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Convocation 2020 Awardees

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President’s Medal

The President’s Medal is the highest honor bestowed upon a member of the university community. It is intended to recognize extraordinary contributions to the intellectual, social, and cultural life of Maryland. 
Marcio Oliveira

Kirwan Faculty Research and Scholarship Prize

This prize is presented annually to a member of the faculty in recognition of a highly significant work of research, scholarship or artistic creativity that has been achieved within the past three years. 
Derek Richardson

Kirwan Undergraduate Education Award

This prize is presented annually in recognition of the faculty or staff member who has made exceptional contributions to the quality of undergraduate education at the university. 
Todd Cooke

President's Distinguished Service Award

The President’s Distinguished Service Awards recognize exceptional performance, leadership and service by members of the university staff. The recipients of this award have a record of exemplary performance and distinctive contributions to the operation of an administrative, academic, research or service unit on campus. 
Margaret Gibbs
Diane Krejsa
Ana Palla-Kane
Ross Stern
Colleen Wright-Riva

Provost’s Excellence Award for Professional Track Faculty

The Provost’s Excellence Awards for Professional Track Faculty honor consistently excellent contributions from full-time faculty who have served for at least five years and do not have nor are eligible for tenure. Honorees are recognized in one of the three core areas of academic activity: teaching, research and service.
Chengquan Huang (Research)
Igor Puchtel (Research)
Lisa Boté (Teaching)
Marcia Shofner (Teaching)
Roy Walls (Teaching)
Roohollah Ebrahimian (Service)
Christine Harvey (Service)

Distinguished Scholar-Teacher

Winners of the Distinguished Scholar-Teacher awards represent a broad range of academic excellence. The program honors tenured faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments as educators. Each scholar will present a lecture during the school year. 
Steven Klees
Thomas Murphy
Xiaoli Nan
Rochelle Newman
Derek Paley
Saúl Sosnowski

Distinguished University Professor

The highest honor the university bestows, this title is conferred in recognition of extraordinary achievement as a teacher, scholar, and public servant. 
William Fagan
James Farquhar
Dinesh Manocha
Peter Reuter
Aravind Srinivasan
Ruth Enid Zambrana

Margaret Gibbs

Margaret “Margie” Gibbs, the receptionist and office supervisor at the Counseling Center since 1983, is also its face, voice and heart.

Over 2,000 students were seen in the Counseling Center last year, and Gibbs met each of them at least once. Whether scheduling appointments over the phone or in-person or assisting with requests for emergency counseling, she offers a professional presence and a kind and welcoming demeanor to students, many of whom are seeking mental health services for the first time.

Sharon Kirkland-Gordon, former director of the Counseling Center, describes Gibbs as its triage counselor. On any given day, she might respond to a highly distressed student, a concerned faculty member or parent or an individual requesting an off-campus referral. On one occasion when a student called the Counseling Center and told Gibbs that he was feeling suicidal, she encouraged him to come in and asked for his name, what he was wearing and where he was located. She said if he wasn’t there in 10 minutes, she would go look for him. The tearful student walked into the center and was seen immediately by a counselor.

“Her steadiness, compassion, and good judgment are significant qualities that are critical in making appropriate decisions about student wellness and care,” Kirkland-Gordon says.

Gibbs also supports the center’s psychologists and trainees by managing intake schedules and provides essential client information based on her experience and observation.

Jonathan Kandell M.S. ’86, Ph.D. ’91, who worked at UMD’s center for 26 years and now runs the one at the Universities at Shady Grove, gratefully recalls how Gibbs calms staff nerves with her warmth and sense of humor, providing a home base when any pressing questions or concerns arose.

“She, in many ways, is the definition of what the center has tried to be about all these years—a friendly, caring face that can help you feel better about whatever is of concern,” he says.


Diane Krejsa

Deputy General Counsel Diane Krejsa is widely respected for her professionalism, legal acumen and commitment to the university and its people.

An attorney for 40 years who has worked at the university’s legal office since 1996, Krejsa advises the president, senior leadership, deans and department chairs on strategic, legal, policy and risk management issues; represents the university and its employees on civil rights and employment claims; assists in litigation in federal and state courts; and provides on-campus legal services and counsel.

Mike Poterala, vice president for legal affairs and general counsel, noted the leading role she has played in developing and updating policies and procedures on addressing allegations of sexual misconduct and nondiscrimination.

“In a highly politicized environment in which applicable federal regulations keep changing significantly, Diane takes great care to show continuing concern for supporting victims,” he says, “providing due process to the accused and encouraging the imposition of discipline, when necessary, in a fair and impartial manner.”

As the primary attorney supporting the Office of Faculty Affairs, University Human Resources and the University Senate, Krejsa has shepherded the creation and revision of countless university policies—55 that were approved in the past six years alone. She has provided legal expertise on criminal background checks during the undergraduate admissions process, scholarly misconduct procedures, disability accommodations for employees and the development of a weapons policy. Krejsa is also credited with developing one of the nation’s only policies holding those responsible for hate-bias incidents accountable while still protecting individual First Amendment rights. She has also been instru- mental in guiding the campus in working with its collective bargaining units.

Colleagues praise her commitment, willingness to work nights and weekends to meet deadlines, and skills in bringing people together to reach consensus.

“In all she does, Diane brings with her a spirit of collegiality, optimism and integrity,” says John Bertot, associate provost for faculty affairs. “And she brings with her both humor and humility, both often necessary to diffuse what can be tense situations.”


Ana Palla-Kane

Ana Palla-Kane uniquely combines technical expertise with a passion for inclusion to make the University of Maryland a more welcoming environ- ment for students, faculty and staff with disabilities. Over her 13 years on campus, she has advocated for the disabled community on campus and beyond, working to improve services and raise awareness that accessibility is everyone’s responsibility.

