Faculty and Staff Notables | June 2024

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exterior college campus trees and building spire in distance

College of Education

Dr. Leah Panther, associate professor of literacy education, and doctoral student Caitlin Hochuli published “Looking for it: Language, literacy, and history in place” in the Georgia Literacy Journal, a publication of the Georgia Advocates for Literacy Association. She also publishedLinguistic justice and the law: Part 1” in Scribbles ‘n Bits, a publication of the Georgia Council of Teachers of English.

Dr. Jim Vander Putten, associate professor of higher education, co-presented a research study with Dr. Amanda L. Nolen, Georgia Tech, titled “Longitudinal Analysis of the Department Chair Position: Influences of the Pandemic on Roles and Responsibilities” at the American Educational Research Association’s annual conference in Philadelphia. 

College of Health Professions

Dr. Tricia Callaghan Mullins, medical director of the physician assistant program and clinical associate professor, gave the Pediatrics Review lecture for the Mercer Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination Board Review course. Dr. Mullins was also awarded a fully funded scholarship by the Reach Institute in Children’s Mental Health Training for Georgia Providers and began a mini-fellowship in the Patient Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care Program. She was also inducted into Pi Alpha, the physician assistant honor society, as an honorary member.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Dr. Adam Kiefer, Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry, and Dr. Caryn Seney, professor of chemistry, received a $225,500 grant from Open Philanthropy to develop new, standardized methods for determining lead concentrations in new paint. The project, titled “Validation of pXRF Analyzers for the Quantification of Lead in New Paint,” will work to improve the accuracy of portable X-ray fluorescence analyzers and employ them in quantifying lead in new paint in lower- and middle-income countries. Dr. Kiefer and student Rafael Garcia-Chirino presented a talk titled “Quicksilver and gold: Mercury emissions from artisanal and small-scale gold mining communities” at Unidades ECOSUR, Chetumal, Mexico. This work was co-authored by Dr. Adaline Buerck, assistant professor of environmental and civil engineering and director of the Cecil Day Family Center for International Groundwater Innovation; Dr. Seney; and recent CLAS graduate W. Benjamin Stewart.

Dr. James Davis May, assistant professor of English and director of creative writing, won the 2024 Foley Poetry Prize for his poem “The Patron Saint of Sliding Glass Doors,” which appears in the most recent issue of America.  

Dr. Erin McClenathan, assistant professor of art history, published an essay titled “DYN’s Archival Visions of Surrealism in Mexico” in Archive of Dreams, the catalog for the inaugural exhibition of the Archiv der Avantgarden at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections). She also presented on “Collective Surrealism as Feminist Provocation” on May 16 at the third Feminist inter/Modernist Association conference held at the University of Mississippi. 

Chelsea Rathburn, associate professor of English and Poet Laureate of Georgia, along with the Georgia Council for the Arts, co-hosted the 11th annual Poet Laureate’s Prize, a statewide high school poetry contest that draws hundreds of entries each year, with a ceremony at the Georgia State Capitol May 15. The winner and finalists met with Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp before reading their winning poems.

Dr. Rachel Schaff, assistant professor of media studies, was awarded a fellowship to participate in the Regional Institute “Witness: Mediating Holocaust Testimony in the Arts” — sponsored by the Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University and the Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity at Western Washington University — on April 17-19 at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. She also presented a paper titled “Against ‘Relatability’: Melodrama and the Holocaust” at the 65th Annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference held March 14-17 in Boston.

College of Nursing

Dr. Seongkum Heo, professor and Piedmont Healthcare Endowed Chair, with Dr. JungHee Kang, Dr. Mi-Seung Shin, Dr. Young-Hyo Lim, Dr. Sun Hwa Kim, Dr. Sangsuk Kim, Dr. Minjeong An and Dr. JinShil Kim published “Physical symptoms, depressive symptoms, and quality of life in patients with heart failure: Cluster analysis” in the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.

