Outstanding Faculty in the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences
The Ray P. Authement College of Sciences is recognized for outstanding teaching and distinguished research. Each year we honor selected faculty for their exemplary performance.
The 2018 honorees were recognized at a reception on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Some information about each honoree is provided below.
2018 Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Outstanding Professor
photo caption: Dr. James Albert of the Department of Biology receives his award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Paul Leberg, Head of the Department of Biology.
Dr. James Albert is a Professor in the Department of Biology. In his 12 years of service to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Dr. Albert has distinguished himself in the areas of research, instruction and service.
Dr. Albert's contributions to his field are outstanding. He has published dozens of papers in peer-reviewed journals over the course of his career. The papers were generally in the top journals in his field of study. His work has been cited thousands of times by scientists from around the world and his impact on the field of evolutionary biology and biography is still increasing. His grantsmanship has resulted in over two million dollars in funding over the course of his career.
As a world expert on neotropical fishes and their evolution, Dr. Albert's research is highly collaborative and he has formed strong relationships with colleagues throughout North and South America. His work makes extensive use of morphology, molecular genetics and geology to ask important questions in biography, evolutionary biology, and conservation. He and his collaborators have named dozens of new species and made signification contributions to our understanding of the biodiversity and evolutionary history of South American fish faunas. In addition, helping explain how organisms are shaped by their environment and historical processes, his work contributes to issues related to conservation in tropical watersheds.
Dr. Albert's contributions to his field are outstanding. He has 82 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals as well as 29 book chapters. His papers were generally in the top journals in his field of study, including the prestigious journal Science. His work has been cited over 3700 times! by scientists from around the world and his impact on the field of evolutionary biology and biography is increasing. Dr. Albert has also authored or been an editor of three books on neotropical fish communities. His expertise is in strong demand in South America where he has been selected to give keynote addresses are four major conferences in the last four years.
Grants from the from the National Science Foundation are among the most competitive in the country. Dr. Albert has been PI or coPI on four major NSF awards, an outstanding accomplishment. His grantsmanship has resulted in approximately 2 million dollars in funding over the course of his career. His rate of publication and grantsmanship is showing no evidence of decline with time.
Dr. Albert has been recognized for his research contributions both within the University and beyond. Here, he has received a "Award for Research Excellence" in both 2014 and 2016. This year, he was one of 23 scientists from across the country recognized as a "STEM Research Exemplar" as part of Washington University's Research Exemplar Project. Recipients of this award were chosen because they demonstrate professionalism and integrity in research. His colleagues have also honored Dr. Albert by naming two newly discovered species after him: an electric fish Brachyhypopomus alberti, and an armored catfish Hisonotus alberti.
In addition to Dr. Albert's professional and scientific contributions, he has been active in class room instruction. The faculty consider Dr. Albert to be an outstanding instructor and graduate student mentor. He teaches some of the most heavily subscribed upper-level and graduate classes in the biology department. His sociobiology course is one of the most popular upper-level non-majors courses in the department. Student evaluations in these classes are consistently above departmental and university averages. A few quotes from the evaluations of his non-majors course include: "Dr. Albert is very approachable and always makes time to talk . . . Awesome teacher!", "Dr. Albert is incredibly interesting and knowledgeable about the topic, and he explains it in a way that people who aren't very science-oriented can understand.", and "This class was my favorite of the semester. It was well-thought-out, interesting, topical, and fun. The instructor clearly puts in more than the required effort of a professor ... He honestly makes me want to take more biology classes, even as a Liberal Arts major." Similarly, participants in his courses for seniors and graduate students are full of praises such as "Dr. Albert did a great job for this course bringing in both his own research, but also relevant current topics. He also did a nice job making the course challenging for both graduate and undergraduate members" and "One of the few professors that I've had that I felt went out of their way when it came to teaching. Did more than what was expected when it came to helping us understand the material. I give this professor an A+ when it comes to teaching."
