Regents Present Awards to 11 Faculty Members

Regents Present Awards to 11 Faculty
Members for Mentoring, Public Service, Teaching,
Research, Scholarship, Creative Activity, Collaboration

April 11, 2003

At its April 11 meeting at Towson University, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents will present the Regents' Faculty Awards for Excellence. This year, the Regents will recognize 11 faculty members from institutions across the USM for their outstanding contributions in one of seven areas: collaboration, mentoring, public service, teaching, research, scholarship, and creative activity.

"These 11 educators, recommended by the Regents Faculty Award Committee, are an example for every person in higher education," said Clifford M. Kendall, chairman of the Board. "Through their hard work, dedication, and creative endeavors, they have shown that for teachers and students alike, real learning knows no boundaries. The Board is pleased to bestow its highest honor upon them."

Each recipient of an award for mentoring, public service, teaching, and research, scholarship, and creative activity will receive $1,000 and a plaque of recognition for the honor. Each recipient of an award for interinstitutional collaboration will receive $500 and a plaque.

The Board of Regents established the Faculty Awards in 1995 to publicly recognize distinguished performance by educators and researchers within the University System. The Regents Faculty Award Committee, made up of faculty from the USM's research and comprehensive institutions as well as one member from the System office staff, receives nominations from the president of each institution, along with the nominees' portfolios. The portfolios provided documentation of outstanding performance, during the last three years, in the award category for which the faculty member was nominated. Each nominee must have served as a USM faculty member for at least five years.

This year's award winners for Excellence in USM Interinstitutional Collaboration are:

Judith M. Stribling, associate professor of biology at Salisbury University, and Gian Gupta, professor of environmental sciences and chemistry in the Department of Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Stribling and Gupta lead the nationally recognized undergraduate dual degree program in environment/marine science and biology at their respective institutions. Ten years ago, UMES and Salisbury began a collaborative program that took advantage of their existing strengths and avoided the costs of duplicating a program offered at a nearby institution. Stribling was assigned by Salisbury University to coordinate and strengthen the program in 1997, and she found a ready ally in Gupta, who has led the UMES side of the effort since 1991. Both Gupta and Stribling teach a fullload of courses and advise more than 25 students. Gupta supervises graduate students and serves in the faculty governance organizations at UMES, while Stribling volunteers for several regional conservation groups, supervises undergraduate research, and advises the Bioenvirons Club. Recognized nationally in 1998 by the Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for collaborative programming between a predominantly white campus and a historically black institution, the UMES-Salisbury dual degree program is an example of the kind of collaboration that can be achieved within the USM family of institutions.

This year's award winner for Excellence in Mentoring is:

Noel Myricks, associate professor in the Department of Family Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). Over the past three decades, Myricks, an educator and lawyer, has mentored students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, demanding quality and setting standards that will prove incalculably valuable for students in their careers and personal lives. Myricks has encouraged promising students, many of whom are minorities, to go to law school or graduate school, and to pursue other professional endeavors. Under his guidance, the University Mock Trial Program has produced nine consecutive regional championships and five national championships. His work has enhanced the undergraduate experience, enriched student lives, and advanced the educational mission of the institution.

This year's award winners for Excellence in Public Service are:

E. Wendy Saul, professor of education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Because of their unique professional concern with education, all faculty members in the Department of Education are expected to draw on their expertise, training, and experience to perform service that benefits the public. The scope, intensity, quality, and impact of Saul's public service surpass even the highest expectations of her department and her national and international peers. Saul's career is based on listening to those voices too often ignored - encouraging them to present their findings in larger forums or in publications, and supporting teacher research within their own classrooms. Her insights into teaching and learning include the linkage between literacy and science, meaning and inquiry, and readiness and learning and their application to schools. She has promoted critical thinking and active learning among young students by developing an annual Kids Inquiry Conference, held at UMBC each summer, and engaged in service to the educational community by active participation on many boards and in numerous organizations that promote inquiry, education, and teaching. Saul also has received praise for her international service. Since 1997, she has volunteered with the Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking project in Lithuania and Azerbaijan as an expert teacher trainer. The project, a collaboration of George Soros' Open Society Institute and the International Reading Association, is a professional development program to assist teachers from 28 countries to change classroom teaching practices at all grade levels.

