2020 College Spring Award Winners

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Emeriti, Faculty, Graduate Student, and Alumni Relations Awards – Spring 2020

Emeriti Faculty

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Duane Francis Alwin, McCourtney Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Demography, joined the faculty in 2002 as the inaugural holder of the Tracy Winfree and Ted H. McCourtney Professor of Sociology and Demography, a position he held until his retirement in 2019. A native of Kansas, he has held academic positions at Wisconsin, Indiana, Washington State, and Michigan. At Penn State, his work focused primarily on the demography of the life course and aging. In this area, he was co-founder and principal director of the National Institute on Aging Center for Population Health and Aging for several years. He was also the founding director of the Center for Life Course and Longitudinal Studies and served in this capacity for ten years. In his retirement, he is pursuing several writing projects – including one on the history of Kansas basketball.

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Robert Burkholder, Associate Professor Emeritus of English, began in the English Department at Penn State, Wilkes-Barre Campus, in Fall 1980. In the fall of 1986, he was promoted to Associate Professor, awarded tenure, and transferred to University Park permanently. His highlighted leadership positions include: Director of the Composition Program (1991-1992); Acting Associate Department Head (2001-2002); Associate Department Head (2009-2017); and Acting Head of the English Department (2014-2015). His research interests focused on the American Transcendentalists and, particularly, the philosopher and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was also a founder and president of the international Ralph Waldo Emerson Society. In 2000 his interest in American Romanticism prompted him to found the Penn State Adventure Literature Series. He retired from the University on June 30, 2020.

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Raymond Lombra, Professor Emeritus of Economics, was a difference maker from the moment he joined the Penn State economics faculty in 1977. He inspired undergraduates as an award-winning teacher and advised dozens of Ph.D. students. In 1992 he joined the dean’s office as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies. In that role, he put in place policies and incentives that supported faculty research in all areas of the College and led to a tenfold increase in external research support. In his graduate role, he provided resources and advice to improve the quality, retention, and placement of outstanding students. Later, he added college advancement to his portfolio and was instrumental in the College raising more than $200 million from 1995 to 2020.

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Jon Nussbaum, Liberal Arts Professor Emeritus of Communication Arts and Sciences and Human Development and Family Studies, significantly advanced scholarship on communication education, communication and aging, health communication, and organizational communication. Through his seminal work on the communication behaviors of older adults, Nussbaum established the headwaters from which current and future research on this topic flows. The accolades he has earned are numerous, including being named a Fellow of the International Communication Association, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association Division of Adult Development and Aging, and a Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association. He was also elected President of the International Communication Association and of the International Association of Language and Social Psychology. He served as a faculty member in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences from 1999 – 2020.

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Sumita Raghuram, Associate Professor Emerita of Human Resource Management and Asian Studies, was a faculty member of the School of Labor and Employment Relations from 2005-2019. She received her Ph.D. in Human Resource Management from the University of Minnesota and came to Penn State after serving on the faculty of Fordham University. Her research focused on virtual work, international human resource management, and workers in high tech industries and was published in numerous journals, including the Academy of Management Annals, Organization Science, Journal of Management, Personnel Psychology and Journal of Organizational Behavior. Professor Raghuram served as a visiting faculty at the Copenhagen Business School, Bologna Business School, and the Indian School of Business. She is currently the Alan and Lori Kessler Endowed Professor in Human Resource Management at San Jose State University.

Stephanie Shields, Professor Emeritx of Psychology and Women's Studies, was a faculty member in the College from 1996 – 2020. Her research is at the intersection of emotion, gender, and feminist psychology, primarily the politics of emotion in everyday life. Her experiential learning tool, WAGES ( wages.la.psu.edu), illustrates the cumulative effect of unconscious bias in the workplace. Speaking from the Heart: Gender and the Social Meaning of Emotion (2002), received the Association for Women in Psychology’s Distinguished Publication Award, as did her special issue on intersectionality (2008). Major awards include APA Division 35’s Carolyn Sherif Award, for research, mentoring, and service relevant to women, and Division 1’s Ernest Hilgard Lifetime Achievement for significant and long-lasting contributions across topical areas in psychology.


Faculty Awards

George W. Atherton Awards for Excellence in Teaching


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Kirk French, Associate Teaching Professor of Anthropology, is a recipient of the University's 2020 George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching. Since beginning his career at the University in 2009, Dr. French has advanced critical principles of the liberal arts, most especially exposing students to the complexity and diversity of human experiences, promoting ethical judgment and informed decision-making, and preparing people for engaged citizenship and meaningful lives and careers. Dr. French teaches "Anthropology of Alcohol," one of the largest courses on campus with approximately 725 students. Former students highly praise Dr. French and consider him among the most passionate, engaging, and encouraging professors they encounter during their time at Penn State.

