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Salute to Faculty Excellence 2015 Winners

Congratulations to the recipients of the major UNT awards for 2014-15 listed below, all of whom will be honored at the Salute to Faculty Excellence Dinner and Award Ceremony on September 22. Please join us at the fall event to celebrate these inspirational faculty members and their great accomplishments. The event will be held at the Hub Club at Apogee Stadium, with a reception at 6:30 and the awards ceremony beginning at 7:00 pm.


UNT Foundation Eminent Faculty Award: Angela K. Wilson, Regents Professor in the Department of Chemistry

Angela K. Wilson is Regents Professor of Chemistry and Director of UNT’s Center for Advanced Scientific Computing and Modeling.  Her research in quantum chemistry has achieved national and international prominence, culminating in one of chemistry’s top national honors, the Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal. She is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS), American Physical Society, and American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is a National Associate of the National Academies. Other honors include IUPAC Distinguished Woman in Chemistry, NSF CAREER Award, Quantum Systems in Chemistry and Physics Promising Scientist Award of Centre de Mécanique Ondulatoire Appliquée, Wiley International Journal of Quantum Chemistry Young Investigator Award, and Wilfred T. Doherty Award of the American Chemical Society.  At UNT, she has been recipient of the Toulouse Scholars Award, Research-Scholar Award, Research Leadership Award, UNT Foundation Leadership Award, and Decker Scholar.

Angela is Editor of Computational and Theoretical Chemistry, is on the Editorial Boards of Scientific Reports and the International Journal of Quantum Chemistry. She is Chair of the U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), and has been a member of the U.S. delegation to the IUPAC General Assembly four times, leading the delegation twice.

She has served in many roles, including ACS Councilor, Vice-President of the IUPAC Division of Physical Chemistry, Chair of the Advisory Committee for the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and U.S. Chair of the 2006 National Academies’ Chinese-American Frontiers of Science Program. She has held visiting professorships at the Université Paul Sabetier (France) and University of Sydney (Australia).

She has mentored over 100 research students, including ~60 high school students, many of whom have been recognized as top awardees in the nation’s premier scientific research competitions.


UNT Foundation Leadership Award: T. David Mason, Regents Professor, Political Science

David Mason is the Johnie Christian Family Peace Professor, Regents Professor of Political Science, and Director of UNT’s undergraduate Peace Studies Program. When he arrived in 2002, UNT already had an internationally recognized collection of scholars in the field of human security research. The challenge, then, was how to institutionalize that strength so that UNT would remain a destination point where leading scholars in human security research would want to be and want to stay. In 2004, Mason received a U.S. Department of Education grant to enhance the UNT's Peace Studies curriculum and add an Arabic Language minor at UNT. In collaboration with colleagues, Mason drafted a proposal for a peace science research institute that would provide faculty and students with the research infrastructure need to enhance their productivity, their opportunities and capacity for collaboration, and their prospects for securing external funding. Those efforts came to fruition in 2009 when UNT approved the Castleberry Peace Institute, with an initial endowment from Peacemakers Incorporated, a Dallas non-profit founded by the Institute's namesake, journalist Vivian Castleberry. In 2011 UNT established the Human Security Research Cluster with the Castleberry Peace Institute as its institutional home. The Institute has supported a number of projects that have enhanced the visibility and profile of UNT’s human security research programs. The Institute hosted the 2010 North American meeting of the Peace Science Society International and co-sponsored its 2012 meeting in Savannah, GA. The Institute has supported faculty initiatives, including John Ishiyama and Michael Greig’s NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates Program on "Civil Conflict Management and Peace Science", Paul Hensel’s Minerva Project funded Issue Correlates of War Project, and Idean Salehyan’s Minerva-funded Social Conflict in Africa Database project. Mason and new Director James Meernik continue their efforts to build the Institutes program and the funding base to support those programs


UNT Foundation Community Engagement Award: Donna Emmanuel, Associate Professor, Music Education

