Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Faculty and Staff Honors

The Chancellor’s Honors Banquet is a time each year we gather to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of our UT students, faculty, and staff. This year, in order to allow for better social distancing, the ceremony took place across two nights. Congratulations to the following College of Arts and Sciences students, faculty, and staff on your 2021 Chancellor’s Honors Awards and 2021 Academic Honors.

Kristina Gordon Kristina Gordon, professor of psychology, received the Alexander Prize, which is named for former UT president and now US Senator Lamar Alexander and his wife, Honey. It recognizes superior teaching and distinguished scholarship. Gordon is a past-president and fellow of the APA Society for Couple and Family Psychology and serves on the editorial board for three family journals. She helps run a community non-profit, Healthy Connections, and maintains a small private practice.

“The UT psychology department has been enormously supportive of my work since Day 1. They have encouraged me to follow my own unique path and I think this freedom to take creative risks is responsible for my academic success,” Gordon said. “Most recently, this support has allowed me to develop an ambitious collaboration between UT, local churches, and community partners to deliver empirically supported relationship education to community couples, which has received funding from the Templeton Foundation. The community support for partnering with UT has been amazing and I am excited to see where this project will lead us.”

Misty Anderson Misty Anderson, the James R. Cox Professor of English and head of the department, received the Angie Warren Perkins Award, which honors outstanding leadership in campus governance or administration at the level of department head, director, or below. The award is named for the first dean of women at UT. Anderson studies the literature and theatre of the long eighteenth century and is a founding member of the R/18 Collective. She is the author of multiple books, anthologies, and articles about theatre, gender, and religion.

“This community is lucky to have many faculty leaders who educate for citizenship and who research and create art that makes communities healthier, more empathetic, and more just, year after year. Those ideals have driven me to serve the university through my teaching, the Faculty Senate, Commissions, and committees, where we translate our ideals about the university into action,” Anderson said. “Colleagues from across the campus, the Senate (especially Bonnie Ownley), and in my own department lit the way for me. I’m grateful to do this work shoulder to shoulder with them.”

Nicole Eggers Nicole Eggers, an assistant professor of history, received the Extraordinary Community Service Award, which rewards a faculty or staff member who exhibits the Volunteer spirit in the community. Her expertise is in African history with a specialization in the history religion and healing in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“One thing I have really appreciated about being a Volunteer is the opportunities that coming to UT has afforded me to, quite literally, become a volunteer,” Eggers said. “Knoxville is home to a large and growing community of refugees from eastern Congo, which is the region where I conduct my historical research. As such, I speak the lingua franca of that region—Swahili—and have therefore been able to offer my time and expertise to Bridge Refugee Services as they work to settle newly arrived refugees into life in Knoxville. It has meant a lot to me to be able to welcome Congolese refugees to the US and help them in whatever way I can because I have, myself, been so warmly welcomed and aided when traveling in Congo.”

Cynthia Tinker Cynthia Tinker, program coordinator for the Center for the Study of War and Society, received the Extraordinary Service to the University Award, which honors faculty members, staff members, and friends for noteworthy service to the university.

Tinker has served as the program coordinator since 2001. She manages all day-to-day operations, the Veterans Oral History Project, and the World War II archival collection. A native of Gatlinburg, she served from 1988 to 1992 as an aircraft electrician in U.S. Air Force Special Operations, enrolled at the University of Tennessee on the G.I. Bill in 1996, and graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and minor in Biology.

“The military service tradition of our state and the university are the rock on which we stand in freedom,” Tinker said. “I am unceasingly inspired by the stories of those who gave their lives in past world wars and by the veterans I have gotten to know over the last 20 years, many of whom were also UT alumni. Preserving the memory of their Volunteer spirit and sacrifice encourage me personally and professionally to encourage the students at the center to take on the world as a proud Volunteer.”

Lauren Whitnah, a senior lecturer in history and medieval and Renaissance Studies, received the Excellence in Teaching award, which is bestowed by the Office of the Chancellor and the Teaching Council of the Faculty Senate to honor outstanding work in the classroom.
Erin Darby Erin Darby, an associate professor of religious studies and a near eastern archaeologist, received the Global Catalyst Award, which honors those who enhance intercultural and international awareness of students and the campus community. Partnering with the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, Darby co-directs the Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project and leads the Dig Jordan Study Abroad Program. She also works with the Israel Antiquities Authority to study excavated materials in southern Israel.

“As Tennessee Vols, we work to improve the world around us, both at home and abroad. We integrate our teaching, research, and service to maximize impact and create global communities that invest energy, cultivate talent, and innovate solutions to meet the challenges facing our world,” Darby said. “UT’s Volunteer Spirit makes the work I do a strategic priority, whether preserving cultural heritage in the Middle East, equipping students with the tools they need for cultural competency, or supporting our global community right here in East Tennessee.”