Warren D. Tewes, assistant professor in the School of Dentistry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Tewes, a full member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, is a volunteer dental consultant to the Maryland State Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and a member of the federal Disaster Mortuary Operations Response Team. Each time he is called to the grim task of dental identification, he knows that he is assisting a distressed and grieving family. In this spirit, he has participated in making over 100 identifications in the past three years. In addition to his forensic odontology work with the medical examiner, Tewes has helped the state to establish the Maryland Dental Database for Missing and Unidentified Persons. A central repository of dental records for missing persons allows police to compare reports from families with unidentified persons. The key to success has been the inter-organization communications between the Medical Examiners Office, the Maryland State Police, and the Maryland State Dental Association. Working with the Forensic Dentistry Committee, Tewes has solicited volunteer participation so that a statewide network has at least one dentist assigned to each county. Because of the acclaim that he received working in these areas, he was asked to be the volunteer forensic dental representative on the Forensic Advisory Board at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, VA. There, he developed simplified dental charting schemes for non-dental first responders that can be faxed globally in a crisis times. Beginning September 12, 2001, Tewes worked with 40 other team members for two weeks to process the remains of the 44 passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93.

Memo Diriker, associate professor of marketing in the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University. Diriker has been a tireless contributor to many endeavors that have enriched the Eastern Shore's quality of life. Residents of the Eastern Shore feel an attachment to Salisbury University because of Diriker. They may read his weekly newspaper column, may have seen him interviewed on television, or may make use of his annual Regional Economic Forecast. They may own a business that used him as a consultant, belong to the same civic organization, or speak Spanish and appreciate his initiation of Bienvenidos a Delmarva. Diriker's community involvement affects his classroom, becoming a basis for case studies, student projects, and further research. Under his guidance, the student chapter of the Perdue School's American Marketing Association won its first national awards. Awareness of the need to apply his extensive knowledge of economic and marketing principles to understand and solve public sector challenges has spurred him to develop online learning modules and to use technology to help diverse communities communicate.

This year's winners of the award for Excellence in Teaching are:

Spencer Benson, associate professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland, College Park. A longtime advocate of undergraduate education, he has been a key contributor to the overall design and monitoring of College Park's general education courses and an active participant in the Center for Teaching Excellence. Benson was a member of the faculty group that launched the innovative, team-taught, interdisciplinary World Courses. He co-designed and co-delivered a novel course focusing on the Nile River, viewed through the prism of the geopolitical and engineering challenges accompanying the construction of the Aswan Dam and the economic and ecological consequences of the construction. He also has helped shape science education in the state as part of the University Task Force on K-16 Education. Practicing what he preaches, Benson is participating in a $7.5 million National Science Foundation grant to improve instruction and middle-school student achievement in science. His undergraduate teaching involves large and small classes, both for life-science majors and non-majors. He routinely holds workshops on teaching for graduate students and works with graduate assistants to develop their teaching skills. As he has continued to innovate in his courses, he has also published extensively and, as invited speaker, shared his findings at many national conferences and workshops.

