USM Board of Regents Faculty Awards Presented

Adelphi, Md. (April 13, 2012) -- The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents at its meeting today announced the recipients of the 2012 USM Regents' Faculty Awards. The meeting was held on the campus of Frostburg State University.

The awards are the highest honor presented by the board to exemplary faculty members. Presented in four categories, the awards honor excellence in mentoring, public service, scholarship, and teaching. Each award carries a $1,000 prize provided by the institutions and the University System of Maryland Foundation.

Following are the 2012 Regents' Faculty Award recipients, listed by category:



Dr. Patricia Alexander, Professor in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). Dr. Alexander has a stellar research and scholarship record, having authored or co-authored more than 270 publications, many of which were written with students. In addition, she works with many students whom she does not formally advise to help them develop their writing skills, dissertation topics, and research trajectories. She has also been an active mentor to junior faculty, frequently providing young scholars opportunities to collaborate on research projects, co-author manuscripts, and to serve on editorial boards.

Dr. Vanessa P. Fahie, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) School of Nursing. Dr. Fahie has devoted her career to developing projects that impact educationally and environmentally disadvantaged students. Her three-fold approach has been to prepare undergraduate nursing students to provide quality health care to diverse populations, to increase the sensitivity of students in health professions, and to encourage high school students to further their education by participating in the college completer program which she designed and spearheads. Fifty percent of those students in her Career Readiness Program now take rigorous courses and 80 percent applied to and enrolled in colleges across the nation.

Dr. Stella Porto, Professor and Program Director of the Master of Distance Education and E-learning in the Department of Education of the Graduate School of Management and Technology at University of Maryland University College (UMUC).  Dr. Porto initiated and currently leads a growing community of more than 250 students and alumni, who have become a powerful source of discussion, collaboration, and projects in the field of distance education. Dr. Porto has authored and published book chapters and articles, made numerous presentations worldwide, and performed campus, professional, and community service.

Dr. Penny Rheingans, Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Dr. Rheingans has distinguished herself as an exceptional mentor to women and men majoring in computer science, information systems, and engineering. Her leadership as Director of the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) has systematically helped to recruit quality students in science and engineering fields, and develop programs that mentor both CWIT scholars and affiliates to be successful graduates and professionals; most of these students are women. Her mentorship is invaluable for encouraging more women to persist in the major. Her efforts have resulted in a 90 percent retention rate for students in the program.




Dr. Steven Phillips, Professor of History at Towson University.  Dr. Phillips worked as a content specialist for the Fulbright Group Project abroad, seeking to enhance the teaching of Asian studies in Maryland public schools. Dr. Phillips traveled to China with groups of Maryland educators, offering expert lectures and providing translation. Upon his return, Dr. Phillips helped to oversee the construction of teaching unit plans based on the group's study in China. As Maryland business and education leaders work to develop firmer partnerships with China, they reach out for the counsel of Dr. Phillips, helping to bring economic growth and jobs to the state of Maryland.

Margaret Johnson, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore (UB) and founder of the UB School of Law's Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference.  The conference helps to perpetuate discussions on how to effectuate societal change, with current topics such as parentage law, international human rights law, poverty law, and other topics that have global impact. Professor Johnson has made valuable contributions in the area of public service, with particular focus on moving feminist legal theory into practice and on promoting access to justice for low-income women and families.

Dr. Irmak Renda-Tanali, Associate Professor and Program Director of Homeland Security Management and Emergency Management at UMUC's Graduate School of Management and Technology. Dr. Renda-Tanali was instrumental in founding the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (JHSEM), which provides researchers, academics, practitioners, and other professionals with a scholarly means to contribute to these crucial fields. JHSEM has grown exponentially and boasts a worldwide readership exceeding 80,000 subscribers. As a member of the Governor's Emergency Management Advisory Council (GEMAC), she advises Governor O'Malley on statewide matters related to emergency planning and preparedness as well as homeland security measures.

