2022 SFE Award Winners

UNT Foundation Eminent Faculty Award

Still shot from James Kennedy Eminent Faculty Award video
Watch our video tribute to this year's Eminent Faculty Award winner, Dr. James Kennedy.

James Kennedy, Ph.D.
Regents Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Dr. James Kennedy, Regents Professor and director of the Elm Fork Education Center and Natural Heritage Museum, earned his doctorate in aquatic ecology at Virginia Tech. Following graduate school, he began a career in aquatic toxicology, assessing the impacts of pesticides on freshwater ecosystems. He founded Water Science Associates Inc., where he worked with the agriculture chemical industry and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the risk assessment of pesticides.

Dr. Kennedy joined UNT as a research scientist in 1987 and developed the UNT Water Research Field Station, where he continued his research on pesticide aquatic ecosystem interactions. Initially developed on leased property, the field station's research projects generated the funds to purchase the station for UNT. Today the field station is used as an outdoor classroom and ecological research facility. James Kennedy accepts the UNT Foundation Eminent Faculty Award at the 2022 Salute to Faculty Excellence

Over the past 15 years, Dr. Kennedy has conducted much of his research in Chile's Sub-Antarctic and Antarctic Regions, where he studies climate change. In this role, he has provided leadership in establishing UNT's Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program in Chile and collaborations with the University of Magallanes, where he served as a Fulbright Scholar in the Senior Specialist Program. He received the UNT Citation for Distinguished International Service in 2018.

In recognition of his teaching and mentoring, Dr. Kennedy was named a University Distinguished Teaching Professor, an honor that was eventually superseded by a Regents professorship. In 2018, the UNT McNair Scholars program recognized his dedication to graduate student success with their Outstanding Service Award.

 UNT Foundation Faculty Leadership Award

Christy Crutsinger, Ph.D., Professor

Department of Merchandising and Digital Retailing

Dr. Crutsinger has held numerous administrative appointments throughout her her 34-year career, including department chair, associate dean, vice provost for faculty success and vice provost for academic affairs.  Christy Crutsinger accepts the UNT Foundation Faculty Leadership Award at the 2022 Salute to Faculty Excellence

Driven by a passion for people and helping others succeed, Crutsinger developed and implemented a wide range of university initiatives that serve students, faculty and staff. As UNT’s faculty athletic representative, she supports the academic well-being of over 300 student athletes. She also, in partnership with UNT Athletics, launched the Faculty/Staff Spotlight program. In Fall 2019, she envisioned a new Transformational Leadership Academy for undergraduate students in the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism that focuses on career preparation through industry engagement. This initiative is yet another testament to her longstanding commitment to student success and to the Mean Green.

As UNT's first vice provost for faculty success, Crutsinger established programs that continue to nurture faculty growth, collaboration and recognition, including the Chair Academy, the Leadership Fellows Program, the Faculty Mentoring Grant Program, and the Salute to Faculty Excellence Awards Celebration.

 UNT Foundation Outstanding Lecturer Award

Leslie R. Roberts, J.D., Principal Lecturer

Department of Public Administration 

Leslie R. Roberts is a principal lecturer in the Department of Public Administration. She earned a B.A. in Communication from the University of Oklahoma and a J.D. from the University of Tulsa College of Law. She also earned a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from Southern Methodist University.

She began her law practice as in-house counsel for companies including Hilti and Mary Kay. She has been responsible for managing a wide variety of corporate issues while serving as senior legal counsel and director of international government relations in the U.S. and in many overseas markets, including China, Russia, the EU, Canada and Mexico. She was deeply involved in major negotiations with local, state and national governments to permit the companies to conduct business in China and Russia. Leslie Roberts accepts the UNT Foundation Outstanding Lecturer Award at the 2022 Salute to Faculty Excellence

Roberts began serving UNT students as an adjunct instructor in 2006 and was promoted to full-time lecturer in 2011. She developed most of the public administration program’s online courses to integrate important experiential skill-building opportunities for students, and she has a keen eye for the role that predictability plays in student success. She excels in advising graduating students on their next step, whether it’s applying to law or graduate school or pursuing a career in a for-profit, nonprofit or government agency.

Since joining UNT, she has provided training and services to nonprofit, for-profit, and local government entities including CASA of Collin County, Denton County Bar Association, Toyota Motors North America and the City of Denton.


 UNT Foundation Community Engagement Award (Co-Recipient)

Camilo J. Ruggero, Ph.D., Professor

Department of Psychology

Dr. Ruggero grew up in Texas and received his B.A. from the Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas-Austin and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Miami. He completed an internship and a National Institute of Mental Health-sponsored research fellowship at Brown University.

