USM Board of Regents Faculty Awards Presented

Adelphi, Md. (April 20, 2018) -- The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents at its meeting today announced the recipients of the 2018 USM Regents' Faculty Awards. The meeting was held at University of Maryland University College (UMUC).
The awards are the highest honor presented by the board to exemplary faculty members. The awards honor excellence in the following four categories: teaching; research, scholarship and creative activity; public service; and mentoring.
Institutional faculty nominating committees make recommendations to the institutional presidents, who review nominations and supporting material and forward recommendations to USM Chancellor Robert L. Caret.  The Regents Faculty Review Committee makes the final recommendations.
Each award carries a $2,000 prize provided by the institutions and the University System of Maryland Foundation. Chancellor Caret and Board of Regents Chair James Brady presented the awards.
2018 USM Board of Regents Faculty Awards Winners
Following are the 2018 Regents' Faculty Award recipients, listed by category:

Dr. Amy Froide, Professor of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Dr. Froide’s academic career has been marked by outstanding teaching, internationally renowned scholarship and impressive service to the UMBC history department. She is recognized as one of the foremost scholars on women’s history in early modern Europe.  She advises graduate students; provides extensive research supervision; and directs students to internships, graduate programs, grant opportunities, and other resources.  She also enthusiastically mentors faculty outside her discipline—including those in life sciences and engineering. Amy Froide Faculty Page

Dr. Siddharth Kaza, Professor of Computer and Information Sciences at Towson University (TU). Dr. Kaza—who also serves as the chairperson of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at TU—excels in teaching, research, and service.  He has pursued a groundbreaking pedagogical research agenda focused on cybersecurity education. Kaza has an extensive publication record and extramural funding amounting to more than $4 million in the last three years. His contributions to cybersecurity and information assurance education, being adopted nationally, are an outstanding example of the level of teaching excellence at Towson. Siddharth Kaza Faculty Page

Dr. Arthur Lembo, Professor of Geography and Geosciences at Salisbury University (SU). Dr. Lembo’s textbook, An Introduction to Statistical Problem Solving in Geography, has made him an influential figure in the Geographic Information Science (GIS) community.  He has presented workshops and provided training for hundreds of GIS practitioners. Most of his students have gone on to gainful employment in GIS careers, many in leadership positions.  In addition to his effectiveness as a teacher and mentor, Dr. Lembo is an outstanding university citizen, active on several committees and an ardent supporter of international students. Arthur Lembo Faculty Page

Dr. Pamela Lottero-Perdue, Professor of Science Education and Engineering Education in the Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences at Towson University. In addition to excellence in teaching, Dr. Lottero-Perdue has had considerable success in new program development and implementation, as well as significant research productivity.  She has been a critical contributor to academic programming at Towson University’s Northeastern Maryland campus and received the Visionary Award from the Northeast Maryland Technology Council for her work with Harford County elementary teachers. She also created and directed the Integrated STEM Instructional (iSTEM) Leadership Post-Baccalaureate Certificate at Towson, which has numerous successful graduates. Pamela Lottero-Perdue Faculty Page.

Professor John Bessler, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Professor John Bessler is a leading scholar on the history of capital punishment.  His book The Death Penalty as Torture examines capital punishment from the Dark Ages through the Enlightenment to modern international law. In the past three years alone, he has published four books with one more currently in progress and five law review articles with four more forthcoming. In addition, Bessler has a full-time teaching load and directs the School of Law’s moot court program. Bessler will be a visiting scholar at the Human Rights Center at the University of Minnesota Law School in the spring 2018 semester.
John Bessler Faculty Page

Dr. Sharad Sharma, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Bowie State University (BSU). Dr. Sharma is an expert in using virtual reality and multi-agent systems to simulate human behavior. He has secured multiple grants to establish a state-of-the-art virtual reality laboratory and a vibrant research group, working both artificial intelligence and fuzzy logic parameters into his simulated environments to provide a multi-dimensional study of human behavior. Dr. Sharma currently has six doctoral students, four master’s students, and five undergraduate students. His students have frequently presented their research projects and won awards at the Emerging Researchers National Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Sharad Sharma Faculty Page

Dr. Peter Shawhan, Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). It is seldom that one person is central to the birth of a discipline, but Dr. Shawhan is such a person, having initiated and overseen the creation of multi-messenger astronomy. Shawhan was part of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) team involved in projects detecting gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes and analyzing the collision of two neutron stars. In August 2017—as the merger of two neutron stars was detected by LIGO—NASA’s Fermi telescope observed a burst of gamma rays. The data collected by more than 70 observatories will be studied for years to come and will reveal much about cosmology, nuclear physics, radiation, and general relativity.
Peter Shawhan Faculty Page

Dr. Vera Smolyaninova, Professor of Physics and our third faculty award winner from Towson University. Dr. Vera Smolyaninova is an expert in optical physics and photonics materials. Her research has focused on metamaterials and condensed matter physics. In addition to a high publication rate, she has given or contributed to 85 presentations and 11 invited talks at local, regional, and national conferences. Smolyaninova was also the first TU faculty member to receive a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award.
Vera Smolyaninova Faculty Page

