Outstanding UT advisers, researchers, teachers recognized
Vicki L. Kroll
Apr 30, 2007
UT outstanding advisers, researchers and teachers were honored recently during the academic awards banquet.
Each 2007 award winner received a certificate and $1,500.
Recipients of the Outstanding Adviser Awards were:
Patricia Beckett, academic adviser in the Judith Herb College of Education. She has been advising education students since 2000. Beckett started at UT in 1995 as a part-time instructor of sociology/anthropology and then became program manager in University College’s Division of Contract Education, now known as the Division of Workplace Credit.
“When meeting with Pat, she is very helpful, encouraging and supportive,” wrote one nominator. “She is a very patient and calm person, which when working with confused college students makes her an excellent academic adviser.” Another wrote, “I met her my first time at the University on my campus visit, and she just seemed like a great lady who has the pride to help everyone she can succeed in their majors.”
“Academic advising is much more than just scheduling a student for classes,” Beckett said. “An adviser is a student’s confidant, cheerleader, trusted friend and, in many cases, their ‘adopted’ parent away from home. My philosophy is to always have an open-door policy. I feel it is an integral part of my job to be there for every student when they need me.”
Dr. Sakui Malakpa, professor of early childhood, physical and special education. He joined the UT faculty as an assistant professor in 1986, and was promoted to associate professor in 1990 and to professor in 1998. All the while, Malakpa has advised students.
“Dr. Malakpa is very prompt in addressing any issues I have regarding my program or applicable course work,” wrote one nominator. “His door is always open, including on weekends and during breaks at the University.” Another noted, “He is the most accessible adviser that I have ever encountered and responds to phone calls and e-mails in record time.”
“Advising poses a unique challenge as one employs circumspection to ensure that, on one hand, students do not register for courses they do not need, and on the other, courses included in their schedules not only meet graduation requirements but contribute to their post-graduation professional activities,” Malakpa said. “This compels me to meet with each student individually to ensure that I understand his/her interests, needs, concerns, schedules — including work and/or family schedules — and any other factors that might impact his/her studies.”
Receiving Outstanding Researcher Awards were:
Dr. Rickye Heffner, professor of psychology. She joined the UT faculty in 1987. Her research focuses on comparative hearing, the evolution of hearing in mammals, and the evolution of sound localization and its relation to vision and the auditory brain.
“Her primary area is the study of the hearing abilities of mammals, which she has pursued for the last 35 years. This research has involved determining the behavioral hearing abilities of over 40 different species of mammals, ranging in size from mice to elephants, and in habitat from subterranean rodents to bats,” wrote one nominator. “The results of Dr. Heffner’s research have had two major impacts on our understanding of the evolution of hearing. First, she has demonstrated that the ability of mammals to hear frequencies above 10,000 kilohertz is the result of selective pressure to use high-frequency locus cues to localize sound. Second, she has demonstrated that the accuracy with which a species localizes sound is the result of selective pressure to direct the eyes to the source of a sound.”
Heffner has received more than $2.3 million in external research support during her 20 years at UT. She has written 69 research articles and 11 book chapters, and given 10 invited presentations and 68 conference presentations.
Dr. Douglas Leaman, associate professor of biological sciences and director of the Center for Molecular Biology. He has been at UT since 2001. He studies proteins called interferons, which the body produces in response to viral infections. Once produced, interferons regulate subsequent immune responses and prevent the virus from spreading throughout the body.
“Dr. Leaman’s lab uses state-of-the-art molecular technology — gene chip assays — to identify new proteins that are produced by interferon-stimulated genes that play important roles in the process of regulating programmed cell death or apoptosis,” one nominator wrote. “These proteins can play a pivotal role in the body’s response not only to viral infections, but also in inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, and proliferative disease states, such as cancer. By learning more about these proteins in viral or interferon responses, he hopes to be able to develop ways to minimize damage to cells during virus infection or other inflammatory disease situations and/or enhance the effectiveness of interferons as therapeutic agents.”
Since 1998, Leaman has received $4 million in extramural funding, with $2.1 million generated at UT. His research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health. He has published some 50 papers and given more than 100 presentations since 1990.
Dr. Ronald Viola, professor of chemistry. He came to UT in 2000. His research interests are in the general areas of the mechanism of the action of enzymes and in the role of metal ions in biological systems.