He is a professor of psychology and directs the Mood and Psychopathology (MAP) Research Lab, which explores the phenomenology and risk factors associated with mood and related disorders. Dr. Ruggero has published more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts in top-tier journals (including JAMA Psychiatry and Psychological Assessment) and has led multiple federal and state sponsored projects to increase understanding of mental health and improve delivery of care.

 UNT Foundation Community Engagement Award (Co-Recipient)

Jennifer L. Callahan, Ph.D., Professor 

Department of Psychology

Dr. Callahan earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, completed her internship and postdoctoral training at Yale University School of Medicine and holds board certification in clinical psychology. She is a professor in the Department of Psychology, where she directs the Evidence-based Training and Competencies Research Lab. Jennifer Callahan and Camilo Ruggero accept the UNT Foundation Community Engagement Award at the 2022 Salute to Faculty Excellence

Dr. Callahan is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds, served as a liaison to the American Psychological Association’s Deep Poverty Initiative and was recognized with the UNT Ulys and Vera Knight Faculty Mentor Award in 2015. She has authored more than 140 publications and is the current editor-in-chief of the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, which is working with the World Health Organization to improve patient care in underserved areas.

Over the past several years — and especially since the onset of the pandemic — Dr. Callahan and Dr. Ruggero have worked extensively with community partners across the region to redress access to care disparities across North Texas. With grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB)’s Minority Health Research and Education Grant Program, they have worked with community partners to place doctoral level trainees in health service psychology into health professional shortage areas. With nearly $75,000 in funding from the Lupe Murchison Foundation, they also have been working hard to seed a diverse training-to-workforce pipeline. They have engaged nearly 2,000 McNair Scholars and members of other national academic groups nationwide with virtual and in-person outreach efforts and education regarding health disparities.

Research Awards

 University Distinguished Research Professor

Geoffrey Wawro, Ph.D., Professor

Department of History

Dr. Geoffrey Wawro has been a professor of history and director of the Military History Center at UNT since his arrival on campus in 2005.  Professor Wawro received his Ph.D. in Modern European History from Yale University and spent two years at the University of Vienna, Austria, as a Fulbright Scholar. Here at UNT, he teaches several graduate and undergraduate courses, including: Warfare and Society in Europe from the French Revolution to World War II, World War I:  A Global History, The Art of War: Theory & History, and a research seminar titled Modern Warfare. He won the Austrian Cultural Institute Prize for his first book, The Austro-Prussian War, and has also been awarded the Society for Military History Moncado Prize for Excellence in the Writing of Military History.

Three of his six books were shortlisted for prestigious prizes. His 2003 book The Franco-Prussian War:  The German Conquest of France in 1870-71 War was shortlisted for the American Historical Association’s Paul Birdsall Prize for Most Important Work on European Strategic or Military History. His 2014 book A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire made the “Best Books of 2014” list in The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The National Post of Toronto and The Providence Journal. That book was also shortlisted for Canada’s $75,000 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, an annual prize “to the book that embodies historical scholarship, originality, literary quality and broad appeal.” His book published in 2018, Sons of Freedom: The Forgotten American Soldiers Who Defeated Germany in World War I, was shortlisted for the $50,000 Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History, an annual prize that “recognizes the best book on military history in the English-speaking world distinguished by its scholarship, its contribution to the literature, and its appeal to both a general and an academic audience.”  His book Warfare and Society in Europe, 1792-1914, was required reading at West Point for many years before their transition to an all-digital curriculum.

Dr. Wawro's body of work is always expanding, including a major work on the Middle East, Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East, published by Penguin in 2010, and his latest project, a new history of the Vietnam War. He enjoys teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels and has been well-reviewed in the classroom. In 2019, he was nominated for the UNT Graduate Faculty Mentor of the Year Award.

 Presidential Early Career Professor

Lu Liang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Department of Geography and the Environment

Dr. Lu Liang is a geospatial scientist and assistant professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment. She received her Ph.D. in Ecosystem Science from the University of California, Berkeley. After graduation, she served as an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas and joined UNT in 2018. Dr. Liang’s research focuses on using modern geospatial techniques to characterize natural and human-modified landscape changes and investigate how those changes affect human and ecosystem health. She is currently leading a 3M lab (monitoring-mapping-modeling) that integrates earth observations, ground monitoring network, and state-of-art modeling techniques to advance applied geospatial research. Dr. Liang’s research is funded by federal (NSF, USGS), state, and local agencies. She has published 51 peer-reviewed journal articles and five book chapters. Her work has been cited over 6,676 times and her h-index score is 24 (as of Jan 24, 2022). She actively participated in international collaborations, including two prestigious Lancet Commissions that include experts from global leading academic institutions and the United Nations. Dr. Liang’s community service focuses on citizen science and K-12 education, by delivering lectures to K-12 classrooms and teacher workshops and providing expertise to strengthen local communities.