Dr. Andrea Cantora, Assistant Professor in the College of Public Affairs at UB. Dr. Cantora is the founder and director of UB’s Second Chance Program, which educates more than 50 men at the Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI), focusing on the reintegration of offenders into the community. Her work was the impetus for the creation of “therapeutic communities” at Jessup, which house students in her Second Chance Program away from the general prison population.  Dr. Cantora has also been instrumental in obtaining Pell Grants for inmates interested in pursuing their bachelor’s degrees. She has received more than $400,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell - Experimental Sites Initiative.
Andrea Cantora Faculty Page

Dr. Jeffrey Cornwell, a Geochemist and Oceanographer at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s (UMCES) Horn Point Laboratory. Dr. Cornwell is an internationally renowned research scientist who has invested his expertise in support of public service. He completed the first comprehensive biogeochemical dynamics study on the Conowingo Dam’s effects on the Chesapeake Bay. In his extensive work on the Harris Creek oyster sanctuary, he used new approaches to assess the benefit that oyster restoration provided by removing nitrogen from the ecosystem.. Cornwell also led several other major projects including the Best Management Practices in Chesapeake Bay. His ongoing research on Chesapeake Bay restoration has contributed to applied studies in San Francisco Bay, the Everglades, Puget Sound, and coastal Maine. Cornwell’s graduate students are employed with major agencies and universities.
Jeffrey Cornwell Faculty Page

Dr. Clare Muhoro, Professor of Organic Chemistry at Towson University. Dr. Muhoro works extensively with the United States Agency for International Development on science policy issues for developing nations. She has traveled to Africa and the Middle East in hands-on efforts to support U.S. programs and policies regarding scientific collaboration as a tool to promote development.  She also served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow in diplomacy, security, and development. She has organized and/or moderated numerous symposia in the U.S. and also South Africa. She balances these public service obligations with a full-time teaching and administrative load within the Department of Chemistry. Muhoro received the “100 Inspiring Women in STEM’ award from Insight into Diversity magazine.
Clare Muhoro Faculty Page

Marlene Riley, Clinical Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science at Towson University. Professor Marlene Riley leads by example, involving occupational therapy students in service learning courses and in her volunteer activities. Her partnership with the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland has enabled Towson students to provide a variety of opportunities for underserved girls. Her students also participated in “Girls Beyond Bars,” a program for young girls and their incarcerated mothers. Her students have volunteered for inner city afterschool programs. Her honors include the Emerging and Innovative Practice Award from the American Occupational Therapy Association and the Professional of the Year Award from the Arc of Baltimore.
Marlene Riley Faculty Page

Dr. Melanie Killen, Professor of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology and Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). Dr. Killen is passionate about developing talent in students in all levels of academia. She has multiple honors, awards, citations, and publications, many of which are co-authored with her students. She has mentored 21 doctoral students, 17 of whom have completed their Ph.D. degrees with heading toward completion of their doctoral work. Several of her students have secured tenure-track or tenured positions at universities. Under her mentorship, this diverse group of students has made significant contributions to basic research, educational applications, and the field of policy. In addition, she was recently appointed a College of Education ADVANCE professor, dedicated to providing support for the recruitment, retention, advancement, and professional growth of women and under-represented minority faculty at UMCP.
Melanie Killen Faculty Page

Loren Marquez, Assistant Professor of English at Salisbury University. Dr. Marquez provides outstanding mentorship to many undergraduate and graduate students in her roles as a faculty member, the director of the First-Year Writing Program, and as supervisor of English graduate teaching assistants. Undergraduate students registering for upcoming classes seek out her sections based on her excellent mentoring and challenging assignments. In addition to her work at Salisbury University, Dr. Marquez has also mentored students in an English secondary education program in Germany (collaboratively delivered with University of Maryland University College (UMUC) for active duty military and family members).
Loren Marquez Faculty Page

Jason Speights, Assistant Professor of Physics at Frostburg State University (FSU). Dr. Speights takes pride in helping students learn through real-life research projects. He has a unique ability to guide multidisciplinary projects and to inspire students with these projects. One such project, Dizzy Microbes, brought together students from earth sciences, computer sciences, biology, information technology, and engineering. The project culminated with a presentation, Dizzy Microbes: The Effect of Increased Gravitational Fields on the Growth Rate of E. Coli, at the FSU Undergraduate Research Symposium. Speights has helped students with research projects that have gained national recognition, including a project presented to the American Astronomical Society.
Jason Speights Faculty Page

Jesse Varsalone, Associate Professor of Computer Networking and Cybersecurity at University of Maryland University College (UMUC). Varsalone has been active with UMUCs “Cyber Padawans” cybersecurity team since 2012, serving as coach since 2015.  The Cyber Padawans is a competitive, volunteer team of students, alumni, and faculty who participate in cybersecurity competitions worldwide. In 2014, the team won the Global CyberLympics. In 2015 and 2016, the team won 1st- and 2nd-place awards in multiple competitions. Varsalone also supports the B.S. program in computer networking and cybersecurity. Varsalone has authored several technical publications, built over 60 hands-on virtual lab exercises, and helped UMUC work toward designation as a National Center of Digital Forensics Academy Excellence.
Jesse Varsalone Faculty Page

Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719