Faculty and Staff Notables — January 2023

A drone photo of the administration building, with yellow leaves and a blue sky.

College of Education

Dr. Robbie J. Marsh, assistant professor of special education, co-presented the following studies with colleagues and doctoral students from Georgia State University, the University of Tennessee and the University of Nevada Las Vegas at the Teachers for Children with Behavioral Disorders Conference held Nov. 17-18 at Arizona State University: “Barriers to the Implementations of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports,” “Reading, Writing, and Incarceration: Juvenile Justice Educators’ Views on Literacy Instruction” and “Project PRIASER: Exploring the Perceived Value of an Interdisciplinary Preparation Program to Support Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.” Dr. Marsh also presented “Using Community-Building Circles to Develop School-Wide Positive Behavior Support” at the Georgia Association for Positive Behavior Support conference held Dec. 8-9 at Georgia State University.

Dr. Katherine Perrotta, assistant professor of middle grades and secondary education, presented “They were here: Promoting historical empathy with student documentary film research about a historically Black cemetery in the Southeast” and “Censorship and the case of Dr. Jessie Wallace Hughan” at the annual conference of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) College and University Faculty Assembly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Perrotta also presented at the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources poster session at the NCSS conference about her grant-funded project, titled “’Same storm, different boats’: Using a Teaching with Primary Sources Network Album to Teach about the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Dr. Elaine Thurmond, assistant professor and co-director of early learning and development, received the 2022 Pinnacle Award in the Education Category from Live Healthy and Thrive Youth Foundation Inc., an award-winning, 501(c) Atlanta-based nonprofit organization dedicated to children’s health and wellness. The Pinnacle Awards, which recognize local leaders in Atlanta who give back to the community, were presented at the 12th annual Pinnacle Awards and Scholarship Gala held Dec. 3 at Georgia Piedmont Technical College Conference Center.

Dr. Jim Vander Putten, associate professor of higher education, authored a paper, titled “The Research Impact of Articles Published in the Journal of College Student Development Viewed Using Altmetrics,” in the journal Innovative Higher Education. The study investigated journal-level research impact in higher education and student affairs. Six articles published in the Journal of College Student Development between 2007-2021 accounted for 67% of the journal’s research impact as measured by 17 social media platforms using @Altmetrics.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Dr. Sahar Hasim, assistant professor of biology; Dr. Linda Hensel, professor of biology; and Dr. Megan Pannell, assistant professor of biology, advised several students who received research grants from Tri-Beta Biology Honor Society. Katherine Freel and Deborah Roh received $750 for “Enhancing Antimicrobial Effect of Titanium Through Surface Modifications for Use in Titanium Implants.” Dr. Masoud Mahjouri-Samani of Auburn University was a collaborator on the project. Sahar Anis Ali and Jheel Patel received $550 for “Impact of Ultraviolet Light and 3D Coated materials on the growth of Candida Species.” Dr. Dorina Mihut, associate professor of mechanical engineering in Mercer’s School of Engineering, was a collaborator on the project. Priscilla Kya Haywood, Abdulraheem T. Kaimari, Ren Elliot Thigpen and Priya Rajendra Patel received $385 for “Identification and Sequencing of Mutant Bacterial Strains Deficient in Biofilm Production Pathways Inhibited by Novel Lead Compounds.” Shelby Blanchard, Evan Floyd, Anjali Patel and Kya Haywood received $360 for “The Patent Pending HEFY Assay: A Novel Assay for Biofilm Inhibition in C. parapsilosis and C. albicans.” Abdulraheem Kaimari, Dontavious Jones, Ryan Brownlee and Emily Colton received $300 for “Novel Lead Compounds demonstrating anti-biofilm properties in S. aureus,” and Rachel Thigpen and Daniel Mendoza received $300 for “Assessing the relationship between the biofilm formation pathway and expression of collagen-binding proteins in Streptococcus mutans OMZ175 strains using novel competitive inhibitors.” Dr. Hasim is the faculty adviser for Mercer’s chapter of Tri Beta.

Scot J. Mann, associate professor of communication and theatre, served as adjudicator for the Society of American Fight Directors Skills Proficiency Test for Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, Roosevelt University, the University of Central Florida and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. The test allows candidates who pass to add official stage combat certifications to their professional resumes. Mann also taught a theatrical firearms safety course with Drama Inc., a premier film acting studio in Atlanta. At Mercer, Mann directed “Premier Performances,” as well as recent community favorite “Mercer Haunts.”

Dr. Erin McClenathan, assistant professor of art history, presented a paper, titled “L’illusion limitée: Researching Rapport in Le tombeau des secrets,” on Nov. 17 for the International Society for the Study of Surrealism’s 2022 virtual conference Tous les elements: Todos los elementos: A Periodic Table.