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Jill Wood, Teaching Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, is a recipient of the University's 2020 George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her portfolio of courses has spanned the department's curriculum, ranging among women's health, the politics of sexuality and reproduction, feminist theory, and an undergraduate capstone seminar. Over her fifteen years at Penn State, Dr. Wood has mentored or advised over fifty students through independent studies, research assistantships, undergraduate TAships, internships, and with the Paterno Fellows program and Schreyer Honors College. She is not only a versatile and creatively demanding classroom instructor, but also is a thoughtful student advocate and mentor who reflects the College of the Liberal Arts' goal of creating an equitable and inclusive learning and working environment, as well as fostering students' individual and collective capacities for empathy and care.

1933 Distinction in the Humanities Award

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Amy Allen, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Liberal Arts Professor of Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, is the recipient of the 2020 Class of 1933 Distinction in the Humanities Award. Dr. Allen is an internationally recognized scholar in Critical Theory, in feminist philosophy, and in 20th century French philosophy. She is highly-reviewed among authors in political philosophy. The centerpiece of Dr. Allen’s recent work is her 2016 book, The End of Progress (Columbia University Press). She has just completed (submitted to Columbia University Press) a new book on Critical Theory and psychoanalysis, tentatively entitled The Sting of Negativity.

Excellence in Online Administrative Leadership Award

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Richard Carlson, Professor of Psychology, is the recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Online Administrative Leadership Award. Dr. Carlson has directed the Department of Psychology’s online program since its inception. He was the chief architect of Psychology’s World Campus program. He has played a key role in designing the program and developing the course content, both in its initial publication and subsequent revisions. His vision for the program centered on a high-quality online psychology degree that would also satisfy the same requirements as a residential degree and a variety of opportunities outside of the classroom. In addition to courses, students can also participate in internship opportunities or become a member of Psi Chi, one of the first online chapters of the national honor society in psychology.

Faculty Excellence in Sustainability Award

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Nancy Tuana, DuPont/Class of 1949 Professor of Philosophy and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, is the 2020 recipient of the Faculty Excellence in Sustainability Award. Dr. Tuana has demonstrated exceptional commitment to the value of sustainability through her research and teaching. She is part of an interdisciplinary research team at Penn State that has developed a more robust model of scientific ethics to more adequately reflect the impacts of ethical issues in scientific practice. She is also engaged in research on justice issues in the context of climate change and is author of a number of articles on the topic of gender and climate change.

Filippelli Institute Award for Excellence in Online Teaching

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Lisa Stevenson, Assistant Teaching Professor of Psychology, is the recipient of the 2020 Filippelli Institute Award for Excellence in Online Teaching. Stevenson has taught online courses in the World Campus Psychology program full-time since 2008 - focusing on two essential courses in the major - totaling 83 sections. She has made notable contributions to teaching beyond her direct instruction. She is the lead instructor for PSYCH 100. As lead instructor, she mentors and assists other PSYCH 100 instructors and maintenance of the course. Additionally, she has contributed to the infrastructure for research involvement among World Campus psychology majors through a website for online research assistants.

Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award

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Carrie Jackson, Professor of German and Linguistics, is the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award. Dr. Jackson maintains very consistent and excellent ratings in teaching, but perhaps even more impressive are her extensive contributions to undergraduate student success outside the classroom. She has advised four undergraduate honors theses and an undergraduate internship. There are, in addition, the many other undergraduate students whose work she has supervised outside the classroom, including five undergraduates whom she assisted with their funded research projects, and the many research assistants who have worked in her lab. She is fully dedicated to enriching the lives of students.

Outstanding Teaching Award for Teaching Faculty

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Sharon Childs, Associate Teaching Professor of Applied Linguistics, is a recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Teaching Award for Teaching Faculty. Dr. Childs is a highly accomplished instructor, mentor, and program director at both undergraduate and graduate levels in language teacher education. She demonstrates a strong vocational dedication to language instruction. Additionally, she has been immensely effective in translating her own genius as a teacher into a highly successful program of teacher pedagogy based on sharing successful teaching practices, engaging students in reflective uptake of these practices, individualized attention and mentorship, and exposure to contemporary theory in second language acquisition.


