Faculty and Staff Notables


Dr. Karyn A. Allee-Herndon, assistant professor of elementary education, co-authored “The power of purposeful play in primary grades: Adjusting pedagogy for children’s needs and academic gains” in the Journal of Education.

Dr. Sybil Keesbury, associate professor, and Dr. Vicki Luther, associate professor, presented a session, titled “The Challenge of Change,” at the National Association for Professional Development Schools Conference Feb. 13-15 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In addition, Dr. Keesbury co-presented “Insights from the Field: The Benefits of a Yearlong Placement Experience” with undergraduate senior Kasey Thom and her clinical teacher Lea Mitchell, while Dr. Luther co-presented “Evaluating and Enriching Reading Tutoring Conducted by Mercer University Undergraduates within Local Elementary Schools” alongside seniors Grace Maloney and Katelyn West. Dr. Keesbury, Dr. Luther and Dr. Wynnetta Scott-Simmons, associate professor, presented “The Power of Partnerships in Literacy Instruction: Working Together to Prepare Future Educators” at the conference, as well.

Dr. Thomas Koballa, dean, and Dr. Sharon Augustine, associate professor, attended the Georgia Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (GACTE) Spring Conference and Day on the Hill on Feb. 18-19 with Brianna Harris, a STEM MAT and Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and Jessica Lewis, a senior holistic child major. During the conference, Harris and Lewis attended updates from the governor’s listening tour from both the Georgia DOE and Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. They also participated in classroom management training from GACTE and advocacy training from PAGE. Harris and Lewis met with Sen. John F. Kennedy, a double Bear who represents District 18, to discuss education bills before the senate. The group then attended a luncheon where Gov. Kemp spoke about his education initiatives.

Dr. Susan Morrissey, assistant professor of mathematics education, Dr. Melissa Jurkiewicz, assistant professor of science/STEM Education, Dr. Sharon Augustine, associate professor of education, and Dr. Anthony Choi, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the School of Engineering, presented at the Georgia Science Teachers Association’s annual conference in Columbus. Their presentation, titled “Examining Disciplinary Literacy in a Summer Robotics STEM Camp,” explored their work with pre-service teachers and high school students who attended their summer 2019 robotics camp. The summer STEM camps are funded through a L4GA Grant with Bibb County and Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

Dr. Leah Panther, assistant professor of literacy education, co-authored a chapter, titled “Well, I took it there”: Teaching to (disrupt) the text,” in Acts of Resistance: Subversive Teaching Across the Discipline. She also co-authored an article, titled “There’s more than one good way to teach kids how to read,” in The Conversation.

Dr. Alyssa Fiss, associate professor of physical therapy, co-authored the manuscript “Walking performance, physical activity, and validity of the early activity scale for endurance in young children with cerebral palsy” electronically published in Physical & Occupational Therapy In Pediatrics. Dr. Fiss and colleagues received the Toby Long Award, which recognizes the best paper published in Pediatric Physical Therapy, for their manuscript “Validity of the early activity scale for endurance and the 6-Minute Walk Test for children with cerebral palsy.” The award was presented Feb. 14 at the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy Business Meeting and Anniversary Celebration.

Dr. Niamh Tunney, clinical associate professor of physical therapy, co-authored the manuscript “Effects of circuit training on return of physical function in a patient recovering from Guillain-Barré syndrome: a case report” in the Journal of Student Physical Therapy Research.

Dr. James Eric (Jay) Black, Schumann Endowed Professor and chair of journalism and media studies, published the 2020 White Paper on the Business Environment in China in March. This is his third edition of the book, also translated to Mandarin, which is a meta-analysis of business journalism reports published annually by the American Chamber of Commerce in South China. Each edition also contains survey results from surveys concerning the business environment in the country. The influential book last year suggested changes to the judicial system for foreign businesses that were included in China’s New Foreign Business Law. Dr. Black also contributed to a special report by the American Chamber of Commerce in South China on the business impacts of the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Dr. David A. Davis, associate professor of English, was appointed to the editorial board of the Southern Quarterly.

