Faculty and Staff Notables | April 2024

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College of Education

Dr. Karyn A. Allee, assistant professor of elementary education, Dr. Vicki Luther, associate professor of education, and Ph.D. student Kimberly Renee Stephens published “Reflection and projection: Inclusive and diverse texts in the English language arts curriculum” in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.  

Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao, professor, presented a session titled “Hands-on Art and Science: Handprints” at the Georgia Science Teachers Association Annual Conference in Columbus on Feb. 23. Presentation participants included Georgia science teachers from grades K-12.  

Dr. Rob Helfenbein, professor of curriculum studies, was awarded the 2024 Mary Ann Raywid Award for outstanding contributions to the study of education. This award is given by the Society of Professors of Education and presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Philadelphia.

Dr. Sara Luke, assistant professor of special education, was awarded the 2023-2024 Tift College of Education Annual Faculty Awards Cathryn Futral Excellence in Teaching Award.

Dr. Susie Morrissey, assistant professor of mathematics education, along with Dr. Tom Koballa, professor and dean of the College of Education; Dr. Flavio Campos, assistant professor of computer science education; Dr. Bob Allen, professor and chair of the computer science department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Dr. Anthony Choi, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the School of Engineering, were awarded a National Science Foundation grant for the project “Creating a Grow-Your-Own Program for Recruiting and Supporting Computer Science Teacher Candidates in Rural Georgia.”

Dr. Katherine Perrotta, assistant professor of middle grades and secondary education, was awarded the 2023-2024 Tift College of Education Annual Faculty Awards Edward L. Bouie Excellence in Research Award. Dr. Perrotta also presented “The Power of Place: Japanese Incarceration and Historical Empathy” with Karalee Wong Nakatsuka, Arcadia Unified School District of California, and Annie Evans, the New American History Project at the University of Richmond, at the National Council for History Education conference in Cleveland.

Dr. Jim Vander Putten, associate professor of higher education, co-authored a paper with a colleague from Georgia Tech titled “Academic citizenship in an age of anti-intellectualism” in the Journal of Praxis in Higher Education. Dr. Putten also co-authored a paper with a colleague from Arkansas State University-Beebe titled “An Analysis of University Social Media Policy Composition and the Creation of a Functional List for Development” in the Journal of Research in Business Information Systems.

Dr. Matthew Sroka, assistant professor of education, presented “Literary Leaders: The Power and Importance of Teachers’ Reading Lives” at the 2024 Georgia Council Teachers of English Conference.

Dr. Elaine Thurmond, assistant professor of clinical practice, was awarded the 2023-2024 Tift College of Education Annual Faculty Awards William O. Lacefield Excellence in Service Award.

College of Health Professions

Dr. Beth Collier, clinical associate professor of physical therapy, and Dr. Leslie Taylor, professor of physical therapy, co-authored “The art of empathy: Visual art interpretation and creation to enhance empathy in DPT students” published in The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice.

Dr. Dan Dale, clinical assistant professor of physical therapy, taught Simulation Instructor Training for Rehabilitation Professionals, sponsored by the American Council of Academic Physical Therapists, held March 22-23, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dr. Gail Kemp, assistant professor of clinical psychology; Dr. Mary Beth McCullough, assistant professor of clinical psychology; Dr. Tony Stillman, clinical associate professor of clinical psychology; and Dr. Michelle Robbins, clinical associate professor of clinical psychology, presented “AI-powered education: Navigating new frontiers in clinical psychology” at the Southeastern Psychological Association conference, held March 13-15 in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Kemp and Dr. McCullough also presented “Chronic pain management doctoral student training program: Unveiling the journey and early outcomes” and “Measuring competence in delivering CBT for chronic pain treatment” at the conference.

Dr. Becky Larson, assistant professor of public health, presented “Engaging public health students in a walkability study and photovoice project to learn about disability” at the International Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Commons Conference, held March 1, in Savannah.

