Faculty and Staff Notables | April 2023

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The administration building is seen up close, with the top of Willet Hall seen in background through the trees.
Photo by Andrea Honaker

College of Education

Dr. Karyn Allee, assistant professor, was awarded the 2023 Cathryn Futral Excellence in Teaching Award for the College of Education.

Dr. Olivia Boggs, associate professor of educational leadership, was awarded the 2023 William O. Lacefield Excellence in Service Award for the College of Education.

Dr. Robert Helfenbein, professor of curriculum studies, received the 2023 Outstanding Book Award from the Society of Professors of Education for his volume Critical Geographies of Education: Space, Place, and Curriculum Inquiry.

Dr. Carol A. Isaac, associate professor of research in the Department of Educational Leadership, was awarded the 2023 Edward L. Bouie Excellence in Research and Scholarship Award for the College of Education.

Dr. Vicki L. Luther, associate professor, was awarded the Janie Fountain New Baptist Professorship for the College of Education.

Dr. Katherine Perrotta, assistant professor of middle grades and secondary education, presented “Living History: Teaching the COVID-19 Pandemic Using a TPS Network Album” as a poster and breakout session at the annual meeting of the National Council for History Education in Salt Lake City with Dr. Ann Canning of Waynesburg University. Dr. Perrotta also presented “Beyond Ellis Island: Chinese Exclusion, Angel Island, and Historical Empathy” with Annie Evans of the New American History Project at the University of Richmond and Karalee Wong Nakatsuka of Arcadia Unified School District in California at the annual meeting of the National Council for History Education.

Dr. Elaine Thurmond, assistant professor and co-director of early learning and development, and Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao, professor, gave a presentation titled “Designing Units” as part of a panel called “Speed Sharing: Middle School Tools and Resources” at the National Science Teachers Conference on March 25. 

Dr. Navella Jean Walker, assistant professor of clinical practice in the Department of Educational Leadership, was awarded the Jeanette Harnsberger Professorship for the College of Education.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Dr. Wallace L. Daniel, distinguished university professor of history, presented a paper titled “Gleb Yakunin and the Complicit Spirit” at the VII conference of Yakunin Readings, “De religione et bello,” held online in Israel on March 4-5. His paper is published in Russian, “Gleb Iakunin I dukh souchastiya.” 

Dr. Janell Johnson, associate professor of religion, moderated an invited panel for Mercer undergraduate researchers at the Southeastern regional meeting of the American Academy of Religion on Mercer’s Atlanta campus on March 11. Students presenting papers included Sarah Davila, Caine Bagley, Julia Stuckey and Amanda Herrold.

Dr. Gordon Johnston, professor of English, is the author of the new short story collection Seven Islands of the Ocmulgee: River Stories, published Feb. 1 by Mercer University Press. Dr. Johnston’s trail journal Wind River Range-Finding: A Southerner’s Trek through the Wyoming Rockies was published in the online journal Still in early March. In addition, the excerpt from his Flint River kayaking and canoeing journal Scaring Herons will appear in the spring issue of Susurrus.

Dr. Marc Jolley, director of Mercer University Press and senior lecturer of philosophy, spoke on a panel in memory of Terry Kay, a recently deceased Southern writer, at the Dahlonega Literary Festival on March 3-4.

Dr. Paul Lewis, professor of religion, has published two op-ed pieces, “How Any Biblical Text Can Be a ‘Text of Terror’” and “Moral Passion: Unleashed but Ungrounded,” on Good Faith Media. 

Dr. James Davis May, director of creative writing, had two poems appear in The Colorado Review and one in The Sun, and Literary Hub published his creative nonfiction piece “A Pathless Wood: Navigating the Poetic Border Between Health and Harm.” His second poetry collection, Unusually Grand Ideas, appeared on Bookshop.org’s Best New Poetry: Winter 2023 list and was reviewed by The Southern Review of Books and Literary Matters. He also gave readings at the New York Encounter cultural festival and the Brooklyn Public Library.