College of Pharmacy

Dr. Mahavir Bhupal Chougule, associate professor; Dr. Arun Kumar Kotha, postdoctoral research associate; post-graduate student Rama Kashikar; Dr. R. Shrestha; and Dr. R. Channappanavar published “Design of experiments using Box Behnken Design in the development, characterization, mathematical modeling, and evaluation of tung targeted nebulized antiviral Camostat Mesylate loaded pegylated nanosuspension product” in the Journal of Drug Delivery Science and Technology.

Dr. Lori Dupree, clinical associate professor, was presented with the College of Pharmacy’s 2023-24 Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Dr. Christine Klein, clinical associate professor, was presented with the College of Pharmacy’s 2023-24 Award for Excellence in Service.

Dr. Susan Miller, professor, was presented with the College of Pharmacy’s 2023-24 Award for Excellence in Research.

Dr. Nader Moniri, associate dean and professor, co-authored an article titled “Probing the role of Free-Fatty Acid Receptor-4 (FFA4) as novel target for Parkinson’s Disease: FFA4 agonists increase dopamine synthesis and reduce 6-OHDA-induced cell death” published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Dr. Kenric Ware, clinical associate professor, co-authored an article titled “Video accounts of first year pharmacy students’ identification with the oath of a pharmacist” published in Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning.

College of Professional Advancement 

Dr. Caroline M. Brackette, professor, was featured as a subject matter expert for a video news story with Nebraska Public Media News on data and sports.

Dr. Tyce Nadrich, associate professor of counseling, served as the invited keynote speaker for the Oregon State University Induction Ceremony of the Omega Sigma Upsilon chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, the international and professional academic honor society for counseling students, counselor educators and professional counselors, on May 16.

Dr. Sabrina Walthall, professor of science, presented research titled “Exploring Global Citizenship Through International Service Learning,” co-authored with Dr. Donald Ekong, associate professor of computer engineering, at the Gulf South Summit on Service Learning and Civic Engagement meeting at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, on April 15. The research focuses on their study abroad project in Cape Town, South Africa, where service learning is used to engage students at the Philisa Abafazi Bethu Community Center. The presentation was supported by Mercer’s Center for Engaged Learning.

School of Business

Jody Blanke, the Ernest L. Baskin Jr. Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Law, nominated Antara Singh for the International Association of Privacy Professionals’s Westin Scholar Award, which she won, for her excellence in his course “Legal and Ethical Issues Affecting Big Data.” Singh graduated in December 2023 with a Master’s Degree in business analytics. She is one of only a handful of business school students among the approximately 200 people who have received the award worldwide.

Dr. Szabolcs Blazsek, professor of economics; Dr. Andrés Marroquín, associate professor of economics; Dr. C. Asa Lambert, assistant professor of finance; and Mercer graduate Zachary A. Thomas published “Score-driven latent-factor panel data models of economic freedom: An empirical application to the United States” in Applied Economics, Energy Economics, and Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics & Econometrics. In Energy Economics, Dr. Blazsek also published “Global, Arctic and Antarctic sea ice volume predictions using score-driven threshold climate models” with Dr. Alvaro Escribano and Erzsebet Kristof. Dr. Blazsek also published “Generalized autoregressive conditional betas: a new multivariate score-driven filter” in Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics & Econometrics with Mercer graduates August Jörding and Simran Rai.

Dr. James L. Hunt, professor of law and business, taught an online minicourse titled “Presenting at Conferences and Publishing Research” to a group of Polish graduate students through the Center for American Studies, a nonprofit nongovernmental organization based in Warsaw, Poland.

Dr. Geoffrey Ngene, associate professor of finance, served as the faculty advisor for student Shannon Daugherty, who presented a paper titled “Oil Shocks and Volatility of African Stock Markets” at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Economic Scholars Program in April 2024. Adjunct faculty Premkumar Patel (BUS ‘21) served as faculty advisor for students Justin Park, August Jording, Lindy Kanady, Azeem Fazal and Snehalsai V. Ujjina, who placed second in the 2024 CFA Research Challenge (Southern Classic) competition organized by the CFA Society Atlanta and the CFA Institute Research Challenge. The competition involved analyzing Southern Company by all the participating universities in Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. Only the top five teams, based on the quality of the written report, are invited for the presentation to judges who are experts in the finance industry.

