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Celebration of Excellence: Board of Regents Research Award

2019 Recipient: Dr. Darcy Kern, Assistant Professor of Medieval Mediterranean History

About the award

The Board of Regents Research Awards are given to recognize faculty from the four state universities who are doing exceptional research/creative work.

About the recipient

Darcy Kern is an accomplished and prolific scholar whose work impacts a variety of fields in late medieval and early modern history.

The main argument of Dr. Kern’s research, which spans continents and timelines, is that language shapes culture. She specifically focuses on translated texts that move between cultures; in her own words, her research “adheres to the humanist tradition, emphasizing language as a key component of understanding history, culture, and power.”

Students have sought out study with Dr. Kern, understanding that her specialties are important frameworks through which we can trace chronology and methodological trends. As one colleague noted, “Dr. Kern’s work in translation studies is playing an important role in redefining how scholars understand the transmission of knowledge and the application of power in the late medieval and early modem world.”

Dr. Kern’s work has appeared in a number of highly selective publications, specifically “The Journal of Medieval History,” “English,” and “Philological Quarterly.” Her article “Platonic Words: Paolo Sarpi and Roberto Bellarmino as Translators in the Venetian Interdict Crisis” was so significant that she was invited to Cambridge University to present follow-up research on the topic. She is currently at work on a manuscript, “Texts, Translation, and Political Thought in Late Medieval Spain.”

Dr. Kern earned a Ph.D. and an M.A. in History from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in History and Spanish from Kansas State University. Since arriving at Southern in 2015, she has participated in several programs to enhance her scholarship, most recently at the Beinecke Center for Preservation and Conservation.

Celebration of Excellence: Senior-Level Faculty Research Fellowship

2019 Recipient: Kalu Ogbaa, Professor of English

About the award

In recognition of the increased responsibilities placed on senior-level faculty members, the Senior-Level Faculty Research Fellowship supports and encourages research, creative activity, and scholarship among senior faculty members. Awardees receive a significant amount of reassigned time for these purposes.

About the recipient

In 2013, Chinua Achebe, founder of the Modern African Novel and author of the acclaimed novel Things Fall Apart, requested that Dr. Kalu Ogbaa, professor of English, write his biography. Dr. Ogbaa had met Professor Achebe while enrolled in a Master’s program at The Ohio State University and subsequently wrote a dissertation on Achebe’s fiction. Dr. Ogbaa went on to publish two books, some book chapters, and solicited interviews on Achebe’s works. He teaches Achebe’s novels at Southern at the graduate and undergraduate levels and has established himself as an authority on Achebe studies, nationally and internationally.

Dr. Ogbaa began work on the biography in 2015; a fellowship enables him to complete it. According to Dr. Ogbaa’s notes, the biography — entitled The Life and Times of Chinua Achebe – “will weave together the stories of [Achebe’s] upbringing, Christian and Western education, the lgbo storytelling techniques he learned from his sister, and the creative writing skills he learned from his British college professors, the combination of which made him the master storyteller who influenced other writers to make African literature a viable corpus in World Literature today.”

Dr. Ogbaa has completed two of the four stages of his work plan. The fellowship will allow him to complete stages three and four: to review and analyze collected data, and write research findings chapter by chapter; and to complete the final crafting, collating, and coediting of all segments of the book manuscript for publication.

Dr. Ogbaa received a Ph.D. in English from The University of Texas;
an M.A. in Black Studies from The Ohio State University; and a B.A. in English from The University of Nigeria.

Celebration of Excellence: Outstanding Faculty Advising Award

2019 Recipient: Dr. Gayle Bogel, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the School Library Media Program

About the award

The Outstanding Faculty Academic Advising Award recognizes the integral links between excellent academic advising and student retention and success, and rewards faculty who provide exceptional academic advising and mentoring to undergraduate or graduate students.

About the recipient

For the last three years, the advising load of Dr. Gayle Bogel has averaged 50-plus students each semester, yet the recommendations of her students are unanimous: Dr. Bogel made each one feel that their time and circumstance were of the utmost importance. One student noted, “Outside of my family, she has had the most influence over my successful completion of this program.”

“A true mentor,” “outstanding,” “compassionate,” and “exceptional” are just a few of the descriptors used to convey Dr. Bogel’s professional and personal ethics. According to a colleague, The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has embedded dispositions in all of their new national Standards, and Dr. Bogel models the following: “she works successfully with others, she promotes collaborative planning with others, and she models and shares ethical and legal principles of education and librarianship.”

