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faculty awards

Celebration of Excellence: Undergraduate Research Assistants – Faculty Award Grant

2019 Recipient: Todd Ryder, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

About the award

This initiative, Undergraduate Research Assistants, is funded by the SCSU Office of the Provost. One grant of up to $3,000 is awarded to a faculty member to support one or more undergraduate research assistants to assist with said faculty member’s research in any academic discipline represented on the SCSU campus. The purpose of this program is to support a research experience for undergraduates and also to support faculty research.

About the recipient

Todd Ryder, assistant professor of chemistry, is researching ways to identify novel compounds with antibacterial activity as potential drug candidates. As he writes, “most antibiotics have been found through screening of microbes found in the environment, for example, an approved drug called fidaxomicin is produced by Dactylosporangium aurantiacum subspecies hamdenesis that was originally extracted from a soil sample collected in Hamden.” He also is interested in developing a new synthetic methodology with applications to the synthesis of these compounds.

Dr. Ryder anticipates publishing a paper on incorporating the antibiotic extraction experiments in the undergraduate organic chemistry teaching lab sequence, as well as a paper on the antibacterial compound isolated from the Lysobacter strain if the upcoming mass spectrometry results suggest it is novel.

All of the results of the research will be included as preliminary data in a grant application to the National Institutes of Health R15 AREA program in the spring.

Professor Ryder received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Rochester; his M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan; and his B.A. in Chemistry and Biology from Cornell University.

Celebration of Excellence: Social Justice Community Award – Outstanding Faculty

2019 Recipient: Dr. MaryJo Archambault, Assistant Professor of Recreation, Tourism, & Sport Management

About the award

The Social Justice Community Award for Outstanding Faculty recognizes a faculty member who incorporates diverse values in the classroom, curriculum and/ or research; displays a commitment to diverse cultures, religions, abilities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and other areas of inclusion and perspective; makes the classroom accessible for and supportive of diverse learning styles; engages in equity, diversity and inclusion efforts in the campus community; uses innovative teaching methods to support students with special learning needs; and/or mentors underrepresented students or diverse populations of students, faculty and/or staff. The awardee receives $500 towards professional development funds or to go to their department.

About the recipient

Dr. Archambault was described by her nominator as going “above and beyond in all she does in and out of the classroom, with the utmost fairness, compassion, and integrity.”

She has been active in applying for research and program-related grants and has been awarded over $45,000 in grant dollars over the course of the past four-plus years. Most noteworthy, she along with a colleague serve as the co-project directors for a $38,000 grant awarded to Southern by the Office of Veteran’s Affairs in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of providing or facilitating the provision of adaptive sports opportunities for disabled veterans.

Recognizing a gap in service delivery for persons with disabilities, Dr. Archambault has been instrumental in the development of the Institute for Adapted Sports and Inclusive Recreation. Reflective of her research and areas of interest, the institute provides programming opportunities, education experiences, and advocacy services for individuals with disabilities, and conducts research and evaluation relating to adaptive sports and inclusive recreation.

Dr. Archambault also provides exemplary service to the Department of Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management; the School of Health and Human Services; and to the University through her active and varied involvement in numerous committees and board memberships. In addition, she engages in numerous student recruitment activities.

Dr. Archambault earned an Ed.D. at the University of Hartford and an M.S. at Southern Connecticut State University.

 

Celebration of Excellence: J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching

2019 Recipient: Dr. Kyle O’Brien, Assistant Professor of Social Work

About the award

The J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching is presented to one full-time faculty and one part-time faculty member for exemplary teaching. This is one of SCSU’s highest honors, as faculty are recognized at the undergraduate commencement and receive an honorarium of $2500. Full-time and part-time faculty at all ranks who are currently employed at SCSU are eligible.

About the recipient

Dr. Kyle O’Brien’s teaching style of participation, discovery and discussion has brought classroom exercises to life for a multitude of students. According to one student, “his passion for social work shows through in each and every one of his lessons.”