 Teacher Scholar Award

Jeffrey S. Doty, Ph.D., Associate Professor / Associate Chair

Department of English

Jeffrey S. Doty earned his M.A. at UNT in 2002 and his PhD from the University of Iowa in 2008. He began his teaching career as an assistant professor at West Texas A&M in 2009. On the strength of his high-profile publications in Shakespeare studies and his record of exceptional teaching, he joined UNT in 2016. He currently holds the rank of associate professor and serves as the Associate Chair of the department.

His scholarship has played an important role in this past decade’s rethinking of the political dimensions of Shakespeare’s plays in their own time. His monograph Shakespeare, Popularity and the Public Sphere was published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press — one of the premier academic presses for Shakespeare studies. His current research, forthcoming in Shakespeare Quarterly, focuses on Shakespeare and ethics. He is presently editing Shakespeare’s tragedy Coriolanus for Cambridge.

Dr. Doty teaches mainly graduate and undergraduate courses on the works of Shakespeare and John Milton. These courses treat reading, discussing, and writing about literature as experiences that help students clarify their values, engage in moral reasoning, and think about the sources and uses of human creativity.

 Early Career Award for Research and Creativity

Diana Berman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Diana Berman received her Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in 2012. After that, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Argonne National Laboratory, at the Center for Nanoscale Materials. In 2016, she joined the University of North Texas as an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Dr. Berman's research interests are in the synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials for precise control and improvement of their friction and wear-resistance properties and functionality. She has published more than 60 papers in peer-reviewed journals (with over 4,000 citations) and two book chapters. She also holds 10 patents (both U.S. and international). Among her awards are TechConnect Innovation Awards, Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers Early Career Award, UNT Early Career Professorship Award, and NSF Early Career Award.

In 2021 she was listed among the top 2% of scientists in the world, according to a recent study by Stanford University. Her ultimate goals are to light up the research curiosity in students and make a true impact on technological progress by addressing the current needs in materials and structures. In her spare time, she likes spending time with her family, traveling, practicing yoga, and singing. 

 Toulouse Scholar Award

Tao Zhang, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion, and Recreation

Dr. Tao Zhang serves as the director of the Pediatric Movement and Physical Activity Laboratory in the Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion, and Recreation at UNT. As a kinesiology scholar, Dr. Zhang has made more than 160 research presentations at international and national conferences, published over 90 refereed research articles, and received funding for multiple research projects from federal agencies and research foundations. His research focuses on supportive physical activity environments, achievement motivation, motor skills, and youth physical activity and health promotion from psychological, pedagogical, and behavioral perspectives.

Dr. Zhang was inducted as a Research Fellow in the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) in 2012 and won the Mabel Lee Award from SHAPE America in 2013. Since 2010, he has mentored both undergraduate and graduate students who have received over 20 national and international awards for their research. He earned the Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award from SHAPE America in 2017 and won the Joy of Effort Award from SHAPE America in 2020. Dr. Zhang serves as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Teaching, Research, and Media in Kinesiology and editorial board member for four research journals. Dr. Zhang was inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine in 2020.

 Research Leadership Award

Francis D'Souza, Ph.D., Regents Professor

Department of Chemistry

Dr. Francis D’Souza currently holds the rank of Regents Professor at UNT. Prior to joining UNT in 2011, he was a professor at Wichita State University in Wichita, KS. He received his Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, and completed his post-doctoral studies at the University of Houston and the University of Dijon, France. Dr. D’Souza’s research covers wide areas of photonic and electronic materials. Current research interests include developing advanced functional materials for light energy harvesting, electro- and photocatalysts, and developing sensors and biosensors. Dr. D’Souza has over 475 publications and has edited 10 handbooks on Carbon Nanomaterials resulting in over 20,000 citations with an h-index of 74. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines and the Journal of Electrochemical Society, and an editorial board member of a few other journals.

Dr. D'Souza's honors and award include the UNT Regents Professorship (2021), CRSI-Medal from the Chemical Research Society of India (2020), UNT-Toulouse Scholar Award (2019), ACS-Doherty Research Award (2018), Fulbright Specialist Scholar Award (2018), GIAN Fellowship from the Government of India (2018), Fellowship in the Royal Society of Chemistry, London (2015), UNT Distinguished Professorship (2013), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship (2008), Fellowship in the Electrochemistry Society (2010), Excellence in Research Award (2006), and Young Faculty Scholar Award (1998), among others. 

