Faculty and Staff Notables

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Jesse Mercer statue in Macon

Dr. Karyn A. Allee-Herndon, assistant professor of elementary education, co-authored “Let’s talk play! Exploring the possible benefits of play-based pedagogy on language and literacy learning in Title I kindergarten classrooms” in the Early Childhood Education Journal.

Dr. Jeff Hall, associate professor of education, and Dr. Lucy Bush, associate professor of education, presented “Candy Bombers: Teaching about Coordinates, Children, and Chocolates with Technology” at the annual conference of National Council for Geographic Education held virtually Dec. 4-6.

Dr. Leah Panther, assistant professor of literacy, will present the following six papers in February: “Challenging narratives of compliance and defiance: The assumption of digital literacies” and “School university partnerships: Sustaining communities through community accountability” at the virtual American Association of Colleges of Teacher Educators Annual Conference; “Preparing educators in times of disruption: College of education students’ perceptions of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic” at the virtual Eastern Educational Research Association conference; as well as “Naming Antiblackness, Centering Joy in Middle School Reading Instruction,” “Sustaining Youth Language: Teaching Grammar for Linguistic Diversity and Flexibility” and “Critical Memetic Analysis to Increase Reading Comprehension and Engagement” at the virtual Georgia Council of Teachers of English Conference. These presentations include collaborations with Mercer faculty members Dr. Vicki Luther, associate professor of education, Dr. Michelle Vaughn, associate professor of education, Dr. Deana Ford, assistant professor of educational research, Dr. Karen Allee-Herndon, assistant professor of elementary education, and Dr. Katherine Perrotta, assistant professor of middle grades and secondary education. Collaborators also include Mercer graduate students Briana Wright, Moneka Void, Paul Siegel and Latoya Tolefree. The presentations focus on teacher education, school university partnerships and supporting literacy instruction for linguistically and culturally diverse learners.

Dr. Katherine Perrotta, assistant professor of middle grades and secondary education, authored “Through the naked eye: FBI surveillance of the War Resisters League during the cold war” in Peace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research.

Dr. Jay Black, chair and professor of journalism and media studies, completed the 2021 edition of the “White Paper on the Business Environment in China.” This is the fourth year Dr. Black has completed this meta-analysis of business news concerning foreign businesses operating in China for the American Chamber of Commerce in South China, and the fifth book he has written in five years. The 2021 White Paper will be released in late February. Traditionally, the release is during a conference devoted to the findings published in the White Paper and the attended by consulates, international corporate leaders and news media from around the world. A previous edition that Dr. Black created resulted in the creation of new judicial venue in China that greatly benefited foreign businesses with grievances with their Chinese counterparts. This year’s edition calls for increased cooperation between the U.S. and China concerning fighting COVID-19 and the creation of a Phase II deal that will diminish the tariffs created during the Trump administration.

Dr. David A. Davis, associate professor of English, edited the first issue of a special double issue of Mississippi Quarterly on William Faulkner and World War I.

Dr. Andy Digh, associate professor of computer science, delivered “Writing and Speech Instruction in an Introductory Artificial Intelligence Course” at the 34th Annual Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges Southeastern Conference. The paper on which the presentation was based will be published in the January 2021 issue of the Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges. The conference was sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Asheville and held virtually Jan. 22-23.

Dr. Paul Lewis, professor of religion, published a column, “After January 6, It’s Time to Name Our Sins,” on Good Faith Media (formerly Ethics Daily), attended the virtual annual meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics where he discussed his book, Faithful Innovation, in a “Conversation with an Author,” and was a panelist for a webinar, “Bullets, Baptists and the Bible,” featuring the authors of a articles on a recent issue of Review and Expositor. He also attended a series of webinars on “Typologies of Interfaith Education,” hosted by the University of Chicago.

Dr. Matt Marone, associate professor of physics, was recognized as a member of NASA’s Ionic Liquids Laboratory with the Marshall Innovation Team Award for superior research in advanced ionic liquids development, in-situ resource utilization and support to the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Tennille Shuster, associate professor of graphic design, was selected by jury to exhibit her letterpress printed poster, titled “Vote Smart,” in “Reverting to Type,” an international exhibition of protest posters organized by New North Press at Standpoint Gallery in London, U.K., from Dec. 4, 2020-Jan. 29, 2021. Additionally, she opened a solo exhibition, titled “Folding In: Book and Marbled Art by Tennille Davis Shuster,” on display until Feb. 19 in the Plunkett Gallery, located in the Hardman Fine Arts Building. A new edition of 50 handmade letterpress printed journals, titled “What Lives On,” is featured in the exhibit. The project encourages acquirers to fill the enclosed envelope pages with letters, photographs, drawings, recipe cards, etc. in response to the letterpress printed prompts in an effort to correspond with future generations about surviving a pandemic.

Dr. Bryan J. Whitfield, professor of religion, presented a paper, titled “Towards More Inclusive Canons and More Inclusive Teaching of Canons,” Jan. 22 at the Governor’s Teaching Fellows 2021 Reunion: Finding Radical Hope in a Challenging Year.

Dr. Susan S. Gunby, dean emerita and professor emerita, was appointed to the editorial board of the Journal of Professional Nursing for the term of January 2021-December 2023. She previously served as a peer reviewer for the journal for a number of years.

Dr. Ajay K. Banga, professor, received funding in the amount of $36,306 from Merck KGaA for a project, titled “Excipients to construct and optimize drug delivery systems using 3D-printing and nanotechnology.”

Dr. Nader H. Moniri, professor and associate dean for research, was elected for a third two-year term to the editorial board for the journal Biochemical Pharmacology. He was also appointed for another term as a grant reviewer for the United Kingdom Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Dr. Rita Nahta, assistant professor, authored “Phosphatase magnesium-dependent 1 δ (PPM1D), serine/threonine protein phosphatase and novel pharmacological target in cancer” in Biochemical Pharmacology, 2020 Dec 9;184:114362.