​​Dr. Suzie Madden, assistant professor of public health, presented “Exploring a virtual delivery approach to the privilege walk for pre-health track undergraduate college students” at the Southeast Athletic Trainers’ Association Annual Conference, held Feb. 8, in Atlanta.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Dr. Alexis Chauchois, assistant professor of French, presented “Scrabble de Michaël Ferrier: La frontière du livre” at the 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium at Villanova University, Philadelphia, on Feb. 22. He was also invited to present Michaël Ferrier L’enfance: mode d’emploi” at the Michaël Ferrier Transnational Novelist — International One-Day Colloquium at the Keynes Library in London on March 18 in the presence of the author. On March 21, Dr. Chauchois, assisted by Professor JoungHwa Woo, Mount de Sales Academy and Mercer University, and Professor Nicolas David, Stratford Academy, organized the Inaugural Mercer French Bowl, which brought together at least 70 students from various private and public institutions in Middle Georgia, including Central High School, Mount de Sales Academy, Stratford Academy, Wesleyan College and Mercer University. The event was a giant game consisting of several challenges about the French language and francophone culture, during which French students competed against each other.

Dr. David A. Davis, professor of English, gave the presentation “Hale County and the Visual Rhetoric of Sharecropping” for the Atlanta Preservation Society on March 19.

Dr. Sahar Hasim, assistant professor of biology, and 22 biology department students and faculty attended the Association of Southeastern Biologists conference under the TriBeta Organization on March 20-23 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Dr. Hasim was elected associate treasurer of the organization. Dr. Megan Pannell, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. John Stanga, assistant professor of biology, served as faculty mentors for the trip. Students Priscilla Kya Haywood and Rachel Thigpen won first place in the TriBeta Superior Poster Presentation in Genetics and Cellular/Molecular Biology, and they received the TriBeta trophy for their project titled “Characterization of Mutants and Mechanistic Insight into Biofilm Biosynthesis in Streptococcus mutans.” Because of their first-place win in Poster Presentation in Microbiology and their Good Poster Presentation award in Cellular/Molecular/Biomedical/Genetics, students Deborah Roh and Sanjeevini Nalla won the John C. Johnson Award. Their presentation was titled “Enhancing Antimicrobial Efficacy and Biofilm Inhibition Using MXene Nanomaterial-Based Coatings on Medical Devices.” Dr. Hasim is the research advisor for the students who won the prize and the chapter advisor for the TriBeta organization.

Dr. Paul Lewis, professor of religion, taught a five-week class on Christian ethics at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Macon.

Dr. Adeel Malik, assistant professor of computer science, was awarded the Outstanding Dissertation Award for the academic year 2022-2023 at the college level by the College of Engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso. Dr. Malik also had his research paper titled “Towards Developing a Scalable Cyber Risk Assessment and Mitigation Framework” accepted for presentation at the 18th Annual Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Systems Conference 2024. 

Dr. Chinekwu Obidoa, associate professor of global health studies and Africana studies, and global health studies junior Reema Chande participated in the Teaching Prevention 2024: Advancing Population Health Across Disciplines Annual Conference. Dr. Obidoa presented a study titled “Drivers of Teen Pregnancy in Middle Georgia: How Deep Does the Rabbit Hole Go?” Chande presented her work titled “Trapped Through Time: Historical Injustice and Georgia’s Teen Pregnancy Trends” in the student oral presentation lightning session. The event was held in Alexandria, Virginia, March 11-13.

Dr. Jacqueline Pinkowitz, assistant professor of media studies and director of film studies, presented “The Black Gothic and/as Body Gothic: Slavery’s Horrors and Haunting Afterlives in Lovecraft Country (2020)” at academic conference Critical Approaches to Black Media Culture in New Orleans and the Society for the Study of the American Gothic in Salem, Massachusetts. Her full article, on which these presentations are based, has been accepted for publication in Black Camera

Dr. Caryn Seney, professor of chemistry, and Dr. Adam Kiefer, Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry, presented a series of talks at the American Chemical Society meeting in New Orleans. Dr. Kiefer presented “Lead-in-paint in lower- and middle-income countries part 1: Screening legacy paints and new paints for mitigation” with Dr. Seney; Dr. Adaline Buerck, assistant professor of environmental and civil engineering; and student W. Ben Stewart as co-authors. Dr. Seney presented “Lead-in-paint in lower- and middle-income countries part 2: Standardizing pXRF using ICP-OES” with Dr. Kiefer, Stewart and former students Samantha Brown and Evan Stair as co-authors. Stewart also presented a poster on his work in the Seney/Kiefer lab with student Nuren Lara titled “Standardizing pXRF using GF-AAS for the analysis of Pb in paint.” Two of Dr. Seney’s research students, Kyla Hudson and Nuren Lara, gave a poster titled “Solvation of heavy metals using glycine-cyanide synergistic lixiviant” also at the American Chemical Society in March. Dr. Kiefer recently presented a talk titled “Standardizing Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) Analyzers for the Quantification of Lead (Pb) in New Paints” to the D021.21 committee on Chemical Analysis of Paints and Paint Material ASTM International. Dr. Seney and Stewart co-authored the presentation.