Called “skillful and engaging” by a colleague, Dr. O’Brien brings a wealth of expertise to the classroom thanks to his education, his multidisciplinary background as an occupational therapist, his extensive knowledge of the health field, and his collaborative endeavors. He took a lead role in recruiting students to participate in the palliative care workshop collaboration with Yale University School of Medicine, and as a result, it has become an annual event. He contributed to a number of curriculum initiatives that benefit students. He also initiated the submission of a Faculty Development grant aimed at resolving conflictual conversations in the classroom; the grant brought a panel of social work faculty experts to campus to provide training.

Dr. O’Brien’s purposeful encouragement has impacted students both in the classroom and beyond. As one student noted, “This was the first time a professor impacted my view of life outside of the classroom, by teaching me the value and power of providing empathy toward others.” In short, he truly embodies the core values of social work.

Dr. O’Brien received a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work, a Certificate of Integrated Primary and Behavioral Health Care, and a Master of Social Work from New York University; a Doctor of Health Science from Nova Southeastern University; a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Sacred Heart University; a Connecticut Certificate of Gerontology and Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling from Gateway Community College; and a Bachelor of Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University.

 

Celebration of Excellence: Robert E. Jirsa Service Award

2019 Recipient: Dr. Michele Vancour, Professor of Public Health

About the award

Named in honor of the late Robert E. Jirsa, former Faculty Senate President and P & T Committee Chairman, the Robert E. Jirsa Service Award is given annually to a full-time faculty member who has made extraordinary contributions and demonstrated outstanding leadership in his or her service to the university.

About the recipient

Dr. Michele Vancour, professor of Public Health, has been with Southern since 1998. In those 21 years, her exceptional leadership and service to the university — and community — has not gone unrecognized. In 2012 Dr. Vancour received the Outstanding Academic Advisor Award and was nominated again in subsequent years. In 2015, she received the CT American Council on Education (ACE) Women’s Network, Distinguished Academic Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award. She has been nominated — multiple times — for the J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teaching Award and nominated for the New England College Health Association President’s Award.

Over the years Dr. Vancour has been either elected to, appointed to, invited to, or has participated in, at least 28 different committees, including the Food Pantry committee, the CT ACE Women’s Network Chapter at Southern, the Barnard Scholarship committee, the Undergraduate Public Health Program committee, and many, many more.

Her credo, that “service is (and has been) the foundation of my professional and personal work,” is evident in her life’s choices, and her focus on the needs of Southern’s students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors bespeaks to her high regard for the Southern community as a whole.

Dr. Vancour recalls Robert E. Jirsa for “his authenticity, deep care and concern for Southern, its students, and employees, and his commitment to and work for positive and impactful change on campus.” Her dossier, which displays evidence of this philosophy of service, heartily exemplifies the tenets of the award she is now receiving.

Dr. Vancour received a Ph.D. in Health Education from New York University; an M.P.H. in Community Health Education from Southern; and a B.A. in English from Central Connecticut State University.


 

Celebration of Excellence: Undergraduate Research Assistants – Faculty Award Grant

2019 Recipient: Cheryl Durwin, Professor of Psychology

About the award

This initiative, Undergraduate Research Assistants, is funded by the SCSU Office of the Provost. One grant of up to $3,000 is awarded to a faculty member to support one or more undergraduate research assistants to assist with said faculty member’s research in any academic discipline represented on the SCSU campus. The purpose of this program is to support a research experience for undergraduates and also to support faculty research.

About the recipient

Southern’s Reading Evaluation And Development of Skills (R.E.A.D.S.) Lab, of which Dr. Durwin is a co-director, focuses on improving the reading skills of school-age children. As such, the lab has conducted ongoing research in two elementary schools that serve large populations of children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

The lab’s goal is two-fold: to validate research-based assessments that help schools better identify at-risk students and to investigate the efficacy of research-based interventions for improving the reading outcomes of these at-risk children. The stipend provided by this award allowed the R.E.A.D.S. Lab to support three undergraduate research assistants whose work was vital to maintaining progress on this project.