Dr. Rachel Schaff, assistant professor of media studies, co-authored “Nothing Else Besides a Father: Logan and the Paternal Melodrama” in Screen 63, no. 3 (Fall 2022): 367–385. Dr. Schaff also authored “#The Holocaust on Social Media” on Nov. 28 for The Edge, the online publication of the Park Center for Independent Media.

Dr. Lee Troupe, assistant professor of mathematics, won the Dick and Emma Lehmer Prize for best talk at the 53rd West Coast Number Theory conference held Dec. 16-19. His presentation, titled “An Erdős-Kac theorem for sums of proper divisors,” summarized a recent paper co-authored with Dr. Paul Pollack of the University of Georgia that has been accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society.

Dr. Bryan J. Whitfield, professor of religion, published a commentary on Hebrews 2:10-18 for the website Working Preacher for the first Sunday of Christmas on Jan. 1.

College of Nursing

Dr. Natasha Laibhen-Parkes, clinical assistant professor, was a panelist for a virtual alumni panel on Formation of Scholars presented to Ph.D. and DNP Students on Nov. 12.

Caroline Moore, clinical instructor, authored “A Year in the Life of U.S. Frontline Health Care Workers: Impact of COVID-19 on Weight Change, Physical Activity, Lifestyle Habits, and Psychological Factors” in Nutrients Journal, Vol. 14, Issue 22.

Dr. Charles Anthony Smith, clinical assistant professor, was a panelist for a virtual alumni panel on Formation of Scholars presented to Ph.D. and DNP Students on Nov. 12.

Dr. Linda A. Streit, professor of nursing, was invited to contribute a quarterly column to Georgia Nurses Association publication Georgia Nursing. This effort coincides with Dr. Streit’s sabbatical work associated with documenting the history of nursing and the more than 120 years of prominent influence by Georgia Baptist College of Nursing in advancing the profession. With the recent update to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Essentials, nursing programs are expected to include nursing history in undergraduate and graduate curricula. Her inaugural column for January is titled “A Five-Room Dwelling, Three Beds, and a Commitment to Serve: The Tabernacle Infirmary in Atlanta, Georgia.”

College of Pharmacy

Dr. Ajay Banga, professor, received a 40,000 Euro grant from Merck KGaA in Germany for the project “Long-acting dissolving microneedles with polymeric nanocarriers.”

Dr. Clinton Canal, assistant professor, co-authored, with graduate student Tanishka Saraf, “FPT, a 2-aminotetralin, is a potent serotonin 5-HT1A, 5-HT1B, and 5-HT1D receptor agonist that modulates cortical electroencephalogram activity in adult Fmr1 knockout mice” in ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 2022 Dec. 6, DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.2c00574.

Dr. Nader Moniri, professor and associate dean for research, and alumna Dr. Ashley Rizzo authored “Omadacycline for management of Mycobacterium abscessus infections: A review of its effectiveness, place in therapy, and considerations for use” in BMC Infectious Diseases. Dr. Moniri and graduate student Priyanka Karmokar authored “Oncogenic signaling of the Free-Fatty Acid Receptors FFA1 and FFA4 in human breast carcinoma cells” in Biochemical Pharmacology.

College of Professional Advancement

Dr. Hani Q. Khoury, professor of mathematics, was invited to speak about his book Giving Up Is Not An Option: Memoirs of a Palestinian American at Georgia Southern University on Oct. 26. The event was sponsored by the Department of Political Science and International Studies and the Arabic Language Program. Dr. Khoury was also invited to speak about his book in four different sessions at the 15th Annual Convention for Palestine in the U.S. held Nov. 24-28 in Chicago, Illinois. The convention was attended by more than 3,500 participants. Dr. Khoury spoke about recent developments in Israel and Palestine on Dec. 2 to an audience during the weekly breakfast meeting at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. His short essay on “What is Forgiveness?” was published Nov. 22 in Changing Lives with Faith, Hope and Love, Vol. 5, Issue 9, a monthly publication of First Presbyterian Church of Marietta.

Dr. David Lane, professor of counseling, had his eighth children’s book, I Have Questions, Lots and Lots of Questions: A True Story of Christmas, published on Nov. 4.

Dr. Jacqueline S. Stephen, assistant professor, director of the Office of Distance Learning and instructional designer, authored “Persistence of Nontraditional Undergraduate Online Students: Towards a Contemporary Conceptual Framework” in the Journal of Adult and Continuing Education. The article introduces a modified contemporary persistence model predicated on existing frameworks and informed by recent research into nontraditional undergraduate students enrolled in online courses and programs.

