Faculty and Staff Notables | May 2024

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Exterior brick campus building with spires

College of Education

Dr. Karyn A. Allee, assistant professor of elementary education, presented a paper titled “The state of elementary school recess in Georgia: Pandemic, policies and patterns of play” at three invited sessions during the 2024 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. The paper was co-authored by Erica DeCuir, Albany State University, and Dawn Robinson, University of South Carolina-Beaufort. At the same conference, Dr. Allee; Dr. Annemarie Kaczmarczyk, assistant professor of elementary education; Dr. Lucy Bush, professor of teacher education; Ph.D. candidates Katie Meissner, Stephanie Moore and Mei Tran; and external collaborator Amanda Seccia, University of Chicago, won the AERA Constructivist Theory, Research and Practice SIG 2024 Outstanding Conference Submission Award for their presentation titled “A continuum of constructivism: From childhood to candidacy.” Dr. Allee, in collaboration with Daniel Castner, University of Indiana Bloomington, also presented a paper titled “Developmentally-minded insights for teacher candidate growth: Results from a bounded case study.” Dr. Allee, Dr. Kaczmarczyk, Dr. Bush and Dr. Vicki Luther, associate professor of education, in collaboration with Ph.D. candidate Kimberly Sampson also presented a paper titled “‘Banned’ together: Teaching using literature in an age of educational gag orders — An exploratory phenomenology.”

Dr. Susie Morrissey, assistant professor of mathematics education, and Dr. Katharine Northcutt, professor of biology and director of neuroscience in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, presented “Results from Year Two of a Brain Development Unit with Preservice Teachers” at the International Psychological Applications Conference and Trends in Porto, Portugal. Their paper was published in the conference proceedings, Psychological Applications and Trends 2024.

Dr. Leah Panther, assistant professor of literacy education, co-presented with Mercer alumni Dr. Kristie Smith “Sustaining a placeless place: The legacy of Oscarville, Georgia” and “A self-study of teacher education practice in facilitating participatory research” at the American Education Research Association’s annual conference in Philadelphia. 

Dr. Katherine Perrotta, assistant professor of middle grades and secondary education, presented “Student Historians: Youth Documentation of the History of Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic” at the American Educational Research Association Division F-History and Historiography annual conference in Philadelphia.

College of Health Professions

Dr. Rachel Le, assistant professor of athletic training, completed Item Writer training with the Board of Certification (BOC) Exam Development Committee for Athletic Training to help develop, construct and validate each portion of the BOC Exam.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Dr. Paul Atandoh, assistant professor of mathematics, presented a paper titled “Identifying topics and trends in U.S. policy/vision documents using Latent Dirichlet Allocation” at the 2024 American Educational Research Association meeting in Philadelphia on April 11.

Dr. David A. Davis, professor of English, gave a presentation titled “Gastropower in ‘Dave’s Neckliss’” at the Global Food Studies conference at the University of South Carolina on March 30.

Dr. Sarah E. Gardner, Distinguished University Professor, is the recipient of the 2024-2025 Suzanne and Caleb Loring Research Fellowship, a collaboration of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Boston Athenaeum, for her book titled Shakespeare Fights the American Civil War. The fellowship is to conduct research at the Massachusetts Historical Society and at the Boston Athenaeum. Dr. Gardner also published an article titled “The Southern Agrarians and the New Criticism” in The Cambridge History of the American Essay, edited by Christy M. Wampole and Jason Childs. 

Dr. Ben Greulich, assistant professor of biology, presented his research titled “Regulation of TβRIII Shedding in Cancer” at the 2024 American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Dr. Marc Jolley, senior lecturer of philosophy and director of Mercer University Press, read a paper titled “Thoreau’s Walden and Walden: Place as Text and Text as Place” at the Association of Core Texts and Courses in Memphis, Tennessee, April 11-13.