Dr. John Marson Dunaway, professor emeritus of French and interdisciplinary studies, co-directed with Dr. Matt Harper, associate professor of history and Africana studies, the 16th Annual Building the Beloved Community Symposium Feb. 10 on the Macon campus. The Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, associate professor of reconciliation studies and program director at Seattle Pacific University, was keynote speaker.

Dr. Sarah E. Gardner, Distinguished University Professor of History, co-edited with Kathleen Diffley, “Expanding the Archive in Civil War Studies,” a special issue of Mississippi Quarterly: The Journal of Southern Cultures.

Dr. Riku Kawaguchi, assistant professor of sociology, was interviewed by WGXA for a story, titled “How blight leads to violence, crime in Macon-Bibb County.”

Dr. Eric Klingelhofer, emeritus professor of history and Senior Research Fellow, published “Jamestown on Nevis and Urban Resilience in the Early English Caribbean” as a chapter in Historical Archaeologies of the Caribbean: Contextualizing Sites through Colonialism, Capitalism, and Globalism, eds. Tod L. Ahlman and Gerald F. Schroedl, University of Alabama Press, 2019.

Dr. Kathryn Kloepper, director of the Quality Enhancement Plan and associate professor of chemistry, presented a workshop, titled “You Collected Data. Now What? Practical Moves for Faculty Engagement,” at the Association of American Colleges and Universities General Education conference Feb. 21 in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Bridget Trogden, associate dean of undergraduate studies at Clemson University, was a co-presenter. Hannah Vann Nabi, associate director of the Quality Enhancement Plan, was a co-author on this work.

Dr. Paul Lewis, professor of religion, participated in a panel addressing the issue of redlining as part of the series “Macon Sense: Faith Speaks to Redlining,” sponsored by Highland Hills Baptist Church and held at Historic Macon.

Dr. James Davis May, writer-in-residence and lecturer, received the 2019 Rattle Poetry Prize Readers’ Choice Award for his poem “Red in Tooth and Claw.” The award, which includes a $2,000 cash prize, was selected from among this year’s Rattle Poetry Prize finalists by subscriber vote. 

Dr. Justus Randolph, associate professor, co-authored “Preliminary development and validation of the School Connectedness Questionnaire,” in Child Indicators Research, doi: 10.1007/s12187-020-09726-8.

Dr. Ajay K. Banga, professor, received funding in the amount of $120,175 from NIH/FDA Phase II SBIR subcontract from CFD Research Corporation for the project, titled “A multiscale simulation toolkit for computational pharmacology of trans/intradermally administered compounds in healthy and diseased population.” He also authored “Evaluation of an activated carbon disposal system for safe disposal of model prescription sedative medications” in Scientific Reports.

Dr. Clinton Canal, assistant professor, authored “Structure-Activity Relationship Study of Psychostimulant Synthetic Cathinones Reveals Nanomolar Antagonist Potency of α-Pyrrolidinohexiophenone (α-PHP) at Human Muscarinic M2 Receptors” in ACS Chemical Neuroscience. He authored “The serotonin receptor modulator, (S)-5-(2′-fluorophenyl)-N,N-dimethyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydronaphthalen-2-amine (FPT), possesses anticonvulsant, prosocial, and anxiolytic-like properties in an Fmr1 knock-out mouse model of fragile X syndrome and autism spectrum disorder” in ACS Pharmacology and Translational Science. Dr. Canal also authored “Synthesis of novel 5-substituted-2-aminotetralin analogs: 5-HT1A and 5-HT7 G protein-coupled receptor affinity, 3D-QSAR, and molecular modeling” in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry.

Dr. Nader H. Moniri, professor, authored “Cysteine redox state regulates human β2-adrenergic receptor binding and function” in Scientific Reports .

Dr. Jennifer Nguyen, assistant professor, and Dr. Jennifer Elliott, clinical assistant professor, co-authored “Availability of Naloxone at Rural Georgia Pharmacies” in JAMA Network Open.

Dr. Arla G. Bernstein, assistant professor of communication, presented “Community Conversations of Neighborhood Stakeholders as Narrative for Experiential Learning” at the Lilly Conference for Engaged Teaching and Learning in San Diego, California.