At the present time, Dr. Albert mentors the largest number of graduate students of any faculty member in the biology department (6 doctoral students this semester). During his time at the University, 2 of his students have earned master's degrees and 4 have earned doctorates. Notably, many of his US graduate students have been members of racial groups that are underrepresented in the scientific community. His lab attracts students of the highest quality from across the country and from both Europe and South America, attesting to the international visibility of his research program. As evidence of the quality of his students, of his seven students that could possibly qualify for a fellowship, two have been awarded Louisiana Board of Regents-Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholars Fellowships and one has a Board of Regents Fellowship. These are among the most prestigious fellowships offered to our students. His two master's students have gone onto successful careers helping protect Louisiana's environment and educate our students. Doctoral students from his lab have gone on to post-docs in both Brazil and the US. His dedication to training researchers extends beyond graduate students. Dr. Albert has directed the undergraduate research of 14 students, including two McNair scholars. These undergraduate students are actively engaged in the lab's research and are well prepared for graduate or professional school.
Dr. Albert has an extensive history of service. At the professional level, he serves on several committees of scientific societies and has been an associate editor for the journal Systematic Biology. He has also been a panelist at the NSF assisting in the selection of proposals for research funding. Here at the University, he has served on many departmental, college and university committees. Dr. Albert is an outstanding communicator with a great enthusiasm for science and education.
2018 Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Outstanding Teacher
photo caption: Ms. Nona Istre of Computing and Informatics receives her award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Xindong Wu, Director of the School of Computing and Informatics.
Ms. Nona Istre is a Master Instructor and Program Coordinator for Computer Science. She has been with the university for over 18 years and, as is evidenced by her portfolio, she has become an integral part of not only the Computer Science Program, but the College of Sciences and the University as well.
Ms. Istre joined the Computer Science faculty in Fall 1999 as an Instructor. At that time she taught three courses and advised approximately 30 students. She began teaching a combination of Computer Literacy, Introductory Programming and Assembly Language Programming. Within a couple of years, her strength in teaching Introductory Programming, as well as her organizational skills, led to her becoming the Course Coordinator for CMPS 150. She has modified the course, changing languages and presentation of materials, several times over the last decade. As students in this course will tell you, teaching such a course is challenging and ever-changing. Students are at varied skill levels and assignments, projects and exams must be changed each semester. She presents the course materials in a clear, effective manner and students are able to succeed in subsequent courses. Her ability to engage students in the classroom and develop their aptitude for computing is outstanding. Ms. Istre consistently has one of the highest SEIs in our School. In addition to this, the number of students, both in this course and in the Computer Science program, continues to grow and Ms. Istre handles these tasks seamlessly.
In Spring 2014, Ms. Istre was certified as an online course instructor and course designer. This allowed her to teach two online courses, CMPS 120 and CMPS 121, in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015. These were dual enrollment courses for high school students throughout the state of Louisiana. As the university moves to increase distance learning, she is prepared to offer other courses for this effort.
Another part of Ms. Istre's contribution to education has been to high school teachers. For several summers, she has offered summer workshops to high school teachers allowing them to learn programming skills to bring to their classrooms, while earning continuing education credits. She has taught these workshops in C++, Python and Turtle Graphics.
While Ms. Istre teaches approximately 300 students per year, her collegial nature and exceptional administrative skills led to her becoming the Undergraduate Coordinator in 2001, handling class schedules, graduate assistantship duties, scholarship coordination, degree plans and curriculum/accreditation tracking and assistance. If it meant assisting with students, in any fashion, Ms. Istre was willing to take on that task. Students, and faculty as well, feel comfortable in knowing that there is a consistent place to "go to" for questions. Once students have gone through Ms. Istre's classroom, they metaphorically never leave. Her office is always available to them and she continues to guide them through their graduating semester.
Advising is also a significant part of Ms. Istre's duties. As mentioned already, she began advising a modest number of students, perhaps 25 to 30. As part of her Undergraduate Coordinator duties, she was assigned as the Honors Advisor in 2001, adding an additional 25 to 30 students as advisees. For Fall 2017, there are more than 125 honors students in Computer Science, making advising an incredibly busy time. Even with this large number of advisees, Ms. Istre has won the University's Outstanding Advisor Award eleven times; every year that she has been eligible.
