Fulbright College Announces 2022 Annual Faculty Teaching and Research Awards

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The Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the U of A has named the 2022 winners of its annual teaching and research faculty awards. The recipients were each selected for their demonstrated excellence in these areas.

“These 2022 awardees are just stellar — and the competition for these awards gets more intense each year as the caliber of the nominees keeps amazing the selection committee,” said Todd Shields, dean of Fulbright College.

“It means so much to be able to honor these fantastic, inspiring faculty members who are giving their all to their teaching, research and service,” Shields added. “And our 2022 awardees consistently demonstrate the highest levels of achievement in their respective fields, all while continuing to help our students succeed and working to better our college and the world beyond.”

FULBRIGHT COLLEGE MASTER TEACHING AWARD

The college honors up to three outstanding teachers annually, and selection is based on a letter of nomination, teaching evaluations and documentation about the nominee’s teaching activities.

The 2022 recipients include:

Jeffrey Lewisassociate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, whom his department chair and nominator David S. McNabb describes as having “successfully mastered the ability to communicate difficult scientific concepts to students … [which] I consider that outstanding. I simply do not have the adequate adjectives to emphasize his performance in the classroom.” McNabb said Lewis has graduated two MS students and two Ph.D. students, mentored 12 undergraduate research projects, served on 40 graduate thesis or dissertation committees and 35 honors undergraduate committees, and frequently serves as a judge for poster or oral conference presentations by students, serves as an ad hoc reviewer for multiple scientific journals and serves as a grant panelist for both NSF and NIH. “Most students completing their research under his guidance have continued to pursue careers in science and medicine, a testament to his teaching and mentorship outside the classroom.” In addition to his work in the classroom, Lewis “has been well funded through federal grants from the National Science Foundation, including the prestigious NSF CAREER award that he received in 2019 … He is the model for a ‘teacher-scholar’ … His commitment to education should be emulated by all faculty .”

Lynn Meade, instructor in the Department of Communication, whom her colleague and nominator Margaret Butcher describes as “the kind of teacher that students will remember long after they graduate … for the way she cared about them and the way that she challenged them.” Butcher said Meade has taught 38 classes from 2018-2021, previously won the Imhoff Award for Teaching and Mentoring, was inducted into the U of A Teaching Academy, was a Wally Cordes Chair speaker and received the TFSC Faculty Commendation, which led her to become a co-director of the Wally Cordes Teaching and Faculty Support Center. “Dr. Meade seeks out creative and highly relevant teaching methods while providing rigorous content. She teaches using traditional pedagogical methods, but also tries new technologies, engages students with the community and provides learning opportunities where students can grow personally, professionally and intellectually,” Butcher said. Meade also created a study abroad program in Ireland and is one of the 33 teachers from Fulbright College who are participating in the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) microcredential in Creating an Inclusive and Supportive Learning Environment. “Dr. Meade exemplifies what it is to be a master teacher.”

FULBRIGHT COLLEGE MASTER RESEARCH AWARD

The honor is awarded to up to three outstanding researchers. Awardees are chosen based on a nomination letter, the nominee’s research accomplishments documented in a one-page summary of his or her research outlining its importance, a list of 10 publications, supporting evidence of exceptional performance in research, his or her curriculum vitae and an evaluation by the departmental chairperson.

The 2022 recipients include:

Stephanie Schulte, professor in the Department of Communication and interim associate dean, whom her department vice chair and nominator Ron Warren describes as “highly deserving of this award” with scholarship that is “squarely focused on the intersection of technology, culture and public policy. Her intellectual foundation in critical-cultural studies has been paired with a set of historical research methods, and the result has been a compelling and unique voice on the history of the internet and the digital world.” Since joining the U of A in 2008, Schulte has published one book, 17 publications as well as eight shorter form pieces and won approximately $167,000 in grants, given 22 invited presentations and delivered 30 conference papers, primarily at national or international conferences. Warren said that “Dr. Schulte’s research has been internationally recognized as among the best in the fields of communication and American studies.” Her writing has been featured in top journals including the International Journal of Communication, Feminist Media Studies, Feminist Studies, Journal of Communication, Social Science Quarterly, Television and New Media and more. She has also been invited to publish chapters in seminal books published by MIT Press, Princeton University Press and Cambridge University Press.