Dr. Caroline M. Brackette, associate professor of counseling and assistant dean for experiential learning and strategic partnerships, was formally invited by the White House to attend the 2020 Black Entrepreneurship Summit and Reception. She was nominated by White House Policy Advisor for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Ashley Bell to attend the event. Dr. Brackette served as an invited panelist for a mental health awareness lunch-and-learn at the SunTrust Bank, now Truist, corporate headquarters in Atlanta. She was also accepted to serve as a contributing writer for the American Psychological Association Division 47’s SportPsych Works. The publication is a newsletter-style fact sheet of APA Division 47, which is the Society for Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology. Published approximately three times per year, the fact sheets serve to provide trusted and timely information to the public. Dr. Brackette also had a presentation, titled “Mental Skills: A Model for Transferability of Strategies from Sport to Life,” accepted at the 2020 Black Student-Athlete Summit at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Jared Champion, assistant professor of writing and interdisciplinary studies, authored “The Method: A New Approach to Teaching Humor Studies,” which was accepted for publication in the MLA Options for Teaching volume on “Teaching Comic Texts,” edited by Bev Hogue.

Dr. Ramneet Kaur, adjunct instructor, co-authored “Basic Psychological Processes” (H.P. Bhargava Publications, 2019) and “Experimental Psychology” (H.P. Bhargava Publications, 2020), both published in India in collaboration with main author Dr. Agya Jit Singh.

Dr. Richard H. Martin, professor of criminal justice, homeland security and emergency management, reviewed the following manuscripts in February: “Children’s Toys and Games during the Shoah, as Reflected in Five Hebrew Books” for Sage Open Academic Journals, “Children’s Toys and Games During the Shoah, as Reflected in Five Hebrew Books,” for the Journal of Education and Training Studies and “Biological monitoring of occupational exposure to metals in electric steel foundry workers and its contribution to 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine” for the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Dr. Morgan Kiper Riechel, assistant professor of counseling, led Ph.D. students in counselor education and supervision to present at the annual Law and Ethics in Counseling Conference Feb. 11-14 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The presentations were “Intellect and Emotion in School Counseling Ethical Decision-Making Models” by Dr. Kiper Riechel and Jordon Beasley, “Using Art with Clients in Counseling: Creative Intervention or Ethical Problem?” by Carrie Elder and “Riding the Line: Applying Ethical Decision-Making Models in Counseling Skill Development” by  Elder and Liz Norris. This annual national refereed professional conference brings together counselor educators, counseling graduate students and counseling practitioners to review the latest trends and developments in the areas of law and ethics in counseling.

Dr. Marc Jolley, director, offered a seminar on writing and publishing to creative writing students and faculty Feb. 13-14 at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.

Jody Blanke, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Law, was acknowledged by the Social Science Research Network as being among the Top 10% of authors for the 34th month in a row. This metric is determined by total new downloads within the last 12 months.

Dr. Antonio Saravia, associate professor of economics and director of the Center for the Study of Economics and Liberty, was interviewed by CNN Feb. 10 and Univision Feb. 20 on President Trump’s 2021 Budget of the U.S. Government. He was also interviewed Feb. 7 by 41NBC in Macon on the cost of retirement in Georgia, and Feb. 5 by Radio Lider on the state of the Bolivian economy. Additionally, Dr. Saravia held a well-attended panel on the future of economic freedom on the Macon campus with Dr. Andrés Marroquín, associate professor of economics, and Jacek Spendel, president of Liberty International. 

Dr. Arash Afshar, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Dr. Dorina Marta Mihut, associate professor of mechanical engineering, co-authored a research paper, titled “Enhancing Durability of 3D Printed Polymer Structures by Metallization,” which was accepted for publication in the Journal of Materials Science and Technology.

Dr. Laura Lackey, dean and professor of environmental engineering, was named one of the Top 100 Influential Women in Georgia Engineering by Engineering Georgia magazine.

