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CoAS Accomplishments in Brief


July 7, 2021

We are pleased to recognize the recent grants, publications, presentations, awards and honors of the members of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Awards and Honors

The College of Arts and Sciences had numerous graduate students win Graduate College awards. View the list of winners.

Keisha April, a PhD student in psychology, won the Art Nezu Dissertation Diversity Award. This prestigious award recognizes an individual whose doctoral dissertation makes an outstanding contribution to the field of professional psychology and diversity and/or multiculturalism. The recipient receives a $1,000 award and is honored at the American Board of Professional Psychology Convocation during the APA Annual Convention.

Brenda Dyer, PhD, assistant teaching professor of French, was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences’ Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award.

Kelly Joyce, PhD, professor of sociology and interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, was elected chair of the Science, Knowledge, and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association.

Kari Lenhart, PhD, assistant professor of biology, was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences’ Antelo Devereaux Award for Young Faculty.

Amanda McMillan Lequieu, PhD, assistant professor of sociology, was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences’ Antelo Devereaux Award for young faculty.

Two PhD candidates from Professor of Biology and Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science Sean O’Donnell, PhD’s lab were awarded NSF post-doctoral fellowships: Meghan Barrett will use her fellowship to do research with Terry McGlynn, PhD (CSU - Dominguez Hills), Liping Wang, PhD, (ASU) and Andrea Armani, PhD, (USC) on variation in thermal and optical properties of ant cuticular structures across elevational and latitudinal gradients. Katie Fiocca will use her fellowship to do research with Dr. Lauren O’Connell and Dr. Deborah Gordon at Stanford University, studying the relationship between poison frogs and their toxic ant prey.

Jay Orne, PhD, assistant professor of sociology, was elected chair of the Body and Embodiment Committee of the American Sociological Association.

Ryan Petrie, PhD, assistant professor of biology, won a Provost Award for Outstanding Early-Career Scholarly Achievement.

Nic John Ramos, PhD, assistant professor of history, was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences’ Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award.

Grants and Contracts

John Bethea, PhD, professor of biology, was awarded an NIH R01 grant, making this his fifth concurrent NIH R01.

Naomi Goldstein, PhD, co-director of the JD/PhD program in law and psychology, received a three-year award from the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, via a subcontract from the Center for Children's Law and Policy, to use a data-driven, research-practitioner partnership approach to restructure and enhance South Carolina's juvenile justice system.

John Medaglia, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, received a five-year, $3M grant from the National Institutes of Health - National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to support his research “Validating MXene Electrodes for Next-Generation Electroencephalography.”

John Kounios, PhD, professor of psychology and director of the PhD program in applied cognitive and brain sciences, was awarded a contract from DiagnaMed, Inc. for his research project on EEG-based brain estimation.

Gwen Ottinger, PhD, associate professor of politics and director of the Fair Tech Collective, was awarded a $220,428 grant from the Sloan Foundation to support her project “Open Science Hardware practice: Transforming the politics of scientific knowledge production?”

Michael Silverstein, a PhD student in psychology, won a $1,000 Sigma Xi Grant in Aid of Research Award to support his research on PTSD and ADHD in children.

Gideon Simpson, PhD, associate professor of mathematics, was awarded a new $149,687 grant from the National Science Foundation for his project titled “Collaborative Research: Particles and Proxies for Sampling.”

Ezra Wood, PhD, associate professor of chemistry, received a two-year grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for his project “Quantification of Ozone Formation Rates in Upper Manhattan.” This project is part of a multi-investigator study on air quality in densely populated coastal cities.

Writers Room was awarded $300,000 from the Barra Foundation’s Catalyst Fund to support piloting Second Story Collective’s first intergenerational co-living houses.


Rebecca Clothey, PhD, associate head of global studies and modern languages, co-authored the article “Uyghur students in higher education in the USA: trauma and adaption challenges” in Diaspora, Indigenous and Minority Education.

A review of Assistant Professor of Sociology Jay Orne, PhD’s book Boystown: Sex and Community in Chicago appeared in Contexts.

Miriam Kotzin, PhD, published three poems in Offcourse and a piece of creative nonfiction in Five Minutes.

Abioseh Porter, PhD, professor of English and interim director of Africana studies, has two recent publications: “Pourquoi l’uzège? propos d’Olympe Bhêly-Quenum” in La Nouvelle Cigale Uzégeoise and “Paying Tribute to One of Africa’s [Genuine] Literary Heavyweights: Eustace James Taiwo Palmer” in JALA (Journal of the African Literature Association).

Kevin P.W. Smith, PhD, Annette N. Dean, PhD, Shivanthi Anandan, PhD, Susan Gurney, PhD, Karen Kabnick, PhD, Matthew McDonald, PhD, and Jennifer S. Stanford, PhD, all from the Department of Biology, were part of a team that published “Course-based undergraduate research experiences are a viable approach to increase access to research experiences in biology” in the Journal of Biological Education.

Elias Spiliotis, PhD, assistant professor of biology, and Konstantinos Nakos, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow, published “Cellular functions of actin- and microtubule-associated septins” in Current Biology.

Reviews of Assistant Professor of Sociology Kelly Underman, PhD’s book Feeling Medicine: How the Pelvic Exam Shapes Medical Training appeared in Sociology of Health and Illness and Social Problems.

Jason Weckstein, PhD, associate professor of biodiversity, earth and environmental science, has several recent publications, including “Prevalence and lineage richness of haemosporidians across a moving chickadee hybrid zone” in Ornithology; “Systems and conservation of an endemic radiation of Accipiter hawks in the Caribbean islands,” with graduate student Matthew R. Halley and undergraduate Chyna Poor Thunder, in Ornithology; “Higher probability of tick infestation reveals a hidden cost of army ant-following in Amazonian birds” in Journal of Avian Biology; and “Migration and season explain tick prevalence in Brazilian birds,” with graduate student Kamila Kuabara, in Medical and Veterinary Entomology.

Presentations and Exhibitions

A narrative by Susan Bell, PhD, professor of sociology, appears in the current exhibition “Where Will We Go From Here? Travel in the Age of COVID-19” at the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education at the University of Southern Maine.

Marilyn Piety, PhD, professor of philosophy, had her paper “Pulling Ourselves Together: Kierkegaard and the Catechesis of Contagion” accepted for presentation at the 2021 annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in San Antonio in November.

Abioseh Porter, PhD, professor of English and interim director of Africana studies, participated in three presentations during the annual meeting of the African Literature Association: “Using the City and Other Areas as Arenas to Combat Censorship,” “Themes, Trends, Theories: Critical Routes for Research in African Literature in the 21st Century” and “On Teju: The Team Player and Ideas Promoter,” a memorial panel for Tejumola Olaniyan, editor-in-chief of JALA from 2017-2019.

Sean O'Donnell, PhD, professor of biodiversity, earth and environmental science, delivered the presentation “2021: An Ant Odyssey” at TEDxDrexelU.

Mimi Sheller, PhD, professor and department head for sociology, co-organized and presented a roundtable on forming a Caribbean Anthropocene Climate Collective at the Caribbean Studies Association Conference.

In the Media

To view media mentions, visit In the Media.

Do you have a recent accomplishment that you would like to see listed in our next update? Email Gina Myers, content coordinator, at