Dr. Joe Keene, associate professor of chemistry, presented a talk titled “Handheld Spectroscopies as Next-Gen NDI for Corrosion and Advanced Materials,” co-authored with Dr. Kevin Bucholtz, professor of chemistry, at the 2024 U.S. Air Force Corrosion Technical Interchange Meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on March 27.

Dr. Anastasia Kerr-German, assistant professor, and psychology and neuroscience research students were interviewed by National Public Radio to discuss exclusive practices in developmental neuroscience and how their research promotes inclusivity and diversity. Specifically, the lab is working with community partners in the local Macon area to provide screening services for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder for underserved communities. In the lab, they are developing novel testing hardware to accommodate diverse hairstyles and maximize fNIRS technology for use in rural Georgia. Students recently presented the beginnings of this work at Mercer’s BEAR Day. 

Dr. Achim Kopp, professor of foreign languages and literatures and associate dean, presented a paper titled “Translating the Journals of the Moravian Mission to Georgia, 1734-1737” at the 48th Annual Symposium of the Society for German American Studies, held April 4-6 at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Paul Lewis, professor of religion, led a discussion of the work of Paul Tillich for the Adult, Too class at First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon on April 7.

Dr. James Davis May, assistant professor of English and director of creative writing, had four poems appear in the latest issue of Peripheries, a literary journal published by Harvard Divinity School. 

Dr. Phoebe Moon, assistant professor of political science, co-authored a paper with a colleague from Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, titled “The Growing Gender Divide: Changing Perceptions of Gender Equality among the Youth in the United States” in International Area Studies Review. She also presented a paper titled “Do Global Supply Chains Follow Allies’ Flags?” at the 2024 International Studies Association annual conference in San Francisco.

Chelsea Rathburn, associate professor of English, was recognized by the Georgia House of Representatives on March 21 with House Resolution 1547 honoring her service as Georgia Poet Laureate. On March 23, she delivered “The Ordinary Gleaming: Poetry’s Essential Transformations” as the closing all-conference luncheon speaker at the College English Association’s annual conference, held in Atlanta. On Earth Day, April 22, she gave a poetry reading at Kennesaw State University, followed by a talk titled “Writing in the Face of Climate Change.”

Dr. Johnathan Yerby, associate professor of cybersecurity and information science and technology, and student Jordyn Bonds were invited to present research at Cyber Recon at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where they made it to the final 16. In their Strategist category, they were competing with Ph.D. students from the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College and the National Defense University, plus another undergraduate student from The U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

College of Nursing

Dr. Justus Randolph, professor, published an article titled “Anatomical variants of the intercostobrachial nerve and its preservation during surgery, a systematic review and meta-analysis” in the World Journal of Surgical Oncology. The article was co-authored with Dr. Roberto Cirocchi, Dr. Matteo Matteucci, Dr. Francesca Duro, Dr. Luca Properzi, Dr. Stefano Avenia, Dr. Bruno Amato, Dr. Ruggiero Iandoli, Dr. Giovanni Tebala, Dr. Carlo Boselli, Dr. Piero Covarelli and Dr. Paolo Sapienza. 

Dr. Linda A. Streit, professor, served as the Jan. 25 moderator for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Organizational Leadership Network January Webinar on “Leadership Conversation: A Discussion about Workload Calculations.” During the webinar discussion, schools reflected on national perspectives related to variables impacting faculty workload calculations, identification of challenges with faculty workload calculations and sharing faculty workload models within varying contexts.

College of Pharmacy

Dr. Susan Miller, professor, co-authored “Through the Lens of Positive Aging” published in the Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation on April 6. Dr. Miller also co-authored “Health humanities-focused interprofessional education for age-friendly care using photography and the 4Ms framework: A curricular short report” published in the Journal of Interprofessional Education and Practice on March 1.

Dr. Mohammad Nasir Uddin, assistant professor, co-authored “In Vitro Profiling of Gliclazide-Loaded Aerosil 380 Solid Dispersion–Based Tablets with Co-Processed Excipients” in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Innovation on April 3. 

