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May 18, 2012

Board Names 2012 Research and Teaching Award Recipients

The Board of Regents today named the recipients of the Research and Teaching awards, which recognizes the exceptional research and teaching by faculty at Central, Eastern, Southern and Western Connecticut State Universities.

The Board of Regents for Higher Education today named the recipients of the Board of Regents/Connecticut State University Research and Teaching awards, which recognizes the exceptional research and teaching by faculty at Central, Eastern, Southern and Western Connecticut State Universities. Eight outstanding tenure-track or tenured assistant and associate professors across the four universities were acknowledged as University-Level award recipients and two of the eight — an associate professor of history at Central and an associate professor of environmental earth science at Eastern — were named System-Level award recipients.

Each university selected one winner for the BOR/CSU Norton Mezvinsky Research Award and one winner for the BOR/CSU Teaching Award. Nominees demonstrated substantive contributions or achievements and scholarly activities in their academic fields of study during the last five years. The BOR/CSU Research Award is granted to faculty conducting “research work of exceptional promise.” The research award is named for Dr. Norton Mezvinsky, a history professor who retired from Central Connecticut State University in 2009 after 40 years. The BOR/CSU Teaching Award is granted to faculty who have “distinguished themselves as outstanding teachers for at least five years and have a minimum of a two-year track record of promoting instructional improvements for their programs or departments.”

Two of the eight — one each in a research and teaching category — received additional recognition as System-Level award recipients selected by a committee comprised of CSU faculty members. University-Level nominees were considered for the System-Level awards by a panel of Connecticut State University Professors and their recommendations were forwarded to the Board’s Academic Affairs Committee and then to the full Board of Regents.

“It’s a pleasure to honor these outstanding faculty members across our universities,” said Board of Regents Chairman Lewis J. Robinson. “Their commitment to our students, and to their craft, should be commended, and I’m pleased that they have chosen to teach at one of our four universities.”

“As someone who has worked with faculty members for a number of years, it’s always an honor to be able to commend those who truly go above and beyond what is asked of them,” said Academic and Student Affairs Committee Chairwoman Dr. Merle Harris. “These eight university professors are representative of the caliber of faculty we have across our colleges and universities, and our students will benefit from their experience and their research.”

BOR/CSU Norton Mezvinsky Research Award

Leah S. Glaser, Associate Professor of History - SYSTEM-LEVEL WINNER
Central Connecticut State University
Dr. Glaser, associate professor of history in Central Connecticut State University’s Department of History, is recognized for her extensive and original research on the history of energy and sustainability in the American west. Her book, Electrifying the Rural American West: Stories of Power, People, and Place (2009) has received national acclaim. This work has been praised in book reviews published in several prestigious academic journals, including the Journal of American History and the Pacific Historical Review. Scholars have lauded Glaser for “breaking new ground” with her pioneering work in this area. She has also published several articles on this and related topics in top academic journals.

Jamel Ostwald, Associate Professor of History
Eastern Connecticut State University
Dr. Ostwald has compiled an impressive record of research and creative activity and recently published Vaubaun Under Siege: Engineering Efficiency and Martial Vigor in the War of the Spanish Succession an award-winning book in military history. He also contributed three chapters on various aspects of 17th and 18th-century European military history in books published in Europe and the United States, and has written several book reviews in the peer-reviewed Journal of Military History. He is currently writing three additional works, and his most current research project is The Duke of Marlborough and the English Cult of Battle.

Valerie A. Andrushko, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Southern Connecticut State University
Through her research, Dr. Andrushko learns about the diverse ways in which ancient people confronted everyday challenges and how their bones act as a record of these activities. Her research and teaching are inextricably linked as she involves students in research at home and abroad – studying prehistoric and historic skeletons from Connecticut and in Peru. She has written nine peer-reviewed articles, two book chapters, nine research grants, made 16 conference presentations and 16 invited university lectures. Her research has received significant attention for its new insights on the ancient Incas and was part of a NOVA documentary “Ghosts of Machu Picchu” in 2010. Articles describing her work have appeared on Science News, National Geographic and Discovery Channel websites, magazines and newspapers.

Mary Ellen Doherty, Associate Professor of Nursing
Western Connecticut State University
Dr. Doherty’s research contributions bring to the forefront the experiences of understudied populations —nurses deployed to war zones, pregnant widows, nurse midwives and their clients. Her research generally falls under the general heading of women’s health, and three of her research studies focused on the experiences of U.S. military nurses deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and culminated in a book Nurses in War: Voices from Iraq and Afghanistan. She also investigated “The Lived Experience of Widowhood During Pregnancy” by interviewing widows from the 9/11 tragedies and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – a topic never before studied.

BOR/CSU Teaching Award

Peter A. Drzewiecki, Associate Professor of Environmental Earth Science and Assistant Department Chair, Department of Environmental Earth Science - SYSTEM-LEVEL WINNER
Eastern Connecticut State University
Dr. Drzewiecki, associate professor of environmental earth science and assistant department chair at Eastern Connecticut State University’s Department of Environmental Earth Science, is recognized for his innovative use of outside-the-classroom education, including a mix of lab, field trips and student research projects. He established an internship program for geology majors at the Connecticut Geological Survey, and his students frequently present the results of research from his class at regional professional conferences and campus symposia. Students uniformly consider his classroom teaching to be always accessible and engaging.

Jason Sikorski, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Central Connecticut State University
Dr. Sikorski continually updates his courses based on what has worked during the last semester in his class with evidence based research on the teaching of psychology (TOP). He is a regular contributor to TOP literature and in 2010, published a book for beginning teachers of psychology and developed online tutorials which help students learn how to analyze research scenarios with statistics. Four of these web-based resources were published in a peer-reviewed website for professors teaching psychology research and statistics. Dr. Sikorski spends five hours a day in office hours and mentors about 12 graduate students per year. As a result, his students have been recognized at national conferences for their work in psychology. He has also worked tirelessly on the Psychology Assessment Committee and under his direction, the Psychology Club is the largest club on campus.

Deborah A. Carroll, Associate Professor of Psychology
Southern Connecticut State University
Dr. Carroll works to foster a positive learning environment by communicating specific learning goals for each week, encouraging student questions and providing written feedback on all assignments. She adapts her teaching strategies to meet the learning needs of the students currently in her classroom, and students work in pairs to find solutions to problems. She created a Psychopharmacology course to study the use of drugs as therapeutic agents for mental illness and the abuse of drugs. Students are required to design novel solutions for practical problems like developing a new drug for a hypothetical disorder. Dr. Carroll —who is also the director of the B.S. Psychology Research Specialization — teaches a capstone course where students gain valuable experience and skills and supervise students in field practice. She recently submitted a program revision to include a required capstone lab or field practicum experience that was recently approved by the University Curriculum Forum.

Jessica J. Eckstein, Assistant Professor of Communication
Western Connecticut State University
Dr. Eckstein’s main goal is to make every course she teaches relevant and individually applicable in the lives of her students, and challenges each student to produce high quality work. She continually develops innovative techniques to assess student learning that include original classroom debate topics and the innovative use of technology to supplement traditional readings, discussions and activities. She has presented at national and international competitive academic conferences, and has been published in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters. She has created innovative coursework and received teaching-related grants and pedagogical awards for her technological innovations in the classroom and design of new curriculum. She also works with students on research projects with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury and the local Dress for Success program.