Former students speak highly of Dr. Bogel as an educator and adviser, some noting that her mentorship continued even after they graduate and that “Dr. Bogel was the mentor I needed in my most difficult times in the program… she was always willing to talk, and she had both the knowledge and the compassion to help me solve my problems and soothe my anxieties.”

In addition to her teaching and advising, Dr. Bogel has written numerous academic articles, presented at national and international conferences, and received several honors and awards, including the John and Hilda Jay Award for Significant Contribution to the Library Media Field.

Dr. Bogel received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Information Science from the University of North Texas; an M.L.S. from Southern; and an M.A. in Education from Sacred Heart University.

Celebration of Excellence: Board of Regents Teaching Award

2019 Recipient: Dr. Charles Baraw, Associate Professor of English

About the award

The Board of Regents Teaching Award is given to recognize faculty who have distinguished themselves as outstanding teachers for at least five years and have a minimum of two years’ track record of promoting instructional improvements for their programs/departments.

About the recipient

Professor Charles Baraw has taught in the English Department at Southern for nine years; during that time, his instructional practices — which have been called “brilliant,” “engaged” and “transformational” — have garnered accolades university-wide.

Just last spring Dr. Baraw was awarded the J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teaching Award. According to colleagues, his teaching “has made a dramatic and positive difference for our English majors and for students across the university,” and “one of his strengths is his willingness to guide students on their academic and personal paths in and out of the classroom.”

Dr. Baraw has given his inspired teaching method a light-hearted appellation: the “jazz method,” meaning that lessons are pre-planned loosely, with room to adapt and improvise according to in-class assessment of student engagement and skill. He also relies upon a core principle in his teaching: the mutual imperative to trust, wonder, and reflect. To learn of how his teaching has enhanced and guided the instruction and development of each student is to appreciate how effective and outstanding his influence truly is. He has mentored numerous student research and teaching assistants and pushed them to develop independent research projects. As a result, this past summer five English majors won prestigious research fellowships.

It has been noted that when Dr. Baraw is on campus, he is rarely alone and that “one or two students are speaking with him in his office, and one or two more are in the hallway waiting.” This desire to engage, and to cultivate, illustrates succinctly what yet another colleague noted of Dr. Baraw: that he creates a culture of English that invites students into the joys of the field through multiple doors — his office door being one of them.

Dr. Baraw holds a Ph.D. in English from Yale University; an MA in English from Middlebury College, Bread Loaf School of English; and a B.A. in English Literature and American History from the University of Vermont.

Celebration of Excellence: Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship

2019 Recipient: Dr. Victoria Zigmont, Assistant Professor of Public Health

About the award

SCSU recognizes the importance of faculty scholarship and creative activity in furthering its mission. The Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowships aim to support this goal by providing recipients with a significant amount of reassigned time at an early stage in their careers at Southern.

About the recipient

Dr. Victoria Zigmont, assistant professor of Public Health, has amassed significant data on college student food insecurity, which is defined as “the uncertainty of being able to acquire enough food, or enough nutritious food, needed to maintain a healthy diet.” Her research on solutions to student food insecurity seeks to expand upon her previous research, analyzing data about risk factors and food insecurity status and identifying solutions to the problem.

According to Dr. Zigmont’s notes, although college students experience food insecurity at higher rates than the national average, they are often deemed ineligible to receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. A 2016 Southern-wide study conducted by Dr. Zigmont revealed that 30 percent of undergraduate students reported some degree of food insecurity; furthermore, that that insecurity leads to lower average grade point averages, increased anxiety or depression, and poor nutrition.

In addition to further measuring the effect of food insecurity on academic performance and identifying variables in existing data associated with food insecurity, Dr. Zigmont’s project will culminate in two manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals and a conceptualized grant for external funding to expand this work.

According to Dr. Zigmont, “This project has implications to benefit students across the country… [It] will share new knowledge with educators, public health providers and the general academic community to show what the disparities in academic outcomes are for students who are food insecure.”

Dr. Zigmont received a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health from The Ohio State University; a Master of Public Health in Health Promotion from Southern; and a B.S. in Chemistry and Physiology & Neurobiology from the University of Connecticut.

Celebration of Excellence: Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship

2019 Recipient: Md Shafaeat Hossain, Associate Professor of Computer Science

About the award

SCSU recognizes the importance of faculty scholarship and creative activity in furthering its mission. The Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship aims to support this goal by providing mid-level faculty members with a significant amount of reassigned time at this crucial stage in their careers at Southern.