Outstanding Teaching Award for Tenure Line Faculty

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Tina Chen, Associate Professor of English and Asian Studies, is the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Teaching Award for Tenure Line Faculty. Dr. Chen has demonstrated a sustained commitment to a student-centered pedagogy that encourages and engages all of her students. She has participated in national undergraduate student-led conferences and helped to develop trans-institutional venues for encouraging student engagement outside of the classroom. In the classroom, she is a versatile instructor and cultivates respect for differences and for inclusions within her classes, and students find her classroom an exhilarating student-centered space for learning and discussion.

Pavouček Shields Faculty Award

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Sheri Berenbaum, Professor of Psychology and Pediatrics, is the recipient of the 2020 Pavouček Shields Faculty Award. This award recognizes tenured faculty who have undertaken professionally oriented service and mentoring on behalf of women at the university. Dr. Berenbaum supports women in their academic careers at all levels and makes accommodations to help them remain in academia while they strive for work life balance. Her nominator described her as, “…an effective advisor and mentor of women of diverse backgrounds and interests.” In sum, Dr. Berenbaum has been a source of support, mentorship, and encouragement for many women at the University throughout her years at Penn State.

Raymond Lombra Awards for Distinction in the Social or Life Sciences

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Pamela Cole, Liberal Arts Professor of Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies, is a recipient of the 2020 Raymond Lombra Award for Distinction in the Social Sciences. She is an internationally recognized scholar who has made seminal contributions to our understanding of the development, measurement, conceptualization, and socialization of emotion regulation. Moreover, Dr. Cole’s systematic program of research has culminated in recent years in ground-breaking work shaping our understanding of the dynamics of children’s self-regulation of emotion. She also is a valued teacher, an effective, sharing mentor, and an engaged and caring member of her departmental, university, and professional communities.

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George Milner, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, is a recipient of the 2020 Raymond Lombra Award for Distinction in the Social Sciences. Dr. Milner has a remarkable international reputation as a leader in human osteology, bioarchaeology, and North American archaeology, a reputation evidenced by his recent election in 2019 into the National Academy of Sciences, the highest honor for a scientist in the United States. Professor Milner joined the Department of Anthropology in 1986 as an assistant professor and museum curator and since then has developed and maintained an outstanding international research reputation, a commitment to teaching excellence, and an impressive record of service to the university, the discipline, and society.

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Rena Torres Cacoullos, Professor of Spanish and Linguistics, is a recipient of the 2020 Raymond Lombra Award for Distinction in the Life Sciences. Dr. Torres Cacoullos is a highly active scholar, with many projects and directions, all related to her central interests in spontaneously-produced bilingual speech, language contact and language change. The impact of her work on synchronic variation and grammaticalization generates debate, admiration and respect. During 2014-2018, she published an impressive 21 articles and one book, Bilingualism in the Community (April 2018, Cambridge University Press), which was nominated by Cambridge University Press for the Linguistic Society of America Leonard Bloomfield Book Award.

Roy C. Buck Award

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Daryl Cameron, Assistant Professor of Psychology and faculty member in the Rock Ethics Institute, is the recipient of the 2020 Roy C. Buck Award in the College of the Liberal Arts. He is a pre-tenure faculty member whose research focuses on empathy and moral judgments. Dr. Cameron is nominated for his paper, “Empathy is Hard Work: People Choose to Avoid Empathy Because of Its Cognitive Costs” in press in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. This journal is a top-tier publication of the American Psychological Association. It has a 2017 impact factor of 4.107, ranking it 3rd out of 85 journals in the category "Psychology, Experimental.”

Service to the College Award

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Avis Kunz, Senior Assistant Dean for Online Education and Outreach and Director of the Filippelli Institute for e-Education and Outreach, has been a vital member of the College since her arrival in 1998. Winner of the Shirley Hendrick Award in 2017 for her stellar work in serving adult learners, Avis has developed and managed the college’s expansive and nationally recognized online portfolio of seventeen bachelor’s and five master’s degrees. More than one third of the college’s majors are enrolled in the World Campus. This year, Avis made an exemplary additional contribution by marshalling the Filippelli Institute’s online learning expertise to serve faculty scrambling to move their residence courses online and to tailor their semester length courses to summer sessions. These invaluable contributions facilitated the offering of high-quality online courses in all parts of the College.


Graduate Awards

Raymond E. Lombra and Roberta Lombra Outstanding Graduate Research Awards

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Junqiang “Jacob” Dai is a recipient of the 2020 Raymond E. Lombra and Roberta Lombra Outstanding Graduate Research Award. He was nominated by Dr. Suzy Scherf. Dai is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology. The article for which he was nominated, “Puberty and functional brain development in humans: Convergence in findings?” was published in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in October 2019. His work on this piece of research spanned three years of his graduate training. During this time, he also finished a master’s thesis fMRI research project, presented at the Vision Sciences Society Meeting, and helped launch a new NIH-funded research project in the Laboratory of Developmental Neuroscience.

