Faculty, staff recognized for excellence in Elon College, the College of Arts & Sciences

Annual awards for teaching, scholarship, mentoring and service-leadership were presented at the Aug. 15 faculty meeting for Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences.

Faculty and staff in Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences were recognized with awards for excellence in teaching, mentoring, scholarship, and service during Planning Week.

The five annual awards were presented to nine faculty and staff members during the College’s faculty meeting Aug. 15.

“Each year, we start the academic year by celebrating the many successes of our colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences. I honestly cannot imagine working with a more creative and collaborative group of teachers, scholars and mentors,” said Gabie Smith, Dean of the Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences.

Excellence in Teaching

Directory photo of Antonio IzzoAntonio Izzo
Associate Professor of Biology

“In his annual self-reflections Antonio always states, ‘My goal is always to challenge and push the students but still be very supportive, fair and clear about the path they need to take to succeed.’ And he means that. There is ample evidence of that in all the classes that he teaches: a range of biology classes, including the introductory cell biology, various microbiology classes, senior seminar and others.

“Some of the very best examples of his innovation involve his integration of technology into the teaching and learning experience. Examples of that include his use of gamification as a pedagogy to promote learning and his use of visual digital photography in classes that do a lot of microscopic work with various imaging tools. He is known in the department and more broadly for his love of, fascination with and expertise in using technology and then sharing what he’s learned with others.

“During the COVID semesters, Dr. Izzo created – and this just blows my mind – 25 asynchronous lecture videos to assist students just in one class. He coupled those resources with open hours for students to Zoom in with questions and discussion.

“Antonio has also been cognizant of the need to promote DEI goals and STEM education and taking steps that will have great impact over time.”

  • Associate Dean of Elon College Nancy Harris

Directory photo of Erika LopinaErika Lopina
Associate Professor of Psychology

“Dr. Lopina’s student evaluations are consistently strong, with students noting her ability to motivate them through her own passion for the material. She’s also described by her students as knowledgeable, having high expectations for their learning, while also supporting their mental health through authentic caring. Erika reflects on her ongoing teaching and learning goals in her courses, including industrial and organizational psychology, the psychology of leadership, non-experimental research methods, and the Art and Science of Your College Journey Seminar for our first-year students.

“One of the greatest things about Erika’s teaching is that she’s not afraid to make changes and take risks with her classes. One example is her seamless integration of DEI content and resources in her non-experimental research methods course. In assignments related to sampling, students examine diversity in scholarly publications and then she works with them to develop surveys for diverse respondent pools. Dr. Lopina believes strongly in extending learning outside the classroom as well, frequently requiring students to attend specific on-campus events and connecting those experiences to course content.”

  • Associate Dean of Elon College Angela Lewellyn

Directory photo of Brandon EssaryBrandon Essary
Associate Professor of Italian

“Dr. Essary is at an international conference this week, but we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate him nonetheless for his many courses in Italian language and culture in the Global Experience and in Core capstone senior seminars, including Mafia, Cinema, and Dante’s Inferno: From Poetry to Video Games. Dr. Essary has designed and taught several study abroad courses in Rome and Florence, and served as the faculty-in-residence director in Italy in the spring of 2021.

“Students describe Dr. Essary as knowledgeable, approachable, contagiously enthusiastic, caring and flexible. One student notes, ‘He takes the time to hear from each individual and he really cares about each person.’ Another comment from a student states, ‘He puts the time in outside of class to help us with our writing, as well as just to talk to us if we need anything in general.’ Dr. Essary demonstrates a student-centered commitment to teaching and learning through approaches such as contract grading, use of scaffolded workshopping, developing and use of video game-based learning approaches, and providing and clearly modeling a safe and respectful learning environment for all students.”

  • Associate Dean of Elon College Kirby Wahl

Excellence in Service/Leadership

Directory photo of Kirstie DoehlerKirstie Doehler
Associate Professor of Statistics

“We started by creating a list of all that activities Kirstie has been involved in led or co-led in the last five years. The partial list we created contained 30 different activities, committees and projects, that all benefit from Kirstie’s expertise and leadership. These included service at every level of the institution.

“Her service to the Department of Mathematics and Statistics includes chairing and serving on successful, search committees and review committees for continuous and other promotions, guiding much of the development of the statistics programs curricular offerings over time, and serving as a member of the Math and Stats’ DEI task force. Her student-facing service includes facilitating engaged learning sessions for first-year students during orientation, serving as the faculty advisor for the data analytics challenge held on campus, and participating fully in admissions events. She also served on a number of important committees, including searches for the dean of global education and our former provost and is making ongoing contributions to the global education advisory committee and the curriculum committee.

“Thank you for everything you do, Kirstie. We’ve benefited from your expertise in all these areas.”

