From microbes and the discovery of new elements to social justice and community outreach, the College of Arts and Sciences annual faculty awards dinner showcased the breadth and depth of talent and academic diversity within the college.
The night kicked off by recognizing three faculty members for their outstanding leadership on the issue of diversity. Leticia Flores, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and director of the Psychology Clinic, received the Diversity Leadership Award for her efforts to help graduate students develop strong clinical, research, and advocacy skills in the area of LGBT issues.
Two faculty in the Department of Sociology received the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award. Michelle Brown, associate professor, and Michelle Christian, assistant professor, were recognized for their work as advisors to multiple student groups, and the amount of work they do to support social justice organizations on campus.
Advising undergraduate students is no easy task, which is why the college recognizes two faculty members for their excellence in advising, both past achievements and future creative efforts. This year, Lisa Parker, lecturer of Spanish and assistant director of the Language and World Business program, and Stuart Elston, professor of physics, each received an Advising Services Award.
Research is an important aspect of scholarship in the College of Arts and Sciences and the University of Tennessee as a whole. During the annual awards dinner, faculty members are awarded for their excellence in research and creative achievement at all levels of their careers.
This year, the Excellence in Research and Creative Achievement Awards for senior faculty went to Robert Grzywacz and Anthony Nownes. Grzywacz, professor of physics, led UT’s efforts on the discovery of a new super-heavy element. Nownes, professor of political science, is a nationally-recognized leader in the area of interest group
Yingkui Li and Tina Shepardson received Midcareer Excellence in Research and Creative Achievement Awards. Li, associate professor of geography, has developed innovative approaches to understand the pace and geographic dimensions of ongoing global climate change. Shepardson, Lindsay Young Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, made her mark in the history of early Christianity with her latest book and has received numerous awards for her scholarship.
Erin Darby and Karen Lloyd received Early Career Excellence in Research and Creative Achievement Awards. Darby, assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies, was awarded for her numerous publications, research awards, and current co-directorship of an excavation in Southern Jordan. Lloyd, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology, received an award for her use of innovative techniques to investigate characteristics of microbes specially adapted to sediment environments.
The award for a Distinguished Research Career at UT went to Suzanne Lenhart, professor of mathematics and renowned researcher in the field of differential equations. Paul Harrill, associate professor of cinema studies in the School of Art received the New Research, Scholarly, and Creative Projects in the Arts and Humanities award for his successful filmmaking career and its potential impact on the School of Art.
As the largest college on campus, faculty have plenty of opportunities for interdepartmental collaboration. This year, the award for Interdepartmental Collaborative Scholarship and Research went to Professors Helen Baghdoyan and Ralph Lydic in the Department of Psychology and Shawn Campagna, associate professor in chemistry. The psychology/chemistry collaboration uses state-of-the-art chemical techniques to identify known and unknown brain molecules that regulate naturally-occurring and drug-induced states of consciousness.
Faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences provide the foundational instruction for all first-year students at UT and help them put down roots that will nurture their lifelong learning. The Excellence in Teaching awards recognize faculty members’ excellence in teaching at three levels: senior, junior, and lecturer. Euridice Silva-Filho, associate professor and program chair of Portuguese, and Erik Zinser, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, received senior-level Excellence in Teaching awards. Jennifer Bolden, assistant professor of psychology, and John Friend, assistant professor in classics, received junior-level awards. The Excellence in Teaching awards for lecturers went to Robert Guest, Department of Mathematics; Annachiara Mariani, Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures; and Katie Rowinski, Department of Psychology.
The James R. and Nell W. Cunningham Outstanding Teaching Award is given out each year to a tenured faculty member who demonstrates outstanding classroom teaching. This year, Marianne Breinig, professor and associate head in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, received the award for her exceptional and innovative teaching.
Academic Outreach Awards are given to two faculty members who demonstrate excellence in advancing the mission of the college. The Outstanding Service Award recognizes extraordinary service and was awarded to Erin Hardin, professor of psychology, for her work to increase interest in post-secondary education in rural Appalachian communities. Daniel Feller, professor in the Department of History, received the Faculty Outreach Award for his efforts in making the Andrew Jackson Papers project one of the most important and visible presidential projects in the country.
The final two awards of the night are the highest honors the college bestows on a member of the faculty.
The Lorayne W. Lester Award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding service through a variety of ways to the college, the local community, the state, and beyond. This year’s recipient was John Nolt, professor and co-interim head in the Department of Philosophy, for his work of over 35 years as a champion for environmental ethics at UT and the East Tennessee region.
The final award of the evening was the College Marshal, which is the equivalent of the university macebearer award, and honors a senior faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding service to the college and the university. The College Marshal represents the college at the spring and fall commencement ceremonies. Professor Larry Taylor in the Department of Earth of Planetary Sciences received the honor of College Marshal at the 2016 Faculty Awards dinner and accepted the award from Dean Lee. Among other distinctions, Taylor facilitates an ongoing fascination with space and space exploration with students in science and engineering through his outreach efforts during his 43 years of a distinguished career at UT.
Award winners were nominated by fellow faculty and selected by Dean Lee with consultation from her cabinet members. For more information about the annual faculty awards and nomination process, please click here.
Congratulations to all recipients of the 2016 Faculty Awards.