As senior information technology accessibility and UX specialist, Palla-Kane leads the university’s efforts to improve IT accessibility. This includes overseeing implementation of UMD’s three-year IT Accessibility Plan, which encompasses new web accessibility policy, accessible on-campus media production and e-learning tools and support, and offers guidelines for procuring accessible technology.

“This has been an enormous undertaking, and Ana approaches it with resolve and faith in its inherent value to make campus more inclusive,” says Nancy Forsythe, a career development specialist for students with disabilities at the University Career Center.

For the past three years, Palla-Kane has been the chair or co-chair of the President’s Commission on Disability Issues (PCDI). In this volunteer post, she has helped run Disability Awareness Month events, supported creation of the new disability studies minor and a student advisory committee and led the Disability Summit, a biennial disability studies conference that draws hundreds of attendees. She also co-wrote a detailed report for university leadership re-envisioning the structure and delivery of disability support across campus. Palla-Kane has been recognized with the 2019 John W. King Staff Award, the Outstanding Unit Service Award and the PCDI Leadership Award. Beyond UMD, she is active at the local, national and international levels, including with the Association on Higher Education and Disability, the National Federation of the Blind, and she led a USAID project in Brazil advocating for disability rights.

“As a disabled person and a scholar of disability, I have a lived appreciation of the impacts of her efforts,” says PCDI Co-chair Paul Jaeger, a professor in the College of Information Studies. “As her colleague, I am in awe of her boundless devotion and creativity in making our campus more inclusive and equitable.”


Ross Stern

From building relationships with legislators to helping actual buildings become a reality in College Park, Ross Stern has been instrumental in furthering the university’s objectives at every level of government.

For the last 21 years, Stern, now executive director of government relations, has been pivotal to keeping lines of communication open between UMD’s campus and political power centers in Annapolis and Washington, D.C.

“He has consistently shown a resolute commitment to advancing the university’s priorities and best interests, often going above and beyond to accomplish the university’s goals, secure vital funding and protect it from harmful legislation,” say Molly McKee-Seabrook, associate director of government relations, and Virginia Meehan, director of federal relations. “Ross has deep institutional knowledge and a keen political sense that make him an invaluable asset in the university’s relationship with lawmakers.”

Stern, who earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s in public policy from UMD, started as assistant to the president and director of state government relations in 1999. In 2015, he assumed his current role, in which he oversees local, state and federal priorities on the university’s agenda.

A tireless advocate who serves on countless hiring and planning committees, Stern has focused on securing and maintaining funds for operating and capital expenses, including the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering, A. James Clark Hall and the Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center. He has helped craft broader legislation such as the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State, which joined UMD and the University of Maryland, Baltimore into a $1.2 billion joint research enterprise.

MPower is a “game-changing initiative,” says Amitabh Varshney, dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, and Stern has played a critical role in positioning UMD as a powerhouse in a high-tech economy.

“Ross has not only helped us successfully navigate the tangled web of complex relationships and priorities in Annapolis, he has done so while enhancing our university’s competitiveness,” Varshney says.


Colleen Wright-Riva

In her nearly 13 years as director of Dining Services, Colleen Wright-Riva has transformed the way Terps eat on campus through exceptional contributions to her department, the university and the community.

Managing more than 1,000 employees and a $70 million budget, she leads an operation that includes the student dining plans, concessions, retail and catering, and partners with deans, administrators and stakeholders across UMD.

“Colleen Wright-Riva has been the epitome of One Maryland,” says Colleen Sorem, deputy athletics director. “Her dedication to her job goes above and beyond the call of duty, and her loyalty to this university as a whole is tremendous.”

Among the initiatives she has implemented, Wright-Riva helped UMD become the first university to sign the United Nations’ Cool Food Pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030 and testified before the Maryland General Assembly to make EpiPens available in all campus dining rooms. She also collaborated with others on campus to create Terp Farm, which provides a student laboratory and food for campus dining halls and also donates 10% of its harvest to food-insecure residents of Prince George’s County.

Hoping to similarly fight food insecurity at UMD, Wright-Riva helped start the Campus Pantry, which provides emergency food to students, faculty and staff, and implemented Anytime Dining so Terps can get all they care to eat in the dining halls at times that are convenient for them. She continues to listen to students through social media, her Residence Hall Association advisory group and daily interactions.

“Our students are at the heart of what she values, and they know it,” says Linda Clement, former vice president of Student Affairs.

A recent example of Wright-Riva’s dedication took place this spring during the COVID-19 outbreak. With some students continuing to live on campus and receive meals, she came each day to check on her staff and remind them of appropriate training and social distancing.

“She never asks a staff member to do something she would not be willing to do herself,” says Mary L. Hummel, assistant vice president of Student Affairs.

Lisa Boté / Teaching

Lisa Boté, associate clinical professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership, has earned a reputation as an outstanding instructor who builds bonds with her students while never faltering in devotion to her work.

Leading several courses in UMD’s elementary education undergraduate program, she highlights the social-emotional aspects of teaching and inserts a foundational underpinning into the clinical component of teacher preparation. She has spent the past few years designing a “Creating Community” sequence, which explores the relational aspect of teaching through ethnographic studies of students’ lived experiences and the development of critical classroom practices that promote a sense of belonging.

“She makes a point to learn about her students, connect with them, show respect for their culture, affirm their work, make them feel safe, and coach social and emotional competency,” says Kathy Angeletti, assistant dean and executive director of teacher education at Maryland.

After earning her master’s and Ph.D. from Arizona State University, Boté arrived at UMD as a lecturer in 2000. Since then, she has engaged in continuous course and program revision with an intellectual thoughtfulness that her colleagues admire. She enriches the course experience for her students with shared storytelling, a commitment to autonomy and the promotion of self-care and wellness.