Dr. Fletcher Winston, professor of sociology, was a member of the Teaching About Climate Change panel at the Pacific Sociological Association annual meeting in San Diego and presented a paper titled “Environmental Advocacy in the Classroom: A Service-learning Project to Address Climate Change.”

Dr. Martin Zhao, associate professor of computer science, attended the 93rd American Association of Biological Anthropologists conference in Los Angeles in mid-March. With the help from Mehak Kaur, lecturer of computer science, and Cooper Novak, graduating senior, Dr. Zhao and Dr. Qian Wang — formerly with Mercer School of Medicine — held a workshop demonstrating the newly released CSViewer for Analysts v1.1, a software application developed with support through an National Science Foundation grant awarded to Dr. Zhao in 2019. CSViewer is the first-of-its-kind application designed to provide menu-based user interfaces for researchers to access an integrative database of the Cayo Santiago Rhesus Colony with a total of more than 11,000 monkeys. A poster was also presented at the conference to show visuals that intended to construct a holistic view of the rich CS genealogical records and measures and imagery data recently collected from the CS-derived skeletal sets. A manuscript summarizing design and implementation of the CSViewer app has been submitted for a special issue of the American Journal of Primatology, with another focusing on the analytics aspects under final editing. Dr. Zhao was also invited to host a calligraphy table at Stratford Academy during its first Multicultural Festival on March 7, where he shared basic stroking skills and stories behind Chinese scripts with Stratford students, faculty and staff. Another calligraphy class was conducted at the Academy for Classical Education on April 4, for students in “The Well Trained Mind: The Ancient World” class.

College of Nursing

Dr. Justus Randolph, professor, had his second exoplanet discovery paper titled “Confirming the Warm and Dense Sub-Saturn TIC 139270665 b with the Automated Planet Finder and Unistellar Citizen Science Network” in The Astronomical Journal. Dr. Randolph also published a paper titled “A SICE (Società Italiana di Chirurgia Endoscopica e Nuove Tecnologie) observational prospective multicenter study on anatomical variants of the superior mesenteric artery: intraoperative analysis during laparoscopic right hemicolectomy — CoDIG 2 database (ColonDx Italian Group)” in Updates in Surgery.

College of Pharmacy

Dr. Ajay K. Banga, professor and chair of pharmaceutical sciences, co-authored, with graduate student Tanvi Karve, an article titled Comparative evaluation of physical and chemical enhancement techniques for transdermal delivery of linagliptin” in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.

Dr. Mahavir Chougule, associate professor, received $142,915 in funding from the National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute for his project “Characterization of HER2 inhibitors with a novel mechanism of action” to formulate first-in-class medicines that will block the function of HER2, which is responsible for aggressive breast cancer and its spread to other tissues of the body. Dr. Chougule was also invited as an international reviewer to evaluate the Mitacs Accelerate grant proposal and joined the leadership team in the Nanotechnology Community of American Associates of Pharmaceutical Scientists international organization.

Dr. Raquibul Hasan, assistant professor, received $300,000 in funding from the American Heart Association for his project “Novel mechanism of blood pressure regulation by statins and its pathophysiological significance.” Also, Dr. Hasan and graduate student Sreelakshmi Menon received the Best Pre-clinical Poster Award from the Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance.

Dr. Pamela Moye, clinical professor and chair of pharmacy practice, co-authored an article titled “An Integrative Review of Micro-Credentials and Digital Badges for Pharmacy Educatorsin the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Dr. Reid Proctor, clinical assistant professor, and Dr. Renée Hayslett, associate professor, won the Best Poster Award at the annual Team-Based Learning Collaborative Conference, March 2-5, for their research project titled “Implementation of Moodle, an Open-Source Solution for Team-Based Learning.”