According to Dr. Durwin’s notes, the success of the collaboration with schools was recognized by the Hamden Public Schools Superintendent’s Office, and they requested that the lab add another school to the project. In light of the additional work, coupled with the sabbatical leave of one of the co-directors, the provision of paid research assistants by the award was critical for maintaining the project’s progress.

Armed with adequate pilot data, the R.E.A.D.S. Lab aims to apply for an IES Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Grant or similar competition. It will also continue to develop an Interdisciplinary Language & Literacy Research Consortium with colleagues in Communication Disorders and Education. In short, it will continue to advance its important mission and overarching reach.

Dr. Durwin received a Ph.D. and an M.S. in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Connecticut.

 

Celebration of Excellence: Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship

2019 Recipient: Meghan Barboza, Assistant Professor Histology, Physiology, Marine Mammalogy

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

There has been a significant increase in the number of sick and dead seals along the Northeast coast. Phocine distemper virus, a respiratory tract infection, appears to be the cause. To further understand how the immune system of seals responds to infection, Dr. Meghan Barboza will conduct research that examines the seals’ respiratory epithelium — in particular its anatomy — as well as identifies particular cells, solitary chemosensory cells, or SCCs, a part of the immune system in this tissue.

According to Dr. Barboza’s notes, seals are especially vulnerable to respiratory infection because they breathe at the air/water interface and are exposed to both air and waterborne pathogens. Within Connecticut and Rhode Island, the stranding response group that assists with sick marine life is coordinated through Mystic Aquarium. If the animals die, the cause of death is determined through an animal autopsy, or necropsy. Following the necropsy, Dr. Barboza has a permit through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a research agreement with Mystic Aquarium to collect tissue samples from the dead seals. By comparing seals with respiratory illness to those without, additional information about the function of SCCs can be determined.

According to Dr. Barboza, the results will be shared with Mystic Aquarium to further their efforts to improve seal treatment and successful release back into the wild. The research data may also be included in an application to federal grants and will be presented within the Southern community and at a regional and/or international conferences.

Dr. Barboza holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Veterinary Medical Sciences from the University of Florida; a Master of Science in Marine Biology from Nova Southeastern University; and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Delaware.

Celebration of Excellence: Board of Regents Adjunct Teaching Award

2019 Recipient: Patricia Mottola, Adjunct Faculty, Creative Writing

About the award

The Board of Regents Adjunct Faculty Teaching Awards are given to recognize part-time faculty who have distinguished themselves as outstanding teachers with a track record of increasing student learning and promoting instructional improvements for their programs or departments.

About the recipient

Patricia Mottola was hired to teach Introduction to Creative Writing immediately after receiving her MFA in Creative Writing from Southern because, as one colleague noted, “She was an exceptional student in our department’s MFA program,” and she has been an extraordinary instructor ever since. Professor Mottola’s advisor and now colleague Vivian Shipley awarded Distinction to Professor Mottola’s MFA thesis, “If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit: Poems About Relationships,” something rarely done, and Dr. Shipley remarked that since 1969, she has “never had a better student or known a more dedicated and inspiring teacher.”

Professor Mottola has the words “respect,” “personal responsibility,” and “attention to detail” written on her classroom board. It is her goal to turn these values into lifelong habits and to help students thrive long after they graduate. Her instruction is one of collaboration, both inside and outside of the classroom. Students are encouraged to participate, discover, and share. Her fellow adjuncts refer new adjuncts to Professor Mottola for advice, and she is a mentor to full-time faculty as well, offering her colleagues advice on textbooks, syllabi, and assignment sheets.

Professor Mottola is a gifted instructor and an involved citizen, and her impact has a broad and significant reach. She is co-president of the Connecticut Poetry Society; works online with Afghan women and girls through the Afghan Voices project, encouraging them to write poetry in order to empower themselves; and she works with senior citizens, encouraging them to have a rebirth at a time when they are nearing the end of life.

Professor Mottola earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Southern in 2011; an MS in Art Education from Southern in 1990; study in the Art Psychotherapy Institute, SCSU Department of School Psychology, in 1988; and a BS in Art Education from Southern in 1987.

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.