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Faculty honored for outstanding achievements


Research scientists, engineers, lawyers and authors were among those honored at the annual Top Scholars reception

FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg recognized more than two dozen distinguished members of the FIU academic community for their outstanding achievements in research and scholarship at the Top Scholars reception April 9.

“It is clear that you are reaching for the stars,” said Rosenberg at the annual event held at the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential House. “You have set high goals and and you have met them. The provost and I want to challenge you to keep it up.”

Former Florida Judge and FIU Associate Professor of law Phyllis Kotey – who was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach constitutional law and criminal procedure at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana – said she was proud to be nominated with such world-class scholars. “I think of myself as a practitioner, never as a scholar. It’s wonderful to be welcomed by this prestigious group.”

Jose Almirall, the director of the International Forensic Research Institute and a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said, “It’s great the university recognizes our achievement. This is an optimistic place.”

Almirall added he is most proud of his work with graduate students, specifically his Ph.D. student who defended his thesis this semester. The Top Scholar received the University Graduate School Provost Award for Outstanding Mentorship of Graduate Students last month.

As a tribute to their contribution to the university, FIU’s Top Scholars are asked to choose a book that has influenced their professional and/or personal life. The tomes will be purchased and donated to the library in their name.

Honorees are nominated by their respective deans through the Office of the Provost. The following faculty members were recognized this year.

Lynne Barrett, a professor of English, was honored at the Florida Heritage Month 2012 awards ceremony for Magpies, her latest collection of short stories.

David Rifkind, an assistant professor of architecture, received the Ackerman Prize – one of the most prestigious international awards for scholarly work in architectural history – and the 2011-2012 Best Scholarship of Design Article Award for his article “Misprision of Precedent: Design as Creative Misreading.”

Thomas Reio, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, was recognized by the Richard A. Swanson Research Paper-of-the-Year for Human Resource Development Quarterly for his paper, “Managing workplace incivility: The role of conflict management styles – antecedent or antidote?” He also received the Best Issue Award for co-editing the topical journal Advances in Developing Human Resources.

Phyllis Kotey, a clinical associate professor in the College of Law, received a Fulbright to teach constitutional law and criminal procedure at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana.

FIU is honoring its top scholars in a full-page Miami Herald ad on Sunday, April 29.

David Cohen, a professor in the School of Social Work, was the recipient of the distinguished Tocqueville-Fulbright Chair Award. He will be a visiting professor at Université de Poitiers, France.

Gustavo Roig, a professor in the College of Engineering and Computing, received the Dr. Albert V. Baez Award, honoring engineers and scientists with outstanding technical achievements and service to humanity

Seza Gulec, a professor in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, established the Leon and Serena Simkins Center for Thryroid and Neuroendocrine Tumors.

Arindam Chowdhury, director of the Laboratory for Wind Engineering Research International Hurricane Research Center and assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

Kinzy Jones, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Microelectronics and Packaging Society, a 44-year-old Society with 4,000 members in the United States and 17 international chapters worldwide.

Mark Weiss, a professor in the School of Computing and Information Sciences, was named the Association for Computing Machinery Distinguished Educator.

Thomas Baker, a professor in the College of Law, was made Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, an honorary organization of lawyers, judges, and legal scholars whose public and private careers have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the welfare of their communities and to the highest principles of the legal profession.

Ediberto Roman, a professor in the College of Law, was made Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, an honorary organization of lawyers, judges, and legal scholars whose public and private careers have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the welfare of their communities and to the highest principles of the legal profession.

Mary Jo Trepka, an associate professor in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, was the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers.

Alexis McKenney, an associate professor in the Department of Leadership and Professional Studies in the College of Education, received the Excellence in Education Award and the Presidential Citation Award.

Meredith Newman, chair of the Department of Public Administration, received the Lifetime Achievement in Public Human Resources Scholarship Award from the American Society for Public Administration.

Weirui Wang, an assistant professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, was one of only four communication professionals to be honored with the Emerging Scholars Award by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Jose Almirall, director of FIU’s International Forensics Research Institute, was honored for his research in forensic analytical chemistry. Almirall also received the University Graduate School Provost Award for Outstanding Mentorship of Graduate Students.

William Pelham, director of FIU’s Center for Children and Families, was honored for his research in child behavior disorders.

Fernando Noriega, an associate professor in biological sciences, received additional funding from the National Institutes of Health for his work, which combines physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genomics and proteomics to study a mosquito’s physiological processes such as digestion, activity of the endocrine system and hormonal and nutritional regulation of gene expression.

Naphtali Rishe, director of FIU’s High Performance Database Research Center, was honored for his research in database management and high performance computing.

Albert Gan, an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was recognized for his research in highway safety, traffic simulation, ITS, GIS, transit planning and demand modeling.

Shu-Ching Chen, a professor in the School of Computing and Information Sciences, was honored for his research in content-based image/video retrieval, distributed multimedia database management systems, multimedia data mining, multimedia systems, and Disaster Information Management.

Ranu Jung, the Wallace H. Coulter Eminent Scholars Chair of FIU’s biomedical engineering program, leads the largest and most active biomedical engineering program in Florida. Her research aims to restore touch to arm and hand prostheses.

Atorod Azizinamini, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is known worldwide as a leading visionary bridge engineer. He has received a number of awards, including the Civil Engineering Research Foundation Charles Pankow Award for his innovative bridge system, the American Institute of Steel Construction Special Achievement Award for his significant contributions to steel bridge engineering and its impact on the steel industry.

JoAnne Youngblut, a professor of nursing, was recognized for her research on families with critically ill children, both during and after the illness. She received a National Institutes of Health grant to study children’s responses to a sibling’s death.

Monica Tremblay, an assistant professor in the Decision Sciences and Information Systems Department in the College of Business Administration, was honored for her research on data analytics and business intelligence; data and text mining; data quality; data warehousing; decision support systems; and knowledge management, particularly in the context of health care.

Jaroslava Miksovska, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was honored for her research on the application of photoacoustic calorimetry and photothermal beam deflection to investigate variety of chemical and biochemical processes.

Nazife Ganapati, an assistant professor in Public Administration, was honored for her research in disaster recovery, vulnerability and resilience. She has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on the 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2005 Hurricane Katrina, 1996 Southern Plains Draught, and the 1993 Midwest Floods.

Leonard Scinto, an assistant professor in the Department Earth and Environment, was recognized for his work in the biogeochemistry of freshwater wetlands, especially the cycling and impacts of anthropogenic nutrients.

Nicole Ruggiano, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work, was recognized for her research on the decision making of older adults in consumer-directed, long-term care.

James Waxmonsky is an investigator in FIU’s Center for Children and Families. He focuses on the pharmacological treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder  in adults.

Maria Elena Villar, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, was recognized for her research project, “FACES Social Networking.” Villar lead the social marketing team for Miami’s FACES (Families and Communities Empowered for Success). The goal of the project is to transform the way mental health and substance abuse services are delivered to youth in Miami-Dade County.