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University honors faculty, staff for advising, research, teaching, outreach work

UT outstanding advisers, researchers and teachers, and recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement, were recognized last week.

Recipients of the Outstanding Adviser Award are:

Michelle Sullivan and Dr. Johan Gottgens won Outstanding Adviser Awards.

Michelle Sullivan and Dr. Johan Gottgens won Outstanding Adviser Awards.

Dr. Johan Gottgens
, professor and associate chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He joined the faculty in 1993.

“Dr. Gottgens is passionate about advising students as he deeply cares about the students and their success,” one nominator wrote. “Over Dr. Gottgens’ 20-plus years at UT, he has served or chaired dutifully on just about every committee we have on campus. With this knowledge foundation, and his professional, precise and detailed approach to advising, his advisees leave his office empowered, knowing exactly what is necessary for them to do or who to see next.” Another wrote, “I can’t even imagine how many people he has helped over the years and the amount of time he has invested in helping these people succeed. Hans is an asset to this department and the University.”

Michelle Sullivan, academic adviser in the colleges of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Communication and the Arts. She joined the UT staff in 2012.

“Extremely welcoming and easy to talk to, Ms. Sullivan presents a casual yet professional demeanor that makes counseling sessions stress-free and very informative,” one nominator wrote. “She compliments students on their strengths, acknowledges their weaknesses, and helps the student build both their strengths while bettering their weaknesses. Her encouragement has always been a constant source of confidence for me.” Another wrote, “When I go to see her, she wins me over instantly from a hard day with her warm genuine smile. Then I sit down and she answers my questions, suggesting possible solutions. What would I do without her? She makes my visits fun and is a good example of an ideal adviser.”

Recipients of the Outstanding Researcher Award are:

Outstanding Researcher Awards went to Dr. Sasidhar Varanasi, left, Dr. Bina Joe and Dr. Paul Hong.

Outstanding Researcher Awards went to Dr. Sasidhar Varanasi, left, Dr. Bina Joe and Dr. Paul Hong.

Dr. Paul Hong
, professor in the Department of Information Operations and Technology Management in the College of Business and Innovation. He joined the faculty in 1987 and received his PhD from the University in 2000.

His research interests focus on global supply chain management, including new product development and innovation; supplier relationships; operational transformation; and strategic integration of front-end and back-end business processes.

“Dr. Hong has published more than 200 journal and conference papers, numerous research awards and three books, including Building Network Capabilities in Turbulent Competitive Environments: Practices of Global Firms From Korea and Japan (2012) and Business Success Stories in the BRICs (2014, and in the area of global supply chain management that have achieved international recognition for providing real-world examples evaluating the impact of supply chain networks in global markets,” one nominator wrote. “He is noted for the impact on the international business community. His excellent research is but a part of a well-balanced approach to his work as a faculty member. He also has an outstanding record of service and mentorship for students and other faculty.”

Dr. Bina Joe
, professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and director of the Center for Hypertension and Personalized Medicine. She joined the faculty in 2001.

She is an internationally recognized leader in the field of genetic determinants of hypertension. Her work has helped identify risk factors associated with high blood pressure, which plays a major role in cardiovascular and renal disease.

“Dr. Joe has received sustained research funding from the National Institutes of Health, including two active grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute totaling more than $7 million. She has an excellent publication record with more than 50 papers appearing in peer-reviewed journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cell and Nature Communications,” one nominator wrote. “She has received national awards, including the 2010 American Society of Hypertension’s Young Scholars Award and the 2014 American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension Lewis K. Dahl Memorial Lecture Award. This year she will assume a new role as the editor-in-chief of Physiological Genomics, a journal of the American Physiological Society.”

Dr. Sasidhar Varanasi, professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering. He joined the faculty in 1983.

He has made noteworthy research contributions in the areas of sustainable energy production and green engineering, with particular emphasis on biomass conversion to fuels and prevention of greenhouse gas emissions. He has developed innovative solutions to national problems related to fossil fuel consumption.

“Dr. Varanasi has received more than $12 million in external funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the Ohio Third Frontier Commission. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed publications in very high-impact journals and has approximately 20 issued patents, several of which have been licensed to technology-based companies for commercialization,” one nominator wrote. “Dr. Varanasi has made seminal contributions to the field of ionic liquid pretreatment technology to revolutionize the process for conversion of cellulose-based plant products into glucose and other sugars that form the precursors in the production of bio-based fuels and chemicals.”

Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement are:

Dr. Isabel Escobar and Susan Parks received the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement.

Dr. Isabel Escobar and Susan Parks received the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement.

Dr. Isabel Escobar
, professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and associate dean for research development and outreach in the College of Engineering. She joined the faculty in 2000.

“Dr. Escobar developed and jointly leads a program called Women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) Day of Meetings (WISDOM),” one nominator wrote. “Now an annual event, WISDOM brings girls from area high schools to engage in activities that reveal practical applications of classroom information and provide the basis for exciting careers in STEMM disciplines. Of significant importance to Dr. Escobar is the opportunity for these students to network and get to know women in STEMM disciplines.” Another noted, “During the 2014 water crisis in Toledo, Dr. Escobar participated in the community outreach in addressing and responding to the issue, and has made numerous media appearances addressing the problem of algal bloom toxicity in Lake Erie. Her research focuses on developing and improving polymeric membrane materials for water treatment and water reuse operations.”