In closing, Ms. Istre estimates she has taught over 5,000 students in her 18+ years at UL Lafayette, and most of them still remember her when they see her out and about in Lafayette. As they have told her, Computer Science at UL Lafayette begins and ends with Ms. Nona.
The 2017 honorees were recognized at a reception on Tuesday, February 21, 2017. Some information about each honoree is provided below.
2017 Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Outstanding Professors
photo caption: Dr. Ping Ng of the Mathematics Department receives his award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Keng Deng, Head of the Mathematics Department.
Dr. Ping Ng has served and guided students at this university for ten years. During that time he has always been a caring teacher and an outstanding researcher.
He has taught a wide variety of courses ranging from the junior level to the advanced graduate level. Regardless of the level of the students, he always gives his time and efforts freely to all students, and his student evaluations are generally very good. Dr. Ng has also given numerous presentations at national/international meetings and conferences. In addition, he has directed a doctoral student who graduated in December 2016.
Ng is an active researcher working in several areas of pure mathematics. His research interests include some of the hot topics in mathematics: Functional Analysis, Operator Algebras, Operator Theory, etc. Dr. Ng has received a Louisiana Board of Regents Research Competitive grant. He is also the PI and lead organizer of two NSF-sponsored conferences. He is the author or co-author of 54 papers (since 2002) published in well-known peer-reviewed journals, some of which are top-tier journals. His research record clearly demonstrates his tireless nature and outstanding level of dedication.
He actively participates in departmental affairs. He has served on various committees, including the Colloquium Chair, the Graduate Students Committee, and the Hiring Committee. Dr. Ng is an asset for his contributions to the advancement of the research and graduate programs in the department.
photo caption: Dr. Jenneke Visser of Geosciences receives her award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. David Borrok, Director of the School of Geosciences.
Dr. Visser is a Professor in the School of Geosciences and has been at UL Lafayette for eight years. During this time, Jenneke has held a dual appointment as the Associate Director for the Institute for Coastal and Water Research. Jenneke's research examines coastal plant communities and how they change in response to different hydrologic regimes, nutrient fluxes, salinity levels, and other stresses. Her work has important implications for coastal protection and restoration and exemplifies our university’s motto of, "research for a reason".
Jenneke has been the PI for 31 separate grants/contracts in the last eight years, totaling over $1,034,000, and has been a CO-PI on another seven totaling $543,000 in funding. The granting agencies that fund Jenneke include The Water Institute for the Gulf, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the Board of Regents, The U.S. Geological Survey, and Louisiana Sea Grant. She has recently been a CO-PI on several NSF grants. As part of Jenneke's recent BOR enhancement grant award, she developed a natural wetland laboratory for combined education and research efforts at our Cade Farm facility. This will be a signature facility for our university and the only one of its kind in Louisiana. Jenneke was recognized (2014-2015) as a core member of one of the top three teams in the "International Changing Course" competition held to find solutions to nutrient contamination of the Mississippi River. Dr. Visser has 51 peer-reviewed publications, including journal articles, book chapters, reports, popular science articles, and book reviews. Although she has over 900 formal citations of her work, the value of its real-world-application to coastal restoration activities is even more substantial.
In addition to her scholarly activities, Jenneke has done a great job teaching courses in plant sciences and coastal ecosystems. She is the first faculty member in the School of Geosciences to develop and teach an on-line course. Jenneke recently became a student advisor for the Environmental Science program and has been an eager participant in community outreach and university service.
2017 Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Outstanding Teachers
photo caption: Dr. Gabriela Petculescu of the Physics Department receives her award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Natalia Sidorovskaia, Head of the Physics Department.
Dr. Gabriela Petculescu is an idealist and a fighter for her ideals. She wants the world to be a better place to live, now and tomorrow, for us, our children, and her own son Luc. And as an educator, she is acutely aware that the path to a better world is through high quality education and we, teachers, can make a difference. Gabriela not only teaches students Physics, she teaches them to think, instead of finding a solution from a recipe posted on the web, and take responsibility. By her example, she teaches others to be honest, hard-workers, producing products of the best quality, at every level (daily lectures, assessment reports, research articles, student mentoring, etc.).