Dr. Phoebe Moon, assistant professor of political science, presented at the 2023 International Studies Association Annual Conference in Montreal. Her two co-authored papers presented during this conference are titled “A psychological approach to gendered attitudes during COVID-19 in South Korea” and “The U.S.-China trade war’s impact on third-party trade partners.”

Dr. Chinekwu Obidoa, associate professor of global health; Dr. Makhin Thista, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Dr. Harold Katner, professor of internal medicine, co-authored a paper titled “Socio-ecologic Correlates of HIV/AIDS Related Sexual Risk Behavior of African American Emerging Adults” in the Journal of AIDS and Behavior on April 7. Dr. Obidoa also authored a review of the book The Right to Development in Africa: Issues, Constraints and Prospects by Serges Djoyou Kamga in the Journal of Global South Studies.

Dr. Katherine Roseau, assistant professor of French, presented a paper titled “An Alternative to X: How Interned Jews Wrote Letters to Imagine a Future Other than Auschwitz” at the Society for French Historical Studies/Western Society for French History Joint Conference on March 17 in Detroit.

Dr. Creighton Rosental, professor of philosophy, presented “Dialogue vs. the Medium of Text: Plato’s Phaedrus and Ficino’s Plato” at The Association for Core Texts and Courses annual conference in Dallas on March 30-April 2.

Dr. Bryan J. Whitfield, professor and chair of religion, published a book chapter titled “Josephus and Hebrews 4:1-13: The Promise of Entering God’s Rest” in Reading Hebrews in Context: The Sermon and Second Temple Judaism as well as well as a commentary on Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 for the website Working Preacher for Good Friday on April 7. Together with Thomas Bullington, lecturer of liberal arts, he presented “Progress toward Revision of Core Texts for the Great Books Program for Mercer University” on March 31 at the Annual Conference for the Association of Core Texts and Classes in Dallas.

College of Health Professions

Dr. Jeffrey Ebert, clinical associate professor of physical therapy, co-authored “The implementation of a return-to-play protocol with standardized physical therapy referrals in a collegiate football program: PT’s role in return-to-play, a clinical commentary” in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 

Dr. David Taylor, clinical associate professor of physical therapy; Dr. Leslie Taylor, professor of physical therapy; and Dr. Beth Collier, clinical associate professor of physical therapy, co-presented “Viewing Aging Through an Age-Friendly Lens to Promote Positive Aging” at the American Society on Aging Conference on March 27-30 in Atlanta. At the same conference, Dr. David Taylor and Dr. Leslie Taylor co-presented “A Curriculum to Support the Delivery of Age-Friendly Care,” Dr. David Taylor co-presented “Elevating Care: Guiding Principles for Best Practice Geriatric Physical Therapy,” and Dr. Leslie Taylor co-presented “Is clinical psychology education missing geriatric content?”

Dr. Deborah Wendland, associate professor of physical therapy, co-authored “Offloading of diabetic neuropathic plantar ulcers: secondary analysis of step activity and ulcer healing” in Advances in Skin and Wound Care. 

College of Pharmacy

Dr. Lori Dupree, clinical assistant professor, co-authored “Substance-Related Disorders II: Alcohol, Nicotine, and Caffeine” in Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach, 12th edition, from McGraw Hill.

Dr. Raquibul Hasan, assistant professor and principal investigator, is leading a groundbreaking research project aimed at discovering a new treatment for drug-resistant high blood pressure, a condition that disproportionately affects African Americans and a portion of the general population, leading to increased risks of heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association has awarded Dr. Hasan and his team, which includes co-investigators Dr. Nader Moniri, professor, and Dr. Mahavir Chougule, associate professor, a grant of $154,000 to support their research on “A gut microbiota-derived metabolite as a novel modulator of vascular endothelin-1 signaling and hypertension.”

