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Office of the Provost

Faculty Awards Ceremony

Celebrating faculty passion and expertise

Congratulations to all our 2022 Faculty Award winners from our Columbia and regional Palmetto College campuses, and to our newest Carolina Trustees professors.  

This year's winners represent a wide range of disciplines and differ broadly in their individual styles and classroom methods, yet they all share a genuine commitment to their students and the ability to find creative, successful ways to convey their passion and expertise in the classroom. 

 

USC Columbia Teaching Awards

Dr. James Cook portrait

Dr. James Cook, MD

Clinical Assistant Professor
Obstetrics and Gynecology
USC School of Medicine- Columbia

Dr. James Cook is the Assistant Dean for Clinical Learning and Clinical Assistant Professor of Ob/Gyn for the School of Medicine Columbia. In addition to his role at USC, Dr. Cook serves as Medical Director of the Palmetto Health Women's Center and assists with patient care in the labor and delivery unit at Prisma Health Richland Hospital. He also works with students as the Medical Student Clerkship Director. His philosophy regarding teaching medicine revolves around the idea that as a physician and educator he is always teaching. Through asking hypothetical and conceptual questions, Dr. Cook challenges his medical students to think critically. 

Dr. Michaela Almgren portrait

Dr. Michaela Almgren, PharmD, MS

Assistant Professor
Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences
College of Pharmacy

Dr. Michaela Almgren is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences at the College of Pharmacy. She also maintains a practice site at Nephron Pharmaceuticals as a Clinical Advisor and serves as a preceptor for pharmacy students, and as director of the pharmacy student intern program. Dr. Almgren's areas of expertise include sterile compounding of hazardous and non-hazardous medications and health systems pharmacy practice. She also has previous pharmaceutical industry experience. Prior to completing her doctorate, Almgren worked in pharmaceutical research. Her pharmacy practice experience includes home infusion, long term care, hospital as well as community pharmacy. Dr. Almgren is an active member of a number of local and national pharmacist and pharma industry organizations.

Dr. Tammi Richardson portrait

Dr. Tammi Richardson, PhD

Professor
Biological Sciences; Earth, Ocean and Environment
College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Tammi Richardson is currently serving as Professor and chair of the Biological Sciences Department in the College of Arts & Sciences. Her lab studies phytoplankton, the microscopic algae that give the ocean its greenish color and that photosynthesize, removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Specifically, Dr. Richardson is interested in how light, nutrients, and temperature influence phytoplankton growth and taxonomic composition, including the development of "red tides" (harmful algal blooms). Dr. Richardson is a passionate and energetic instructor who cares deeply about her students. She can explain difficult concepts in an accessible manner and engages her students by using real world examples. Her positive attitude encourages students when they are having difficulty and they appreciate the concern that she shows about their welfare. Dr. Richardson has an extensive history of producing high-quality publications while teaching and mentoring in the USC classroom. Over 63 students have worked with Dr. Richardson in her lab since 2005, and she has also served as an academic advisor. Dr. Richardson’s commitment to the university has taken her far and we are pleased to name her the 2022 Michael J. Mungo Distinguished Professor of the year. 

Sara Schneckloth portrait

Sara Schneckloth, MFA

Associate Professor
Studio Art
School of Visual Art and Design

Sara Schneckloth is motivated by the question of how science, imagination, and the body inform one another through the activity of drawing. By combining the visual languages of biology, geology, and physics into large-scale, mixed-media, and interactive drawings, she creates images that speak to the physicality of markmaking, the embodiment of memory, and our interpretation of natural systems and phenomena. In teaching drawing, Schneckloth’s main objective is to enable students to translate the world around and within them into visual arguments, while meeting high standards of technical execution and conceptual rigor. Through mentoring graduate students in the School of Visual Art and Design in the College of Arts & Sciences, Schneckloth hopes to help strengthen new generations of artists. 

Dr. Meredith DeBoom portrait

Dr. Meredith DeBoom, PhD

Assistant Professor
Geography
College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Meredith DeBoom joined the Geography Department in the College of Arts & Sciences  in 2018 after earning a Ph.D. in Geography with a Certificate in Development Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She also holds a B.A. in International Studies and Political Science with minors in Economics and Geography from the University of Iowa. Prior to her academic career, DeBoom worked in public policy with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Iowa Legislature. In the classroom, DeBoom focuses on developing trust with her students, challenging their assumptions about the world, and providing mentorship. 

