Faculty Share Research at Annual Event, Receive Teaching and Service Awards

Faculty members talk during a break at the symposium Image by Tory Wesnofske
Asst. Teaching Profs. Walter Thomas (mechanical engineering) and Chandrika Narayan (physics) chat during a break at the annual Faculty Symposium at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center.

By Ed Brennen

In one room, keynote speaker Gulden Camci-Unal, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, shared her research on how powdered eggshells could be a secret ingredient to healing broken bones.

In another room, Asst. Prof. of Management Elana Feldman presented a snippet of her work on how certain kinds of interruptions at work can actually be productive. And in yet another room, Computer Science Prof. Hong Yu gave a glimpse at how artificial intelligence can help better analyze medical information.

With so many faculty members from wide-ranging disciplines conducting research across campus, it can be difficult to grasp the breadth of work taking place at UML at any one time.

The annual Faculty Symposium provides a pretty good picture, however.

Hosted by the Office of the Provost and the Office of Research and Innovation, the symposium is a chance to recognize and celebrate faculty accomplishments in research and teaching, as well as service in the areas of advising and mentorship.

From 90-second “lightning talks,” where 60 faculty members from nearly every discipline gave quick synopses of their current research, to panel discussions and keynote talks on how to become better teachers, the goal of the symposium is for faculty to learn from one another and spark interdisciplinary collaborations.

Asst. Prof. Gulden Camci-Unal delivers her keynote speech Image by Tory Wesnofske
Asst. Prof. of Chemical Engineering Gulden Camci-Unal delivers her keynote talk on using engineered biomaterials to improve human health at the Faculty Symposium.

“That’s what I love most about this event – the collaboration, the integration of the work we do – it’s how we lift each other up,” Chancellor Jacquie Moloney told the faculty gathered at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center.

In addition to recognizing 58 new faculty hires and 40 faculty members who have received promotion or tenure this year, the program highlighted 39 faculty members with over $300,000 in research expenditures.

Moloney noted that in just over 10 years, research expenditures at the university have doubled to over $72 million.

“This is always one of the great events on campus,” said Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Julie Chen, who coordinated the symposium with Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Student Success Julie Nash.

As this year’s winner of the Manning Prize for Teaching Excellence, Jim Nehring, an associate professor in the College of Education, spelled out “four ideas for your consideration” on teaching in his keynote remarks:

Plan backward (“First ask, ‘What do I want my students to know?’”); mind the gap between outcomes and curiosities (“Ultimately, our job is to inspire a passion for learning in our students”); respect the work (“Teaching, when approached thoughtfully and imaginatively, is as complex as anything we do in our research”); and demand, engage and support students (“A good teacher has to be all three, all at once: intellectually demanding, instructionally engaging and emotionally supportive”).

Chancellor Jacquie Moloney poses with award winners Image by Tory Wesnofske
Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, third from right, poses with 2019 Teaching and Advising Excellence award winners, from left, Matthew Hurwitz, Deborah Casey, Chandrika Narayan, Leland Ackerson, William Moylan and Jim Nehring.

Music Prof. William Moylan, who was recently named the Distinguished University Professor for 2019-22, was recognized at the event, as was Faculty Advisor of the Year Matthew Hurwitz, an associate teaching professor in the English Department.

Leland Ackerson, an associate professor of public health, was named Student Government Association Teacher of the Year, while Jonathan Richter (music), Alessandro Sabato (mechanical engineering), Chandrika Narayan (physics), Deborah Casey (marketing, entrepreneurship and innovation) and Brent Shell (biomedical and nutritional sciences) all received Student Government Association Exceeding Excellence in Teaching awards.

The Office of the Provost also presented the following Faculty Awards for Teaching Excellence:

College of Education

Eliza Bobek, Curriculum & Instruction

College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Jennifer Cadero-Gillette, Art & Design; Yahayra Michel, School of Criminology & Justice Studies; Jason Rydberg, School of Criminology & Justice Studies; Brendan Epstein, Economics; Laura Barefield, English; Maia Gil'Adi, English; Robert Forrant, History; Timothy M. Crain, Music; José Jorge Mendoza, Philosophy; Morgan Marietta, Political Science; Alice A. Frye, Psychology; Richard W. Serna, Psychology; Cheryl Llewellyn, Sociology; Max Ubelaker Andrade, World Languages & Cultures.

Panelists discuss teaching tips at the symposium Image by Ed Brennen
Panelists, from left, Michele Fox, Bridget Marshall, Amy Smalarz and Jack Schneider share practical teaching tips at the Faculty Symposium.

Francis College of Engineering

Yanfen Li, Biomedical Engineering; Gulden Camci-Unal, Chemical Engineering; Edward Hajduk, Civil & Environmental Engineering; Seung Woo Son, Electrical & Computer Engineering; Jianxin Tang, Electrical & Computer Engineering; Jay A. Weitzen, Electrical & Computer Engineering; John Hunter Mack, Mechanical Engineering; Sammy G. Shina, Mechanical Engineering; Anne Soucy, Plastics Engineering; Yan Gu, Mechanical Engineering.

Kennedy College of Sciences

Nicolai Konow, Biological Sciences; Matthew Gage, Chemistry; Jessica M. Garcia, Chemistry; Richard Gaschnig, Environmental, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences; Sedi Bartz, Mathematical Sciences; Stephen A. Pennell, Mathematical Sciences; Andriy Danylov, Physics & Applied Physics; Mark A. Tries, Physics & Applied Physics.

Manning School of Business

Karen Jingrong Lin, Accounting; Chi Zhang, Finance; Elana Feldman, Management; Deborah Casey, Marketing, Entrepreneurship & Innovation; Ho Cheung Brian Lee, Operations & Information Systems.

Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences

Thomas A. Wilson, Biomedical & Nutritional Sciences; Tanya A. Coutu, Solomont School of Nursing; Mazen El Ghaziri, Solomont School of Nursing; Kyle Coffey, Physical Therapy & Kinesiology; Herpreet Thind, Public Health.