 Creative Impact Award

Jon C. Nelson, Ph.D., Professor

Department of Composition Studies

Dr. Jon Christopher Nelson’s musical compositions have been presented in concert more than 400 times in more than 40 countries and have been released on 27 recordings. His music synthesis software has been downloaded by more than 1,000 people from 63 countries.

Dr. Nelson has been honored with numerous awards including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright Commission. His computer music compositions have been awarded prestigious international prizes including the Luigi Russolo Prize, Bourges Prize, and International Computer Music Association Music Awards. Most significantly, he received the 2004 Bourges Euphonies d'Or prize, which recognized his composition Scatter as one of the thirty best compositions among approximately 15,000 works written from 1974-2004. Similarly, his composition When Left to His Own Devices received the 2021 International Computer Music Association Music Award, recognizing it as the best of more than 400 compositions. He has enjoyed multiple residencies at Sweden’s national Electronic Music Studios, the Visby International Composers Center, and the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges. He has also served as a guest composer at Harvard, Columbia, MIT, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Indiana University, the Central Conservatory in Beijing, the Sichuan National Conservatory, and Stockholm’s Royal Conservatory, among others. 

 Regents Professor

Suliman Hawamdeh, Ph.D., Professor

Department of Information Science

Dr. Hawamdeh is a leading authority in the field of knowledge management. He founded several academic programs including the Master of Science in Knowledge Management at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, the Master of Science in Knowledge Management at the University of Oklahoma, and the Master of Science in Data Science at the University of North Texas. He served as a department chair at the University of North Texas from 2010-2017 and directed the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Information Science, one of the largest programs of its kind in the nation. He expanded the online offering of the Information Science master's program outside Texas to include cohorts in more than 20 states. He served as CO-PI on a $1.3M NSF grant awarded to UNT to educate Ph.D. students in cybersecurity and information assurance.

Dr. Hawamdeh is the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Information and Knowledge Management (JIKM) and the editor of the book series Innovation of Knowledge Management published by World Scientific. He has extensive industrial experience and worked as the managing director of ITC Information Technology Consultant from 1992 to 1998. Dr. Hawamdeh served in the capacity of chair and founding chair of several national and international conferences. He is the founding chair of the International Conference on Knowledge Management (ICKM). In 2020, he received the highest ALISE Award for Professional Contribution to the field of Library and Information Science Education. 

 Regents Professor

Dee Ray, Ph.D., Professor

Department of Counseling and Higher Education

Dr. Dee Ray has served as a faculty member in the University of North Texas counseling program since 2001 and currently serves as the director of the Center for Play Therapy. She has been recognized as a Distinguished Teaching Professor and Elaine Millikan Mathes Professor in Early Childhood Education endowed chair, among other teaching and research designations. Dr. Ray has authored over 145 publications on the practice and effectiveness of play therapy and chaired 52 dissertations for UNT doctoral students. Dr. Ray is internationally and nationally recognized as a leading researcher on play therapy through her books and presentations across the globe, including her books Advanced Play Therapy, Therapist’s Guide to Child Development, and most recently, Multicultural Play Therapy, which has been translated into multiple languages.

Dr. Ray is an American Counseling Association Fellow, which recognizes her contribution to and advancement of the counseling profession throughout her career. Her research on play therapy has led to the designation of play therapy as an evidence-based intervention for children in need of mental health services. Dr. Ray most values her role at UNT as teacher-mentor and feels honored to work with the students that are dedicated to the future emotional wellness of our children.   

 Regents Professor

Marco Buongiorno Nardelli, Ph.D., Professor

Department of Physics

Dr. Marco Buongiorno Nardelli is a computational physicist and composer with appointments in Physics, Chemistry, and Composition, a member of the Initiative for Advanced Research in Technology and the Arts (iARTA), and a member of the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI). As both an artist and a scientist, his work is intrinsically inter-and cross-disciplinary: His work in physics and music is the natural extension of his practices as a creative thinker: “At the core, I am doing the same thing; the tools that I use to achieve the end goals are different, of course, but the conceptual framework is very similar. These two things talk to each other at a very deep level.”

His scientific research activities range from the design and discovery of novel materials for 21st century applications in renewable energy, environment, nano-electronics, and devices, to the development of advanced electronic structure theories and scientific software for computational materials design. As a composer, he is a pioneer in the application of complexity theories and big data analysis tools to the structure of music as a generalized mathematical space. As an artist, he is internationally recognized for his music/new media installations, and his artistic research is rooted in the duality "music as data, data as music", including the translation of scientific data and processes into sonic, and potentially artistic, material.