“Professor Viola is an enzymologist with an international reputation for outstanding contributions to the field. He played a leadership role in the elucidation of the structure and/or mechanism of five different enzymes — and counting,” wrote one nominator. “He is by any standard the world’s foremost authority on the enzymes of the aspartic acid family of essential amino acid biosynthesis. The enzymes of essential amino acid biosynthesis are attractive targets for antimicrobial chemotherapeutic agents. The development of resistance to known antibiotics by infectious bacterial, both in hospitals and the general population, is widely recognized as a worldwide health problem. Understanding microbe-specific metabolic pathways and designing new inhibitors for the individual enzymes represents a promising approach for circumventing this problem. It is just this kind of basic knowledge that flows from the Viola laboratory.”
Viola holds two patents and has received federal funding approaching $5 million for his research during his 26-year career. He has published 88 peer-reviewed papers and been invited to present results of his research on more than 200 occasions.
Honored as Outstanding Teachers were:
Dr. Rane Arroyo, professor of English and author of six books with three more due out soon. He has taught creative writing at the University since 1997.
“As a poet and scholar, Dr. Arroyo remains a dynamic presence in creative writing and literature courses here on our campus. He cares deeply for his students, and this attitude is reflected both in and out of the classroom,” wrote one nominator. “He offers the kind of support a young writer needs most: honest criticism coupled with an enthusiasm for contemporary poetry that is nothing short of infectious.”
“For a writer, a classroom is his or her laboratory. Course activities and assignments deal with issues that I still grapple with as an artist,” Arroyo said. “I love classes in which we laugh, scare ourselves, wander around and also surprise ourselves when we make links from our lives to greater national stories or histories. Risks are best faced using talents and craft. Singing really does keep the dark away. I have one rule in my courses: Specific is terrific.”
Dr. Timothy Jordan, assistant professor of health education. He joined the UT faculty in 2001.
“Dr. Jordan is the most caring and compassionate professor you will ever find at UT and I believe any campus. He has more than 100 students each semester, and he wants to get to know every one,” wrote one nominator. “He cares about every student. He makes sure we are all successful and doing the best job we can do. He gets his class involved in lectures and group discussions every class.”
Jordan credits his former teachers and role models as the driving force behind his teaching philosophy and methods. "The quote about 'standing on the shoulders of giants' is certainly true in my case," he said. "I am truly indebted to my former teachers and role models such as John Wimberly, Jerry Baumgartner, Clay Williams, Jim McKenzie, James Price and Susan Telljohann. I learned how to be a good teacher by observing and learning from great teachers."
Dr. Nicholas Kissoff, associate professor of engineering technology and director of the Construction Engineering Technology Program. The UT alumnus has taught at his alma mater since 1999.
“In the classroom, Dr. Kissoff pulls from his own experience in the engineering field to share examples with students that are completely relevant and practical,” wrote one nominator. “He has taught me more than any other professor I have had so far out of the three institutions that I have attended. Not only do I think he is loaded with valuable information, but he is very approachable and helpful when a student is struggling.”
“My teaching style is patterned after my mentor and previous UT Outstanding Teacher Award winner, the late Dr. David Colony, from whom I learned so very much,” Kissoff said. “Without his years of guidance, this recognition would not have been possible for me. Coupling his style with my experience of how things work in the real world from my consulting career allows students to see how it all ties together in a cohesive and practical manner.”
Don Reiber, assistant professor of communications and director for media services. He has taught at UT since 1979.
“Don Reiber cares for his students. If he gets a call at nine in the evening and someone needs help at the studio, give him five minutes and he’s there to help. He knows the business and what it takes for someone to make it in the workplace, and he demonstrates that himself,” wrote one nominator. “He’s also the man behind many of the promos and commercials that air on ESPN/ESPN2 during Rocket sporting events as well as local TV.”
“I have been blessed to be part of a UT family that has afforded me the opportunity and a learning environment through the years to engage students in real, practical media experiences while providing a foundation of knowledge, equipment resources and situations in which to demonstrate their creativity and skills,” Reiber said. “In the end, by doing so, they have become more marketable to a diversity of production agencies and at the very least enabling then to secure entry-level positions at broadcast outlets, production houses and other media venues where their UT academic background will take them even further. It's been a great ride."