Dr. Richard Mines, professor of environmental and civil engineering, authored “Reflections about Using a Hybrid Inverted Classroom in a Sophomore Environmental Engineering Course,” which was accepted for publication by the American Society for Engineering Education Southeastern Section Conference.

Sharon Bradley, digital and scholarly resources librarian, presented “I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help: Federal and State Government Resources” during “Internet Legal Research,” a full-day CLE given by Georgia Law Librarians on Feb. 20. The CLE session was live-streamed in seven cities throughout Georgia.

Cathy Cox, dean and professor of law, provided the keynote speech, “Women Can Lead, Women Can Win – So Quit Asking About It,” at the Usery Forum of Leadership Feb. 10 at Georgia College in Milledgeville. She also provided the keynote speech, “Connect with Conversations,” at the opening session for 2020 Leadership Georgia held Feb. 1 at Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris.

Billie Jo Kaufman, interim library director and visiting professor of law, presented “Cool Tools: Apps and Other Tools for Lawyers” during “Internet Legal Research,” a full-day CLE given by Georgia Law Librarians on Feb. 20. The CLE session was live-streamed in seven cities throughout Georgia.

Jeremy Kidd, associate professor of law, organized and led discussion on “Law and Economics Through the Work of Elinor Ostrom” Jan. 24-25 at Texas A&M School of Law. The colloquium discussed the work and methodology of the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, particularly as it pertains to legal scholarship. Kidd also organized the “Law, Economics, and Liberty” reading group with Mercer Law students on Jan. 28 and Feb. 11. This semester’s readings include Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt, Economic Myths and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell and Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman. 

Scott Titshaw, associate professor of law, presented on the “Issues in Adoption, Surrogacy and ART” Panel at the AILA Midwest Regional Conference in Chicago, Illinois.  

Dr. Jennifer L. Barkin, associate professor of community medicine and obstetrics and gynecology, edited and co-authored the book Perinatal Depression, published in January.

Dr. James Colquitt, interim associate dean for academic affairs, was recently elevated to the level of senior educator by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). This role is limited to educators with significant experience teaching within the ACS program and a title held by only a limited number of educational practitioners worldwide. Serving in this role will support the mission of the medical school to improve the care delivered by providers in rural areas by enhancing the instructor development for the related training courses. This role also gives Mercer University School of Medicine a greater voice for impacting rural trauma care.

Dr. Eric K. Shaw, associate professor, authored “The use of online discussion forums and communities for primary care health research” in Family Practice, 2020, 1-4.

Paul Knowlton, principal – marketplace initiative for the Center for Theology and Public Life, spoke at the Lawyers Club of Atlanta to an audience of more than 70 attorneys regarding the role of spirituality in professional and organizational well-being.

Dr. Angela N. Parker, assistant professor of New Testament and Greek, authored “Reading Mary Magdalene with Stacy Abrams: Developing an Inclusive National Consciousness” in Come and Read: Interpretive Approaches to the Gospel of John, eds. Lindsey Jodrey and Alicia D. Myers, Lanham, MD.: Lexington Books, December, 2019.

Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, associate professor of practical theology, delivered a plenary lecture at the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education’s Racial, Ethnic, Multicultural Invitational on Feb. 7. She was also keynote speaker at the Christian Theological Seminary’s 22nd Annual Spirituality and Psychotherapy Conference on Feb. 21-22, where she delivered three lectures and continuing education workshops on the topic “Healing the Wounds of Cultural Trauma: A Psychospiritual Imperative.” 

Dr. Deborah A. Johnson-Blake, substitute coordinator of the Douglas County Regional Academic Center, was presented the 2019 Chamber Spirit Award by the Douglas County Chamber. The award recognizes a chamber member that has continuously committed and generously works toward the advancement of the Douglas County Chamber and the community. The recipient makes a sacrifice of time, helps improve quality of life, motivates others and enhances the integrity of the Douglas County community.

Tony Kemp, senior director of academic services, adjudicated musical theatre events for the Georgia High School Thespian Conference Feb. 6-8. Almost 6,000 students, educators and guest artists were involved with the event in Columbus.