Dr. Nardelli has published more than 200 papers that have garnered more than19,000 citations (H-index: 58). He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Institute of Physics, an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute, and a Parma Recordings artist.

Teaching Awards

 Distinguished Teaching Professor

Brian A. Lain, Ph.D., Professor

Department of Communication Studies 

Dr. Brian Lain is a professor in Communication Studies and UNT’s Director of Debate.  He is currently a member of CLEAR’s Collaborative for UNTOnline Faculty Fellows (CUFF), UNT- International’s Community of Respect Training Program, the Board of the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance, and the American Forensic Association’s “Setting a research Agenda in Debate” Workgroup. He is a former winner of the ‘Fessor Graham award, the President’s Distinguished Service Award, and CLEAR;s outstanding online course award.

Dr. Lain has led the instruction team for Comm 2140 Advocating in Public for every long semester since 2004. This course fosters dialogue and debate amongst hundreds of students each semester and its cumulative event, named Debate-A-Palooza, has won an award for Fostering Public Discussion by the Cross-Examination Debate Association.  Dr. Lain has fostered international discussion by bringing debaters from England, Scotland, Ireland, Japan, and Rwanda to UNT’s campus.

He has moderated 29 public debates involving outside guests on UNT’s campus.  Currently, Dr. Lain’s course in Public Memory is partnering with the African American Museum of Dallas, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, the Sixth Floor Museum, and the Denton County Office of History and Culture to give students experiential learning in these institutions.

 Distinguished Teaching Professor

Todd Moye, Ph.D., Professor 

Department of History

Dr. Todd Moye is the Fenton Wayne Robnett Professor of U.S. History at the University of North Texas, the director of the UNT Oral History Program, and a past president of the Oral History Association. Dr. Moye is the author, editor, or co-creator of several articles, books, and digital projects on the history of the modern African American freedom struggle. His most recent book project, Civil Rights in Black and Brown: Histories of Resistance and Struggle in Texas, which was published by UT Press in 2021, is a collaboration based on over 500 oral history interviews.

At UNT he teaches a range of courses on 20th century U.S. history and oral history, including classes like Civil Rights and Black Power Movements in the U.S., History of the Present, Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in U.S. History, and Oral History Theories and Methods. A graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of Texas-Austin, Dr. Moye directed the National Park Service’s Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project before coming to UNT. He lives in Fort Worth with his wife and two sons.  

 Distinguished Teaching Professor

Jill Talbot, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Department of English

Dr. Jill Talbot is an associate professor of creative writing in the English department. She earned her Ph.D. from Texas Tech University in Contemporary American Literature and Film (1999) and a second master’s, one in creative writing, from the University of Colorado at Boulder (2003). She has taught nonfiction, mainly the personal essay and the memoir, at the University of North Texas since 2015. She is the author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir and Loaded: Women and Addiction, a collection of personal essays. She is the editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction, and her essays have been recognized four times by The Best American Essays series.

Dr. Talbot's undergraduate Beginning Nonfiction class, a course she designed to allow students to experiment with various forms of the essay, inspired her book, The Essay Form(s), forthcoming from Columbia University Press. Dr. Talbot has never taught a class, at any level, that has not garnered at least one student publication in a nationally recognized literary journal. In her classes, she combines a joyful, supportive community with rigorous study, insisting that her students take risks in their work and approach others’ writings—and the world—through a lens of empathy.   

 Distinguished Teaching Professor

Laura Evans, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Department of Art Education 

Dr. Laura Evans wants you to know that she loves teaching. It is her favorite part of her work at UNT. She teaches about art museums, art interpretation, and narrative research methods. Her current book project is about how we can learn about ourselves, others, and the world through looking at and talking about art together.  Evans received her Ph.D. in Art Education at The Ohio State University, a Master’s in Museum Studies at the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor’s in Art History at Denison University and she has studied abroad in Finland, Brazil, and New Zealand.

Dr. Evans has worked at art museums around the world from the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts in Western Australia to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. with many more in between. She has worked with museums around the country such as the Kimbell Museum of Art in Fort Worth and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles to provide critical museology trainings. She has a special interest in art crime: thefts, fakes, and forgeries. Dr. Evans studied art crime in Italy and has a degree in antiquities trafficking and art crime from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. In her free time, she lectures about art crime on cruise ships that sail the high seas. In May, she is excited to lead a group of intrepid OLLI at UNT members through Europe on an art crime tour. Laura wants to thank her incredible students, CVAD leadership for nominating her, and all the teachers in her life who inspire and support her. 