That work has consistently earned Boté abundant praise in course evaluations, with her students noting her expert teaching as well as her kindness, passion and understanding nature. She’s also been recognized with numerous awards throughout her career, including the Parent’s Association of the University of Maryland’s Outstanding Educator honor, Alpha Sigma Phi’s Teacher of the Year award, and UMD’s College of Education’s Excellence in Teaching Award.

“She is a student of teaching and learning herself as she continuously infuses new life and energy into her courses,” says Francine Hultgren, professor and chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership.


Roohollah Ebrahimian / Service

As the leader in two of the most famous student mathematics competitions in the United States, Roohollah Ebrahimian is a central figure in the Department of Mathematics’ outreach activities to surrounding communities, the state of Maryland, and current and future students and their families.

Ebrahimian earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in mathematics from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, and his Ph.D. at Yale University. He served as an instructor at Yale, then worked for two years as an assistant professor at Southern Connecticut State University before arriving at the University of Maryland in 2014 as a lecturer. In 2017, he was promoted to senior lecturer, and teaches three courses each semester in a department that, with 10,000 students enrolled, is the largest teaching operation on campus.

Ebrahimian is the lead organizer annually for the Maryland High School Math Competition, considered one of the most important events of its type nationally, with winners gaining admission to top-ranked universities. He also oversees UMD’s participation in the Putnam Mathematical Competition as the team trainer; under his leadership, the university has consistently finished among the top 15 out of more than 500 teams and 4,500 individual competitors.

“Dr. Ebrahimian has been instrumental in the development of my mathematical abilities,” says Pratik Rathore ’21, a member of UMD’s 2018 Putnam Competition team. “I learned new methods of solving problems that I had not seen before.”

Such outreach activities and dedicated work with students have created positive impressions of the University of Maryland at every level, says Doron Levy, professor and chair of mathematics.

“His efforts have consistently been beyond anything we expect from our PTK faculty,” Levy says. “Dr. Ebrahimian’s efforts are unique, and the impact of his service to our community is off the scale.”


Christine Harvey / Service

Senior Lecturer Christine Harvey has played an integral role at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism for more than 25 years, innovative in her pursuit of outstanding journalism education, tireless in improving the university’s assessment of learning outcomes, and trusted as a mentor by both faculty and staff.

Harvey, a Merrill College graduate herself, is a former newspaper reporter and editor who joined the faculty in 1992. She has jumped in wherever needed, from directing internships and career services to serving as lead instructor for several foundational classes. She helped create—and still manages—the graduate certificate in professional studies for multimedia journalists, and she developed Merrill College’s multimedia news bureau for Capital News Service in 2001, leading it for a decade.

In 2016, she played a key role in writing the college’s 300-page national reaccreditation report, and two years ago, she teamed with the associate dean to overhaul Merrill College’s undergraduate curriculum to better prepare students for the rapidly changing industry. She has also served since 2013 as the college’s representative on the Provost’s Commission on Learning Outcomes Assessment, charged with leading continuous improvement efforts in all UMD undergraduate programs.

Chris has a very thoughtful way of contributing to group conversations, leveraging her expertise on the subject in a nonconfrontational way that even allows for others to disagree while also understanding and valuing her perspective,” says William A. Cohen, associate provost and dean for undergraduate studies, along with Assistant Dean Ann C. Smith and Sharon A. La Voy, assistant vice president for institutional research planning and assessment.

Harvey has helped to recruit and train adjunct faculty from top news organizations and has created seven new courses and taught another 11. She’s frequently who students turn to when they feel overwhelmed.

“I’m humbled by her ability to excel at so many different tasks, while simultaneously displaying the kind of care for colleagues and students that many of us feel makes Merrill College a special place,” says Rafael Lorente, associate dean for academic affairs.


Chengquan Huang / Research

Chengquan Huang is not only an expert on satellite monitoring of land cover change for the Department of Geographical Sciences, but also a supportive teacher and mentor who promotes the well-being of his co-workers and students.

“Chengquan is a great colleague,” says Chris Justice, professor and chairman of the Department of Geographical Sciences. “He has made a significant contribution to the department in terms of research, teaching/advising and service, and we are lucky that he has stayed with us over the years.”

Huang earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Peking University in Beijing before obtaining his doctorate in geography at the University of Mary- land. Prior to joining UMD as an assistant research professor in 2004, he worked as a senior scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., and principal physics engineer for Raytheon.

Now a full research professor, Huang is renowned for his research on remote sensing and the detection and mapping of urbanization, forest change, flooding, and wetland change at national to global scales. He has published more than 110 peer-reviewed book chapters and journal articles in all of his field’s major outlets, with his research cited more than 12,500 times. Huang has secured more than $20 million in funding from agencies such as NASA, USGS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In addition to teaching advanced level courses, Huang has served on a dozen dissertation commit- tees, funded and co-advised multiple doctoral students, and hired and mentored 13 postdoctoral researchers.

“Despite his great achievements in research, he is always approachable and patient in guiding students through confusions at every stage of their research,” says Jiaming Lu, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Geographical Sciences. “Moreover, he truly cares about students’ mental health, especially students who are new to the country and who are under coursework/research pressure.”


Igor S. Puchtel / Research

Igor S. Puchtel, senior research scientist in the Department of Geology, is a global leader in his field, transforming the general understanding of how the Earth and solar system work.

He is an expert on an important type of volcanic rocks called komatiites, which largely resulted from eruptions more than 2.5 billion years ago. These rocks provide important insights into the temperature and processes that operated in the early Earth. He has also been heavily involved in the geochemistry of siderophile, or iron-loving, elements that bond with iron in the Earth and the moon, and he has been studying the characteristics of materials that resulted from the impact basin-forming events on the moon, as well as rocks that most believe came from Mars in the form of meteorites.