College of Professional Advancement 

Dr. Wesley Barker, associate professor of religious studies, and Dr. Hollis Phelps, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies, presented “Whose Courage? Which Impact? General Education and the New Student Majority” at the Association of American Colleges and Universities General Education, Pedagogy and Assessment Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, on April 13. 

Dr. Arla Bernstein, associate professor and communication program coordinator, presented “Narrative Communication about Community Mental Health: A Reflective Tool for Experiential Learning” at the Eastern Communication Association Convention in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on March 21. Dr. Bernstein also became certified as a “Just Communities Accredited Practitioner” by the Partnership for Southern Equity. The certification is a commitment to advancing equity and sustainability in urban and community development. This commitment aligns with her dedication to community-based research and experiential learning.

Dr. Tyce Nadrich, associate professor of counseling, attended and facilitated a presentation at the 2024 American Counseling Association Conference and Expo on April 13 in New Orleans. The presentation, titled “Irreducible and essential: Exploring Black fatherhood and perinatal mental health,” was informed on his original research on paternal, perinatal mental health.  

Dr. Stefanie Sevcik, assistant professor of writing and interdisciplinary studies, delivered a research talk at the American Comparative Literature Association’s annual meeting in Montréal, titled “Conceptualizing Activist Writing and Activist Reading Through ‘Creative Insurgency’” on March 15. Dr. Sevcik also facilitated a workshop at the Georgia College & State University Women’s Leadership Conference titled “Emotional Labor and Emotional Well-Being in Leadership Collaborations” on March 29.

Dr. Jacqueline S. Stephen, assistant professor, director of the office of distance learning and instructional designer, published a book titled Academic Success in Online Programs: A Resource for College Students. The book provides students with a comprehensive resource to assist them in their academic success in an online course or program. It addresses a wide selection of topics emphasizing factors that impact online student persistence. Dr. Stephen also presented at the Online Learning Consortium’s Innovate 2024 conference in Denver. Her presentation focused on a high-impact practice first-year seminar course to promote student persistence and its impact on student retention and success.

Dr. Samantha Waters, assistant professor, presented an oral presentation at the 11th Annual Southeastern Biogeochemistry Symposium at Georgia State University on April 14. Her talk, titled “Surviving the high: Bacterial exposure to the stratosphere, a Mars analog environment,” presented work on a high-altitude balloon experiment that exposed bacterial strains to the stratosphere.

School of Business

Dr. Briana Stenard was featured in WalletHub’s recent article about “Best Large Cities to Start a Business.”

School of Engineering

Dr. Arash Afshar, associate professor; Dr. Dorina Mihut, associate professor; and students Erin Parker, Jada Farrell, David Sellers and Emily Schmidt from the mechanical engineering department, published a paper titled “The Design and Development of a Laboratory for Three-Point Bending Tests on 3D Printed Samples” in conference proceedings for the American Society for Engineering Education SE Annual Conference 2024. For the same conference, Dr. Afshar, Dr. Mihut and student Michael Ryan Sweeney from the mechanical engineering department also published a paper titled “Design and Development of Machine Learning Projects for Engineering,” and Dr. Mihut, Dr. Afshar, Associate Professor Dr. Stephen Hill and students Emily Schmidt, David Sellers, Erin Parker and Jada Farrell from the mechanical engineering department published a paper titled “Understanding Abrasion Wear Performance: New Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Design.”

Dr. Anthony Choi and Dr. Hunmin Kim led a team of 14 students on a research trip to St. Louis as part of the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project for NASA. The project, organized by NASA, stationed 53 teams of students along the path of the eclipse, providing them with opportunities to capture data and conduct experiments. The Mercer team collected video data and atmospheric data to analyze gravity waves caused by the eclipse. Twenty students worked on the project.

Dr. Donald Ekong, associate professor of computer engineering, attended the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Southeast Conference from March 21-23. During the conference, he attended a workshop titled “Cyber For Critical Infrastructure,” and he presented a paper titled “Development of an Integrated ECE Undergraduate and Cybersecurity Graduate Program at Mercer University.” The paper was co-authored with Dr. Stephen Hill, associate professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean.