Dr. Petculescu joined the physics department in 2006 and for research-oriented faculty she has maintained a very high teaching load over the last ten years. She has one of the broadest teaching portfolios in the department: ten different undergraduate courses, three graduate courses, plus numerous individual study and honors projects. She does not teach the same course every year! Gabriela works closely with the university Honors Program and has supervised sixteen Honors students from the College of Engineering. She received over $30,000 in educational grants in addition to over $330,000 in research funding. For three years she was solely responsible for the advanced physics laboratories that she completely revitalized using new funding.
In 2013 she became a graduate coordinator and turned our enrollment numbers from declining to a 100% increase in the last two years. Personally she directed 8 master's theses, 3 undergraduate research studies, and 4 summer interns from other universities, and served on numerous master's thesis committees. In the last seven years she has co-authored seven research papers with her students and her students made 21 presentations at internationals conferences.
For eight years in a row she was awarded the Office of Naval Research Summer Faculty Research Fellowship at the Naval Surface Warfare Center. This is a real tribute to her professional expertise and outstanding research skills. Three of these summer she provided summer research fellowships to her students so that they could join her in Washington, D.C., to work in a state-of-the art research laboratory. In addition to being an exemplary teacher, Dr. Petculescu is a highly cited researcher and an innovator (with a recent patent application pending). Every day she shares her knowledge, skills, and vision for the future with her students.
photo caption: Dr. Mike Totaro of Computing and Informatics receives his award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Xindong Wu, Director of the School of Computing and Informatics.
Mike Totaro is currently the Associate Director for Academic Affairs and Undergraduate Education in the School of Computing and Informatics, and was the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies.
He has participated in extensive service activities, both on-campus and in the community, including Chair of the College Science Day. Hence he does not really need an introduction.
Mike completed his B.S. degree in Computer Science (1982), Master of Business Administration (1988), M.S. degree in Telecommunications (1999), and the Ph.D. in Computer Science (2007), all from UL Lafayette.
He worked in industry as a programmer and developer for several years, after which he joined UL Lafayette in 1989 as the IT Director for the College of Business. He joined the faculty in 1996, first as an instructor and then a lecturer, becoming a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Fall 2007, and now is tenured Associate Professor with the School of Computing and Informatics.
Mike is active in research, mainly in applied computing, as well as modeling and computer simulation. He has also received UL Lafayette Advising Awards over a span of several years. Most importantly, for this Teaching Award, he has been teaching a variety of courses for the School, and his student evaluations have always been among the best. Some student have commented on him as "a wonderful and great guy" and "a caring, respectful, understanding, and dedicated professor".
The 2016 honorees were recognized at a reception on Thursday, February 25, 2016. Some information about each honoree is provided below.
2016 Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Outstanding Professors
photo caption: Dr. Mark Hester of the Biology Department receives his award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Paul Leberg, Head of the Biology Department.
Dr. Mark Hester is a recognized leader in coastal and restoration ecology and is one of the foremost experts on ecological processes associated with coastal wetlands and barrier islands of the Gulf of Mexico. Through his research, he seeks to understand how wetland plants deal with environmental changes like sea level rise, saltwater intrusion, and oil contamination. He then applies the knowledge gained from this research to help design better ways to restore our damaged wetland systems. This focus on restoration ecology has allowed Dr. Hester’s research to make direct contributions to improving the condition of Louisiana’s coastal environments.
The quality of Dr. Hester’s work is demonstrated through frequent publication in nationally recognized, peer-reviewed journals including some in the top journals of his field. His research is often cited by other workers studying questions outside of the gulf coast region, indicating that his work is influencing how investigators study problems in wetland loss and restoration around the world. Over the last 5 years Dr. Hester has been lead PI or coPI on grants totaling well over a million dollars of research funding. During Dr. Hester’s tenure at the University, his research program has attracted outstanding graduate students from across the country.