 Distinguished Teaching Professor

Duncan Weathers, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Department of Physics

Dr. Duncan Weathers joined the Department of Physics faculty in 1991. He has taught many courses across the curriculum ranging from introductory conceptual physics to general relativity and has always felt the same delight in teaching physics that a child does when sharing his favorite activity with a fresh audience. He especially enjoys connecting physical theory to observation for students, whether through lecture demonstrations or the advanced undergraduate experimental course or in his laboratory, where he and his students conduct research in the area of ion-solid interaction and its applications, and more recently plasma confinement.

He has been the physics graduate advisor for nearly half of his UNT career and has managed and mentored the department’s graduate teaching fellows for two decades. Teaching, mentoring, advising, and advocating for students and watching them grow toward their full potential have always been and will continue to be tremendously fulfilling for him. To be recognized with this honor is reward upon reward, and he is deeply appreciative.

 Adjunct Award for Teaching Excellence 

Stella Reed, Adjunct Faculty

Department of Spanish 

Teaching is Professor Reed's passion! When she decided to become a teacher, her priority was to help students succeed and make a difference in their lives. She continues to focus on passing on knowledge and making learners independent to reach their academic goals and function in society. One of her most significant accomplishments is bringing cultural diversity into her classrooms; the students notice that they just don’t learn grammar and vocabulary but learn about other cultures to prevent prejudice and become better human beings. For instance, her students have been able to taste food, see traditional dances, have special guests that reinforce the importance of embracing diversity, and volunteer in nonprofit organizations to support the Hispanic population. They have also recognized the benefits of volunteering in their personal and professional careers.

Teaching Spanish at UNT has taught her to be a resourceful professor. The multicultural classroom and the students’ demands have led her to research methods to ensure that students have all the strategies to thrive. The satisfaction she gains by making a difference in a student’s life makes teaching worthy.

 Outstanding Course in Canvas Award

Kara Fulton, Clinical Professor & Chair

Department of Applied Arts and Sciences

Dr. Kara Fulton is a clinical professor and chair of New College. She is also affiliated faculty in the Department of Geography and the Environment. She received her Ph.D. in Applied Anthropology from the University of South Florida and joined UNT in 2019. Her research focuses on shared identities and communal practices in past and present cultures as well as innovative pedagogy. Dr. Fulton has been teaching archaeology courses for nearly a decade and fully online courses for about half as long.

Archaeological Science was where she was first able to combine both by teaching archaeology online. This class has over 100 students each semester and is heavily team-based. This approach allows students to leverage their individual knowledge and incorporate multiple perspectives all while managing the expectations of a team environment. Though many students find collaboration challenging in an asynchronous online environment, student evaluations suggest that the team aspects of the course are also the most rewarding. Designing an online course to teach such a hands-on discipline was difficult for Dr. Fulton at times, but it was also exciting for her to consider ways to do things differently. Archaeological Science continues to improve and evolve with the help of student and TA feedback (shoutout to TAs Ciara Mason and Eric Gilmore!) and Dr. Fulton looks forward to seeing how this course grows in the future.

 Outstanding Course in Coursera Award

Susan Watson, Ph.D., Clinical Professor

Department of Applied Arts and Sciences

Dr. Susan Watson is a clinical assistant professor and applied agricultural economist in New College and serves as the coordinator for the Applied Arts and Sciences unifying classes on Coursera. In cooperation with DSI-CLEAR and Coursera, she has been designing, building, and running classes, as well as training and managing adjuncts for the B.A.A.S. unifying classes on the Coursera platform. A MOOC was launched for the first course, “Fundamentals of Inquiry and Discovery,” which now features almost 10,000 students!

Dr. Watson collaborates with digital strategists, instructional designers, media production, adjuncts, UNT at Frisco Career Center, community partners, and Coursera’s product development, product improvement, and beta testing teams. She has twice participated in the Coursera conference as an invited speaker representing UNT. Dr. Watson conducts research in the areas of online learning, virtual teamwork, economics of technology adoption, college readiness, and willingness-to-pay for e-commerce. She is also a mother of two teenage daughters

  Piper Professor Nominee

Christopher J. Fuhrmann, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Department of History

An associate professor of history and adjunct professor of Latin, Dr. Fuhrmann researches ancient history and society; classical languages and literature; comparative world history; and so much more. He also is the coordinator of UNT’s Latin program and advisor and director of the Classical Studies program. His training has taken him all over the world, and we are proud it's brought him here to represent UNT as our Piper Professor nominee. 



