University celebrates faculty accomplishments


The president and provost will award faculty members for their achievements in the past year during the Faculty Convocation Week events.

President Mark B. Rosenberg and Provost Kenneth Furton will announce which faculty member will be awarded the “President’s Council World’s Ahead Award,” at the faculty convocation ceremony from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2 at the Nicole and Herbert Wertheim Performing Arts Center.

The three nominees are Ediberto Román, professor at the College of Law, Thomas Breslin, professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations and Patrick Cassidy, professor at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Each nominee has acted as an innovator and leader, both within their college or department and the University as a whole.

Román is a founding faculty member of his college and director of Immigration Initiatives. Breslin led the University’s successful effort to gain approval for a medical school from 2003 to 2006. Cassidy was instrumental in developing the concept to build the Southern Wine and Spirits Beverage Management Center, a state of the art wine teaching laboratory.

Aside from these nominees, 21 other faculty and staff will be awarded in various categories: teaching, service, research, engagement and mentorship.

From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, faculty members are invited to a concert at the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center and a cocktail reception afterwards.

The awards ceremony will take place from from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2 at the performing center, followed by a reception at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum.


“Excellence in Teaching”

Mahadev Bhat, professor in the Department of Earth and Environment,  co-founded the FIU Agroecology Program with the aid of over ten United States Department of Agriculture grant programs and provided assistance to the Office of Engagement in establishing the agroecology and aquaponics project at Miami Northwestern High School.

Brice Dupoyet, professor at the College of Business, was voted “The Best Professor” or “The Best Course” eighteen times in the college, and the most recent awards were presented this August. He was also voted the “New Professor of the Year” and “Best All Around Professor” by the local chapter of the Financial Management Association International.

Peter Machonis, professor in the Department of Modern Languages, teaches a variety of courses in French language linguistics. For the Honors College, Machonis created an upper-division interdisciplinary course, which takes students hiking, biking, canoeing and slough slogging through the Florida Everglades.

Lynne Miller, associate professor at the College of Education, focuses on the effective teaching of literacy and on best practices to support students’ literacy learning. One of her major contributions in teaching is through her involvement in the Community Literacy Club, a partnership between the University, the college and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Ju Sun, senior instructor in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering and Computing, has received a lot of positive feedback from students; her evaluation reaches over 90 percent in the “very good” and “excellent” categories. She received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the College of Engineering and Computing for the 2011-2012 academic year, and was promoted to senior instructor in 2012.

Herman Watson, professor of the College of Engineering and Computing, worked in the biomedical industry for 27 years before teaching at the University, and he applies his personal experience into his lectures.“I integrate my personal life experiences in the industry into the content of my lectures, course materials and examples to make the learning experience of students more rich and interesting,” he said in a statement.

“Excellence in Service”

Elizabeth Cramer, associate professor in the College of Education, chairs several committees and is program director of four special education programs. Much of her work is centered around helping children with disabilities in the community.

She is part of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent’s Advisory Board for Students with Disabilities. She also helps plan educational initiatives focused on improving educational outcomes for children with disabilities.

“Excellence in Research and Creative Activities”

David Barton Bray, professor in the Department of Earth and the Environment, has become widely recognized as a leading authority in the field of natural resource management in Latin America and specifically, community forest management in Mexico. He has secured $1.51 million dollars in 11 different research grants since arriving at the University in 2007.

Chenzhong Li, professor at the College of Engineering and Computing, has secured over $4.5 million dollars at the University for this biomedical engineering and nanotechnology research.

Juliet Pinto, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, recently co-produced a documentary on sea level rise, which was broadcast in Public Broadcasting Service. She has developed classes in environmental journalism and communication, and has taken students to the Galapagos to report on issues, as well as scuba dived down 62 feet to watch NASA astronauts train at the underwater Aquarius Reef Base in the Florida Keys.

Bianca Premo, associate professor in the Department of History, is interested in Spanish American colonialism, which has led her to research topics ranging from Andean women and the Spanish colonial economy, to the history of childhood, to African slavery in the Americas, and to state policy, law and creole writings during the last decades of Spanish rule. She teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses on these topics.

Jean Muteba Rahier, professor from the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, has been conducting intensive research in the Belgian colonial archives for a project on the intersections of race, power and sexuality in the context of Belgian colonization of the Congo, where he was born.

Mary Jo Trepka, associate professor at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, is board-certified in preventive medicine and public health and a fellow in the American College of Preventive Medicine. Her research focuses on social factors of infectious diseases, like poverty, racial residential segregation and rural and urban residence disparities in AIDS survival.

At the University, Trepka is principal investigator of the research education and training core of the Center for Research on U.S. Latino HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse. In that role, she trains and mentors doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows and community leaders in research and grant writing skills.

“Excellence in Engagement”

Moses Shumow, assistant professor from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, will be presented with the “Excellence in Engagement” award.  Shumow brings his research of globalized media and transnational communities into the college classroom practice. During his time at the University, he has taken a special interest in Liberty City. A major project launched last Spring was Humans of Liberty City, in which 30 Northwestern High School students and 12 University Students worked together to create media profiles of local community members

Before teaching at the University, Shumow worked in documentary film production with Discovery Channel, PBS and National Geographic.

“Excellence in Mentorship and Advising”

Eva Maria Frank, instructor at the College of Education, is the faculty advisor for the University Sport Science Organization, which helps students develop as professionals. She facilitates student success through establishing avenues for peer instruction, networking with professionals and volunteering in the community.

Sherry Johnson, professor in the Department of History, is interested in researching and teaching about Cuba and the Caribbean, environment and climate change, disasters such as hurricanes, medicine, women and gender and social history. She regularly offers a Latin American history survey and a course on Cuban history.

Jinlin Zhao, director of graduate programs and Asia and Pacific Development at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management,  has guided and served at  dissertation committees on five doctoral dissertations and directed 30 master’s degree student projects. Zhao has guided and mentored graduate students to do research, publish in journals and present at international conferences.

“Excellence in Librarianship”

Sarah Hammill, a University librarian, will be presented the “Excellence in Librarianship” award.

Hammill developed a position in 2004 to accommodate students taking online classes, through off-campus access and a library chat communication system for students. She also authored peer-reviewed articles on distance learning library services.

“Excellence in Adjunct Teaching”

Michaela Moura-Koçoğlu, adjunct professor in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, has advanced the curriculum for the center through developing and teaching three Global Learning courses, including a fully online course. She has been council member of the New Zealand Studies Associations, and advisory board member of the Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies, as well as peer reviewer for the research journal Postcolonial Text.

Larry Purnell, adjunct professor at the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences, is a professor Emeritus from the University of Delaware, where he coordinated graduate programs in nursing and healthcare administration and taught about culture. His model, the Purnell Model for Cultural Competence has been translated into Arabic, Flemish, Korean, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish.

He has been teaching culture and advanced nursing practice at the University since 2009, as well as consulting on health resources administration grants and providing a workshop on structuring and publishing cultural research data.

Kathleen Sparrow, adjunct professor at the College of Education, has been at the University since 2008, teaching elementary science methods and classes in the Graduate Certificate program. She is also an active member with the National Science Teachers Association and serves as an online advisor for the Learning Center.

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