Dr. Susan W. Miller, professor, co-authored “Geriatric Syndrome Fecal Incontinence Engage Curriculum,”  “Geriatric Syndrome Polypharmacy Engage Curriculum,” “Geriatric Syndrome Sleep Disturbance Engage Curriculum,” and “Geriatric Syndrome Urinary Incontinence Engage Curriculum” in A Curriculum for HRSA-funded Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of an Age-Friendly Curriculum. She also presented “On Aging 2023, ‘Viewing Aging Through an Age-Friendly Lens to Promote Positive Aging’” at the American Society on Aging in Atlanta on March 30.

Dr. Angela Shogbon Nwaesei, clinical associate professor, and Dr. Pamela Moye, clinical professor, received the Global Education SIG (Special Interest Group) Established Outstanding Program Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Global Education SIG in March. She also received the AACP Pharmacy Practice Section Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Pharmacy Practice Section on April 4.

Dr. Lorenzo Villa Zapata, clinical assistant professor, co-authored “Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Five Anti-Obesity Medications from a U.S. Payer’s Perspective” in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases in March.

College of Professional Advancement

Dr. Rui Gong, assistant professor of mathematics, co-authored and co-presented a paper on “SmartEye: Detecting COVID-19 Misinformation on Twitter for Mitigating Public Health Risk” at the conference Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Conference on Big Data and Smart Computing in February. 

Dr. W. David Lane, professor of counseling, received notification that several of his children’s books won awards in March. I Have Questions, Lots and Lots of Questions: A True Story of Christmas (2022) won the holiday books category of the Children’s Book International Award for Children’s Fiction and also received the Bronze Medal from the BookFest Awards in the holiday category. The Banana Farm (2021) won the folklore category of the Children’s Book International Award for Children’s Fiction, and My Dog Can’t Jump (2020) was named a finalist in the animal and pets category. My Dog Can’t Jump was also named a finalist for The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. 

Dr. Tri Le, assistant professor of mathematics and computer sciences, has received a special invitation from the Association of American Colleges and Universities and Project Kaleidoscope to attend the Grant Writing Innovation Institute on May 15-19 at the Lansdowne Resort and Conference Center in Virginia. Dr. Le was invited as a result of his selection last year for the prestigious PKAL STEM Leadership Institute. 

Dr. Jacqueline S. Stephen, assistant professor, director of the office of distance learning and instructional designer, was invited to facilitate a professional development session at The United States (U.S.)-Educated Azerbaijani Alumni Association’s 2023 Summit: Excellence in Action. The two-day event was held in the Quba region of Azerbaijan on April 8 and 9 and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Baku. The U.S.-Educated Azerbaijani Alumni Association is a nonprofit organization that unites Azerbaijani nationals who studied at U.S. colleges or universities. Dr. Stephen’s workshop focused on creating and delivering effective presentations. 

Dr. Lynn Tankersley, professor of criminal justice, presented a session titled “Pre-Trial Diversion Aimed at Treatment Courts” at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences’ annual meeting in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 14-18.

Dr. Sabrina Walthall, associate professor of science, was selected as a fellow for the Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program 2023 Summer Symposium, which will be held May 15-19 at the University of Georgia.

College of Nursing

Dr. Tammy Barbé, interim dean and associate professor, and Ph.D. graduate Dr. Ryan Crawford presented “Demographic Differences in Work-Life Balance in Prelicensure Nursing Faculty: A Mixed-Methods Study” at the 2023 National League for Nursing Education Research Conference.

Dr. Lanell Bellury, professor, gave a poster presentation on “U.S. Nurse Practitioner Turnover: Analysis from the 2018 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses” at Touro University Nevada’s 2023 Annual Research Day in Henderson. She was the poster competition winner in the category of Applied and Translational Research Studies.

Dr. Kathy Davis, clinical assistant professor, attended the Georgia Association of Nursing Education Conference at Young Harris College on March 1-4.

Dr. Maura Schlairet, professor and associate dean for the undergraduate program, and Dr. Justus Randolph, professor, co-authored “Predicting Survivorship Appointment Nonattendance in a Community Cancer Center: A Machine-Learning Approach” for the Western Journal of Nursing Research.

