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celebration of excellence

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.

At the annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence on April 16, several major faculty awards were presented at a ceremony to honor the awardees, with President Joe Bertolino and Provost Robert Prezant welcoming those in attendance. Bertolino said, “First and foremost, we’re here to honor several of our distinguished colleagues. But secondly, we’re here as a public affirmation of the fact that, as a university, we hold faculty research, teaching, service, innovation, and student advising in high regard.”

Prezant agreed, adding, “For those of us in academia, a passion for research and learning is what brings us into the field. We sometimes don’t know whether our work resonates with others until we are recognized by a colleague or a student as having enlightened them. For a scholar and teacher, the feeling of knowing that you have shed light on something for someone is so very gratifying.”

This year’s honorees included:

Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship
Awardees:
Dr. Rachel Jeffrey, Biology
Dr. Jason W. Smith, History

Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship
Awardee:
Dr. Jennifer McCullagh, Communication Disorders

Senior-Level Faculty Research Fellowship
Awardee:
Dr. Camille Serchuk, Art

Faculty Scholar Award
Awardee:
Dr. Steven Judd, History

Robert Jirsa Service Award
Awardee:
Dr. Wafeek Abdelsayed, Accounting

Outstanding Academic Adviser Award
Awardee:
Dr. Helen Marx, Curriculum and Learning

Board of Regents Teaching Award (Campus and System Winner):
Awardee:
Dr. Richard Zipoli, Communication Disorders

Board of Regents Research Award (Campus and System Winner):
Awardee:
Dr. Chelsea Harry, Philosophy

J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teacher Award
Awardees:
Dr. Charles Baraw, English
Professor Shelley Stoehr-McCarthy, English