About the recipient

Dr. Hossain is researching multi-biometric systems (both parallel fusion-based and serial fusion-based) in hopes of developing a new serial fusion-based verification scheme. Its application is significant, as the core of all information security — computer security, cyber security, and network security — is the concept of user authentication, which ensures that only legitimate users can access the resources they need and that unauthorized users are blocked.

Dr. Hossain’s development of a new serial fusion-based biometric verification scheme, he wrote, “would provide a scheme that performs better than or at least as good as a parallel fusion based-scheme, and at the same time, provide a significant amount of convenience to the genuine users.”

Professor Hossain’s Ph.D. work is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and has been published in “Applied Intelligence” as well as in prestigious peer-reviewed IEEE conference proceedings. His multi-faceted research plan entails literature review; verification scheme development; data collection; data cleansing and processing; coding and experiments; analysis; and finally, publication and reporting and the possible procurement of additional research funds from DARPA.

Professor Hossain received a Ph.D. in Computational Analysis and Modeling, an MS in Computer Science, and an MS in Mathematics from Louisiana Tech University. He also received an MS in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Dhaka.

Celebration of Excellence: Million Dollar Club

2019 Recipient: Alycia Santilli, Director of CARE

About the award

The Million Dollar Club is calculated to include all grants and awards brought into Southern by faculty over the years. This club originated in SPAR in 2004 as a means of publicly recognizing faculty who have consistently pursued grants throughout the years as well as those who secured a single or multi-year large award.

About the recipient

As Director of the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) at Southern, Alycia Santilli transforms her everyday ethos — directly involving people most impacted by health disparities in the development of solutions to create health equity — into tangible successes.

Ms. Santilli began her relationship with CARE, which works collaboratively with community organizations and neighborhood groups across New Haven to improve the health of the city’s residents, in 2007 after its inception at Yale. With years of experience as a community organizer and as a coordinator of research projects at the Yale School of Public Health, she was instrumental in providing administrative oversight and strategic direction.

She quickly rose to a leadership position, becoming Director in 2016. She brought to the role all the ingredients for success: more than a decade of experience in community engagement; deep ties to the New Haven community; expertise in community-based intervention development; and a strong educational background in social work.

Under her directorial leadership, Ms. Santilli and the CARE team began implementing a renewed path offered through this unique university partnership. Recently, CARE secured several grants and contracts of varying sizes, including two major sources of funding.

Ms. Santilli also serves as the Principal Investigator for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and as the Principal Investigator of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health. This award has the potential to bring more than $3.6 million to New Haven. In its first year, CARE is proud to distribute 38 percent of this funding directly into the community.

As someone who received all of her education at public schools and state universities in Connecticut, and as a dedicated resident of New Haven, Ms. Santilli ’s experience — both hands-on and career-based — have helped her improve the health of the city, and beyond.

Celebration of Excellence: Faculty Scholar Award 

2019 Recipient: Dr. C. Michele Thompson, Professor of History 

About the award

Conferred jointly by the Faculty Scholar Award Committee and the University President, the Faculty Scholar Award recognizes scholarly and creative work of exceptional merit by a full-time SCSU faculty member.

The BOR-approved SCSU campus winner for this award is Dr. Michele Thompson, Professor of History.

About the recipient

Dr. C. Michele Thompson has been a member of Southern’s faculty since 1998. Alongside her distinguished academic career, her book, Vietnamese Traditional Medicine: a Social History, is the distillation of more than 20 years of research in Vietnam, Taiwan, The Peoples’ Republic of China, France, and Portugal.

Vietnamese Traditional Medicine is the first book-length publication on the history of Vietnamese traditional medicine in any Western language. According to Dr. Thompson’s notes, her book is “an examination of the relationship between China and Vietnam, a key issue in Vietnamese studies, through a medical lens.” Using as a case study the story of the first introduction, from Macau, of vaccination for smallpox to the royal court of the Nguyễn dynasty, she examines Vietnamese attitudes towards foreign medical theories and techniques.

Since its publication in 2015, the book has been reviewed in nine peer-reviewed international journals, and Dr. Thompson has been sought out as a source in numerous publications, including Scientific American. This interdisciplinary interest, from anthropology to medical history to the general field of Southeast Asian Studies, speaks to its broad importance. Even more, her research has overarching implications: it is pertinent to current environmental issues in Mainland Southeast Asia, where a false understanding of Chinese and Vietnamese medicine is driving a devastating trade in wild animals.