“What is striking about his work is the methodical way in which he approaches problems, the care with which he conducts analyses and the well crafted written papers and reports that he produces,” says James Day, professor in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. “I spent many hours in the lab with Dr. Puchtel, and I cannot think of a more careful or more skilled analyst.”

Puchtel, who earned his Ph.D. from the Institute of Geology of Ore Deposits, Petrology, Mineralogy and Geochemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences, joined the University of Maryland as an assistant research scientist in 2004 and has maintained National Science Foundation support throughout his time on campus. In 2016, he earned the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences’ Distinguished Research Scientist Award.

In addition, he is the laboratory manager of UMD’s Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory, overseeing day-to-day operations of two chemistry clean labs, a mass spectrometry laboratory and several other facilities used in processing rocks for geochemical analysis.

“Despite the heavy workload, he is able to conduct state-of-the-art research, working on both problems of terrestrial evolution and studies of the early solar system processes,” says Richard J. Walker, Distinguished University Professor and chair of UMD’s Department of Geology.


Marcia Shofner / Teaching

A senior lecturer in classes on biology, ecology and evolution, Marcia Shofner commits every day to holding students to a high standard while treating them with sincere interest and care.

“She is always eager to do more–to participate in the department, to advise students, to recruit students and to guide our students toward new opportunities for educational and career enhancement,” says Leslie Pick, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology. “Dr. Shofner is always a quick volunteer when we need a class taught, when a professor needs guidance on teaching methods, when a student needs support.”

Shofner earned her bachelor’s degree in biology/ general sciences and master’s degree in biology from Ouachita Baptist University, and went on to obtain her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland’s zoology department. She then taught introductory biology at University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel Community College.

She started at UMD in 2002 as an adjunct lecturer in the biology department, and came back to UMD full time as the assistant director for College Park Scholars Life Sciences in 2005. She also served as assistant director for the biological sciences program before assuming her current role in the entomology department in 2014.

The co-director for the Master’s in Applied Entomology Program, she also assists with the review of textbooks, digital materials and proposals for the National Science Foundation and NASA; serves as a faculty adviser for Delta Epsilon Mu, Beta Psi Omega and Net Impact-STEM; and is a member of the Graduate School Diversity Recruitment Working Group. She serves as a professional-track faculty representative for the Council of University System Faculty and chairs the Elections, Representation and Governance Committee in the University Senate.

Students and peers praise Shofner for the passion and effort she brings to making her teaching collaborative, engaging and insightful, as well as her dedication to challenging students intellectually while treating them with respect.

“I was always impressed with her compassion for the students and her initiative in trying out new things in class to help them learn more effectively,” says entomology professor Sara Via.


Roy Walls / Teaching

Since 1990, Roy Walls has been at UMD’s Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA), teaching students an immense range of skills necessary for a successful career in land use.

Walls’ four courses each have a lab component and provide students with “concrete skills; at the same time, the students learn to problem-solve, plan and manage projects and think critically about how to address the needs of a particular situation,” says Meredith B. Epstein, IAA senior lecturer and adviser.

In addition to his teaching duties, Walls researches, gathers and writes the specifications for Student Tech Fund proposals; as a result, the IAA was awarded $17,000 for technology improvements and innovations last year alone. Walls even assem bled and configured the equipment received.

“His efforts shape the educational experiences of all of the students in our program, as many of our faculty learn new skills and ideas from Roy and bring those exciting technologies into their classes across our curriculum,” says Epstein.

Walls holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural and extension education from the University of Maryland.

His dedication to his students is legendary; he is well-known for working with individual students outside of class time to help them master techniques and the thinking behind them. Nearly every IAA student takes his course on agricultural mechanics, which covers electricity, plumbing, welding, woodworking, metal work and introductory GPS technology, as well as project planning, implementation and safety protocols.

“I quickly realized that Roy would play a major role in my education at the IAA, because it seemed that he would be teaching half of my classes, and he did,” says Brian P. Hogan ’14, park superintendent with the Calvert County Department of Parks and Recreation. “Roy truly cares about his students. I feel extremely grateful to have had Roy as a teacher and mentor. Without a doubt, Roy’s teaching contributed to my professional achievements.”

Steven Klees

Over a career of more than four decades, Steven Klees has cemented his place as one of the preeminent scholars of international and comparative education, pushing for a more equitable system worldwide while building a foundation for his own students to become leaders.

Klees uses a political economy framework to examine how educational systems work—or fail— across the globe, exploring the types of schooling promoted by globalization and neoliberalism, and how they intersect with and are influenced by race, class and gender. He has consulted and provided support for organizations such as the World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO, USAID and others.

He “is one of the scholars I most admire,” says Robert F. Arnove, Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Indiana University. “Motivated by a commitment

to education as a human right, his writings, teach- ing and service engagements have been devoted to illuminating how current scholarly and policy paradigms perpetuate inequitable education systems and societies.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree at Queens College, Klees received an M.A. in economics, an MBA and a Ph.D. in economics and public policy from Stanford University. He has been a professor at the University of Maryland since 1999, publish- ing five books, 52 refereed articles, and 34 book chapters, with his work cited more than 2,200 times. Klees’ most recent book, being released this November, is “The Conscience of a Progressive.” He was elected president of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) in 2007, and in 2019 was inducted as a CIES Honorary Fellow.

Klees has been an adviser to 43 Ph.D. students and many more master’s degree students, who point to the active interest he takes in their personal and professional growth.

“I remember making passing remarks to him about certain issues I recently became interested in, and afterward, I would receive constant emails from him about articles or books that he came across that would align with my interests,” says Ph.D. candidate Hang Le M.A. ’17. “After talking to other students... I discovered that this is something that Dr. Klees does on a regular basis with everyone.”


Thomas E. Murphy

Thomas E. Murphy has pioneered influential developments in applied optics, nonlinear dynamical systems and radio over fiber technology, consistently bringing the same standard of excellence to his teaching that he does to his research.