Dr. Sheryl Wiskur portrait

Dr. Sheryl Wiskur, PhD

Assistant Professor
Chemistry and Biochemistry
College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Sheryl Wiskur has been with the University since 2005 and currently serves as a Graduate Director in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Arts & Sciences. Her research interests lie within the area of synthetic organic methodology.  Wiskur has mentored undergraduate students in a variety of ways, including advising on class selection, guiding them in her laboratory, providing career advice, and teaching. In her organic chemistry classroom, she focuses on helping students build a strong foundation of study skills that leads to success. Wiskur’s approach to teaching has been shaped by her own experiences as a student. 

Dr. Charles Andy Schumpert portrait

Dr. Charles Andy Schumpert, PhD

Instructor
Biological Sciences
College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Charles Andy Schumpert is an Instructional Faculty member and Lab Coordinator in the Department of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences. Dr. Schumpert is a lifelong Carolina fan and a passionate educator devoted to making science more accessible to all students. After studying Daphnia aging and helping to establish different molecular techniques to help study the small water flea, Dr. Schumpert turned to pedagogy and took his sciences skills to the classroom. Dr. Schumpert is always striving to make his classroom a warm and inviting place for students to learn and he implements advanced teaching strategies and technologies. He believes science is a universal language and hopes to impart the love and wonder of nature to all his students.

Dr. Andrew Gillentine portrait

Dr. Andrew Gillentine, PhD

Professor
Sport and Entertainment Management
College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

Dr. Andrew Gillentine is a professor in the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. Prior to this appointment, Gillentine held positions as associate dean of the college and chair of the Department of Sport and Entertainment. Gillentine believes that educators should provide students with as many “real world” applications as possible that will require them to actively participate in identifying problems and developing solutions. His hands-on approach to mentorship and his drive to implement innovative instructional strategies in the classroom has benefitted many University students for years. 

USC Columbia Research Awards

Dr. Qiana Whitted portrait

Dr. Qiana Whitted, PhD

Professor
English Language and Literature

College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Qiana Whitted, Professor of English and Interim Associate Dean for College Initiatives and Interdisciplinary Programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, is this year’s winner of the Russell Research Award for Humanities and Social Sciences. For nearly two decades, since her arrival to USC in 2003, Dr. Whitted has consistently published outstanding scholarship in the field of African American literature and culture. Dr. Whitted has become nationally and internationally recognized as a major scholar and editor in the rapidly growing field of comics studies, a field in which she recently earned a highly prestigious book award.

Dr. Caryn Outten portrait

Dr. Caryn Outten, PhD

Professor
Chemistry and Biochemistry
College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Caryn Outten joined the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry in 2005 and currently holds the title of Guy F. Lipscomb Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is now a renowned world leader in the intersecting field of metallobiochemistry and redox biology, in which she focuses on the regulation and dynamic utilization of essential metals and other redox-active molecules in biological systems. Dr. Outten’s multidisciplinary, independent research program has been consistently funded by the National Institutes of Health with five independent research grants totaling over $6.84 million. Her latest NIH grant has been approved for five years at $2.5 million.

Dr. Ozgur Sahin portrait

Dr. Ozgur Sahin, PhD

Associate Professor
Drug Discovery & Biomedical Sciences
College of Pharmacy

Dr. Ozgur Sahin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Drug Discovery & Biomedical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy. Sahin's laboratory focuses on elucidating the molecular mechanisms of tumorigenesis, drug resistance and metastasis mainly in breast cancer using systems biology approaches. In this line, he utilizes cancer cell lines, patient-derived xenografts (PDXs), transgenic animal models, organoids (both PDX- and patient-derived), and patient tumor tissue to answer key questions on drug resistance, response and tolerance as well as metastasis. Sahin uses his research to positively impact the lives of cancer patients.

