Select Faculty Honors & Accomplishments, February 2014

UConn faculty are making an impact and receiving recognition nationwide and around the world. Read a selection of their recent honors and accomplishments.

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources


Ji-Young Lee, associate professor of nutritional sciences, has been elected a Fellow of the American Heart Association in recognition of her scientific and professional accomplishments, and volunteer and leadership service.

Assistant professor Dennis D’Amico in the Department of Animal Science was recognized by the U.S. Dairy Innovation Center for “outstanding leadership, collaboration, and education” for his work on the U.S. Dairy Food Safety Initiative.


Michael Dietz and David Dickson, both from the Department of Extension, received $333,058 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture for a project titled “Expanding Consumer and Community Water Protection Efforts Through Innovative and Integrated Mobile Technologies.” The project will expand and adapt the UConn Rain Garden App to regional and national audiences.


Neag School of Education


Laura Burton, associate professor of educational leadership, is a co-author of Sport Leadership in the 21st Century (Jones & Bartlett Learning 2014). The book provides students with the most current and comprehensive understanding of leadership in sport management.

Shaun Dougherty, assistant professor of educational leadership, has been chosen as an Emerging Education Policy Scholar by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The Emerging Education Policy Scholars program brings up-and-coming scholars to Washington, D.C. to meet with education-policy experts and to share and brainstorm exciting new directions for K-12 education research.

Preston Green, professor of educational leadership, was a panelist on “Race and Education Today” at the “Brown v. Brown at 60: Looking Back, Looking Forward” symposium at the Washburn School of Law on Feb. 27. He also has a paper “Having it Both Ways: How Charter Schools Try to Obtain Funding of Public Schools and the Autonomy of Private Schools” coming out in the Emory Law Review.


Jonathan Plucker, professor of educational leadership, Ron Beghetto, associate professor of educational psychology, and James Kaufman, professor of educational psychology, received a competitive contract with the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) out of Washington, D.C. to provide research support to the partnership and its members. The contract provides seed money for the creation of research briefs and the writing of joint P21/UConn research proposals, and the work should provide UConn faculty and students with extensive new contacts among federal and state policymakers, funding agencies, private foundations, and the private sector.


School of Engineering

Nicholas Lownes, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, participated by invitation of the British Embassy on a “Future Cities” panel for visiting transportation delegates from the UK on Feb. 6 in New York City.

Baki Cetegen, professor and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, was elected a Councilor to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). He will serve a five-year term, beginning July 1, 2014.


A paper co-authored by Marten van Dijk, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, “AEGIS: Architecture for Tamper-evident and Tamper-resistant Processing,” was one of 100 most-cited papers from among 1,800 published in the ICS Proceedings between 1987 and 2011, and was chosen for inclusion in the volume “25 Years of International Conference on Supercomputing.”

With NSF funding, the UnderWater Sensor Network Lab is developing a network in the Arctic, with colleagues from the University of Delaware who are interested in sea ice changes and ocean acoustics.


School of Fine Arts


The National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) has awarded a 2014 National Environmental Excellence Award in the award category of Education for the online animation project, “Susie and Jerome Learn about a Healthy Home,” by Joan Bothell and Mary-Margaret Gaudio of the UConn Department of Extension. Dramatic arts professor Karen Ryker directed the voiceovers – voiced by four BFA acting students – for the online animated video book. The honor will be conferred on April 8 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

4PAN1TProfessor Earl MacDonald’s CD “Mirror of the Mind” has been nominated for a 2014 JUNO Award for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year. The Juno Award festivities take place on March 29 & 30 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


Office of Global Affairs


The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center established partnerships with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and the New York-based human rights advocacy organization WITNESS to develop teacher training workshops in human rights for Connecticut teachers. The Dodd Center will be working with both organizations to develop new human rights-based curricula, and provide resources and support to teachers on an ongoing basis.