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Curry Kennedy is a recipient of the 2020 Raymond E. Lombra and Roberta Lombra Outstanding Graduate Research Award. He was nominated by Dr. Debra Hawhee. Kennedy is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of English, specializing in Rhetoric. The article for which he was nominated, “Milton’s Ethos, English Nationhood, and the Fast-Day Tradition in Areopagitica” was published in the Spring 2019 issue of Studies in Philology. Kennedy joins only a handful of scholars, and is the sole scholar in rhetoric, to comment on Milton’s polemic as rhetoric. His essay was of such high quality that it was accepted unconditionally to Studies in Philology.

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Emily May is a recipient of the 2020 Raymond E. Lombra and Roberta Lombra Outstanding Graduate Research Award. She was nominated by Dr. Dawn Witherspoon. May is a Ph.D. student in the Doctoral Program in Child Clinical Psychology. May was nominated for her empirical article entitled “Maintaining and Attaining Educational Expectations: A Two-Cohort Longitudinal Study of Hispanic Youth” in press in Fall 2019’s Developmental Psychology, a journal with a 23.5% manuscript acceptance rate. As first author of this study, May led the manuscript from beginning to end, developed the research questions, conducted analyses, and led the writing on the manuscript.

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Haley Schneider is a recipient of the 2020 Raymond E. Lombra and Roberta Lombra Outstanding Graduate Research Award. She was nominated by Dr. Rosa Eberly. Schneider is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences. She was nominated for her article, “Deliberative Topoi and the Pull of the Future: Bridging Disparate Visions of Dresden Elbe Valley” in Rhetoric Society Quarterly. No scholar has studied rhetorics of space and place – the literal meaning of topoi – in the context of deliberations about nature, engineering, values, and culture. Schneider’s work takes on the question of “universal value” in this solo-authored article.

Denise Haunani Solomon Outstanding Teaching Awards for Graduate Students

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Ryan Pilcher is a recipient of the 2020 Denise Haunani Solomon Outstanding Teaching Award for Graduate Students. He was nominated by Dr. Jean-Claude Vuillemin. Pilcher is a Ph.D. student in the Department of French and Francophone Studies. He has taught the entire basic French language sequence at University Park and one course for World Campus. He also served as the assistant coordinator for FR 02 and assisted in a mid-year transition to a new curriculum. His teaching style has been described as remarkable, positive, and accessible. He provides personal encouragement and motivation and helps students develop their own interested the study of French.

Johnathan Smilges is a recipient of the 2020 Denise Haunani Solomon Outstanding Teaching Award for Graduate Students. They were nominated by Dr. Cheryl Glenn. Smilges received a Dual Ph.D. in English and Women’s Studies in May 2020 and is currently an Assistant Professor of English and Affiliate Faculty of Women’s & Gender Studies at Texas Woman’s University. Smilges taught two courses, including nine sections of first-year writing, which were offered in various iterations, from an honors section on human sexuality to an early-experience summer section (LEAP). Additionally, they served as a mentor with the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity.


Alumni Relations Awards

Welch Alumni Relations Award

Kevin Conaway

Kevin Conaway, Director, Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship, is a recipient of the 2020 Welch Alumni Relations Award. The Alumni Society established the award in 2002 to recognize Penn State faculty and staff who significantly enhance connections between the College and its alumni. Kevin and his team have provided tremendous multimedia support to the college’s alumni relations and development activities over the past several years. From photographing alumni gatherings to conceptualizing, filming, and producing pieces used as strategic communications vehicles or showcasing the college at alumni events, he offered to do whatever it takes to help the College.

Denise Solomon

Denise Solomon, Head, Department of Communication Arts and Sciences and Liberal Arts Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences, is a recipient of the 2020 Welch Alumni Relations Award. The Welch Alumni Relations Award was named for Dean Susan Welch, the first recipient, who set a very high standard for successfully engaging and involving alumni with the College’s students and faculty. Denise is highly engaged with alumni in the College. She has attended many alumni events, communicated frequently with major donors, launched the CAS FANs network, and provided educational sessions on the work of the Communication Arts and Sciences Department. Additionally, she has made presentations to alumni on and off campus and has facilitated events such as the Alumni Awards Ceremony in 2018.


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