Susan Parks, associate lecturer in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Judith Herb College of Education. A reading consultant and literacy coach for more than 20 years, she joined the faculty in 2009.

“Since summer 2010, Ms. Parks has spearheaded the Launch Into Literacy Program to increase the effectiveness of teacher candidates’ professional preparation while engaging in mutually beneficial partnerships with area schools,” one nominator wrote. “She has designed and taught an undergraduate course about how to assess and tutor learners with challenges learning to read and write, with actual class time conducted on-site in local public schools in Springfield, Sylvania and Toledo districts. To date, more than 500 UT teacher candidates and 500 elementary and middle school students have benefited from this work.” Another noted, “Area school administrators are working with the college to think about how to further expand [the program] so that it could be used to serve many more students in more districts.”

Recipients of the Outstanding Teacher Award are:

The Outstanding Teacher Awards went to, from left, Dr. Celia Williamson, Dr. Sue Wambold, Dr. Cyndee Gruden, Diane Marker, Dr. Melissa Gregory and Dr. Doina Chichernea.

The Outstanding Teacher Awards went to, from left, Dr. Celia Williamson, Dr. Sue Wambold, Dr. Cyndee Gruden, Diane Marker, Dr. Melissa Gregory and Dr. Doina Chichernea.

Dr. Doina Chichernea
, assistant professor in the Department of Finance in the College of Business and Innovation. She has been teaching at the University since 2009.

“Dr. Chichernea is helpful and positive in class, and makes sure we understand the subject she is teaching before moving on to a new subject,” one nominator wrote. “She records her lectures and makes them available to all of her students, which is helpful to a distance-learning student such as myself. In addition, she has invited distance-learning students to attend class when possible, and I have found this to be most helpful.” Another wrote, “I was dreading taking Corporate Finance. It is not an easy subject. But Dr. Chichernea has made the subject genuinely interesting and almost fun. I am learning the subject and can begin to apply it in my real-world endeavors.”

Dr. Melissa Gregory
, associate professor in the Department of English Language and Literature in the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences. She joined the faculty in 2002.

“Dr. Gregory helped me get assistance for my learning impairment by pointing me toward resources to make my learning experience more pleasurable. Without Dr. Gregory’s insight in observing that I was a student struggling, I would not have the fulfillment I feel from my chosen electives,” one nominator wrote. Another noted, “Her methods of teaching have encouraged me to push myself to my potential as a writer and researcher. It is Dr. Gregory’s love of educating others that promotes wellness in her students. When I graduate, I will remember her humanity and carry with me always a reflection of UT and the positive experiences that came with studying under professors like Dr. Gregory.”

Dr. Cyndee Gruden, associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering in the College of Engineering. She began teaching at UT in 2003.

“Dr. Gruden is an exceptional professor whose knowledge and advice don’t stop when she walks out of the classroom,” one nominator wrote. “She takes the time to get know her students well enough that she can write professional yet personal letters of recommendation. Dr. Gruden helped me to accept two research co-ops that helped me determine my career focus and that have not only broadened my knowledge on the subject matter, but also have dramatically expanded my professional network.” Another noted, “Her enthusiasm in her subject matter is why I have accepted a position with a design/build wastewater engineering company when I graduate. Dr. Gruden goes above and beyond teaching to help her students succeed in their undergraduate careers and after graduation.”

Diane Marker, professor in the Department of Applied Organizational Technology in the College of Business and Innovation. She joined the faculty in 1980.

“Her passion for the success of students overflows into her teaching style and causes great motivation in the classroom,” one nominator wrote. “She is a phenomenal teacher that uses real-world examples in teaching, genuinely cares about her students, is approachable, and teaches real-world lessons that I’ll remember forever.” Another noted, “She makes us think far further than what is on the surface of all aspects of life. She shares her wisdom with all of us in hopes of us doing well. She encourages us to do our best, and she ensures us that we are capable of much more than we ever thought we could be. She is by far one of the best teachers I’ve had in my entire life.”

Dr. Sue Wambold, professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology in the College of Health Sciences. She started teaching at UT in 1989.

“There was a time when I didn’t think college was for me anymore, and it showed in my grades,” one nominator wrote. “Professor Wambold knew I could be doing better, and she invited me to talk to her about classes and my future. She helped me to keep at it and raise my grades.” Another noted, “Sue isn’t just a professor I have, she is a friend and a mentor, always giving wisdom to her students and doing it with a smile. I hope to stay in touch with her long after my time at UT comes to a close. Sue is an excellent role model in education and just in general. Her life lessons in and out of the classroom will stay with me forever.”

Dr. Celia Williamson, professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Social Work in the College of Social Justice and Human Service, and director of the new Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute. She joined the faculty in 2000.

“I lived in poverty and I am a convicted felon and she inspired me to become a great asset in my community. She took hours out of her work schedule to help me complete assignments and apply to graduate school,” one nominator wrote. “Celia has made my dreams become reality and has made an impact on my life, my goals and my career. There is not enough thanks I could give to Dr. Williamson.” Another wrote, “Dr. Williamson is a kind, loving and passionate person. You can easily determine the amount of passion she has for social justice. She was always there to help and teach material in and out outside the classroom.”