Dr. Agnes Mueller portrait

Dr. Agnes Mueller, PhD

Professor
Languages, Literatures and Cultures
College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Agnes Mueller earned her PhD from Vanderbilt University and currently serves as a Professor of German and Comparative Literature in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures in the College of Arts & Sciences. Mueller is also a core faculty member in Jewish Studies and is affiliated with Women's and Gender Studies. Her essay publications are on German-American relations, multicultural studies, gender issues in contemporary literature, German Jewish studies, and Holocaust studies. Mueller has been with the University since 1998 and has extensive administrative, teaching, and publication experience.

Dr. Andrea Hickerson portrait

Dr. Andrea Hickerson, PhD

Professor
Journalism and Mass Communications
College of Information and Communications

Dr. Andrea Hickerson currently serves as Associate Dean for the College of Information and Communications as well as the Director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to joining the University, Hickerson was the director of the School of Communication at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. A foundational faculty member in the journalism program, she distinguished herself by building interdisciplinary and community partnerships and by obtaining external funding. Hickerson conducts research on journalism routines, with emphasis on the use of technology, and political communication, particularly in transnational and immigrant communities.

Dr. Andreas Heyden portrait

Dr. Andreas Heyden, PhD

Professor
Chemical Engineering
College of Engineering and Computing

Dr. Andreas Heyden is the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Chemical Engineering at the College of Engineering and Computing. He earned his PhD from Hamburg University of Technology and has been with USC since 2007. His research interests are in the areas of nanomaterial science and heterogeneous catalysis. Dr. Heyden has developed a research program that has earned more than $7 million in federal funding. His research contributions are diverse and impactful, his work has been consistently funded, his publication record is robust, and his research has enabled the development of a large group of doctoral and postdoctoral scientists.

USC Columbia Other Awards

Dr. Grigory Simin portrait

Dr. Grigory Simin, PhD

Professor
Electrical Engineering

College of Engineering and Computing

Dr. Grigory Simin is currently the Undergraduate Director for the Electrical Engineering department in the College of Engineering and Computing. Dr. Simin has been with the University since 2001 and interprets the term “advising” broadly, allowing his practice to encompass everything from streamlining processes, guiding towards electives, and showing genuine concern for his students. Through knowledge of academic requirements, making informed referrals, and building trust with students, Dr. Simin has improved retention in the Electrical Engineering program for many years. 

Sarah Jusiewicz portrait

Sarah Jusiewicz, MA

Director of Advising
Student Services

College of Engineering and Computing

Sarah Jusiewicz is the Director of Advising for the College of Engineering and Computing. She has been with USC since 2013 and has served as both a First-Year Advisor and Advising Coordinator before taking her current role. Jusiewicz wears many hats as Director of Advising, managing all aspects of the process including training of faculty and staff, coordinating student orientation, and advising students. Jusiewicz relates advising to building a bridge. Having the basic infrastructure of advising theories and practices creates the blueprint for advising that guides her towards meaningful connections with students.

Dr. Rutvik Desai portrait

Dr. Rutvik Desai, PhD

Professor
Psychology
College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Rutvik Desai is a Professor in the College of Arts and Science’s Department of Psychology. His primary research areas are language and meaning. As a cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Desai has made major contributions to several areas that have had foundational impact on the field. He works with post-doctoral fellows, students, and co-investigators to research the semantic system of the brain using neuroimaging. One highlight from his long list of accolades is his steady NIH funding for over 10 years on multiple grants. Dr. Desai continues to contribute leadership to the Department of Psychology, as well as bring national and international visibility to the University of South Carolina. 

Dr. James Pinckney portrait

Dr. James Pinckney, PhD

Professor
Biological Sciences; Earth, Ocean and Environment
College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. James Pinckney serves as Director of the Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences. As a marine biologist, he studies how marine ecosystems work, especially in terms of how they process energy derived from microscopic plants (phytoplankton and microalgae). Most of his work is conducted in estuarine and coastal waters, including the Gulf of Mexico, San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, North Inlet Estuary on the South Carolina coast, and Galveston Bay, Texas. Dr. Pinckney teaches undergraduate courses, mentors students in his research lab and continually publishes peer-reviewed research. 