Dr. Daphnee Stewart, clinical assistant professor and doctor of nursing practice coordinator, is a member of the planning committee for the 2023 Association for Prevention Teaching and Research Conference. 

Dr. Linda A. Streit, professor, was invited to be the keynote speaker for Mercer University Phi Kappa Phi Induction, which will be held virtually on April 16. The induction ceremony will be inclusive of students from the Macon and Atlanta campuses. Dr. Streit’s column for the Georgia Nurses Association’s April/May/June issue of Georgia Nursing, titled “Georgia Nurses and the United States Cadet Nurse Corps,” focuses on the nursing workforce influence following the Dec. 7, 1941, Japan attack on American fleets.

Dr. Olga Turner, clinical assistant professor, presented a poster titled “Implementing Change Utilizing Rogers’ Theory of Diffusion” at the Southern Nursing Research Society Annual Conference on March 2.

Dr. Laura Wallace, lecturer, presented “Use of Midday Structured Guided Reflection in Undergraduate Clinical to Promote Clinical Judgment” at the 2023 Georgia Association for Nursing Education Conference on March 4.

School of Business

Dr. Szabolcs Blazsek, visiting associate professor, received the Best Paper in 2022 Award from the journal Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics & Econometrics for “Multivariate Markov-switching score-driven models: an application to the global crude oil market.” He also co-authored the following papers in 2023: “Score-driven cryptocurrency and equity portfolios” in Applied Economics; “Score-driven threshold ice-age models: Benchmark models for long-run climate forecasts” in Energy Economics; “COVID-19 active case forecasts in Latin American countries using score-driven models” in Mathematics; Non-Gaussian score-driven conditionally heteroskedastic models with a macroeconomic application” in Macroeconomic Dynamics; “Co-integration with score-driven models: An application to U.S. real GDP growth, U.S. inflation rate, and effective federal funds rate” in Macroeconomic Dynamics.

Dr. Geoffrey M. Ngene, associate professor of finance, and Dr. Kenneth Tah, assistant professor of finance, co-authored a paper titled “How are policy uncertainty, real economy, and financial sector connected?” that was published in Economic Modelling, an A-ranked journal.

Dr. Vijaya Subrahmanyam, associate dean and professor of finance, was featured in WalletHub’s piece about free credit cards in March. 

School of Engineering

Dr. Kleio Avrithi, assistant professor of civil engineering, authored the paper “Hydraulic Conductivity of Soil with Poly-Vinyl Alcohol (PVA)” and presented it at the American Society of Civil Engineers Geo-Congress 2023 conference in Los Angeles on March 26-29. Co-authors of the paper, which was published in the conference proceedings, are senior civil engineering student Marlo Mecredy and junior environmental engineering student Leila Kelly.

Dr. Donald Ekong, associate professor of computer engineering, and Dr. Sabrina Walthall, associate professor of science in the College of Professional Advancement, led a service-learning study abroad program to Cape Town, South Africa, during Spring Break March 4-12. The program included eight Mercer students. The students taught app development to unemployed youth and students in an after-school program at the Philisa Abafazi Bethu – Family Center.

Dr. Stephen Hill, associate dean; Dr. Dorina Mihut, associate professor of mechanical engineering; and mechanical engineering students Gabrielle Scott, Jorge Luis Arce-Laretta and Benjamin Wesley Pollard gave a presentation titled “Assessing Correlation between Erosion, Wear and Hardness Behavior for Polymers, Metals and Ceramic Coated Metallic Surfaces” for the American Society for Engineering Education Southeastern Section Conference on March 12-14 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Dr. Kenneth Marek, mechanical engineering instructor, made codebase contributions that are now available in version 8.1.0 of GNU Octave, released on March 7. Octave is a scientific programming language intended primarily for numerical computations. Dr. Marek’s contributions fixed bugs and improved functionality in several functions used to solve ordinary differential equations.