Kimberly Hunter, assistant professor of biological sciences in the Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology at Salisbury University. Hunter is a leader in engaging Salisbury's biology majors as well as students from other disciplines in learning about biology, botany in particular, through undergraduate research. She has mentored more than 140 students in various research projects since she arrived on campus in 1997. Hunter teaches the required complement of three or four courses each semester, advises 30 students, and fulfills expectations for university and community service. What separates top-tier scientists from the rest is their capacity for asking important questions. Hunter helps her students learn how to recognize those important questions, and how to ask them. About 20 students are involved in research each semester working on one of five projects, with two to five students on each project. Each project involves field collection of plant samples, modern genetic analysis, intensive literature research, grant writing, lab work, data analysis, and project presentation of work. In some cases a paper may be produced for peer review. All projects focus on population genetics and use similar DNA analysis techniques. Hunter regularly checks each group's progress, and demonstrates proper lab techniques to a few students who teach others. Experience in this efficiently run laboratory helps students discover or raise their career goals, learn skills that are immediately useful in industry or graduate school, and contribute their independent effort to a group project.

Lea Ramsdell, assistant professor of Spanish at Towson University. Since joining the Department of Modern Languages in 1997, Ramsdell has consistently received high student evaluations in a variety of classes that include not only lower level language classes but also upper level core requirements for Spanish majors and minors. Colleagues who have visited her classes proclaim her proficiency with all the conventional teaching methods, praise the interactive aspects of her classes, remark on the integration of technology into her teaching, and rate highly such written components as tests, homework, and syllabi. What makes her stand out is the way she has integrated service learning into the advanced Spanish composition class. Students in the class must volunteer for 12 hours to either tutor adults at the Hispanic Apostolate or teach English as a second language to students at Dumbarton Middle School. They must keep a log or journal about each session; conduct, tape, translate, and critique a serious interview in Spanish; participate in four lunch-time gatherings conducted entirely in Spanish; and incorporate some of their learning experiences into the major paper required for the course. Thanks to Ramsdell's deep sense of community service, engaging professionalism, and innovative teaching, Spanish 407 has enjoyed enormous success both in the classroom and in the community.

This year's winners of the award for Excellence in Research/Scholarship/Creative Activity are:

Govind Rao, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Building largely on Rao's vision and leadership, UMBC's Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering is attracting growing attention nationally and internationally. As a researcher and teacher, Rao has been an indispensable member of the department and is a role model for the entire UMBC community. His 93 publications, including 30 in the past three years, and three patents justify the confidence that National Science Foundation had in him when they named him a Presidential Young Investigator in 1991. In turn, he has built the new department at UMBC with persons of similar talent. Due largely to his active mentoring, his department is one of only a few in the nation where every junior faculty member who is eligible for a National Science Foundation Career Award has received one. Rao's cutting-edge research in the area of sensors and instrumentation is resulting in low-cost measurements that previously were impossible other than in research laboratories. In another area, he is exploiting the unique properties of green fluorescent protein to serve as a real-time marker in bioprocess development. More recently, he has developed high throughput bioprocessing techniques that could revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry. What is unique about Dr. Rao's work is that it is extremely focused on developing breakthroughs that affect the greatest number of people at the lowest possible cost.

Elizabeth Gantt, distinguished university professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Maryland, College Park. Gantt is one of the world's leading experts on the organization of the photosynthesis apparatus of phycobilin-containing algae. She was first to identify a group of novel pigmented bodies, which she named phycobilosomes, that turned out to be major components of the light harvesting system of photosynthesis. Gantt's pioneering research covers broad areas of basic importance in cell biology and biochemistry. Her recent research has been directed toward elucidating the structural organization of the photosynthetic membrane during light acclimation. Some of her more significant accomplishments have included the development of means by which the topography of the supramolecular photosynthetic membrane complexes could be quantitatively studied in situ. Gantt and her coworkers produced evidence that supports a common origin for chloroplasts of various pigmented algae, previously believed to be widely divergent. Despite maintaining a vigorous and highly visible research program, Gantt's commitments to teaching and service to UMCP have never wavered. In addition to teaching, she directs dissertations of graduate students, hosts postdoctoral fellows, and serves on numerous graduate student committees. She is one of her unit's most reliable citizens, serving on search and other committees.

Chris Hart
Phone: 301/445-2739