Dr. Karen Kauffman, Associate Professor of Nursing and Chair of the Department of Family and Community Health at UMB's School of Nursing. As a member of the National Public Policy committee, Dr. Kauffman served to propose advocacy strategies for federal, state, and local public policy issues and was instrumental in expediting access for people with early-onset Alzheimer's to Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Incomes. A board-certified gerontological nurse practitioner, Dr. Kauffman's work reaches far beyond Maryland and national borders. She recently chaired a committee task force to update the statements of ethics written for professionals around the world.




Dr. John T. Fourkas, the Millard Alexander Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UMCP.  In the past three years, Dr. Fourkas has authored and co-authored 138 articles and has been co-PI or worked on research grants totaling more than $11 million. He is a senior editor for the Journal of Physical Chemistry and referees for 50 journals including the top in his field. He has received fellowships from the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Arthur L. Allen, Associate Professor in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences within the School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). Dr. Allen's dynamic research is largely centered on reducing soluble phosphorus losses in drainage ditches while using synthetic gypsum and a technology that involves applying poultry litter beneath surface soil. In the past three years, Dr. Allen has published a total of 37 scientific articles with two book chapters. Within the same time frame, he was responsible for securing or helping to secure approximately $4.3 million in grant funds.

Dr. W. Michael Kemp, Professor at the Horn Point Laboratory at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES).  The primary focus of Dr. Kemp's research concerns understanding the biological structure and production of coastal ecosystems situated at the interface between continents and oceans. His recent and most notable research contributions include finding that the reason sea grasses in the Chesapeake Bay are disappearing is because the Bay is being "fertilized to death" rather than the use of herbicides in no-till agriculture, as many had suggested. Because of his scientific contributions, he has won the 2009 Odum Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation.

Dr. Bimal Sinha, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics and founder of the statistics program at UMBC. Dr. Sinha has been developing statistical methods to measure and model studies of climate changes, pollutions, and ecosystem degradations. In the past few years, he has published two critical, seminal texts aimed precisely at tackling the challenges of evaluating multidisciplinary data related to human interactions with the natural world. He has been elected Fellow of the International Statistical Institute, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and the American Statistical Association where he has also received a Distinguished Achievement Medal Award.




Dr. Thomas Abrams, Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at UMB.  Starting six years ago, Dr. Abrams engineered a critical overhaul of graduate education through a revision of the Graduate Program in Life Sciences (GPILS). This program-a collaboration among the School of Medicine, Dental School, and Graduate School-awards Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in basic, clinical, and population research.  It serves eight distinct Ph.D. and three M.S. granting units. The new program has improved student retention rates, increased training grants, and improved mean time to graduation. It is also noteworthy for its effective use of new technologies and for the integration of instructors across 12 departments.

Dr. Kenneth Thomas Kiger, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UMCP. Dr. Kiger's research in heat transfer and multi-phase flow has produced dozens of articles in top journals. A full 25 percent of Mechanical Engineering students take his courses and he has played a key role in fundamental revisions to "Introduction to Engineering Design," "Dynamics," and "Fluid Mechanics." The theme of his teaching has been to introduce new learning tool, develop projects, and to involve students in teamwork. His students do not simply learn fundamental engineering concepts from a textbooks and lectures, but rather learn to think critically and independently to solve complex problems.

Dr. Leslie M. Pang, Professor and Program Director of Information and Technology Systems in the Graduate School of Management and Technology at UMUC.  Dr. Pang is best known for his innovative use of technology in order to create a rich learning environment. He possesses a cutting-edge knowledge of technology systems and is generous in sharing his knowledge with others.  He was the recipient in 2004 of the prestigious Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Excellence Award. This year, he received national teaching awards from both the United States Distance Learning Association and the National University Technology Network.

Dr. B. Blair Taylor, Clinical Assistant Professor of Computer and Information Science at Towson University.  Dr. Taylor's focus on educating students about cyber-security has made her a national leader in curriculum development in this area. She is the author of several papers on educating for security and the recipient of a major National Science Foundation award for curriculum development: "Building Security In: Injecting Security throughout the Undergraduate Computing Curriculum." Students and colleagues alike are impressed by her passion for the subject and her regard for her students.


Writing Credit: Linnita Hosten, USM Office of Communications


Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719