Among his most prominent work is a seminal 2014 paper demonstrating sensitive photodetection from terahertz through visible frequencies by exploiting the photothermal effect in graphene, which has garnered more than 300 of his 5,000-plus citations across his breadth of research.

“All of (his) papers that I read were of high quality, representing experiments that had nice elements of novelty and that were carefully and convincingly presented,” says Andrew M. Weiner, Scifres Family Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University.

After earning his master’s and doctoral degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Murphy joined the University of Maryland in 2002 as an assistant professor. He is now a full professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics. He is also a fellow of the Optical Society of America.

The A. James Clark School of Engineering designated him a Keystone Professor, which places the best instructors in entry-level courses to inspire freshmen and sophomores. His student evaluations have regularly placed him at the top of his department, and he’s won both the College of Engineering E. Robert Kent Teaching Award and the ECE George Corcoran Teaching Award.

Beyond UMD, Murphy has served as an instruc- tor for Hands-On Research in Complex Systems, a two-week summer program for graduate students and young faculty from developing countries, and has been active in K-12 and STEM outreach.

“He has an incredible ability to break complex problems down into their fundamentals and an encyclopedic knowledge of the theory and experiments related to photonic technology,” says former student Joseph D. Hart Ph.D. ’18, a research physicist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

“Combine these with his passion for his research and his excitement to work with students, and you have a great adviser.”


Xiaoli Nan

Through her work in health and risk communication, Xiaoli Nan has created new ways of understanding how to effectively communicate health risks to the public, especially marginalized communities, in order to motivate risk-reduction behavior.

Specializing in the psychology of persuasion and media effects, Nan has examined how persuasive messaging is meant to change perceptions, attitudes and behavior when it comes to health risks and the impact of both traditional and new forms of media on specific public health outcomes. Her research has particularly focused on messaging to African Americans and other under-served communities about vaccination and tobacco use.

“Her work is not conducted within the narrow confines of the academy,” says James Price Dillard, Distinguished Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Pennsylvania State University. “Nan’s vigorous record of seeking and obtaining external funding aligns perfectly with the aim of improving public health.”

Nan earned her Ph.D. in mass communication at the University of Minnesota. She has been at the University of Maryland since 2008, and has authored or co-authored more than 70 refereed articles. She has secured funding from sources such as the National Cancer Institute, the Department of Energy, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Agriculture.

In 2018, Nan received the Mayhew Derryberry Award from the American Public Health Association for outstanding contributions to health education research and theory. She was recently named a Lewis Donohew Outstanding Health Communication Scholar, an honor conferred by the Kentucky Conference on Health Communication sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.

Nan is the director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication (CHRC) and the founder and supervisor of the CHRC Research Group, an interdisciplinary student-faculty collaborative.

In addition, she has served as primary adviser for 10 Ph.D. students and supervised over 20 undergraduate honors thesis and independent study projects.

“Both inside and outside of the classroom, Dr. Nan excels at teaching students and advancing their ideas,” says Ph.D. candidate Victoria Ledford. “Dr. Nan is a distinguished scholar of persuasion and health communication, and her ability to relay this information clearly and concisely is what makes her a great teacher as well.”


Rochelle Newman

Through her trailblazing work to solve a foundational problem facing every language learner—“What is a signal?” vs. “What is noise?”— Rochelle Newman has made an enormous impact on education in hearing and speech sciences.

Her research primarily focuses on how infants and toddlers perceive and develop spoken language amid everyday background sounds. More recently, she has extended her theoretical models to explore how language acquisition in children with cochlear implants differs from normal-hearing peers, how bilingual people perceive foreign accents differently from monolinguals and what domestic dogs know about human speech.

“She has an exceptional ability to sift through the intellectual noise to identify the right question to ask, and she backs it up with the ability to design the perfect study to answer that question,” says Monita Chatterjee, auditory scientist at the Boys Town National Research Hospital.

Newman, professor and chair of the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, earned her master’s and Ph.D. at the State University of New York at Buffalo and worked as an assistant professor at the University of Iowa before joining UMD in 2001. Since then, she helped found both the University of Maryland Autism Research Consortium and the Infant and Child Services Consortium, acts as associate director of the Maryland Language Science Center and is a board member of the Maryland Cochlear Implant Center of Excellence—all while having her research continuously funded since 2007.

“She never seems still,” says Christopher Heffner Ph.D. ’17, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Connecticut. “When I started at UMD, she was already wearing many hats.”

In addition to her robust research and involvement, Newman’s dedicated mentorship stands out to her students, who admire how she makes their learning experience a top priority and provides fast, thorough feedback.

“I never left a meeting with Rochelle concerned that I had received anything less than her full and honest perspective,” says Melissa D. Stockbridge Ph.D. ’18, a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins Medicine.


Derek Paley

As a leading researcher working to give swarms of autonomous airborne and ocean-going robots the ability to work together in complex environments, Derek Paley has both challenged and supported his students.

The Willis H. Young Jr. Professor of Aerospace Engineering Education, he directs the Maryland Robotics Center and the Collective Dynamics and Control Laboratory. His work focuses on cooperative control of autonomous vehicles, adaptive sampling with mobile networks and spatial modeling of biological groups like flocks of birds and schools of fish.

His work “has had a major impact on the field, setting a high bar for the coordinated control of autonomous underwater vehicles,” says John Leonard, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “His papers are ‘classics’ that have greatly shaped the field.”

Paley came to the University of Maryland in 2007 after receiving his Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering that year from Princeton University. He earned his bachelor’s in applied physics at Yale University in 1997.