Dr. Mohammad Nasir Uddin, assistant professor, co-authored, with graduate student Sarthak Shah, an article titled “Potential Application of Ionic Liquid 1,4-Diazabicyclo-Octane for Enhanced Buccal Permeability of Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride in Oral Dissolving Polymeric Film” in EC Pharmacology and Toxicology

College of Professional Advancement

Dr. Tyce Nadrich, associate professor of counseling, served as an invited presenter at the Maternal Health and Perinatal Safety Symposium on March 21, at William Patterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. He facilitated a session informed by his original research focused on paternal, perinatal mental health titled “Fostering the Family: Exploring paternal, perinatal mental health.” Dr. Nadrich’s manuscript titled “On the Margins: Racially Ambiguous People of Color, Mental Health, and Society” was accepted by the International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling.

Dr. Kristin Robertson, assistant professor of writing and literature, won the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry for her second collection of poetry titled Chance of Lightning. The manuscript was accepted for publication by the University of North Texas Press to be published in April 2025. 

Dr. Jacqueline S. Stephen, assistant professor, director of the Office of Distance Learning and instructional designer, was selected to participate as a mentor in the Association for Talent Development Greater Atlanta Mentorship Program. The six-month mentorship program begins in April and involves formal monthly mentor-mentee check-ins with an emphasis on sharing and developing talent development skills. The program will conclude with a capstone presentation.   

School of Business

Dr. Geoffrey M. Ngene, associate professor of financial economics, co-authored with Dr. Ann N. Mungai of the University of North Carolina Wilmington a paper titled “Gold as a Hedge, Correlation Cycles and Risk Aversion” that won the best paper award at the Southeast Decision Sciences Institute Annual Conference held in Charleston, South Carolina, Feb. 21-23. At the same conference, Dr. Ngene also presented a paper co-authored with Dr. Mungai titled “Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the BOD and Earnings Management.” 

School of Engineering

Dr. Natalia Cardelino, assistant professor of environmental and civil engineering, and Dr. Laura Moody, associate professor and chair of industrial engineering and industrial management, attended the annual Southeastern Section of the American Society for Engineering Education Conference in Marietta, on March 10-12, where they presented their paper titled, “Experiential Learning: Applying Engineering Skills and Knowledge in the Dominican Republic.” The presentation covered how service-learning opportunities such as Mercer On Mission to the Dominican Republic can enrich engineering education. Dr. Cardelino also was elected president of the Southeastern Section of the American Society for Engineering Education. The mission of the section is to “enhance and promote the development and retention of effective engineering and engineering technology faculty, and promote the assessment and development of effective academic programs in engineering and engineering technology that are responsive to the constituents.” The section includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Puerto Rico and all Latin and South American countries. She will serve a one-year term.

Dr. Hunmin Kim, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, served on a National Science Foundation grant review panel, contributing his expertise to evaluate and guide research proposals in his field.

Mechanical engineering faculty Dr. Dorina Mihut, associate professor; Dr. Arash Afshar, associate professor; and Dr. Stephen Hill, associate professor, guided students Emily Schmidt, David Sellers, Jada Farrell and Erin Parker on their presentations on “Understanding Abrasion Wear Performance: New Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Design” and “The Design and Development of a Laboratory for Three-Point Bending Tests on 3D Printed Samples” at the 2024 American Society for Engineering Education, Southeastern Section Annual Conference at Kennesaw State University, in Marietta, March 4-6. The students won First Place Upper Division Team and Best Overall Student Poster for the poster titled “Study of the Flexural Properties of 3D Printed Materials” and were recognized for outstanding achievement at the Student Poster Competition. At the conference, Dr. Afshar, Dr. Mihut and mechanical engineering graduate student Michael Ryan Sweeney also offered the presentation titled: “Design and Development of Machine Learning Projects for Engineering Students.” 

School of Medicine 

Dr. Caroline Anglim, assistant professor of bioethics and professionalism, co-edited a volume titled “Religion and Social Criticism: Tradition, Method, and Values” published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Dr. Jennifer Barkin, professor of community medicine and OBGYN, was invited to present for the National Healthy Start Association’s Grand Rounds in Women’s Health. She was asked to discuss the development and evolution of the Barkin Index of Maternal Functioning.

Dr. Andrew Benesh, interim program director of the Master of Family Therapy program and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, presented “Family Policy Education for MFTs” at the 2024 American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s Leadership Symposium in Phoenix on March 16. Dr. Benesh also presented “Every Mind Matters” with students Deja Tharpe and Janai Scott at the Student National Medical Association Region IV Medical Education Conference in Macon on Feb. 2.