Dr. Carol Springer Sargent, associate professor of accounting, presented her paper titled “What Changes Students’ Minds About Considering Accounting as a Major?” at the Accounting Information System Mid-Year Meeting of the American Accounting Association in Atlanta. Dr. Sargent also served as faculty advisor for students Haley Lederer, Satchel Sumner, Jazayla Huggins and Madison Langton, who placed as semi-finalists in the 2024 national case competition, held by the Institute of Management Accountants, for their solution to classifying stock investments.  

School of Engineering

Dr. Dorina Marta Mihut, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Dr. Arash Afshar, associate professor of mechanical engineering, advised students David Sellers, Erin Parker, Emily Schmidt and Jada Farrell, who presented their research titled “Study of preserving mechanical properties of 3D printed polymers exposed to severe testing conditions by metallic magnetron sputtering depositions” for TechCon 2024, 67th Annual Society of Vacuum Coaters International Technical Conference held May 6-9 in Chicago.

School of Law

Jarome Gautreaux, professor, was featured in WalletHub’s piece about Cheapest Liability Car Insurance

Anne G. Johnson, 2023 AccessLex AASE Faculty Scholarship Grantee, adjunct professor and associate director of academic success, presented a work in progress titled “Preparing Students for Legal Research Questions on the Next Gen Bar Exam” at the 11th Annual Association of Academic Support Educators Conference held at the University of Idaho College of Law on May 22.

Ishaq Kundawala, professor and holder of the Southeastern Bankruptcy Law Institute and W. Homer Drake Jr. Endowed Chair in Bankruptcy Law, was honored with the Macon Service Award presented by the Georgia Legal Services Program during the Macon Bar Association’s luncheon on May 17 at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. The award celebrates those who have made substantial contributions to pro bono work in their community, in partnership with the Georgia Legal Services Program. Under Dr. Kundawala’s leadership, the Consumer Bankruptcy Externship Program at Mercer Law has provided extensive pro bono services to the Macon community. In both 2023 and 2024, the program contributed hundreds of hours of service, culminating in the filing of 16 Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. This impactful work is a collaborative effort, made possible through the dedicated involvement of Georgia Legal Services, supervising attorneys Alex Sanders (LAW ’06) and Joy Webster (LAW ’85) and committed law students.

School of Medicine 

Dr. Mohammed Abdelsaid, assistant professor of biomedical sciences on the Savannah campus, mentored Stan Heath, who successfully defended his master’s thesis titled “Neurovascular and Thromboembolic Complications of SARS-CoV-2 in humanized ACE2 mouse model.”

Dr. Caroline Anglim, assistant professor of bioethics and medical humanities, was awarded the Early Career Faculty Award, which recognizes faculty excellence in teaching, educational scholarship, and student mentoring and advising.

Dr. Jennifer Barkin, professor of community medicine and OBGYN, was awarded a $5.5 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to continue the buildout of South Georgia Healthy Start. Dr. Barkin also attended a Maternal Health Convening in Atlanta with HRSA administrators and other Maternal Child Health Advocates throughout the state where she described the work of South Georgia Healthy Start as the Georgia grantees were announced. Additionally, Dr. Barkin’s research was the feature of an article titled “The climate crisis is coming for ‘the CEO of the family’s health’” published by national media outlet The Hill.  

Dr. Himangshu Bose, professor of biomedical sciences, mentored Hunter Tinker, who successfully defended her master’s thesis titled “Aromatase Interacting Partner in Breast (AIPB), localized to the Mitochondrial Associated-ER Membrane (MAM), synthesizes estradiol in Triple-negative Breast Cancer (ER-/PR-/ HER2- or TNBC).”

Dr. Raghavan Chinnadurai, assistant professor of biomedical sciences on the Savannah campus, mentored Tyler Faircloth, who successfully defended his master’s thesis titled “Fitness and Immunoregulatory Functions of Human Mesenchymal Stromal Cells from Immunologically Privileged Versus Immunologically Active Tissues.”