Elizabeth Derryberry, Garriy Shteynberg, and Jian Liu received Research and Creative Achievement—Professional Promise Awards, which honor faculty members who are early in their careers for excellence in research, scholarship, and creative achievement.

Elizabeth Derryberry Derryberry, an associate professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, graduated from Princeton in 2000 and went on to do a PhD at Duke and then a postdoc at LSU. Throughout her career she has worked on birds, from how the anthropause affected bird songs in cities to the evolution of avian biodiversity in the neotropics.

“Being a Volunteer to me means promoting curiosity and science literacy in the next generation,” Derryberry said. “UT empowers me to make a difference by supporting hands-on, inquiry-based science in the classroom and beyond.”

Garriy Shteynberg Shteynberg is an associate professor of psychology who researches collective attention and the emergence of culture in social groups, and how they influence cognition, motivation, and behavior. He holds a PhD from University of Maryland and a masters from the University of Oxford.

“I especially enjoy working at a land grant university and a flagship state school like UT, where I’m able to interact with and be inspired by a broad variety of students,” Shteynberg said. “I believe in UT’s mission of an accessible, rigorous education that broadens one’s opportunities for meaningful engagement in the world.”

Liu, an assistant professor of physics, originally came to the US from China to pursue his PhD, which he received in 2012 from the University of Arkansas. He then became a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley before joining UT in 2015. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award, and the DOD Young Investigator award.

“Joining UT made my dream come true with the opportunity to build my own research lab and research team for advancing the frontier of physics,” Liu said. “The materials research community at UT is special. So many colleagues here not only share the same interests with me but also provide highly diverse and complementary expertise, which cannot be found elsewhere. That allows me to turn ‘crazy’ ideas and fantasies into reality. Without the synergy, my achievements would have not been possible. I cannot image my science adventure elsewhere other than at UT.”

Althea Murphy-Price and Sara Ritchey received Research and Creative Achievement Awards, which are bestowed to senior faculty in recognition of excellence in research, scholarship, and creative achievement.

Althea Murphy-Price Murphy-Price is an associate professor in the School of Art and has been nationally recognized for her creative work in fine arts. Murphy-Price’s work has been acknowledged for its non-conventional approach to the traditions of printmaking. Utilizing lithography, stenciling methods, photography and 3D printing, her work can be described as representing a broad survey of the medium that redefines what it means to practice print in the 21st century.

“I feel grateful to be part of a liberal arts institution in which one feels surrounded by a wealth of knowledge and scholarship. It fuels ones desire to succeed and continuously inspires my creative interests,” she said.

In the past five years she has exhibited in a total of 26 exhibitions thought out the country which include, the Print Center of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the Kent State University Museum of Art, Kent, Ohio; the California College of the Arts in Oakland; the Central Library of Cantabria in Spain, and her currently solo exhibit at the Huntsville Museum of Art in Alabama. Her creative work and projects have been featured in the university’s Torchbearer magazine, Higher Ground, and Prism: The School of Art Newsletter.

She is the recipient of the Chancellor’s Grant for Faculty Research, the Student/Faculty Research Award, and a Professional and Scholarly Development Award to support her most recent creative project, ‘Beauty Experiment,’ inspired variety of artistic approaches to explore the relationships between science, mental health, beauty, and self-perception.

Sara Ritchey Ritchey is an associate professor of history. Her research and teaching focus on gender and religious life in the late middle ages and the ways that we continue to encounter vestiges of the Middle Ages today. She is the author of Holy Matter and Acts of Care, both from Cornell University Press, and is a co-editor of the journal postmedieval.

“Being a Volunteer means having the opportunity to learn from students, staff, and faculty colleagues with life experiences and perspectives completely different from my own; the conversations and relationships I’ve had as a member of the UT community have enlarged my world immeasurably,” Ritchey said.

Jenny Macfie Jenny Macfie, professor of psychology, received the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year Award, which honors a faculty member who has shown outstanding commitment to mentoring undergraduate research students. Macfie took her first undergraduate psychology class age 40 at the University of Colorado at Boulder, after being a fifth grade teacher and agent for photographers in New York City. She completed a PhD at the University of Rochester and a postdoc at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Being a Vol means to be part of a community of scholars, students, and staff who value mutual support and cooperation vs the ruthless competitiveness reported by colleagues at many other universities,” Macfie said. “This has empowered me to conduct the research I feel is important, to teach in the most effective way possible, and to provide service to help things run smoothly.”