Dr. Dorina Mihut, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and students Gabrielle Scott and Jorge Luis Arce-Laretta, and Dr. Sahar Hasim, assistant professor of biology; and students Benjamin Wesley Pollard, Jheel Kiritbhai Patel and Sahar Anis Ali gave a presentation titled “Independent Study Class for Investigating Coated Materials affecting Candida species Growth” for the American Society for Engineering Education Southeastern Section Conference on March 12–14 held at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

School of Medicine

Dr. Jennifer Barkin, professor of community medicine and OB-GYN, had her article “Effects of Extreme Weather Events on Child Mood and Behavior” recognized by Wiley Publishers as a top downloaded article. Another recent article of hers titled “Climate Change is an Emerging Threat to Perinatal Mental Health” will be reprinted in a special book series on women’s leadership with Texas A&M Press.

Dr. Andrew S. Benesh, assistant program director for the Master of Family Therapy program, and Dr. Jetlexis Carlos, assistant professor for the Master of Family Therapy program, were invited presenters for the Georgia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s Supervisor Roundtable event. In addition, Dr. Benesh completed the Mercer Center for Executive Education’s Conflict Resolution Certificate Program. 

Dr. Raghavan Chinnadurai, assistant professor of oncology, co-authored a research article titled “Characterization of Intestinal Mesenchymal Stromal Cells From Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease for Autologous Cell Therapy” that was published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

Dr. David Hollar, associate professor of community medicine, published “Survey of Genomic and Physiological Characteristics for Survival in Lymphoma: The NCI Genomic Data Portal” in the peer-reviewed journal Current Problems in Cancer on March 4.

Dr. Anne Montgomery, assistant professor of community medicine, has been accepted to the annual conference of the Georgia Public Health Association with one roundtable discussion, four posters and two 30-minute workshops. She will be the presenter for the roundtable session on “Comparing stress, coping mechanisms and suicidal ideation in beginner and experienced farmers in Georgia” and the 30 minute-workshop on “Stress and Suicidal Ideation Among First-Generation Farmers: A Cross-Sectional Study with 1,288 Farmers in Georgia.” Both of these presentations are in collaboration with Stephanie Basey, who will complete her Ph.D. in Rural Health Sciences from Mercer School of Medicine in May; Chris Scoggins, instructor of community medicine; and Lily Baucom. Dr. Montgomery is co-author but not presenter on the posters and the second workshop, which all include doctoral students as fellow authors. In addition, the manuscript for “Stress and Suicidal Ideation Among First-Generation Farmers: A Cross-Sectional Study with 1,288 Farmers in Georgia” was accepted to be published in The Journal of Rural Health.

Chris Scoggins, director of special projects at the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center and instructor of community medicine, was elected to the Board of Directors for the Georgia Rural Health Association. 

Dr. Yudan Wei, professor of community medicine, and Belinda Bell, a medical student in the Class of 2023, published a research article titled “Urinary concentrations of endocrine-disrupting metals and prevalent breast cancer in U.S. women” in Biological Trace Element Research. In addition, Dr. Wei and two medical students in the class of 2025, Anna Gerald and Srividya Ganapathy, presented their research titled “Exposure to the endocrine-disrupting metal lead and serum estrogen levels in women” at the 2023 American College of Medical Toxicology Annual Scientific Meeting in March. Their research work was selected as a platform presentation at the conference.

Staff and Administration

Tony Kemp, associate vice president for events and special programs, judged two Georgia High School Association state literary events in March. On March 18, he worked with Region AAAAA essay at Warner Robins High School, and then he judged extemporaneous speaking for Region A Division II at Georgia Military Prep School in Milledgeville on March 25. He also worked with Region 4AAA of the Georgia Independent School Association on Feb. 28 as a judge for their extemporaneous speaking and oral interpretation events.

Dr. Samantha W. Murfree, assistant vice president for student affairs, was selected as a Harriet Tubman Woman on the Move honoree by the Tubman Museum in Macon in March.