 President's Council Teaching Award

Sandra C. Mendiola Garcia, Ph.D., Associate Professor 

Department of History

Dr. Sandra Mendiola is an associate professor in the Department of History. She received her Ph.D. from Rutgers University and has been with UNT since 2012. She teaches the colonial and modern histories of Latin America. Her courses cover over five centuries of history and a vast geographical area that encompasses about twenty modern countries and their connections to the world. She has created new courses such as Latin American Revolutions in the Twentieth Century and Latin American Food History.

Dr. Mendiola wants her students to understand changes and continuities over time, and the possibilities and limitations of human agency. Dr. Mendiola’s teaching and mentoring does not end in the classroom. She maintains mentoring relationships with many of her former students. She is very proud of her current and former students, particularly the first-generation students and their many accomplishments. Students have enjoyed her courses, her sense of humor, and her commitment to mentoring. Dr. Mendiola’s scholarship focuses on labor, gender, and food history. She is most interested in invisible, informal, and precarious kinds of labor on the streets, the home, and the mining industry. Her first book, Street Democracy, focuses on street vendors in Mexico. She is currently writing a social history of silver miners.

 President's Council Teaching Award

Nora Gilbert, Associate Professor

Department of English

Dr. Nora Gilbert jointly specializes in the areas of nineteenth-century British literary studies and early Hollywood film studies, and is an affiliated faculty member of UNT's Women's and Gender Studies program. Her first book, Better Left Unsaid: Victorian Novels, Hays Code Films, and the Benefits of Censorship (Stanford UP, 2013), is a comparative exploration of the paradoxical ways in which the novels written during the Victorian era and films produced under the Production Code were stirred and stimulated by the very forces meant to restrain them.

Her scholarly articles have appeared in PMLA, Film & History, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Victorian Review, Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, Eighteenth-Century Life, and JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory. She has served as editor of Studies in the Novel since 2016 and edited the journal's 50th anniversary special issue in 2019. She is presently at work on two separate but thematically-related monographs that are provisionally entitled Gone Girls: Flights of Feminist Resistance in the British Novel, 1684-1901 and Unwomaned: Hollywood Stardom and the Threat of Female Independence.

J .H. Shelton Excellence in Teaching Award

Janice A. Hauge, Ph.D., Professor 

Department of Economics 

Dr. Janice Hauge is a professor in the Department of Economics. She received her bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College, her master’s degree from the London School of Economics, and her Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Her ongoing research addresses regulatory and competition policy issues in the telecommunications, broadband, and digital platform sectors. She also explores the tangentially related topics of artificial intelligence and machine learning that are dependent on broadband availability and adoption, and are contingent upon appropriate regulatory and privacy policies.

She serves on the Board of Directors of the Telecommunications Policy Research Group, and is a senior research associate with the Public Utilities Research Center at the University of Florida, and a senior fellow with the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. Professor Hauge teaches upper-level undergraduate courses in strategic behavior theory and the economics of sports, and is developing a course on the Internet of Things. This latter course will introduce to students concepts that traditional microeconomic theory does not, simply because the technologies involved did not exist until roughly 15 years ago. Dr. Hauge also teaches graduate-level industrial organization and on occasion works with doctoral students in the Department of Computer Science.

Service Awards 

 Citation for Distinguished International Service Award

Ram Dantu, Ph.D., Professor 

Department of Computer Science and Engineering 

Dr. Ram Dantu has been the director of the Center for Information and Cyber Security at UNT for the last 15 years and has been recognized as a center for academic excellence for research and education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. He has 15 years of industrial experience in the networking industry, where he worked as technical director for Cisco, Nortel, Alcatel, and Fujitsu and was responsible for advanced technology products from concept to delivery. Currently, he is a full professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UNT. During 2010-2012, he was a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the School of Engineering.

Dr. Dantu has received several NSF/NSA awards in collaboration (lead-PI) with Columbia University, Purdue University, and MIT. He was selected as a member of the Innovation Corps of NSF in 2011. In 2013 NSF TV invited him and FCC CTO for a webcast on NG9-1-1 services. In addition to several hundred research papers, he has authored several standardizations of protocols such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), SS7 over IP, and software-defined networks. He was the principal author of 24 patents, and to date, many are being used in the industry.  

 President's Council Service Award

Jeffrey J. Rous, Ph.D., Professor 

Department of Economics

Jeffrey Rous started at UNT in 1996. Over the last 26 years, his research has focused on international health topics and, more recently, housing markets and migration within the US. He has taught micro-economic theory at every level from basic principles to graduate level as well as health economics and urban economics.