Dr. Hester’s passion for research bleeds over into his teaching and service. He developed courses in restoration ecology and coastal ecology and also has taught courses in aquatic and wetland plants as well as graduate and undergraduate seminars. In his role as Interim Director of the Institute for Coastal and Water Research, Dr. Hester has helped promote wetland and coastal science across the University. He is also the University’s representative on two state panels, the Louisiana Marine Consortium Advisory Board and the RESTORE Act Center of Excellence.
Dr. Hester’s expertise is in high demand by resource protection agencies and professional organizations. Agencies responsible for managing Louisiana’s wetlands and coast also frequently call on him for guidance. Dr. Hester serves on numerous advisory panels maintained by NOAA, NSF, USGS, and Louisiana’s CPRA. This combination of extensive funding, publication and professional service is strong evidence that Dr. Hester is one of the world’s leading experts in wetland ecosystems and their restoration.
photo caption: Dr. Nabendu Pal of the Mathematics Department receives his award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Keng Deng, Head of the Mathematics Department.
Professor Pal has served and guided students at this university for 26 years. Professor Pal is an experienced teacher. He has taught a wide variety of courses ranging from the junior level to the advanced graduate level. Regardless of the level of the students, he always gives his time and efforts freely to all students, and his student evaluations are generally good. Professor Pal has also given numerous presentations at national/international meetings and conferences. In addition, he has directed 10 doctoral students who have completed our Ph.D. program. This is a strong record of Ph.D. production.
Professor Pal is an active researcher working in several areas of statistics. His research interests include some of the hot topics in statistics: Decision Theory and Bayesian Analysis, Reliability and Life Testing, Biostatistics, etc. Professor Pal has also been working as a Co-PI on various research projects totaling over $440,000 funded by National Science Foundation. As a departmental consultant for statistical projects, he has provided service to local businesses, industries and law offices on statistical data analyses. He is the author or co-author of two books and 91 papers published in well-known peer-reviewed journals. In addition, Professor Pal has served as the editorial board member of three journals. His research record clearly demonstrates his tireless nature and outstanding level of dedication.
Professor Pal has made a positive impact on our graduate program. As a PI, he has conducted a STAGE program for Under-represented Minorities in Mathematical Sciences funded by National Science Foundation. From 2003-2005, he served as the graduate coordinator in the department, and through his recruiting efforts, he helped the graduate program grow. Professor Pal has served on various departmental committees, including the Graduate Students Committee, the Hiring Committee, and the Promotion and Tenure Committee. In the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, he has been on the Graduate Faculty Peer Review Committee. He has also been deeply involved with the activities of the Louisiana Chapter of the American Statistical Association. Professor Pal is a great asset for his contributions to the advancement of the research and graduate programs in the department.
2016 Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Outstanding Teachers
photo caption: Dr. Febee Louka of the Chemistry Department receives her award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Thomas Junk, Head of the Chemistry Department.
Professor Louka joined the department of chemistry at UL Lafayette as an instructor in 2007. She was appointed assistant professor in 2009 and progressed to her current rank of associate professor in 2015. She currently holds the Marvin and Warren Boudreaux / BoRSF Professorship in Chemistry.
Professor Louka has received several honors, including the Alpha Lambda Delta Outstanding Freshman Professor of the year award for 2009 and the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award in 2014.
She is one of our most versatile chemistry teachers. Professor Louka has covered more courses than most other chemistry teachers and always ranks within the top two with respect to student evaluation of instruction.
Professor Louka secured a gas chromatograph, an atomic absorption spectrometer, a fluorometer, and a potentiostat for our teaching lab. In addition, she secured instructional enhancement grants every year. She restructured and upgrade the lab for analytical chemistry CHEM 222 and is busy upgrading CHEM 430 now.
She has mentored over 50 undergraduate students for research projects (7 per semester on average!). This interaction has lead to 3 publications and 9 presentations joint with her undergraduate students since 2012. Despite her strong teaching focus, she is not neglecting research. For example, she has secured over one million dollars in continuing funding; jointly with biology.
photo caption: Dr. Patricia Mire of the Biology Department receives her award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Paul Leberg, Head of the Biology Department.