Dr. Gabriela Jacob, assistant professor of family therapy, presented “Managing Stress with Chronic Illness” and “A Relational Model for Supporting Individuals” at Atlanta Piedmont Hospital in December and March to practitioners, patients and families in the chronic pulmonary rehabilitation group. Dr. Jacob also presented on “Sensory Processing Sensitivity in Children” at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in February. 

Dr. Ilana Chefetz Menaker, associate professor of pharmacology and clinical assistant professor of OB-GYN, and Dr. Abdelrahman Yousif from Texas Tech in El Paso, Texas, presented their research “Conversion from Minimally Invasive Surgical Approaches to Open Surgery Among Endometrial Cancer Patients in the SGO Clinical Outcomes Registry” at the 2024 SGO Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer.

Dr. Devi Rajan, assistant professor of microbiology on the Savannah campus, presented “Small Group Learning Environment: A Platform to Nurture Health Care Students’ Communicative and Collaborative Skills” at the 2024 Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Commons International Conference. The conference was sponsored by Georgia Southern’s Center for Teaching Excellence.

Dr. Maheshinie Rajapaksha, assistant professor of biochemistry in the biomedical sciences department on the Savannah campus, presented a poster on “Facilitation of self-directed learning in an active learning environment; Lessons learned and future directions” at the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference Feb. 28-March 1 in Savannah.

Dr. Kristjan Thompson, associate professor of anatomy, presented a podium talk titled “Using ChatGPT as a Primary Resource for Gross Anatomy Objectives in Medical Education: Faculty versus Student Perception” and a poster titled Implementing an Escape Room for OB/GYN Residents Focusing on Anatomy and Procedural Techniques at the 2024 Anatomy Connected Conference in Toronto on March 23.

Sherrie Williams, director of the Project Management Office, with Dr. Allen Tindol, associate professor, attended the annual Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Grantee Meeting sponsored by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy in Washington, March 6-8. Williams and Dr. Tindol serve as leaders of the North Georgia Opioid Prevention Education Network for Mercer University School of Medicine, focusing on Fannin, Gilmer, Gordon and Polk counties. Under the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program funding, their efforts have been pivotal in distributing more than 4,100 doses of naloxone, complemented by several hundred xylazine and fentanyl test strips. Moreover, the program established a Recovery Community Organization and facilitated the training of 10 certified peer specialists. North Georgia Opioid Prevention Education Network’s active engagement in addressing the opioid crisis reflects the School of Medicine’s commitment to community health and well-being. 

School of Music

Calista Anne Koch, adjunct faculty, conducted the Middle Georgia Harp Ensemble at the Atlanta Harp Festival in the opening concert. The ensemble, which is composed of two Mercer alumni, one Mercer junior, an incoming Mercer student and many advanced and intermediate harpists in the Middle Georgia region, meets monthly to rehearse and prepare music.  

Dr. Jack Mitchener, professor of organ and director of Townsend-McAfee Institute of Church Music, played the re-dedication recital on the rebuilt Plunkett-Sewell Memorial Organ in Newton Chapel on Nov. 12. He also performed a dedicatory recital on the new organ at the Reformed Church in Bronxville, New York on Jan. 26. On March 3, he performed at Spivey Hall on the campus of Clayton State University in Morrow. 

Dr. Katie Rios, associate professor of music history, presented “Musicking for Mental Health: ‘Heart Songs’ across a century” at the annual meeting of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music in Philadelphia.

Staff and Administration

Emily Dunn, assistant director of global education, presented “A Holistic Approach: Scholarship and Financial Advising to Increase Access” at The Forum on Education Abroad Conference in Boston. 

Bryan Johnson, global education program coordinator, presented “Best Practices in International Exchange Advisement and Management” at the 2024 winter conference for the Georgia Association of International Educators in Helen, on March 6. The presentation provided an overview of best practices in the field of international student exchange partnerships between U.S.-based and international higher education institutions.

Tony Kemp, associate vice president for events and special programs, worked with Dr. Lucy Bush, College of Education professor of teacher education, and Dr. Gail Johnson, College of Professional Advancement associate dean and assistant professor, to judge a speaking competition for high school students sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators during a conference held on the Macon campus on March 14. Kemp also judged two Georgia High School Association state literary events. On March 16, he worked with Region AAAAA literary interpretation at Warner Robins High School and judged the same category for Region A Division II at Georgia Military College Preparatory School in Milledgeville on March 23. Kemp previously judged extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking and oral interpretation events for Region 4AAA of the Georgia Independent School Association on Feb. 27 in Monroe.