An impactful researcher with more than 3,600 citations, Paley is an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a senior member of the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers. He was named 2015 Engineer of the Year by the AIAA National Capital Section and received the 2012 Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering and the 2010 National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

Paley is also known for his outstanding teaching and mentoring work with students, like an undergraduate who assessed one of his courses as “the most difficult class I have taken in any subject,” but also “the best class I have ever taken.” To support experiences outside the classroom, he created the Autonomous Micro Air Vehicle team, which annually competes with other schools in a contest sponsored by the Vertical Flight Society.


Saúl Sosnowski

For more than four decades, writer, editor and cultural liaison Saúl Sosnowski has created and nurtured an important space for discussing and understanding Latin America’s literature, culture and politics.

In 1972, he founded the literary journal Hispamérica, which he continues to direct in its 49th year of continuous publication; it is recognized worldwide as one of the leading journals of Latin American literature. He has also led major international conferences and edited a publication series dedicated to exploring the repression of culture under South American dictatorships. Focusing on Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, Sosnowski has studied the role of culture in re-democratization, in addition to writing about Latin American-Jewish authors and the role of Nazism and Fascism on Argentine letters.

“His ability to bridge cultures, to emerge as a spokesperson for international relations between the U.S. and Latin America, between Latin America and the international Jewish community, and between the University of Maryland and other institutions throughout the world have marked him in a unique way as a man of intelligent diplomacy and a vast commitment to the world of ideas,” says Francine Masiello, Sidney and Margaret Ancker Distinguished Professor Emerita in Comparative Literature and Spanish at the University of California at Berkeley.

Sosnowski earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Scranton and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He became a faculty member at the University of Maryland in 1970. He has written several books, three collections of essays and interviews, co-authored two volumes, edited or co-edited over 15 volumes; and published more than 90 articles. His recent publications include a book of poetry and the novel “Decir Berlín, decir Buenos Aires.”

In the classroom, Sosnowski is known for promoting wide-ranging conversations directed by the students themselves.

“From him I learned to appreciate and enjoy the dynamics of the seminar format,” says Fernando Degiovanni Ph.D. ’01, professor and chair of Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures at the Graduate Center, CUNY. “He made me take part in a collective learning practice and develop teaching skills that I still use in my courses today.”


William Fagan

William Fagan is a world-renowned quantitative ecologist who is especially known for making major contributions to understanding ecological boundaries and animal movements.

Through his creative quantitative models, Fagan has brought new insights to the field of spatial ecology, which, among other things, allows his work to inform management of large vertebrate populations under global change. His seminal discoveries include uncovering how experience plays a role in the efficiency and operation of migrating animal groups.

“He is equally at home whether he is collaring gazelles in Mongolia, developing and executing sophisticated simulation models or batting around ecological theory to enable a mathematician to formalize it into a partial differential equation,” says a frequent collaborator, Robert Stephen Cantrell, mathematics chair at the University of Miami and director of its Institute of the Mathematical Sciences of the Americas.

Fagan earned his honors B.A. from the University of Delaware and his doctorate from the University of Washington, finished a postdoc at the University of California, Santa Barbara and spent five years on the faculty at Arizona State. He came to UMD in 2002 and served as chair of the Department of Biology from 2013-20. For two years, he was also director for research innovation at the UMD-affiliated National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC).

He has published more than 235 peer-reviewed journal articles and secured 23 major grants totaling over $11 million, with additional funding to advance math education and training. Fagan has also mentored 30 postdoctoral scholars and trained 19 doctoral, five master’s and dozens of undergraduate students.

Fagan’s work has been recognized by a Guggenheim Fellowship and election as a fellow of the Ecological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received UMD’s Distinguished Scholar-Teacher award in 2010.

“He is one of very few PIs I know who is contacted by NSF because they have sponsored the collection of some promising data and would like to offer him a grant to see what he can make of them,” says David Skelly, director of the Peabody Museum of Natural History and Frank R. Oastler Professor of Ecology at Yale University.


James Farquhar

James Farquhar, professor in the Department of Geology and the Earth Systems Science Interdisciplinary Center, has established himself among the most accomplished and influential geochemists of his generation, with groundbreaking findings about the evolution of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans told by sulfur isotopes.

One of his most important discoveries was of sulfur isotopes in Precambrian rocks, leading to key inferences about the biological processes influencing the atmosphere and driving the rise of oxygen more than 2.4 billion years ago.

“James Farquhar’s seminal research into sulfur mass-independent fractionation has provided a huge boost in our understanding of Earth’s early atmosphere and is currently provoking new research in the general area of chemical physics,” says James F. Kasting, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University.

After earning his Ph.D. from the University of Alberta and completing postdoctoral work at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, Farquhar joined the University of Maryland in 2000. In addition to his breakthrough paper, “Atmospheric influence of Earth’s earliest sulfur cycle,” he is well known for findings regarding the sulfur and oxygen isotope compositions of components of lunar rocks, Martian meteorites and more, amassing more than 11,000 total citations.

Most recently, Farquhar was the lead principal investigator on a successful $1.6 million National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation proposal to acquire a high mass resolution mass spectrometer, which aims to characterize and quantify isotopic varieties of methane and to use them to characterize the sources of methane in surface environments, as well as the lifespan of this potent greenhouse gas.

To add to his accolades, including being named a Guggenheim Fellow, holding a Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair and receiving the Epstein Innovation Award, Farquhar last year was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

“James Farquhar ranks among the world’s top geochemists,” says Andrew H. Knoll, Fisher Professor of Natural Science at Harvard University, “and is likely to remain among the elite for many years to come.”


Dinesh Manocha

Dinesh Manocha is one of the world’s top researchers in fields ranging from computer graphics and virtual reality to robotics and high-performance computing, helping lay a foundation for many other researchers through his innovations.