Dr. David Rocheleau portrait

Dr. David Rocheleau, PhD

Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering and Computing

The Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity recognizes that faculty members and instructors play a significant role in developing students of integrity. Recipients of this award proactively and effectively implement a culture of academic integrity, show care and concern both for students and their development, and promote the Carolinian Creed. This year’s USC Integrity Award Winner is David Rocheleau. Dr. Rocheleau is an Associate Professor in the department of Mechanical Engineering. His main research interests are in engineering design and product development with a focus on applied mechanisms, robotics, and mechatronics.

Dr. Lori Ziolkowski portrait

Dr. Lori Ziolkowski, PhD

Associate Professor
Earth, Ocean and Environment
College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Lori Ziolkowski is an Associate Professor and Undergraduate Director for the School of Earth, Ocean and Environment in the College of Arts & Sciences. She has been with the University since 2013 and has a far-reaching career rooted in servant leadership both inside and outside the University. Ziolkowski has served on various committees and co-authored her unit’s self-study for external review. She supervises staff members and is an advocate in the Columbia community serving as a council-appointed member of the city’s CLIMATE Protection Action Committee. Through service, Ziolkowski not only gives back to others but has found an enhanced quality of life. 

Comprehensive Universities and Palmetto College Awards

Dr. Manuel Sanders portrait

Dr. Manuel Sanders, PhD

Professor
Mathematics

USC Beaufort

Dr. Manuel “Bud” Sanders, Professor of Mathematics at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, has been improving undergraduate education in semi-rural areas of the Lowcountry since 2005. Dr. Sanders has had multiple responsibilities as Director of General Education and as Department Chair. Dr. Sanders has made an institutional and globally-relevant academic difference at USC Beaufort. His growth and expansion of Mathematics, Computational Science, and international opportunities made him the perfect candidate for the Carolina Trustees Professorship for system campuses. 

Dr. Wei-Kai (Bryan) Lai portrait

Dr. Wei-Kai Lai, PhD

Professor
Mathematics

USC Salkehatchie

Dr. Wei-Kai (Bryan) Lai is a Professor of Mathematics at USC Salkehatchie. Dr. Lai’s service work spans all four areas including campus, system, community, and profession. At his campus, Dr. Lai has served on various searches, chaired multiple committees, and advised students in USC Salkehatchie’s International Student Organization. He is a faculty senate member for both USC Columbia and Palmetto College. Dr. Lai’s efforts reach into the community through his role as Vice Chair for Two Year Colleges at the Mathematical Association of America Southeastern Section as well as Representative-at-Large for Interests of Faculty and Two-Year Colleges. Dr. Lai has stated that service work is a way for him to “pay it forward”, to show gratitude for all the help he has received in the past. We are incredibly grateful for Professor Lai’s remarkable service.

Dr. Andrew Kunka portrait

Dr. Andrew Kunka, PhD

Professor
Division of Arts and Letters

USC Sumter

Dr. Andrew Kunka is a Professor English at USC Sumter. As an internationally recognized comics scholar who has produced work for the major journals and presses in the field of comics studies, Dr. Kunka’s scholarship is far-reaching. He has published seven peer-reviewed essays and book chapters and presented his scholarly work at several literature and comics studies conferences. He recently published a book titled The Life and Comics of Howard Cruse: Taking Risks in the Service of Truth through Rutgers University Press and has a book proposal accepted by Routledge with coauthor Rachel R. Miller entitled Introduction to American Comics. In addition to many other roles, Dr. Kunka demonstrated his service by closely with the University of South Carolina’s Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library to develop their holdings in comics studies.

Dr. Francis Burns portrait

Dr. Francis Burns, PhD

Assistant Professor
Chemistry

USC Salkehatchie

Dr. Francis Burns is currently serving as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and USC Salkehatchie. Dr. Burns’ demonstration of outstanding teaching is reflected in his chemistry course designs which utilize technology to better engage students, allowing them to actively participate in their learning. Outside of the classroom, he has explored various teaching technologies through online training and workshops. Inside the classroom, Dr. Burns uses a variety of engaging pedagogical methods. His passion for assessing student needs has led him to several opportunities for scholarship and grant-funded research. Dr. Burns’ efforts have empowered students and improved their success. 

 


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