Dr. Pamela Cook, assistant professor of biomedical sciences, mentored Lloryn Cylin, who successfully defended her master’s thesis titled “Construction of a synthetic nanobody library for phage display.”

Dr. Ahmed Eltokhi, assistant professor of biomedical sciences on the Columbus campus, published book chapters titled “Behavioral Analysis of NMDAR Function in Rodents: Tests of Long-Term Spatial Memory” and “Generation of Rare Human NMDA Receptor Variants in Mice” in the book NMDA Receptors.

Dr. Abraham M. Enyeji, assistant professor of community medicine on the Columbus campus, published a research manuscript titled “Examining the relationship between Life’s Essential 8 and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease among Adults in the United States: Insights from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (2017-2020)” in Brain & Heart.

Dr. Tony Gryffin, associate professor of community medicine, facilitated two workshops at the Georgia Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Conference May 1-3. The first was a two-hour Rural Health and Primary Care Section Pre-Conference Continuing Education Workshop on “Mindful Exercise: Physiology and Psychology of Practice and Benefits for Rural Health.” The workshop included an overview of research, barriers and opportunities for rural health and practical experience. The second was a 60-minute workshop, in conjunction with LaVondra Scarver, a doctoral student in the Rural Health Sciences Ph.D. program, on “Targeting Measurable Health Actions Using a Theory-Structured Blinded Focus Group (TBFG) Process.” The presentation featured a novel mixed-method approach to focus groups similar to nominal group process but which allows Likert-scale rating of blinded responses and generates more open and equal discussion. The process also enhances generation of theory-based measurable targeted messages and program elements. Workshop participants were presented with an overview of relevant research, sample messages, and experienced and practiced sample steps in the TBGF process.

Dr. Katey Hughes, professor and associate dean for student affairs and director of admissions for the Columbus campus, was the keynote speaker at the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society 2024 National Convention held May 30 in Columbus.

Dr. Edward C. Klatt, professor in the biomedical sciences department on the Savannah campus, served as the poster judge for the 28th year in a row at the Pathology Informatics Summit sponsored by the Association for Pathology Informatics held in Ypsilanti, Michigan, May 20-23. Dr. Klatt also provided funding for 11 trainees in informatics to receive travel awards to attend this meeting. Dr. Klatt provided an interview for the College of American Pathologists for publication in that organization’s journal CAP Today on the topic of effective communication using patient portals for laboratory test information. Dr. Klatt also received a faculty appointment as an affiliate at the University of Utah and provided funding for renovations at the Eccles Health Sciences Library to support medical education through facilities including world wide web servers for health science students. Dr. Klatt released through the Eccles Health Sciences Library at the University of Utah the 35th edition of the Pathology of HIV/AIDS textbook on May 16. Dr. Klatt also served as mentor for session 189, “The Groundwork for Improving Outcomes: Digital Measurement and Health Equity,” for the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on March 12 at the Health Information and Management Systems Society 2024 Global Health Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida. The organization informs health care policy decisions in multiple countries. Additionally, Dr. Klatt served as a reviewer for the journal BMC Medical Education for the publication completed in March.

Dr. Ilana Chefetz Menaker, associate professor of pharmacology, presented her research titled “Dual Inhibition of ALDH1A and MEK1/2 Causes Synergistic Cell Death in High-grade Serous Ovarian Cancer Triggered by Enhanced DNA Damage and Diminished DNA Repair” as a Grand Rounds seminar at the department of obstetrics and gynecology, Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, and as a flash talk during the Eighth Annual Translational and Transformative Informatics Symposium at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Anne Montgomery, associate professor of community medicine, presented a poster and two workshops at the 2024 Georgia Public Health Association’s Conference in May on Jekyll Island. The poster, titled “Comparison of Farmers’ Stressors and Coping Mechanisms with Farmer Spouses,” was co-authored by Dr. Chris Scoggins, director of special projects for Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center, and Dr. Stephanie Basey, Ph.D. in Rural Health Sciences graduate. The first workshop, titled “Propensity-Score Matching Beginning and Experienced Farmers on Stress and Coping Mechanisms to Predict Suicidal Ideation,” had the same co-authors as the poster. The second workshop, titled “Gender-Based Differences in Stress and Coping Among Farmers (N=1,394): A Cross-Sectional Study with Propensity Score Matching,” was co-authored by M.D. student James Dunaway and Dr. Scoggins and Dr. Basey.