After earning his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1992, Manocha joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, most recently serving as the Phi Delta Theta/Matthew Mason Distinguished Professor. In 2018, he came to the University of Maryland as the Paul Chrisman Iribe Chair of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Manocha has been at the forefront in robot navigation and motion planning for decades, as well as in geometric and simulation algorithms. He has led the development of many software packages for collision and physics-based simulation that have been downloaded by more than 200,000 users and licensed to 60+ leading companies in a range of fields. Manocha has pioneered real-time rendering of large computer-aided design models and inter- active sound simulation and rendering for virtual reality, graphics and multimedia applications.

He has 11 patents and a successful startup company, with six edited books. He has published close to 600 papers in journals or leading conferences and has received 16 best paper or test-of-time awards. Manocha has supervised 40 Ph.D. disserTations. Many of his students and postdoctorate researchers have become leaders in the field as faculty members at top universities, research leaders or senior managers at top companies.

Manocha is a fellow of Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

Among his other honors, Manocha has been inducted into the ACM SIGGRAPH Academy and received a Sloan Fellowship, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation Career Award, the Facebook Distinguished Faculty Award, Google Faculty Awards, a Bézier Award by Solid Modeling Association, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and the Distinguished Career in Computer Science Award from the Washington Academy of Sciences.


Peter Reuter

A groundbreaking scholar known for bringing economic principles to bear on the study of illegal market activities, Peter Reuter has helped revolutionize understanding of drug policy and organized crime.

In 2019, Reuter received the Stockholm Prize for Criminology—the Nobel of its field—and his accomplishments have “provided the soundtrack against which research on organized crime, drug policy and illegal markets generally have developed around the world,” says Michael Levi, professor of criminology at Cardiff University.

Reuter received his B.A. from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and his M.Phil. and Ph.D. in economics at Yale. He started as a public policy professor at UMD in 1993, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Criminology and Justice, after four years as co-director of the Drug Policy Research Center at the Rand Corp. He was a senior economist at Rand from 1981-2016.

His main research focus has been how attempts to control criminal behavior interact with market principles and sometimes create unintended side effects. Some of Reuter’s major insights include that street-level drug dealers usually earn meager wages and organized crime groups earn most of their money from extorting smaller illegal enterprises rather than operating these themselves.

His research has been cited 18,000 times, and two of his six books won international awards: the 2010 British Medical Association prize for best public health book (“Drug Policy and the Public Good”) and the 1984 Leslie Wilkins Award for outstanding study in criminology and criminal justice (“Disorganized Crime: The Economics of the Visible Hand”).

Reuter is “a consummate intellectual who is always ready to entertain a fresh insight or idea, especially if it helps puncture an established myth,” says Philip J. Cook, ITT/Terry Sanford Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at Duke University. “His intellectual playfulness, skepticism and irreverence have opened the door to pathbreaking contributions, and also ensure that he will stay in this game for years to come.”


Aravind Srinivasan

A world leader in theoretical computer science and algorithms, Aravind Srinivasan has impacted applications from public health and e-commerce to computer networks with his broad-ranging research interests.

Srinivasan’s work over the past two decades includes stochastically-dependent “rounding,” generalizations of the powerful Lovász local lemma, random walks accompanied by the dropping of judiciously chosen constraints, and connections to correlation inequalities and discrepancy theory. It has led to the best-known approximation algorithms for a variety of problems in low-congestion and low-latency routing, resource allocation, internet advertising and other areas of optimization.

He has published nearly 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals and refereed conferences, including very highly-reputed journals such as Nature, Journal of the ACM and the SIAM Journal on Computing. Srinivasan received his Ph.D. in computer science from Cornell University in 1993. After a few years at Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies, he came to UMD in 2001 as an associate professor, followed by promotion to professor in 2006. He has a joint appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.

He recently began leading the computational foundations section of a new National Science Foundation Expeditions project to explore trends in globalization, antimicrobial resistance, urbanization and ecological pressures—factors that have increased the risk of global pandemics like COVID-19. Key to this work is the development of new machine learning algorithms to interpret large amounts of data from multiple sources over multiple networks.

Srinivasan is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Mathematical Society, Association for Computing Machinery, European Association for Theoretical Computer Science, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He is an elected member of Academia Europaea, received the 2019 Dijkstra Prize in Distributed Computing, and serves as editor-in- chief for ACM Transactions on Algorithms.


Ruth Enid Zambrana

Working at the intersection of women’s studies, public health, public policy and sociology, Ruth Enid Zambrana has been a leader in analyzing and documenting the disparities and inequities in health care faced by women, children and families from underserved communities.

For the last decade, Zambrana has also studied the systemic institutional racism and inequity that contribute to work stress and adverse health condi- tions among historically underrepresented faculty in higher education.

“I believe that when historians review the strands and scholarly antecedents to our current focus on racial, ethnic and gender health inequality in urban communities, that Dr. Zambrana’s ... national and international research and scholarly writing beginning in the 1980s will be recognized as having shaped the field and current dialogue on health and inequality frameworks,” says Claire Brindis, Caldwell B. Esselstyn Chair in Health Policy at the University of California, San Francisco.

Zambrana earned a bachelor’s degree at Queens College, a Master of Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. at Boston University. She has written more than 150 peer-reviewed articles, books, book chapters and monographs, and received grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

She led the development of UMD’s U.S. Latino/a studies minor, and in 2011, Zambrana received the Julian Samora Distinguished Career Award from the Sociology of Latinos section of the American Sociological Association.

Zambrana was also instrumental in renaming the University of Maryland’s Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies to honor the native Marylander and freedom fighter.

“Ruth Zambrana is that rare scholar whose work is historically grounded, methodologically rigorous and theoretically significant, while engaging critical issues facing modern society,” says Lynn Weber, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies, Emerita, at the University of South Carolina. “Her research informs her teaching and mentorship, all of which is grounded in an abiding commitment to improving the lives of Latinos and other people of color in the United States and the Americas.”