Donna Emmanuel came to higher education via the worlds of public school teaching, sales, marketing and public relations. Born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, living on the Florida Gulf Coast for most of her life, and moving to Texas from Michigan, Donna has a rich and varied background that has formed her philosophy, impacted her teaching and scholarship, and drives her commitment to service. Her graduate degrees in Music Education from the University of Michigan and Michigan State included related fields in voice, educational psychology and ethnomusicology. She has a passion for mariachi, having performed in one at Michigan, and founded UNT’s first mariachi program. This has expanded into a highly developed form of community engagement that includes the only mariachi summer camp of its kind in the country. This camp has made strong connections between the university and the Hispanic community and has become a strong recruitment tool.
Donna’s areas of scholarly interest include cultural competence, philosophies of music education, community engagement, urban teaching and learning, and Hispanic issues. Her interest in community engagement has been demonstrated by her involvement with the College Music Society, serving for the second time as Chair of the National Committee for Community Engagement. Four years ago, she hosted a National Summit on Community Engagement for CMS.

Her growing reputation in this field was recognized by UNT as she was appointed by President Lane Rawlins to serve on the President’s Council on Community Engagement. Her work on this council resulted in her one-year appointment as Director of Service Learning and Community Engagement for the Division of University and Community Relations.Donna is active within the Denton community, is an avid photographer, an INFP, loves to cook and lives with her best friend, Iggy, a 100-pound German Shephard.


UNT Foundation Outstanding Lecturer Award: Lesli Robertson, Senior Lecturer and Professor

Lesli Robertson is an interdisciplinary artist and lecturer of Fibers at the University of North Texas. Her studio and research focus is community based practice, engaging with international collaborators on projects linked to identity, making, and value. She actively exhibits her artwork nationally and internationally while developing community programs and collaborative projects. She has launched several interdisciplinary projects focused on Ugandan bark cloth, Sadu weavings of Kuwait, as well as other sustainable practices in the arts including the UNT Natural Dye Garden, through national and international partnerships. Her most recent project, The Mother Load, is a collaborative work that engages with a global group of artists on the topic of motherhood and art.

Robertson has lectured and participated in numerous international events and conferences including the Qurain Cultural Festival in Kuwait, European League of the Institute of the Arts, LAUNCH (Forum with Nike, NASA, USAID, US St. Dept.), Textile Society of America Symposia, and many more. In addition, she has received grants from the Dallas Museum of Art, the Surface Design Association, the Textile Society of America, among others in support of her artwork and research. She was the inaugural Visiting Artist at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Center for Creative Connections, where her Community Partner Response artwork was on exhibit in 2010, and again worked with the center in 2014 on a community interactive project based on The Mother Load. In 2010-2011, she was a Faculty Fellow with the UNT Institute for the Advancement of the Arts; this fellowship supported the development of community projects in Uganda and the curating of Material Evolution: Ugandan Bark Cloth, highlighting a variety of international artists and designers. In 2015, she was awarded a Fulbright Specialist Grant to work with Sadu weavers in Kuwait, and will continue this work through a collaborative community based exhibition scheduled for 2016.


University Distinguished Teaching Professor: Phillip R. Foster, Associate Professor, Engineering Technology

Phillip Foster has significant passion in two areas, the development of an engineering technology department which has specializations that are ABET accredited, and the second is the development of a non-polluting engine which has implications for our environment. His courses range from Machining Principles and Processes to Senior Design.




University Distinguished Teaching Professor: Nicole D. Smith, Associate Professor, English

Nicole Smith specializes in medieval English literature of the fourteenth century.  Inspired by strange texts and smart students, she is presently finishing a book on a Middle English explanation of the Apostles’ Creed to be published by Universitätsverlag Winter (Heidelberg).  





University Distinguished Teaching Professor: Jacqueline Vanhoutte, Associate Professor, English

Jacqueline Vanhoutte has received many awards including the Preston Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching (2011), the Pursuit of Excellence in Teaching Award (2003), and the J.H. Shelton Excellence in Teaching Award (2014).  A specialist in Tudor literature, she has published on topics ranging from Elizabeth I’s speeches to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Jacqueline’s students praise her for her “genuine and visible love” of her field; and for “being the greatest mentor” they have ever had.



