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2020 Rutgers President's Awards

Arts and Sciences faculty honored for teaching, research, and service 


Congratulations to the Arts and Sciences faculty and staff honored for excellence in teaching, research, and service by Rutgers University in 2020. From Genetics to German and from Psychology to Kinesiology and Health, these dedicated Rutgers professionals are developing new knowledge, inspiring students, creating programs, and building lasting relationships with communities outside the university.

See below all the awards earned by Arts and Sciences.


The Warren I. Susman Awards for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to faculty members in recognition of outstanding service in stimulating and guiding the intellectual development of students at Rutgers University.

Nicholas Rennie

Nicholas A. Rennie, Department of German, Russian, and East European Languages and Literatures, in recognition of his strong devotion to students through his patient and caring mentorship, his ability to create an inclusive and engaging classroom environment that challenges and supports the intellectual and professional development of his students, and his impressive commitment to the undergraduate program through numerous positions of advising and service.

Richard Dienst, Department of English, in recognition of his excellent and innovative teaching and caring mentorship of generations of students, his ability to create a classroom environment that encourages students to be creative and inventive, and his commitment to advise and professionally support students long after their time at the university.


The Rutgers Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research honors faculty members who have made distinguished research contributions to their discipline or society.

rebecca walkowitz

Rebecca L. Walkowitz, Department of English, in recognition of her impact on several scholarly fields through her creation of new transnational approaches to literary history, including articulating models of transnational study that address newly emergent intersections between literary practices and globalization.

The Board of Trustees Research Fellowships for Scholarly Excellence honors faculty members who have recently been promoted with tenure and whose work shows exceptional promise.

Simon Charlow, Department of Linguistics, in recognition of his creative and distinctive research addressing foundational issues in semantics and providing genuine explanations for long-standing mysteries in the field; his interdisciplinary work that invites engagement from philosophers; and his elegant, original use of computation methodologies in semantics, which creates a bridge between linguistics and computer science.

Simon Charlow

David Margolis 

David J. Margolis, Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, in recognition of his remarkable and cutting-edge research contributions in understanding how neural circuits in the brain process information and promote learning, including his use of state-of-the-art optical and electrophysiological techniques in animal models to decipher the operation of these circuits in the healthy brain and how they are altered by injury or disease.

Jinchuan Xing, Department of Genetics, in recognition of his over twenty years of highly productive and impactful cross-disciplinary research addressing fundamental questions in genetics and genome science, particularly his collaborative work to determine how genome sequence variation contributes to human disease.

Jinchuan Xing 

The Presidential Fellowships for Teaching Excellence honors newly tenured faculty members for outstanding teaching and scholarly work.

Teresa Leyro

Teresa M. Leyro, Department of Psychology, in recognition of her exemplary talent and skill in the classroom, including her ability to combine clinical expertise and scientific knowledge in facilitating course discussions; her innovative curriculum and course development; and her unwavering commitment to mentoring and promoting the career and research interests of her students.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to non-tenure-track, full-time faculty members for outstanding teaching skills in classroom instruction, clinical instruction, curriculum development, or mentoring.

Susan Kaplowitz, Department of Kinesiology and Health, in recognition of her more than thirty years of inspirational teaching and mentoring in motor learning, exercise science and sport studies, and exercise and aging, which engages students at all levels and demonstrates to them the importance of community outreach and engagement; and her transformational impact on the next generation of professionals who will carry her model of support, enthusiasm, love of the profession, and service to others.


Jennifer Tamas

Jennifer Tamas, Department of French, in recognition of her outstanding and imaginative teaching, including her ability to create a classroom distinguished by intellectual rigor combined with warmth and spontaneity; her innovative curriculum and pedagogical approaches; and her unwavering commitment to mentoring and advising students.

Jessica Rispoli Joines, Department of Genetics, in recognition of her creative and dynamic teaching, which engages students through active learning and clinical case applications; her development and successful launch of the first accredited Genetic Counseling Master’s Program in New Jersey; and her innovative curriculum development with members of the Department of Genetics and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School clinical geneticists, modeling an exemplary collaboration among the academic and medical areas of Rutgers University.

J Joines

The Rutgers College Class of 1930-Ernest E. McMahon Award is named in honor of Ernest E. McMahon (RC '30) who was a dean of University College, dean of the University Extension Division, and director of the Institute of Management and Labor Relations, and who demonstrated a commitment to extending the mission of Rutgers to new populations. In the spirit of Ernest McMahon, this award is given to an individual or a group within Rutgers University that has made a significant and creative contribution to the extension of the educational resources of the University to the people of New Jersey through such means as continuing education or extramural programs.


The team of Sheri A. La Macchia, Department of Italian, Carmela Scala, Department of Italian, and Christopher J. Scherer, Office of New Program Initiatives and Digital Learning School of Arts and Sciences (pictured above), in recognition of their development of the dual enrollment program between Rutgers University and New Jersey schools that allows high school students to enroll in Italian language courses at the university and gain college-level credits; their teamwork to address academic and administrative challenges in creating a template for future initiatives of this kind in other disciplines; and the program’s success in enabling students residing in New Jersey to learn a language with college-level academic rigor, while offering an invaluable service to highly motivated and high-achieving students, who may be inspired to continue studying Italian when they begin college.