The University of South Carolina recognized 24 faculty and staff as its 2022 faculty
award recipients. These individuals came from six different schools or colleges and
three system campuses, but all shared a common commitment to excellence across teaching,
research, mentorship and service.
“We have some of the best faculty in the country, and that is exemplified by this
year’s faculty award recipients,” says Interim Provost Stephen Cutler. “The way that they care for their students, conduct research that makes a difference,
and prepare our nation’s next generation of leaders is truly world class. I am appreciative
of the time, care and effort that the award recipients put toward fostering academic
excellence at this university.”
Please view this year’s award winners below.
UofSC Columbia Teaching Awards
Dr. James Cook, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor Obstetrics and Gynecology UofSC 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 UofSC, 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, 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, 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
UofSC 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, 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
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, 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, 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, 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.
UofSC Columbia Research Awards
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 UofSC 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
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, 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, 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
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, 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 UofSC 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.
UofSC Columbia Other Awards
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, 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 UofSC 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, 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
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, 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 UofSC 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, 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, 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 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 UofSC 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, 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, 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.
Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.