Johanna Thomasdirector of the School of Social Work, whose nominator Yvette Murphy-Erby, vice chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, describes as “the epitome of a Master Researcher” with a “meaningful and translational research agenda … [and] an expert within the discipline” of social work. Thomas’ work centers on the needs of vulnerable populations, such as persons dealing with substance abuse, persons with disabilities and persons in need of behavioral and integrative health support and counseling. Since arriving at the U of A six and half years ago, Thomas has published 20 peer-reviewed articles in top-tier journals, has six more articles under review, has published three book chapters and delivered 37 peer-reviewed presentations.Thomas’ funding totals more than $28.5 million Last year alone, she wrote or co-wrote 15 foundation or federal grants totaling $23.6 million, bringing in $19.9 million to nonprofits and specialty courts throughout Arkansas and $2.9 million to the U of A. She incorporated $530,000 in her grant proposals to support student grants, travel, assistantships, tuition and internships. Her collaborative work also created 60 graduate student scholarships worth more than $1.5 million . “There is no denying that Dr Thomas is … a star researcher.”

FULBRIGHT COLLEGE OUTSTANDING ADVISOR AWARD

This award recognizes a faculty member’s exceptional contributions to the departmental or college advising program. Awardees are chosen based on a letter of recommendation from someone who is acquainted with the candidate’s work as an advisor along with letters of support from colleagues and former students.

The 2022 recipient is:

Kathy Comfort, French professor and vice chair in the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures, whom her colleague and nominator Hope Christiansen describes as being “eminently qualified to advise students on course selection … how to acclimate to a completely different culture and … how to get the most out of the study abroad experience.” Comfort has been an undergraduate advisor for nearly 19 years and has a reputation for being someone who “instantly puts [students] at ease, striking the perfect balance between offering vital information … and creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.” Comfort also helped found the U of A’s French study abroad program and frequently serves as a thesis advisor. She also helped the U of A become a testing center for the Chambre de Commerce de Paris Ile-deFrance and for the Test d’evaluation de Franfrais internationally recognized general language proficiency exam. Comfort has done all this while still “maintaining an active research program … an impressive teaching record [and] carrying a consistently heavy service load. I know of few faculty members who work as hard as Kathy Comfort does and who are as successful in all areas as she,” Christiansen said.

J HILLMAN YOWELL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING

This award is given to a Fulbright College graduate assistant in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the college and university. Awardees are chosen based on a letter of nomination, a recommendation by the departmental chairperson, assessments of classroom visitations and other types of departmental review, his or her curriculum vitae, letters of support from faculty and peers as well as current and former students, a list of courses taught at the university and a summary of student evaluations for each course.

The 2022 recipient is:

Airic Hughes, in the Department of History, whom his nominator Laurence Hare, chair and associate professor of the history, describes as “the ideal candidate for this award due to his commitment to his students and the ways that his teaching strives to ensure that they leave the classroom as better local and global citizens.” Hare said Hughes is one of “our most popular and effective graduate instructors, invariably enjoying extremely high enrollment and receiving consistently high evaluation scores.” In both 2020 and 2021, Hughes was awarded the Matthew B. Kirkpatrick Prize for Excellence in History Graduate Teaching. Additionally, one of Hughes’ former students said, “He makes learning about a topic like history engaging and interesting. In all my years as a student, I have never encountered a professor that is able to connect with students the way that he does. Mr Hughes’ interest in educating all students about history is driven by his clear concern for student growth… With this type of teaching students believe in their ability to contribute and grow in the classroom.”

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