Dr. Philip B. Gallagher, assistant professor of technical communication, received the 2024 Outstanding Teaching Award during the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) in Spokane, Washington, on April 8. The CCCC is a constituent organization within the National Council of Teachers of English. The award is presented annually to honor the discipline’s practitioners and make visible the best teaching practices of the field. This award intends to honor teaching and CCCC members who do their primary work in the classroom every day.

Dr. Robert J. Gill, lecturer of mechanical engineering, presented “Utilization of Recorded Student Narrated Solutions of Homework in Thermodynamics” at the 2024 American Society for Engineering Education Southeastern Sectional Annual Conference on March 11.

School of Law

Margie Alsbrook, visiting assistant professor, presented a paper titled “Untangling Unreliable Citations” at the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics 2024 Symposium in Washington, D.C., on April 5. She also co-presented a session on Citations 2.0, examining new citation trends and their professional implications, at the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing 2024 National Conference for Law Review Editors on April 7.

Meagan R. Hurley, assistant professor, received Reinhardt University’s 2024 Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award during Reinhardt’s “Evening of Honors” celebration on April 9 where she also had the opportunity to address the student body. Hurley also had an article titled “Solving a Sixth Amendment Crisis: The Case for Resource Parity in Georgia’s Indigent Defense System” published in the Mercer Law Review’s Lead Articles Edition on April 11. 

Gary J. Simson, Macon Chair in Law and former dean, published “The Roberts Court’s Overprotection of Free Speech and the Perfect Storm with Social Media” in a special First Amendment issue of the Tennessee Law Review. He also published a short essay titled “How Not to Restore Public Confidence in the Supreme Court” in Verdict: Legal Analysis and Commentary.

School of Medicine 

Dr. Yahya A. Acar, assistant professor and director of simulation, has been awarded the Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator certification by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. It affirms the School of Medicine’s commitment to providing advanced simulation-based education and training. 

Dr. Marshall Angle, assistant professor and associate dean on the Savannah campus, in collaboration with medical educators Dr. Jean Klig from Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Jeff Jackson from Belmont University-Thomas F. Frist College of Medicine, Dr. Felise Milan from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Dr. Sandra Yingling from New York University Long Island School of Medicine facilitated the workshop “Longitudinal Clinical Skills Assessment” at the annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Southern Group on Educational Affairs in Houston on April 11-13. Grounded in their national collaborative work for the AAMC’s Clinical Skills Class Project, this 60-minute interactive workshop reviewed best practices and theoretical foundations for longitudinal clinical skills assessment in undergraduate medical education.

Dr. Brian H. Childs, professor and chair of the bioethics and medical humanities department on the Savannah campus and director of the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Center for Organ Donation, Education, Research and Policy, completed the Certificate Course in Advanced Organ Transplantation Ethics from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine and the Langone Medical Center. The course consisted of 35 advanced transplant professionals from across the country, and the faculty were from one of the country’s largest transplant and transplant research centers in the United States. Dr. Childs has also over the past two months provided consultation with transplant centers across the country on the topic of two controversial transplant procedures, including normothermic regional perfusion in thoracic donation and first person authorization in donation through controlled circulatory death.

Dr. Susan Cline, professor of biomedical sciences and senior associate dean, and Dr. Bonny Dickinson, dean for faculty affairs, presented at the April 2024 International Congress on Academic Medicine annual conference held in Vancouver, Canada. Dr. Dickinson delivered an oral presentation titled “Empowering Clinical Faculty by Removing Barriers to Academic Promotion” and Dr. Cline, Dr. Dickinson and Dr. Keyna Bracken, from McMaster University, presented a 90-minute workshop titled “Facilitating student development of self-directed learning skills in the context of small group case- and problem-based learning: A workshop for faculty.”