While he has served on and chaired numerous committees at the department, college, and university levels, he is most proud of instances where he could help inform decision-making with economic ideas. While serving on the UNT Sustainability Council, he performed cost-benefit analyses on renewable energy generation, the Eagle Point wind turbines, electric vehicles used by UNT facilities, and parking facilities and policy. Most recently, he helped create a framework for using cost-benefit analysis to guide UNT’s efforts to solidify its position in the Carnegie Tier 1 research designation. He is honored to be receiving this award and recognizes that his service work at all levels has always been a collaborative effort. He is thankful for colleagues, including staff, which have made this work possible.


 Ulys and Vera Knight Faculty Mentor Award 

Alexandra Ponette-González, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Department of Geography and the Environment 

Dr. Alexandra Ponette-González is associate professor of geography and the environment. In 2021, she was appointed to the 7-member U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), where she works at the policy-science interface. CASAC is the nation’s top advisory committee charged with the review of and recommendation for the U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Ponette-González’s research investigates human-atmosphere-biosphere interactions under global change, with a current focus on how urbanization and air pollution affect ecosystems in human-modified landscapes. Her ongoing research has shown that oak trees can capture significant quantities of airborne soot, a major climate forcing agent and air pollutant.

Beyond the outdoors and in the classroom, she strives to re-imagine the spaces and ways in which teaching and mentoring take place. By developing mentor networks for students and faculty, she actively seeks to increase participation of underrepresented groups and institutions in scientific research and training. She would like to thank and acknowledge the many mentors, including faculty, staff, and students at UNT, who contributed to and shaped her personal development and priorities as mentor and collaborator. She accepts this award on their behalf.

Office of the President Awards


UNT Community Award

Kashif Saeed, Principal Lecturer

 Department of Information Technology and Decision Sciences 

 Kashif Saeed, a principal lecturer in the Information Technology and Decision Sciences (ITDS) department in the G. Brint Ryan college of Business, leads four graduate programs for  the department. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from N.E.D. University of Engineering & Technology from Karachi, Pakistan in 1999; his M.S. in Computer Science from University of Houston Clear Lake in 2002; and is currently actively working on his dissertation as an ABD in Information Systems from UNT. His research areas of interest include democratization of corporate IT, artificial intelligence, and digital transformation. As the director of graduate programs, he  has played a key role in growing the ITDS graduate enrollment from around 60 to more than 1,000 students.

Prior to joining UNT, Professor Saeed served as the program director of MS Business Analytics at  The University of Texas at Dallas, where he completely revamped the program and grew it from 80-1100 students, making it one of the largest MSBA programs in the nation.Kashif is  passionate about teaching and mentoring students. He believes that teaching is about helping students discover their strengths, and giving them the tools to apply these strengths to better their lives and their careers. Kashif tirelessly works with students to prepare them for the job market and loves to stay connected with his students post-graduation.

UNT Community Award 

 Matthew Fry, Associate Professor

Department of Geography and the Environment 
Dr. Fry is associate professor of geography and the environment. His research investigates the production and consumption of energy and environmental resources, and how property, access, and control over these resources shape laws, society, and local environments. For example, his work into the Texas oil and natural gas industries shows how setback distance regulations are political compromises rather than empirically-derived health or safety thresholds and that fracking communities experience unjust distributions of economic benefits and environmental burdens

In his teaching, he likes to organize field trips and other experiential and in-the-field learning activities. These include visiting West Texas wind farms and the Denton Energy Center in his Our Energy Futures class; re-plotting property boundaries and homes from the historic Quakertown in downtown Denton as an exercise in his Field Methods and Mapping course; and through extended visits to state and national parks during his 3-week Maymester Texas Parks Field School.He is humbled to receive this award and is grateful to faculty, staff, and students at UNT.

President's Special Recognition Award

 Kristina Caswell MacMullen, Associate Professor

Department of Conducting & Ensembles

Dr. MacMullen spearheaded “Infinite Movement,” a major collaborative project between the College of Music and CVAD featuring a composition by UNT alum Shara Nova and artist Matthew Ritchie. Since the project’s inception in March 2021, Dr. MacMullen has tackled every challenge — including the COVID-19 pandemic — with grace and ingenuity, recruiting and directing more than 80 singers and two brass ensembles in performances in multiple spaces, including CVAD’s outdoor courtyard.  

Dr. MacMullen is making a national impact in choral music, attracting talented students to UNT and demonstrating how the performing arts can elevate the student experience and promote arts advocacy nationwide.