UToledo has announced outstanding advisors, researchers and teachers, and recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement for the 2020-21 academic year.
In addition, the Faculty Mentoring Award has been presented.
“We are proud to honor our outstanding faculty and staff for their exceptional achievements and their significant contributions to our students, the University and the community,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “I look forward to the fall when we will be able to celebrate in-person with a special event that honors all of our award recipients from this year and last year, including our Distinguished University Professors, Distinguished University Lecturers, MAC Fellows and other award recipients.”
Recipients of the Outstanding Advisor Award are:
Dr. Amit K. Tiwari, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
“Dr. Tiwari makes extra efforts to genuinely know his students, listen to their problems, understand their difficulties and direct them to appropriate resources as needed,” one nominator wrote. “One of the reasons he is an outstanding advisor is that he engages learners with real-life examples, using analogies with difficult concepts in a way that is easy to follow, and then through periodic assessment and follow-ups to ensure that he was able to communicate with individual students in a way they understand.”
Another wrote, “Dr. Tiwari is approachable … and always supports his student by providing constructive criticism and encouraging the students to develop skills required for their success.”
Robin Van Hoy, assistant director of the Department Student Services of the Department of Bioengineering in the College of Engineering.
“She is very passionate about helping her students and giving clear and helpful advice and information when needed. She is available to conduct appointments and goes above and beyond, even with difficult circumstances during the pandemic,” one nominator wrote. “She was there for me during this difficult time and helped me make decisions that will impact the rest of my college career.”
Another noted, “She responds to emails so quickly and never seems to get annoyed at the amount of questions I ask! In fact, she usually provides even more information than I asked for (which I didn’t know I needed!).”
Recipients of the Outstanding Research and Scholarship Award are:
Dr. Kim Nielsen, professor of disability studies in the College of Arts and Letters, joined the faculty in 2012.
Nielsen is an internationally acclaimed expert in disability history who has made significant contributions to disability studies, U.S. history and gender studies. Her work skillfully analyzes disability as lived experience and as a theoretical concept. She is best known for her use of disability as a vital analytical tool that she employs to explore the interconnected relationships between disability and race, class, age, sexuality and gender.
Nielsen’s research and scholarship has shaped the field of disability history in fundamental ways. Her book “A Disability History of the United States” reframes the story of U.S. history using disability as both topic and a category of analysis and is now widely read, taught and cited across the country.
Dr. Revathy Kumar, professor in the Department of Educational Studies in the Judith Herb College of Education, whose research efforts cut across three broad fields: educational psychology, social psychology and education. She joined the faculty in 2013.
Kumar’s research specifically addresses the role of teachers, teacher-education programs, schools, communities and families in facilitating minority and immigrant adolescents’ development, learning and motivation. Her work is published in Journal of Educational Psychology, Journal of Teacher Education, Journal of Research on Adolescence, Contemporary Educational Psychology and Educational Studies — top-tiered and well-recognized peer-reviewed journals in the fields of education, educational psychology and psychology. And her peers recognized her formally as a national leader in her field by inducting as a Fellow of Division 15, American Psychological Association in 2020.
Dr. Beata Lecka-Czernik, professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. She joined the faculty in 2007 and her research focuses on diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis.
Lecka-Czernik has done groundbreaking work on the effect of thiazolidinediones on bone health and has provided fundamental insights into the differentiation of bone marrow cells. Her findings have revolutionized the understanding of the function of bone, from seeing the skeleton in isolation to seeing bone as tissue in bidirectional endocrine communication with other tissues of the body. As a result, of these achievements, Lecka-Czernik has been ranked among the 100,000 top scientists globally in all areas of research, according to the database compiled by Mendeley, an Elsevier academic publishing company. She was a 2018 recipient of the University of Toledo’s President’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to University Scholarship and Creative Activity.
Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement are:
Dr. Joseph Hara, senior lecturer in the Department of World Languages and Cultures in the College of Arts and Letters. He joined the faculty in 1988 and is retiring in May.
Hara established the Japanese Studies Program in 1990 with a class of 16 students. His dedication and excellence in serving the program made it grow from one class in 1990 to 17 classes with a total enrollment of 221 students in 2017, and about 182 students in 2019. The program now has the second-largest student enrollment in the state of Ohio, only one student fewer than the program currently ranking first place. His distinguished outreach efforts include the larger academic and civic communities locally and statewide, as well as inter-university partnerships between Aichi and Rikkyo Universities in Japan and UToledo that led to creating a year-long student exchange program.
Dr. Sujata Shetty, professor and director of the Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center in the College of Arts and Letters. She joined the faculty in 2005.
During her career as a UToledo faculty member, Shetty has had a long and distinguished record of community service and engagement through research, teaching and service aspects of her academic appointment in the Department of Geography and Planning. In addition, she holds the position of the Director of the Urban Affairs Center, which functions as a University supported office within the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. Shetty has conducted a wide range of course and research efforts that have involved UToledo students including urban planning courses engaging with local partners on local community-based planning projects.