Derek C. Richardson

If the internal structure of asteroids sounds like a remote subject, consider that many now orbiting in our solar system could rain catastrophic destruction on Earth and that the pioneering research of Derek C. Richardson could help deflect them.

The “modern” story begins some 66 million years ago, when an asteroid or comet 10 kilometers in diameter slammed into what is now Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, drastically altering our planet’s climate and likely contributing to the extinction of dinosaurs. Through theoretical research, including computer codes and models continually refined with students, Richardson established that such asteroids are agglomerations more like “flying rubble piles” than solid space rocks—a fact potentially useful in calculations to prevent a modern-day impact, as well as for understanding how the solar system formed.

Derek has established himself as the world’s leading expert in (and arguably the founder of) the study of a most fundamental structure of our solar system: ‘gravitational aggregates,’” says Richard P. Blinzel, a professor of planetary science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “In plain English, Derek’s work looks at ‘how planets are formed’ and ‘how they stay together.’”

Richardson received his Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge in 1993, and came to the University of Maryland in 2000 with promotion to full professor in 2012. He counts over 100 refereed journal publications since his arrival at the university, including Nature and Science cover stories, and his research has garnered more than 4,700 citations. He was named a UMD Distinguished Scholar-Teacher in 2019.

Richardson’s models have also been essential in interpreting the evolution of the most distant object found in the solar system—Arrokoth—visited in 2019 by the New Horizons spacecraft far beyond Neptune.

He is also an investigator in the NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) scheduled for launch in summer 2021; the test will crash a space craft into an asteroid’s moon to see how its orbit changes. He chairs a working group for the joint NASA-ESA Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment collaboration, and a senior collaborator on the NASA OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample mission.


Todd Cooke

An innovator in life sciences education whose courses have helped thousands of students learn biology, Todd Cooke has been a keystone of undergraduate education at the University of Maryland for more than four decades.

Cooke was the primary architect of both an introductory course on organismal biology and the Integrated Life Sciences (ILS) living-learning program, furthering a mission of making sure students are not just good at science itself, but also understand how it can be applied to the wider world.

“Without his mentorship, I would never have challenged myself to take advantage of the many opportunities this university holds, let alone even know about what was out there to try,” says Megan Gaines ’20, a former ILS student. “His advice has helped steer me in the right direction and helped me grow into the person I am today.”

Cooke earned his B.A. at Antioch College and his Ph.D. in biology at Cornell University. He started at UMD in 1979 as an assistant professor in the Department of Botany, becoming an associate professor in 1984 and professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics in 1995.

He spearheaded the new introductory course in the early 2000s, emphasizing fundamental principles over memorization, and has taught it more than 20 times to over 2,000 students. As director of the ILS program since its 2011 founding, Cooke has become the consummate mentor, annually guiding students to prestigious awards such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Churchill and Goldwater scholarships.

Department Chair Jonathan Dinman compares him to the beloved Professor Dumbledore of “Harry Potter” fame, and says Cooke benefited from his interactions with students as much as they did, developing into “a confident, outgoing, highly respected and valued colleague at all levels of the university.”

“His impact has been incalculable,” he says. “In sum, (Cooke) is a transformational figure: His impact on how we teach and integrate the biological sciences with the curriculum of the rest of the university will be felt for a generation.”

Marcio A. Oliveira

A first-generation college student, Marcio Oliveira earned his Ph.D. in neural motor control from Brazil’s Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in 2003. He came to UMD in 2004, first as a postdoctoral fellow and then a research assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and the neuro- science and cognitive science program, amassing 60+ peer-reviewed published manuscripts related to motor control, development and motor learning.

Oliveira also excelled by embracing learning technologies to enhance engagement in large classes, according to Jane Clark, professor emerita and former dean of the School of Public Health, who appointed him the school’s first assistant dean for educational innovation and technology in 2012.

“It was the perfect position for his creativity, vision and passion for educational excellence,” she says. “And immediately, he became the change agent and difference maker.”

In 2015, Oliveira joined the Division of Information Technology and assumed his current role as assistant vice president of academic technology and innovation in 2016. This year, he was elected by his peers to chair the Big Ten Academic Alliance Learning Technology Leaders and was also appointed by the provost as interim executive director of the UMD Teaching and Learning Transformation Center within the Division of Academic Affairs.

When facing the unprecedented challenge of moving the university to operate remotely due to COVID-19, Oliveira’s leadership became crucial to integrating different teams and launching multiple resources to support the UMD community. In meetings with senior leaders, “there was a steady, authoritative, reassuring presence seated at the provost’s right arm,” says Lucy Dalgish, dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. “I was dumbstruck several times at Dr. Oliveira’s composure and assurance that we could pull it off. There was not a question raised that he could not answer.”

Rather than introducing technology for technology’s sake, Oliveira focuses on improving learning with easy-to-use tools, says Elizabeth Beise, associate provost for academic planning and programs. This perspective became exceedingly more important in the early days of preparing for remote instruction.

“He continues to anticipate and propose creative solutions for our most urgent needs to support our instructional mission as we grapple with what is to come,” Beise says. “This experience is likely to have changed the campus forever, and Marcio and his team deserve recognition for making this transition much less painful and disruptive than it could have been.”

In his current leadership roles, Oliveira fosters effective, engaging, efficient and equitable teaching and learning by guiding strategic institutional vision, pace and priorities. His team sees him as a true mentor, says Deborah Mateik, director of learning technology design, as his “professional lifetime spent developing relationships, innovating teaching and learning, pushing creative boundaries and agitating for change enabled him to provide clear vision, bold ideas and compassionate leadership.”

Megan Masters, director of academic technology experience, adds that “as a developmentalist, Marcio’s ability to inspire people to transcend traditional boundaries to problem solving extends far beyond his role within DIT. It truly benefits the campus community, making a difference every single day.”


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