Dr. Kimberly Roth, assistant professor of community medicine on the Savannah campus, presented work on “Evaluating the Availability and Accessibility of Applied Behavior Analysis in Georgia” at the annual conference of the Georgia Public Health Association. Dr. Roth also presented at the annual conference for the Society for Prevention Research on “Using Crisis Intercept Mapping to Enhance Suicide Prevention Efforts for Service Members, Veterans and Their Families.”

Dr. Robert Sarlay Jr., assistant professor and senior director of medical practice; Dr. Yahya Acar, assistant professor and director of medical simulation on the Macon campus; Joe Slattery, assistant director of medical simulation on the Savannah campus; and Kenya Jones, assistant director of medical simulation on the Columbus campus, obtained American Heart Association Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) provider and instructor certificates. After completion of HeartSaver, Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support and PALS certifications, the School of Medicine Simulation Center became an American Heart Association Training Site.

Dr. Peter N. Uchakin, associate professor of biomedical sciences, mentored John Escate, who successfully defended his master’s thesis titled “The Effects of Stress Induced Viral Re-Activation on Sr-Bi and the Pathophysiology of Atherosclerosis.”

Dr. Robert Visalli, associate dean for biomedical research and professor of microbiology on the Savannah campus, mentored Jacob Allen, who successfully defended his master’s thesis titled “Characterization of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Portal Mutants.”

Sherrie Williams, director of the Project Management Office; Paula Kamara, research associate; and Dr. Allen Tindol, associate professor, have been awarded the federal Health Resource Services Administration’s Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant. This $99,994 grant will build upon the North Georgia Opioid Prevention Education Network, established in 2019, to serve Fannin, Gilmer, Gordon and Polk Counties. The project, titled SERVE Healthcare: Enhancing Care through Telehealth in Rural North Georgia, aims to tackle critical health disparities in North Georgia’s rural counties. 

School of Music

Calista Anne Koch, adjunct harp professor, has been invited to join the artist faculty for InterHarmony International Music Festival in Acqui Terme, Italy, in July. The music festival is in its 22nd year and has never included harp as an offering. Koch has been asked to start up that facet of the program. During her time there, she will teach private lessons, coach chamber ensembles, host a master class and perform. 

Dr. Nathan Myrick, assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies, with former students Benjamin Gessner and Johnathan Alvarado II, published “Music and Human Flourishing in Christian Communities” in The Oxford Handbook of Community Singing, edited by Esther Morgan-Ellis and Kay Norton. The peer-reviewed article shares the results of the Music and Human Flourishing research project, funded by a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship, with funds provided by the Lilly Endowment Inc., which Dr. Myrick directed.

Staff and Administration

Allen S. London, senior associate vice president for advancement, joined the Andrew College Board of Trustees. London graduated from Andrew College in 1989. 

Emmilee Mitchell, director of operations for financial planning, and Emma Stich, director of financial planning services, attended the Georgia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (GASFAA) Conference, where Mitchell was named president of GASFAA for the 2024-25 academic year, and Stich was named chair for virtual webinars for the 2024-25 academic year. 

Johna Wright, coordinator of fellowships and scholarships, has been selected to serve in the inaugural class of the Global Access Correspondent program hosted by the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange. This program brings together leaders within the disability community who are participating in international exchange during the summer and allows them to amplify their experiences with advocacy and accessibility abroad through activities such as social media takeovers and blogging. Wright will be documenting her Mercer On Mission experience as she teaches abroad in Greece.