Mercer Engineering Research Center

Brandon Anderson, mechanical engineer, gave a presentation, titled “EC-130J Aileron Widespread Fatigue Damage,” at the 38th Aircraft Structural Integrity Program Conference held Nov. 28-Dec. 1 in Phoenix, Arizona.

School of Business

Dr. Szabolcs Blazsek, visiting associate professor of economics, had 13 co-authored papers accepted for publication in A or B journals in 2022. They include “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, “Anticipating extreme losses using score-driven shape filters” in Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics and Econometrics, “Non-path-dependent score-driven multi-regime Markov-switching EGARCH: empirical evidence” in Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics and Econometrics, “Robust estimation and forecasting of climate change using score-driven ice-age models” in Econometrics’ special issue on “Econometric Analysis of Climate Change,” “Score-driven location plus scale models: asymptotic theory and an application to forecasting Dow Jones volatility” in Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics and Econometrics, “Intertemporal choice experiments and large-stakes behavior” in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, “Conservatorship, quantitative easing, and mortgage spreads: a new multi-equation score-driven model of policy actions” in Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics and Econometrics, “Signal smoothing for score-driven models: a linear approach” in Communications in Statistics – Simulation and Computation, “Score-driven stochastic seasonality of the Russian rouble: an application case study for the period of 1999 to 2020” in Empirical Economics, “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, “Multivariate Markov-switching score-driven models: an application to the global crude oil market” in Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics and Econometrics and “Prediction accuracy of volatility using the score-driven Meixner distribution: an application to the Dow Jones” in Applied Economics Letters. Dr. Blazsek also co-presented “Score-driven threshold ice-age models: Benchmark models for long-run climate forecasts” at the Hungarian Economic Society Annual Conference, “Score-driven threshold ice-age models: Benchmark models for long-run climate forecasts” as a research seminar at the Stetson-Hatcher School of Business, “Anticipating extreme losses using score-driven shape filters” at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Summer Workshop in Economics and “Score-driven location plus scale models: asymptotic theory and an application to forecasting Dow Jones volatility” at the 14th annual meeting of the Society of Financial Econometrics at the University of Cambridge.

Dr. Carol Springer Sargent, associate professor of accounting, co-authored the following three papers: “Predictors of success in information security policy compliance” in the Journal of Computer Information Systems, “DFW in gateway course not always a graduation problem: A study in Intermediate Accounting I from 2007-2018” in the Journal of Accounting Education and “Internet of things (IoT): From awareness to continued use” in the International Journal of Information Management. Dr. Sargent presented two papers, along with co-authors, at the 62nd Annual International IACIS Conference on Nov. 7. Both papers, titled “Barriers for using blockchain in supply chains: a literature review” and “An exploratory study in blockchain knowledge, perceptions, overconfidence, and optimism,” addressed issues with blockchain. The second paper was accepted for publication in Issues in Information Systems. Dr. Sargent also advised students Adrian Butts, Marissa Enlow and Nick White, who won third place in the 12th annual Bill Mulcahy III Atlanta Auditing and Advisory Case Competition for their solution to implementing crypto currency into a retail firm. The case included using data analytics to identify the enterprise risks of accepting crypto assets and addressing ways to reduce those risks creatively. Additionally, Dr. Sargent and Ashley Herman, associate director of career management services, conducted Mercer’s inaugural “Meet the Firms” accounting event, where students learned professional skills, obtained internship opportunities and practiced networking. Forty tables set up in the Presidents Dining Room hosted 40 students and 40 professionals conducting “speed interviews” of five minutes each. As students moved from table to table during the event, they gained experience with a wide range of different firms and different interview styles.

School of Engineering

Dr. Alireza Sarvestani, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, co-authored “Thermomechanical analysis (TMA) of vitrimers” in Polymer Testing, 2022 Nov 24:107877.

School of Law

Sharon Bradley, digital and scholarly resources librarian, was elected chair of the Special Libraries Division of the Georgia Libraries Association for 2023.

David Hricik, associate dean for faculty research and development, presented a lecture on ethical issues in intellectual property practice at the 27th annual University of Texas School of Law Advanced Patent Law Institute in October. He also presented lectures on ethical issues in patent prosecution and ethical issues in patent litigation at the Berkeley-Stanford Annual Patent Law Conference in December. Additionally, he presented a virtual lecture on ethical issues in patent practice at the Dallas Bar Association Intellectual Property Law Section in December.

Karen J. Sneddon, interim dean and professor of law, and David Hricik, associate dean for faculty research and development, co-authored “Take a Memo to the File” in Vol. 28, Issue 2 of the Georgia Bar Journal.