  • Dean of Elon College Gabie Smith

Excellence in Scholarship

Directory photo of Scott SpurlockScott Spurlock
Associate Professor of Computer Science

“Dr. Spurlock is a productive scholar, publishing works in several areas. Like many of our colleagues, he focuses professional energies on the scholarship of teaching and learning, as well as the scholarship of his discipline. In terms of teaching and learning, he works closely with colleagues at Elon and at other institutions in establishing the program known as the Scrummage Teaching Methodology. He further works in disciplinary areas, including computer vision and machine learning, and he frequently brings on student researchers as collaborators in his work. Scott recently worked with a SURE student on a new research topic investigating the generation of synthetic data to improve machine-learning fairness.

“Scott’s scholarship has been disseminated at the 3D Vision Conference in Quebec and other conferences, and he and colleagues have published several manuscripts in the Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges. They have also disseminated their work at the ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education.”

  • Associate Dean of Elon College Nancy Harris

Directory photo of Pablo Celis-CastilloPablo Celis-Castillo
Associate Professor of Spanish

“Pablo’s scholarship focuses on exploring how Peruvian cultural production reflects on the process of social reconciliation that the country’s truth and reconciliation commission has worked through. He focuses analysis on actions taken to redress the racism and social exclusion affecting indigenous populations, exacerbated by political violence in the ’80s and ’90s. In addition to disciplinary scholarship, Pablo has also conducted scholarship of teaching and learning and research of students’ perceptions of the effectiveness of different types of feedback on written assignments.

“His scholarly work has been presented also at the annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association, the annual Congress of Latin American Studies Association and other professional associations. His work has been published in Hispanic Studies Review, the Latin Americanist and Transmodernity: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World. Pablo has a book chapter coming out in the book “Psychoanalysis: A Social and Political Discourse of Latin America and the Caribbean, and he also has a book manuscript in the works.”

  • Dean of Elon College Gabie Smith

Excellence in Mentoring

Directory photo of Rissa TrachmanRissa Trachman
Professor of Anthropology

“Rissa came to Elon with a passion for mentoring students in anthropology and archeology, and since her first days on this campus that has remained one of her top priorities. As a research fellow with the Center for Archaeological and Tropical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin since 2007, Rissa has extended this learning opportunity for many of our students by having them join her in the field in Belize during the summer. Students join graduate students and scholars from other institutions in learning the field and research skills on an active archeological dig site. Opportunities for participation have also been extended to volunteers and high school students, leading to a vibrant community of learners engaging in explorations together. Rissa mentors all of them.

“Rissa has mentored several of her Elon students and alumni through the dissemination of their research findings by attending professional anthropology and archeology meetings to present, and then carrying that research through to publications as co-authors with her. Her commitment to mentoring is also evidenced through her service on the Undergraduate Research Program Advisory Committee and her mentoring of Fellows research and many undergraduate research students and internships. As one of the senior colleagues in sociology and anthropology, she’s also had several opportunities to serve as a mentor to junior colleagues that have joined our department. When these junior colleagues come on board, they can look to Rissa for a strong example of how to blend scholarship teaching and service successfully.”

  • Associate Dean of Elon College Angela Lewellyn

Directory photo of Susanne ShawyerSusanne Shawyer
Associate Professor of Theatre

“Susanne came to Elon in 2014, bringing an expertise in theatre history, theory and criticism. Among her many contributions to the Department of Performing Arts, she has distinguished herself as a mentor whose high expectations for student achievement are matched by her dedicated support to her student mentees. Her own professional research focuses on theatre for social change, and knowing this, students frequently ask her to supervise their research projects when those projects explore how theater might contribute to increased understanding of a social or political issue.

“To provide you with a sense of the time and energy that Dr. Shawyer devotes to student mentoring, during the past three years, while contending with the extraordinary demands of teaching during the pandemic, she has mentored three Lumen Scholars, two Honors Fellows, three Elon College Fellows and multiple student dramaturgs serving the needs of Elon’s mainstage productions, in addition to sitting on the thesis committees for three additional Honors Fellows. Her mentees frequently note how tremendously supported they felt while working alongside Dr. Shawyer.”

  • Associate Dean of Elon College Kirby Wahl

Staff Excellence Award

Directory photo of Matthew BanksMatthew Banks
Engineering Lab Manager

“Matt is exceptionally generous, sharing his expertise with students and colleagues alike. He is a skilled machinist and highly effective mentor to our students. One colleague wrote to me, ‘Matt’s been a tireless supporter of engineering and has gone above and beyond since his arrival on campus. A few days into fall semester, whereupon, we promptly asked him to teach an introductory engineering course. He willingly volunteered to do whatever was needed ever since.’

“He’s taught first-year classes, including MatLab, Grand Challenges I and Grand Challenges II. He took on additional duties for physics when their lab manager needed some assistance, and he has met with a number of potential students and their families in doing a lot of admissions work, as well.

“I can personally attest to Matt’s strength in managing budgets and technology needs. He’s a master herder of cats. Matt has truly gone above and beyond during the planning to move to the new facilities. He handled all the equipment orders and all the meetings with vendors and he also served as liaison with IT, construction, and just about everybody else on campus at one time or another.”

  • Dean of Elon College Gabie Smith