School of Law


Alva P. Loiselle Professor of Law Richard Pomp has been named by State Tax Notes as its Person and Academic of the Year. He is being recognized in part for his pro bono work as the hearing officer for the Multistate Tax Commission’s proposed amendments to Article IV of the Multistate Tax Compact. Pomp provided 383 hours of pro bono support to the project.


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Chemistry professor James Rusling received $2.2 million from the NIH to establish the stage and grade of prostate cancers through detection of select biomarkers. The project includes researchers from the University College Dublin Medical School, National University of Ireland at Galway, George Washington University, and University of Ulster.

Barbara Mellone, assistant professor of molecular and cell biology, received $950,000 from NIH to investigate neocentromere formation in animal cell division. The grant will explore genetic control of the formation and proper activation of centromeres, which are essential to accurate cell division in animals and can have implications for birth defects.

Associate professor of sociology Bradley Wright received $429,000 from the Templeton Foundation, with co-PIs Jeremy Pais, assistant professor of sociology, and Crystal Park, professor of psychology. The study will investigate how spirituality is correlated with people’s daily well-being.

The Opera Fanatic: Ethnography of an Obsession (University of Chicago Press 2011), a book by associate professor of sociology Claudio Benzecry, won honorable mention for the 2014 American Sociological Association Distinguished Scholarly Book Award, a prestigious international honor that is awarded on a biannual basis.


A NASA Group Achievement Award has been awarded to associate professor of marine sciences Heidi Dierssen for her part in the PRISM Instrument team. The project, funded by the NASA Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry program, has delivered a new type of imaging device to enhance coastal ocean science data collection.

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Geography professor Thomas Cooke has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to work in the Department of Demography at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, in Fall 2014. Cooke will lecture on internal migration, and will research the effect of child custody arrangements on the migration of non-custodial parents.

The Association for Gerontology in Higher Education has named Laura Donorfio, associate professor of human development and family studies, a new Fellow. Donorfio is recognized for “outstanding leadership in gerontology and geriatric education.”

Associate professor of history and director of the Africana Studies Institute (formerly the Institute for African American Studies) William Jelani Cobb gave the keynote address for the University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at the Student Union on Jan. 20. His speech to a packed house, including President Susan Herbst and U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney, touched on how past change affects the way we view current norms, and received several ovations.


University Libraries

The University Archives recently rescued and sent through preservation works by students and artists in the 1980s from the old Print Shop as it was being demolished. Some of the work will be on display at an upcoming exhibit titled Out of the Frame: Alternative Arts of the 1980s, in the Dodd Center Gallery.


Institute of Materials Science

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Steve Suib, professor of chemistry, was elected Chair of the Solid State Division of the American Chemical Society.

Chemistry professor Fotios Papadimitrakopoulos and co-inventor Faquir Jain, professor of electrical and computer engineering, were awarded a U.S. patent, #8,608,922, for their work on the development of biosensors.


School of Medicine

Laurinda Jaffe, chair of the Department of Cell Biology, has received a MERIT award from NIH, providing 10 additional years of funding to support her research program. MERIT award recipients are selected by the NIH from among current NIH grant holders (as opposed to an investigator-initiated grant).

Elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering: Brenton Graveley, professor of genetics and developmental biology; Joseph Lorenzo, professor of medicine and orthopedics, and director of bone biology research; Augustus D. Mazzoca, director of the New England Musculoskeletal Institute, and professor and chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; Louis McCullough, professor of neurology and neuroscience, and director of stroke research; Douglas Oliver, professor of neuroscience.


School of Nursing


Sandy Bellini, associate clinical professor of nursing instruction and research, was appointed Chair of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Practice Leadership Network. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) serves the public interest by setting standards, providing resources, and developing the leadership capacity of member schools to advance nursing education, research, and practice


Stamford Campus

Anne Farrell, associate professor of human development and family studies, co-edited a special issue of the journal Family Relations that focuses on families and disabilities. The journal editor is Ron Sabatelli, head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.