School of Medicine

Dr. Ibolja Cernak, professor of pathophysiology and neuroscience, was interviewed by Ines Serra and Maria Rosa Ferreira for the MEDizzy Inspire Project. MEDizzy Inspire consists of a series of interviews with people who are making breakthrough discoveries, medical procedures and research in the medical field to serve as inspiration for medical students and young health care professionals. The project aims to inspire young people and show them that the most prominent people from the world of medicine were also students who had the same doubts, questions and problems.

Dr. Alice Aumann House, senior associate dean for admission and student affairs and professor of family medicine, recently completed a yearlong certificate program from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) called “Leading Physician Well-being.” Dr. House was one of 120 physicians selected from a national pool to participate in this program, which was created to provide leadership development, training in physician well-being advocacy and performance improvement project skill-building. She developed a project, called “The Creation of a Faculty and Staff Wellness Advisory Council: Addressing the Unique Wellness Needs of the Medical School Faculty and Staff,” and presented it to her peers at a final project showcase in November.

Dr. Edward C. Klatt, professor of pathology, along with Carolyn A. Klatt, assistant dean for faculty affairs and development and associate director of library and information science, Kim Meeks, director of library and information science and associate professor, and sponsored medical student Summer Scholar Avery Stokes, presented the poster “Diversity of Student Resource Usage for Examination and Clinical Skills Preparation” at the International Association of Medical Science Educators Virtual Conference held Dec. 3-6. Dr. Klatt, along with Dr. Richard O. McCann, associate dean of admissions and professor, and sponsored medical student Summer Scholar Monica Mohanty, presented the poster “Holistic and Mission Based Admissions Process to Support Rural Health in Georgia” at the International Association of Medical Science Educators Virtual Conference held Dec. 3-6. The Summer Scholars Program provides first-year medical students the opportunity to participate in a research project.

Dr. Anthony J. Kondracki, assistant professor, gave an oral presentation, titled “The Association Between Smoking Intensity Status in Pregnancy, Adverse Maternal and Infant Birth Outcomes, and Postpartum Depression Among PRAMS participants: A Mediation Analysis,” at the American Public Health Association annual meeting on Nov. 8 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Kondracki was first author on the project, along with Dr. Kimberly B. Roth, assistant professor; Dr. Bonzo Reddick, professor and chair; and Dr. Jennifer L. Barkin, professor and vice chair, in the Department of Community Medicine.

Dr. Anne Montgomery, assistant professor and biostatistician, and rural health sciences Ph.D. candidate Stephanie Basey were invited speakers at the National Winter Meeting of the County State Territorial Epidemiologists‘ Occupational Health Surveillance Subcommittee in Atlanta. They presented results of their statewide farmers’ mental health study and fielded questions from the audience.

Staff and Administration

Dr. Danielle Buehrer, vice provost for institutional effectiveness, was elected to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Board of Trustees by majority vote of the College Delegate Assembly at its annual meeting in December. Elected to the Class of 2025, she will serve a three-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2023. The SACSCOC Board of Trustees guides the accrediting agency’s work as well as implements the accreditation process.

Tony Kemp, associate vice president for events and special programs, worked with Georgia high school theatre programs in October to judge one-act play competitions in Regions 2-A, 4-AA, and 5-AA. The winners of each of those regions moved on to state competitions in November.

Johna A. Wright, global education programs coordinator, was selected as a member of the Eurasia Foundation’s 2023 International Disability Advocacy Resource Exchange (iDARE) program cohort. iDARE is a virtual exchange for people with disabilities across the U.S. and Russia, in which three participants from each nation are selected. The program strengthens cultural and professional ties between both countries by promoting collaboration and dialogue surrounding accessibility, inclusion and employment. Participants connect with overseas peers who champion the experiences of people like themselves. They then work together in international pairs to transform newfound insights into action by implementing small projects throughout Russia. Projects address everyday challenges faced by people with disabilities, including disability and employment, mapping accessibility and inclusive spaces, disability and the pandemic, and more. Concurrently, the Eurasia Foundation will support the production of a documentary film centering the experiences of participants and highlighting their personal journeys. With an emphasis on shared values and cooperation, iDARE helps to foster an environment of inclusion and partnership throughout the international community of people with disabilities. Wright also was selected to participate in the 2023 Virtual Exchange Academy hosted by the Stevens Initiative and the Aspen Institute. The Virtual Exchange Academy prepares education and exchange leaders and practitioners to participate in the innovative field. This six-week training teaches foundational elements of virtual exchange planning and implementation. Participants get a comprehensive introduction from experts through pre-session reading and coursework, and during live sessions that include presentations, small group activities and more. After the training, participants will be better positioned to adopt this powerful global learning tool.


Do you have a story idea or viewpoint you'd like to share with The Den?
Get in touch with us by emailing den@mercer.edu or submitting this online form.