Dr. Joan Duggan, professor of medicine in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences and director of the Ryan White Program at The University of Toledo Medical Center.
Duggan has been the medical director and leader of the Ryan White Program for many years. During her tenure, the clinic has grown and expanded its programs to become the regional leader in providing care for people infected with HIV and preventing its spread. The program at Toledo is widely recognized as one of the most effective and comprehensive in the Ryan White system, in part through its innovation in developing targeted programs for underserved members of the community, including traditional minority populations that are disproportionally affected by HIV. Under Duggan’s direction, the program recently established a targeted clinical program to serve the community’s LBGTQ population, for which it has received local and national recognition.
Recipients of the Outstanding Teacher Award are:
Dr. Chelsea Griffis, associate lecturer in the Department of History in the College of Arts and Letters.
“Dr. Griffis was very understanding and helped the students [and she] also taught the class extremely well,” one nominator wrote. “The information was something I had never heard before and it stuck with me throughout the semester. The way she provided the content was perfect. Overall, Dr. Griffis has been one of the best professors I have had in my four years at UT.
Another wrote, “She makes learning enjoyable. I wake up on Monday and Wednesday mornings and look forward to the class.” And another nominator said, “She gives in-depth and inspiring lectures, she includes the class, and makes the knowledge stick … She is a very good professor and knows her material very well.”
Eric Chaffee, Distinguished University Professor in the College of Law.
“Professor Chaffee’s care and concern for his students is unparalleled. Not only does he teach so that the information is accessible to all students, but he does so with a level of professionalism and directness that instills trust and respect from law students,” a nominator wrote. “Professor Chaffee’s dry humor and conciseness is something to be modeled and appreciated, especially in the law where learning can be droning and complex. I am a better student because of Professor Chaffee, and I will be a better attorney having experienced his kindness and direction.”
Another nominator added, “He was an amazing professor and made class enjoyable, especially during these tough times.”
Dr. Trieu Le, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
“Dr. Le is one of the most outstanding professors I have ever learned from. From taking his classes, I attained a deep understanding of the material he has covered, and I also have learned many valuable lessons that I will utilize as I further my education and career in mathematics,” one nominator said. “He also has an amazing ability to understand what you are looking for when you ask a question. That may sound silly, but in mathematics where the language is abstract symbols, communicating these ideas in words is often very difficult. I am frequently blown away by how well he listens and responds to questions during lecture. I am very grateful to Dr. Le because he has made me a better mathematician.”
Gregory Lewis, senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
“He was always willing to help and always made it easy for us to get help,” one nominator said. “He never let us down and always made sure we were on track. Best math teacher ever!” Another nominator said, “I was challenged to push my limits and it showed in my final grade. I felt that I had achieved more in his class than in any other.”
Dr. Susanne Nonekowski, Distinguished University Lecturer in the Department of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
“She has not only taught me medicinal chemistry and biochemistry, but she has also made me love it,” a nominator wrote. “She is very relatable — she frequently mentions how she studied as a student and how she dealt with stress when going through school. The way she cares about her students and always asks how we are doing truly shows that she wants the best for us. I believe she is the best professor The University of Toledo has to offer.”
Another nominator said, “When the semester begins, she talks with students on how to reduce stress and she gives us resources that we can use to calm down and reduce anxiety. I really appreciate the work that she puts in to help her students, even if that advice isn’t part of the class requirements.”
Dr. Kasumi Yamazaki, associate professor in the Department of World Languages and Cultures in the College of Arts and Letters.
“An outstanding teacher prepares with the specific needs of each of their students in mind,” one nominator wrote, and “for this reason, I find Dr. Yamazaki to be an outstanding teacher. Over the years, I have seen firsthand how hard Dr. Yamazki prepares for her classes with the specific needs of each student in mind; being deeply involved in the Japanese program at UToledo, Dr. Yamazaki knows the students even before they reach her classes. This shows that Dr. Yamazaki genuinely cares about her students and think of their best interest.”
Another wrote, “It is through her encouragement and creativity, and her willingness to help others achieve their goals, that her students wish to excel in their studies.”
The recipient of the Faculty Mentoring Award is:
Dr. Alessandro Arsie, professor and associate chair in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He joined the University in 2009.
“Dr. Arsie is an outstanding researcher with a broad spectrum of research interests,” a trio of nominators wrote. “He is unusually knowledgeable and very active as a faculty member. We three work in different areas of mathematics. We are also different in research styles, teaching styles, styles of how we contribute to departmental life, our personalities and even places where we originally came from. Dr. Arsie supports all and each of us in an individual way, helping each of us develop in our own directions, and at the end leading each of us to our success.”