University Distinguished Research Professor: Rajiv S. Mishra, Professor, Materials Science & Engineering

Rajiv Mishra is a professor of Materials Science and Engineering and is a Site Director of an NSF Industry/University Collaborative Research Center for Friction Stir Processing. His research focuses on processing of metallic materials to enhance their mechanical properties for use in high performance structural applications, such as automobiles, aerospace vehicles and power plants.




University Distinguished Research Professor: Jyoti Shah, Professor, Biology

Jyoti Shah is a biologist whose expertise is in deciphering mechanisms that contribute to immunity in plants and in developing plants that are inherently resistant to pests. His research, which has culminated in over 7,000 citations, has been funded since 2000 by grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.




Regents Professor: Jeff M. Allen, Professor & Chair, Learning Technologies

Jeff Allen is Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Learning Technologies and serves as the Director of UNT’s Center for Knowledge Solutions, a center that generates over $1M annually in external funding. Jeff’s research is in the area of learning and performance innovation. Nationally, Jeff is a Board member of the Academy of Human Resource Development and is the founding editor of Learning and Performance Quarterly.




Regents Professor: Nandika Anne D’Souza, Professor , Mechanical & Energy Engineering

Nandika Anne D'Souza is a mechanical engineer whose research is focused on the reliability and performance of polymers and composites.  She is a Fellow of the Society of Plastics Engineers, and was recognized as “Engineer of the Year” in 2009 by the Electronics and Photonics Packaging Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.




Ulys & Vera Knight Faculty Mentor Award: Jennifer L. Callahan, Associate Professor, Psychology

Jennifer Callahan is known for providing, as well as researching, effective mentorship in the discipline of psychology. The students she has mentored have co-authored more than 60 publications with her and have been recognized with multiple national awards.  Dr. Callahan is the most frequent first author in the leading empirical journal devoted to Training and Education in Professional Psychology.




Research Leadership Award: Armin R. Mikler, Professor, Computer Science & Engineering

Armin Mikler is a Professor of Computer Science whose research is focused on the application of computational methods to the field of Public Health. He models different types of epidemics and develops computer based methods to support public health experts in their effort to design and analyze mitigation plans. Professor Mikler is the director of UNT’s multidisciplinary Center for Computational Epidemiology and Response Analysis, which bring together faculty with diverse expertise.




Creative Impact Award: Dornith Doherty, Professor, Art Studio

The stewardship of natural resources and the challenging complexity of human interaction with our world are of the utmost importance to University Distinguished Research Professor, Dornith Doherty.
Recently named the 2016 Texas State Artist 2D, Professor Doherty received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012, a UNT Institute for the Advancement of the Arts Fellowship in 2010, as well as Fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the Japan Foundation, the Society for Contemporary Photography, the Indiana Arts Commission, and the United States Department of the Interior. Her work has been widely exhibited and written about, both nationally and internationally; and is in numerous public and private collections.



Teacher Scholar Award: Kelly Donahue-Wallace, Professor, Art Education & History

Kelly Donahue-Wallace researches eighteenth-century Spanish and Mexican art history. In her teaching, she is dedicated to active learning and creative pedagogy. She is proudest of her work as founder and director of the Interdisciplinary Art and Design Studies degree, a model of student success that welcomes 50 new majors each year.





Early Career Award For Research & Creative Activity: Yan Wan, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering

Yan Wan, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, is becoming known for her work in the field of Cyber Physical Systems. Her research on the foundational modeling, evaluation, and control theories of Cyber Physical Systems has been funded by multiple organizations. She has been recognized by awards, including a National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award and a William E. Jackson Award.




Toulouse Scholar Award: Deborah A. Rohwer, Professor and Chair for Music Education, College of Music

For the last 18 years, Debbie has conducted the Denton New Horizons Band, which is a beginning band for adults, and much of her research has focused on how to improve the music learning experience for these “chronologically gifted” musicians.  Debbie has also written research articles and textbook chapters on the pedagogy of research, and she mentors authors on research through her position as the Lead Editor for the National Association for Music Education’s research journal, Update: Applications of Research in Music Education.