During Dr. Mire’s 20 years of distinguished service to the University, she has provided the highest level of instruction in biology. Conveying high quality information to large lecture sections is always a challenge; the problem is multiplied in introductory biology as the student body is diverse, representing several different colleges. Dr. Mire consistently meets this challenge.
Attention to detail and enthusiasm for the material have earned Dr. Mire the appreciation of her students. Students frequently comment about how she makes difficult concepts understandable and encourages students to critically approach and solve problems. Many former students have attributed their professional success to the encouragement and inspiration provided by Dr. Mire.
One of the things students really enjoy about Dr. Mire’s teaching is her use of innovative instructional approaches. She frequently uses role playing, games, and talent shows to help students better understand complex phenomena. She also excels at the use of active learning approaches in course sections with large numbers of students.
Dr. Mire has a long history of grantsmanship with NSF and NIH grants totaling over $600,000 in research funding. She actively incorporates undergraduate training as part of her research. In addition to these external grants, students have greatly benefited from Dr. Mire’s efforts to obtain support for updating classroom technology and teaching facilities via instructional grants. These efforts have resulted in much improved facilities for our cell and molecular biology courses, as well as enhanced opportunities for undergraduate research experiences.
Many of Dr. Mire’s service activities also reflect her focus on education. Every semester, she advises dozens of students. She has been a long-serving and important member or chair of many University, College and departmental committees related to education. Dr. Mire has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the college’s Science Day and she founded the Biology Undergraduate Research Symposium. In summary, Dr. Mire exemplifies the qualities of a distinguished educator.
The 2015 honorees were recognized at a reception on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Some information about each honoree is provided below.
2015 Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Outstanding Professors
photo caption: Dr. K. Krishnamoorthy of the Mathematics Department receives his award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Keng Deng, Head of the Mathematics Department.
Dr. Krishnamoorthy has served and guided students at this university for 22 years. During this time he has always been a caring teacher and an outstanding researcher. He has taught a wide range of courses, from introductory-level to graduate-level. Regardless of the level, he always gives his time and efforts freely to all students. Dr. Krishnamoorthy has also given numerous courses and presentations at national and international meetings and workshops. In addition, he has directed 23 Ph.D. students. This is an excellent record of Ph.D. production.
Dr. Krishnamoorthy is an active researcher working in several areas of statistics. His research interests include some of the hot topics in statistics: meta analysis, calibration, bootstrap procedures, etc. Most notable are his contributions to the development of statistical methodology for analyzing data on industrial hygiene and occupational safety. Dr. Krishnamoorthy has also been working as a co-PI on various research projects totaling over 2.7 million funded by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. He is the author or co-author of two books and 96 papers published in well-known peer-reviewed journals as well as a co-inventor of a patent. In addition, since 2008, Dr. Krishnamoorthy has served as an associate editor of Communications in Statistics - Theory and Methods; Simulation and Computation. In 2011, in recognition of his remarkable achievements, Dr. Krishnamoorthy was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.
Within the department, Dr. Krishnamoorthy has served on various committees, including the Colloquium Committee, the Hiring Committee, and the Promotion and Tenure Committee. In the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, he has chaired the Peer Review Committee. He has also been deeply involved with the activities of the Louisiana Chapter of the American Statistical Association. Dr. Krishnamoorthy is a great asset for his contributions to the advancement of the research and graduate programs in the department.
photo caption: Dr. Carl Richter of the School of Geosciences receives his award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. David Borrok, Director of the School of Geosciences.
During his 13 years at UL Lafayette, Dr. Carl Richter has distinguished himself as an extremely productive researcher, teacher, and leader. Dr. Richter is a geophysicist and his research focuses on understanding variations in the Earth's paleomagnetic record and using these variations, recorded in sea-floor sediments, as a tool to reconstruct the timing of geological events. Through his work with the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Dr. Richter has applied these techniques to help unlock Earth's climate history. The ocean sediment provided a historical record that was used to re-construct climate change.