Dr. Mohammad Nassir Uddin, assistant professor, authored “The Possible Relationship between the Abuse of Tobacco, Opioid, or Alcohol with COVID-19” in Healthcare, 2020 Dec 22;9(1):1–12.

Dr. Fred Bongiovanni, professor of sociology and religious studies, Dr. Andrea Winkler, associate professor of history, Dr. Wesley Barker, associate professor of religious studies, and Dr. Hollis Phelps, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies, made a presentation, titled “Expected and Unexpected Learning Outcomes of ePortfolios for Adult Learners in an Accelerated Interdisciplinary Degree-Completion Program,” at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities held virtually Jan. 23.

Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean and professor of psychology, delivered the keynote address, “Learning to Teach: Did the Paradigm Shift Again?,” for the annual Governor’s Teaching Fellows conference held Jan. 21-22.  Dr. Danheiser was selected as a Governor’s Teaching Fellow for the 2001-2002 Academic Year Symposia and has served in more recent years as a member of the program’s selection committee.

Dr. Ramneet Kaur, adjunct professor, co-authored Psychological Skills Training for Human Wellness, released by SAGE Publications and available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Dr. Briana Stenard, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship, presented two original experiential teaching exercises at the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) annual conference in January. Her exercise, “Two Pros and a Con,” was a finalist and subsequently won first place in the 3E Excellence in Entrepreneurship Exercises Awards Competition. Her exercise, “Got Problems,” was also entered into the USASBE Emerging Experiential Exercise Pitch Competition and was selected as one of two winners of the People’s Choice award.

Dr. Sarvestani Alireza, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, along with students Jennifer Andrews, Caitlin Patton and Holly Wells, authored the paper, “Capstone Project: Harvesting Vehicular Kinetic Energy Using Piezoelectric Sensors,” accepted for publication in the American Society for Engineering Education Southeastern Section 2021 Conference. Dr. Alireza, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Dr. Chamaree de Silva, associate professor of physics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and students Mason Burton, Fatima Lopez-Sosa, Emma Perdomo and Kathryn Wirth authored the paper, “Capstone Project: Learning Cell Mechanobiology Using a Stretch Chamber,” accepted for publication in the American Society for Engineering Education Southeastern Section 2021 Conference.

Dr. Jennifer Goode, instructor of technical communication, recently published an article, titled “A Collaborative Multimedia Project Model for Online Graduate Students Supported by On-Campus Undergraduate Students,” in Vol. 51, Issue 1 of the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication. Dr. Goode also presented an invited webinar for the Society of Technical Communication, titled “Five Strategies for Making Interdisciplinary Teams Work,” on Jan. 5.

Dr. Stephen Hill, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Dr. Dorina Marta Mihut, associate professor of mechanical engineering, along with students Ryan Partolan, Ali Alshahrani and Darrel Dunham, authored the paper, “Integrating Jominy End-Quench Test apparatus from senior design project to mechanical engineering lab,” accepted for publication in the American Society for Engineering Education Southeastern Section 2021 Conference.

Dr. Kenneth Marek, instructor of mechanical engineering, had his paper, “Pandemic Teaching: Statics Student Experiences,” accepted to the 2021 American Society for Engineering Education Southeastern Section Conference to be held in March.

Dr. Dorina Marta Mihut, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Dr. Arash Afshar, associate professor of mechanical engineering, along with students Gregory Baker, Nicholas Cordista, Benjamin Parisi and Lauryn McGahee, authored the paper, “Study of Enhancement of Mechanical Performance of Polymers via Particle Reinforcement Offered as an Independent Study Course,” accepted for publication in the American Society for Engineering Education Southeastern Section 2021 Conference.

Dr. Chandan Roy, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, along with students Alexandra Dunn, Josh Henderson and Zachary Kubas authored the paper, “Capstone Engineering Project: Design an Apparatus for Testing the Thermal Impedance and Apparent Thermal Conductivity of Different Thermal Interface Materials,” accepted for publication in the American Society for Engineering Education Southeastern Section 2021 Conference.

Dexter M. Wimbish, adjunct professor, was selected as a 2020 recipient of the State Bar’s prestigious H. Sol Clark Award, named for former Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Clark of Savannah who was known as the “father of legal aid in Georgia.” The award honors an individual lawyer who has excelled in one or more of a variety of activities which extend legal services to the poor.

Dr. Mohammed Abdelsaid, assistant professor of pharmacology, had an abstract, titled “GLP-1 Receptor Nitration Contributes To Brain Pericytes Dysfunction In Diabetes,” accepted as a poster presentation at this year’s virtual International Stroke Conference in March.

Dr. Jennifer L. Barkin, associate professor of community medicine and obstetrics and gynecology, was invited to speak at the Georgia Environmental Justice Education and Awareness Symposium on Earth Day 2021 hosted by Georgia State Rep. Mandisha Thomas of District 65. Dr. Barkin will discuss the effects of environmental factors on mental health and parental and child anxiety.

Carolann Curry, associate professor of library and information science, and Dr. Jennifer Barkin, associate professor of community medicine and obstetrics and gynecology, co-authored “Persian version of the Barkin Index of Maternal Functioning (BIMF): a cross-cultural adaptation and psychometric evaluation” Jan. 25 in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

Stefanie Swanger, assistant director for the Center for Career and Professional Development, was selected to present her research at the 2021 Georgia Association of Colleges and Employers Annual Conference. Her session, titled “Life After Sport: NCAA Student-Athlete Career Perceptions and Involvement,” was one of only 12 total breakout sessions selected for the statewide conference.

Kyle Sears
Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​