Nine faculty members of the School of Arts and Sciences were among 31 Rutgers educators receiving the 2021-2022 Faculty Year-End Excellence Awards.
Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Prabhas Moghe presented the awards May 5, recognizing educators for the work they do guiding the intellectual development of students, for exceptional research accomplishments, and for service to the community.
“This is a moment about expressing our pride in you and this is the moment we get to say thank you," Holloway said. “Thank you for your dedication to excellence and thank you for your commitment to your students. Thank you for your keen insight into your exemplary research and thank you for helping Rutgers change the world for the better. Thank you for all of this."
The Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence
The award honors newly promoted and tenured faculty members who have made truly outstanding contributions to teaching during their early years at Rutgers.
Kasia M. Bieszczad, Department of Psychology, in recognition of her enthusiastic and skillful teaching; her great success in designing creative and engaging courses; and her remarkable mentoring, which extends more broadly to the undergraduate community through her work co-founding the Rutgers chapter of the National Honor Society in Neuroscience, and her organization of conferences for undergraduate researchers in the tri-state area.
Joseph V. Casillas, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, in recognition of his exemplary style and talent in the classroom; his creative curriculum and course development, including his commitment to a student-centered learning environment; his generous mentoring of students; and his impact on Spanish linguistics at every pedagogical level, both within and beyond the classroom.
Christopher E. Ellison, Department of Genetics, in recognition of his outstanding teaching in both the laboratory and classroom settings, his innovative collaboration with the Genomics Education Partnership to provide essential remote research opportunities to undergraduates during the COVID-19 pandemic, and his remarkable dedication to mentoring and advising students.
The Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence
The award recognizes the exceptional research accomplishments of newly promoted and tenured faculty members.
Jedediah H. Pixley, Department of Physics and Astronomy, in recognition of his path-breaking research in condensed matter systems, particularly his exploration of quantum phase transitions, where phase transitions are taking place due to quantum rather than thermal fluctuations; and his ability to combine high performance numerical techniques with analytic calculations in his work.
Desheng Zhang, Department of Computer Science, in recognition, of his novel research in cyber-physical systems (CPS), which focuses on applying data science techniques to analyze and model data-driven systems in urban settings, spanning several sub-areas, including modeling of human mobility, trustworthy CPS, and heterogeneous mobile CPS modeling.
The Presidential Outstanding Faculty Scholar Award
The award honors newly promoted full professors whose breadth of academic portfolios reflect outstanding research, scholarship, or creative work, as well as truly outstanding contributions to teaching along with extensive service to the Rutgers community and beyond.
Tao Jiang, Department of Religion, in recognition of his groundbreaking work in Chinese and comparative philosophy, especially his bold and original approach to providing new frameworks for understanding early Chinese philosophy; his engaging, passionate teaching; his dedication to mentoring students; and his tireless service and commitment to his colleagues, institution, and greater intellectual community.
Maurice Wallace, Department of English, in recognition of his outstanding scholarship in nineteenth- and twentieth-century African American literature and culture, including his interdisciplinary work on the social and representational history of Black masculinity, religion and spirituality, sound studies, and visual culture; his rigorous and inspiring teaching at multiple levels; his exceptional mentoring, which has played a pivotal role in launching the careers of numerous young Black studies scholars; and his longstanding record as a generous colleague, offering remarkable service and leadership to the department, the University, and the profession.
The Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research
The award honors tenured faculty members who have made distinguished research contributions to their discipline and/or society at large.
Michael P. Verzi, Department of Genetics, in recognition of his creative and rigorous research in gastroenterology, including his work in understanding intestinal gene regulation, mechanisms of colon cancer, and his expertise in intestinal stem cells and intestinal biology; whose collaborative world-class research program is making important contributions to the next generation of researchers.
The Faculty Scholar-Teacher Award
The award honors tenured faculty members who have made outstanding synergistic contributions in research and teaching. This award recognizes those who make visible the vital link between teaching and scholarship by contributing to the scholarship of teaching and by bringing together scholarly and classroom activities.
Leah DeVun, Department of History, in recognition of her field-leading research on the history of gender, sexuality, science, and medicine in pre-modern Europe; her writings, which address a broad contemporary audience in academe and beyond; her creative and theoretically astute scholarship and teaching, which engage contemporary debates concerning gender, sexuality, and power; and her commitment to advising and advocating for students throughout her career, her activism to support social justice in society, and her powerful communication, through her teaching and scholarship, of why the past matters.