For her research, Dr. Thompson referenced documents in modern Mandarin; Classical Chinese; modern Vietnamese; archaic Vietnamese written in Norn, French, Portuguese; and Spanish. She also conducted oral interviews in Mandarin and Vietnamese, noting that “perhaps the most innovative aspect of my book is the cross-disciplinary nature of my sources and my methodology.”

Dr. Thompson received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington; her Master of Arts in History from the University of Alabama; and her Bachelor of Arts in History and Anthropology from the University of Alabama.

CSU Professor of Art David Levine

David Levine, chairman of Southern’s Art Department and an expert on art history, has been selected for one of the most prestigious faculty awards within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.

The state Board of Regents for Higher Education on Tuesday bestowed Levine with the title of Connecticut State University Professor. Southern, Central, Western and Eastern Connecticut State universities each can have up to three such professors. It is awarded in recognition of excellence in the areas of creative activity (research), teaching and service, and includes a peer review process.

Levine fills an SCSU vacancy left by the recent retirement of Joseph Solodow, professor of world languages and literatures. He joins Vivian Shipley, professor of English, and Terrell Ward Bynum, professor of philosophy, as SCSU’s contingent of CSU Professors.

“During his long and distinguished career at Southern, (Levine) has received international acclaim as a scholar, in particular for his research on the Dutch and Flemish artists working in Rome during the Baroque era,” said SCSU President Joe Bertolino in his nomination letter. “His particular interest is in investigating the political dimensions of Dutch painting and the cultural competition with Italy.”

Troy Paddock, chairman of the CSU Professor Advisory Committee, said the committee concluded that Levine met or exceeded the standard of excellence required for consideration in each of the three criteria.

“Dr. Levine’s most significant research has been a new interpretation of the bambocciata, an anti-heroic genre painting style invented by Dutch artists in Rome,” Paddock wrote. “His work has been singularly responsible for a reassessment of the work of these figures.

“To redefine a field is no small achievement. He has co-edited or co-authored three books and written 17 articles, essays or book chapters. He has presented papers in North America and Europe.”

Paddock said Levine’s departmental colleagues and students hold him in high esteem. One former student, Laura Macaluso, wrote: “(Levine) changed my life when he opened his door to me 25 years ago. He was, I now realize, the first art historian I ever met, which means that my path might have been quite different if he had not been all the things he is: kind and warm, quietly brilliant yet at ease with laughter, humble, and genuinely interested in people.”

Paddock added that Levine’s service to the university has been exemplary. “Dr. Levine has served on every committee in the Art Department,” he said. “He played a leading role in establishing the Judaic Studies minor and has served as its coordinator on two different occasions. He is also a valued member of the Honors College and has served on numerous university-wide committees.”

 

Celebration of Excellence, faculty awards

At the annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence on May 1, several major faculty awards were presented at a ceremony to honor the awardees, with President Joe Bertolino and Provost Ellen Durnin welcoming those in attendance. Bertolino said, “I want the members of Southern’s faculty to know that your hard work is visible, and it is appreciated. Today is our chance to applaud our colleagues for careers characterized by excellence.” Durnin agreed, adding, “it is important to recognize the work of our faculty, for all the kinds of work that they do. The awards to be given today reflect the university’s regard for not only research, but also for teaching, advising, and service.”

This year’s honorees included:

Million Dollar Club
Inductees:
Dr. Barbara Aronson, Nursing
Dr. Elliott Horch, Physics

Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship
Awardees:
Dr. Matthew Miller, Environment, Geography, and Marine Sciences
Dr. Michael Knell, Earth Science

Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship
Awardee:
Dr. Corinne Blackmer, English

Senior-Level Faculty Research Fellowship
Awardee:
Dr. Elliott Horch, Physics

Faculty Scholar Award
Awardee:
Dr. Giuseppina Palma, World Languages and Literatures

Robert Jirsa Service Award
Awardee:
Dr. Troy Paddock, History

Outstanding Academic Adviser Award
Awardee:
Dr. Natalie Starling, Counseling and School Psychology

Board of Regents Teaching Awards for SCSU
Awardees:
Dr. Melissa Talhelm, English
Dr. Lisa Nakamura, History

Board of Regents Research Award for SCSU
Awardee:
Dr. Corinne Blackmer, English

J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teacher Award
Awardees:
Dr. Sarah Roe, Philosophy
Dr. Margaret Sargent, Communication
Professor Jennifer Lee Magas, English