Dr. Ketsia Dimanche, assistant professor on the Columbus campus, Dr. Susan Cline and Dr. Marshall Angle facilitated the workshop “Houston, We Have a Solution: Progressive-Synergistic Focus Group” (PSFG) at the annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges Southern Group on Educational Affairs in Houston on April 11-13. Featuring a mix of didactic presentations, small-group breakouts and whole-group discussions, the 60-minute workshop presented Mercer’s novel approach to conducting focus groups. The presentation complemented a highly interactive application of the PSFG protocol with discussion of Mercer’s theoretical framework in group dynamics for improving student feedback.

Dr. Ahmed Eltokhi, assistant professor of biomedical sciences on the Columbus campus, published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal titled “Pathogenic gating pore current conducted by autism-related mutations in the NaV1.2 brain sodium channel.

Dr. David Hollar, associate professor of community medicine, served on a grant review panel for the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research.

Dr. Anthony J. Kondracki, assistant professor of community medicine on the Savannah campus, published a research manuscript titled “Exploring a Potential Interaction Between the Effect of Specific Maternal Smoking Patterns and Comorbid Antenatal Depression in Causing Postpartum Depression” in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. Co-authors on the publication were Dr. Jennifer Barkin, professor of community medicine and OBGYN, and Dr. Kimberly Roth, assistant professor of community medicine.

Dr. Sarah Rotschafer, assistant professor of neuroscience on the Savannah campus, and Anna Krampl, associate professor, created and launched the Autism ToolKit website through a National Institutes of Health National Libraries of Medicine grant. The interactive website solicits questions and feedback from rural community members who have been diagnosed with or are otherwise affected by autism, and that feedback is used to create resources addressing the specific needs of autistic people living in rural communities. 

The lab of Dr. Robert Visalli, associate dean for biomedical research and professor of microbiology on the Savannah campus, published a paper titled “Mutagenesis and Functional Analysis of the Varicella-Zoster Virus Portal Protein” in the Journal of Virology that encompassed the most comprehensive molecular analysis for any animal virus portal protein to date. Co-authors on the paper were Melissa Visalli, research associate, and students Dakota J. Nale Lovett, Ellyn M. Kornfeind, Haley Herrington, Yi Tian Xiao, Daniel Lee, Patience Plair, S. Garrett Wilder, Bret K. Garza and Ashton Young. This publication supports a current National Institutes of Health R15 Research Enhancement Award Program grant geared toward developing a series of potential antiviral compounds that target herpesvirus DNA encapsidation. 

Dr. Yudan Wei, professor of community medicine, and two medical students in the class of 2026, Wonjun Billy Kim and Dylan Fromm, presented their research titled “The impact of cigarette smoking on serum α-Klotho levels in middle-aged and older adults: Exploring age- and sex-specific associations” at the 2024 American College of Medical Toxicology Annual Scientific Meeting in April.

School of Music

Dr. Nathan Myrick, assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies, presented “Hardcore Hospitality at Furnace Fest” at the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association summit in Atlanta on March 22. Dr. Myrick also moderated a panel at the International Association for the Study of Popular Music — U.S. conference in Philadelphia on April 13. At the conference, senior psychology major Jos Arbaugh presented “Furnace Fest and Fearless Femininity,” and freshman music major Hannah Dixon presented “Exploring Kindness and Support in Punk Rock Culture Through Experiences at Furnace Fest.” A senior colleague from the University of California system noted during the public Q&A for the panel that it was the “best undergraduate panel” he had ever seen. Both students were in Dr. Myrick’s Furnace Fest research group last fall and were supported in their research and travel to present by Provost Seed Grants.

Staff and Administration

Tony Kemp, associate vice president of events and special programs, completed his 12th season as a member of the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards/The Shulers, where he continues to serve in a leadership role on the committee that oversees the adjudication of more than 60 high school theater productions throughout Georgia. He recently worked with the live GPBTV-broadcast ceremony on April 18, from the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre to celebrate theater students, teachers and programs from across the state. The televised show has won several Southeast Emmy Awards for Special Event Live Coverage.