J.H. Shelton Excellence in Teaching: Wendy L. Watson, Senior Lecturer, Political Science

The teaching interests of Wendy Watson, Senior Lecturer in Political Science, focus on the courts, with particular emphasis on the rights of criminal defendants.  She also teaches courses on quantitative research methods, public policy, and American politics.  In addition to her teaching, Wendy is writing scholarly work on constitutional law.





President’s Council Teaching Awards: Ruthanne “Rudi” Thompson, Associate Professor, Biology

Rudi Thompson, an Associate Professor of Biology, has brought in nearly $13 million in support as PI or Co-PI for her science education research since her start at UNT only nine years ago.  She is involved in an NSF Research Experience for Teachers program, State Energy Conservation Office involving SMART Schools, and is the Director of the City of Dallas Education Initiative. However, first and foremost, Rudi is a teacher – a teacher of future teachers, and it is in this role that she takes the utmost pride.





President’s Council Teaching Awards: Manjula S. Salimath , Associate Professor, Management

Manjula Salimath holds dual doctoral degrees in Organizational Psychology and Business, and has received multiple awards for her research, teaching and service.  Manjula is currently the President of the Southwest Academy of Management, is a member of the board of the Federation of Business Disciplines, and has supervised doctoral dissertations in Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management.




Fessor Graham Award: Bethany Blackstone, Assistant  Professor, Political Science

Bethany Blackstone is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science.  She studies decision-making in American political institutions. Having worked as a congressional staffer, Bethany is able to bring share her first-hand experiences with her students.  She currently serves as Faculty-in-Residence in Rawlins Hall where she and her family live with 487 undergrads!





SGA Honor Professors: Regina P. Branton, Associate Professor, Political Science

Regina Branton is an Associate Professor of Political Science. Her research focuses on racial and ethnic politics in the U.S., and she has received a number of awards, including the Jewell-Lowenberg Award, recognizing her research. She is currently a member of several editorial boards, a member of the Western Political Science Association Executive Council, and the president of the Midwest Political Science Association Latino Caucus.


Outstanding Online Teacher & Course Award: Stephen Garretson, Senior Lecturer, Department of Educational Psychology

Stephen Garretson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology. His areas of specialization include child and adolescent development and Family Science. Stephen has been recognized by the State of Texas for his excellence in teaching and considers his ability to relate to students as a primary reason for his success.





Exemplary Online Teacher & Course Award: Royce Jefferson George, Adjunct Faculty, Teacher Education and Administration

Royce George is an Adjunct Faculty member in Teacher Education and Administration.  He is being recognized for his exemplary teaching of the Theories of Organization Development and Reform course.  Royce brings a richness to his courses, building upon his successful career in public education, ranging from counselor to principal.





UNT Piper Professor Nominee: Smita Shukla Mehta, Associate Professor, Educational Psychology

Smita Shukla Mehra, an Associate Professor in Educational Psychology, specializes in severe developmental disabilities, behavioral disorders and single case experimental design.  She is very passionate about ensuring that her doctoral students use high quality research methods and her Master’s students provide effective interventions to children with Autism.  She is the recipient of several federal grants through the US-Department of Education for the preparation of personnel in Autism Intervention.




Citation for Distinguished International Service Award: Sandra Spencer , Principal Lecturer, English

Sandra Spencer, Director of the Womens’ and Gender Studies Program, has enjoyed taking students abroad and seeing how it has made them grow, with prior students joining the Peace Corps and receiving Rotary International awards to pursue graduate work abroad. Many of these study abroad participants have established careers focusing on global issues; Sandra has indeed helped to broaden the cultural horizons of our students.




President’s Council University Service Award: James David Meernik, Professor, Political Science

Jim Meernik, Professor of Political Science, has done outstanding service at UNT.  If there is a tough challenge and something needs to be done, we know that we can count on Jim.  He has held an incredible number of service roles, including Graduate Advisor, Department Chair, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Acting Dean of the Toulouse Graduate School, and, now, is one of the area leads in the College of Arts and Sciences, and this does not even touch upon the many committees and other ways that Jim has served.  He helped to found the Castleberry Peace Institute, held a Fulbright, received UNT’s Citation for Distinguished Service to International Education – indeed, outstanding service!