mostly (>80%) international and come from diverse backgrounds. Dr. Sablani respects student needs regarding culture, race, gender identity, and religious faith. These students also bring varied technical backgrounds, unique sets of skills and learning styles. Dr. Sablani always learn from students and accommodates their needs and advises them accordingly. He is an excellent listener and create a comfortable environment for students to share their views and interests. He has taught and mentored students from 20+ countries. This character helps Dr. Sablani to identify, define and facilitate students solve their problems. He is flexible in his approach to increase student success academically, in careers and in life.

Dr. Sablani helps students find their own passion and direction in life rather than give them definitive direction. He acts as a guide and mentor but help students to become more self-sufficient. He helps students develop other success skills, including the problem analysis, communication, leadership, management, multidisciplinary collaboration, critical thinking, and investigation needed to succeed in life. He encourages them to develop
lifelong learning and self-management skills. Additionally, during my first year, when I was struggling to get accustomed with the culture of the university as an International Student, he kept providing me additional encouragement. He gave me sufficient time, support, and encouragement to help me pass my struggling phase. Dr. Sablani is highly motivated and dedicated individual and passionate about and committed to wellbeing of students in the department. Dr. Sablani assists students beyond their program of study including helping them with awards, summer internships, job applications and interviews. As a result, his students have won national awards, scholarships, honors, published their research in highly ranked peer reviewed journal, presented their research findings at national scientific meetings and later found positions in top universities and global companies. He regularly trains students on scientific writing and places emphasis on avoiding any kind of plagiarism. Dr. Sablani has been instrumental in creating a Food Engineering Graduate Student Club at WSU where he served as a faculty adviser for more than ten years. He has guided the club to address various professional needs of its members. WSU Food Engineering Club is first of its kind in the nation, it also has served as a role model and motivated formation of three other graduate student clubs in the department. Consequently, he received Excellence in Advising Award from the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, WSU in 2018.

l have been extremely impressed by Dr. Sablani’s motivation, dedication, and commitment in teaching courses and mentoring students. It is with great pleasure I recommend Dr. Sablani an ideal nominee for the Yang Liu Award for Excellence in Teaching International Students. I believe this award will act as a catalyst for further achievements in his already illustrious career and would be very happy if the committee selected him for the

Thank you for considering my nomination and letter of support for Dr. Sablani

Submitted by Smit Patel, Ph.D. Candidate in Food Engineering
Department of Biological Systems Engineering

The first Yang Liu Award for Excellence in Teaching International Students recipient is Bala Krishnamoorthy, PhD, professor of mathematics and statistics at WSU Vancouver.