Faculty Achievement Award winners announced for 2020-21 at convocation

Dr. Travis Marsico (left), Dr. Elizabeth Chamberlain, Dr. Rachael Isom, Dr. Sarah Labovitz and Dr. Justin Castro (accepting the award for Dr. Kellie Wilson-Buford).

JONESBORO — The five recipients of the 2020-21 Faculty Achievement Awards were announced recently during the annual Faculty Honors Convocation, a highlight of Convocation of Scholars.

“I would be remiss not to thank our faculty for their continued efforts as they navigated the challenges of the pandemic over the last year,” stated Dr. Alan Utter, provost and executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research, before he introduced those recognized. “You have exceeded expectations ... and we would not be where we are today without your commitment and dedication.’

The awards, determined through a nomination and committee review process, are for significant and meritorious achievement in the respective categories.

Chancellor’s Medal for Research and Creative Activities: Dr. Travis Marsico

The inaugural recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Research and Creative Activities is Dr. Travis Marsico, professor of botany and associate department chair. Provided by the Beck Foundation and Distinguished Alumnus Buddy Beck, this is now the highest honor that A-State faculty may receive. Nominators noted Marsico was extraordinarily productive with six peer-reviewed manuscripts and research presentations at four national and international conferences, while serving as a principal investigator for five external research grants. Other finalists were Dr. Beth Hood, Lipscomb Distinguished Professor, and Dr. Libby Nix, associate professor of nursing.

Advising Award: Dr. Kellie Wilson-Buford

Dr. Kellie Wilson-Buford, associate professor of history, is the primary adviser to undergraduates, and additionally oversees dozens of internships every year. Along with traditional advising duties, she mentors students on the use of technology in the classroom, coursework development, and classroom organization. The other finalist was Addie Fleming, assistant professor of nursing.

Emerging Faculty Scholar Award: Dr. Elizabeth Chamberlain

The newly created Emerging Faculty Scholar Award, formerly known as the Excellence in Scholarship Award, recognizes a pre-tenure faculty member for exceptional scholarly achievement. The first recipient, Dr. Elizabeth Chamberlain, assistant professor of English, was commended as a leader in the Digital Humanities Research Institute and her department’s curriculum and retention grant team, and has an impressive mix of creative and scholarly work. The other finalist was Dr. Lori Neuman-Lee, assistant professor of herpetology.

Professional Service Award: Dr. Sarah Labovitz

Dr. Sarah Labovitz, associate professor of music and associate director of bands, was recognized in particular for her service as faculty adviser to several student groups, chairing and serving on several committees, and devoting extra time to assessment, faculty development and curriculum improvements. Dr. Kimberley Davis, associate professor of special education and assistant chair, and Dr. David Jeong, professor of mechanical engineering, also were finalists.

Teaching Award: Dr. Rachael Isom

Dr. Rachael Isom, assistant professor of English, is very dedicated and intentional in ensuring her students both understand course content and develop critical thinking skills. While the transition to online learning was challenging, students praised her ability to keep coursework engaging. Other finalists were Dr. Jessica Camp, assistant professor of nursing, and Dr. GwanSeon (Sun) Kim.

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