Dr. Richter has an outstanding publication record. Many of his publications pertain to his work with the IODP, and as such serve as reference texts for oceanographers who want to study these newly available ocean floor sediments. This is one reason why his publications have garnered so much attention from other researchers. It is also important to note that the petroleum industry is keenly interested in these ocean drilling results. In 2014, Dr. Richter had several articles written about him in the local press, as well as a TV interview that talked about how his findings might open up new areas for petroleum exploration outside of the Mediterranean Sea.
Dr. Richter's research has been mainly supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL). These grants have totaled over $600,000 over the past 4 years (note that some of the funds have been split with collaborating institutions). His consistent success in grantsmanship with the NSF and COL speaks both to the quality of his research and his ability to develop and cultivate these important relationships. The fact that he has been counted on to coordinate project teams for the IODP and to manage/oversee IODP publications also speaks volumes as to how well-regarded he is within his field. He has leveraged his external funding to support MS-level graduate students. He has been a committee chair for 2 or more graduate students per year for the last 5 years and has served as a committee member for many more. Dr. Richter's students have been quite successful, winning awards for their presentations at regional conferences in 2009 and 2010, and at the AGU meeting in 2012.
In addition to his scholarly accomplishments, Dr. Richter is a popular instructor who has consistently received some of the highest student evaluations in the Geology Program. It is indeed remarkable that he has maintained and even expanded his high-level of scholarly productivity while teaching 3 courses per semester. He teaches a variety of classes, including ocean geology, remote sensing, and several introductory offerings. He also does a great job with his administrative responsibilities as the coordinator for the Geology Program. His dedication to the Geology program and our teaching facilities is evident by the large number of STEP grants he has written (another in 2014) and received over the years. Finally, Dr. Richter remains very active in the geologic community, having served as a board member, secretary, and president for the Lafayette Geological Society. He became the president of the Southwest Louisiana Geophysical Society in 2014. He also did a wonderful job of helping to spearhead the SMART festival and Science Day this year!
2015 Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Outstanding Teachers
photo caption: Dr. Pegge Alciatore of the Biology Department receives her award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Paul Leberg, Head of the Biology Department.
Dr. Pegge Alciatore exemplifies the qualities of a distinguished educator and is active in service both inside and outside the University. During her 32 years of distinguished service to the University, she has provided the highest level of instruction in anatomy and physiology. Her past honors include being named an outstanding advisor, honorary member of the College of Nursing, Pan-Hellenic Council teacher of the year, and pre-professional society outstanding instructor. Dr. Alciatore has a long history of grantsmanship and leadership both within and outside the University. Currently, she is a co-investigator on a 1.2 million dollar NSF grant to prepare teachers in STEM areas such as Biology. She serves as the associate head of the Department of Biology, coordinating departmental activities with other units, and managing curriculum development and advising. She has been a long serving and important member of the University's preprofessional committee, as well as a large number of other committees related to instruction and student safety.
Mary Lou Jumonville
photo caption: Ms. Mary Lou Jumonville of the Mathematics Department receives her award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Ross Chiquet, Assistant Head of the Mathematics Department.
Ms. Mary Lou Jumonville has been involved in education for over 40 years. She started out teaching high school and has been teaching in the Mathematics Department for six years. Her accomplishments in education and teaching are very impressive. She was co-principal investigator on four educational grants with funding over $200,000, is a member of three professional organizations for teachers, and was the 2011 recipient of the Louisiana Association of Teachers of Mathematics Outstanding College Mathematics Teacher Award. She has also participated in several projects promoting math education and teaches a variety of our math education courses where she is helping mold the math teachers of the future. She has also become the leader of the dual enrollment math courses we offer to local high schools which helps shape the future students of our University.
Ms. Jumonville is one of the Mathematics Department's most popular teachers. She has a way of conveying difficult mathematical ideas to the students who thought the idea of learning mathematics was impossible. She has the gift of making the students who seem to be "blind" mathematically finally see the light. She has played a major roll in preparing our new faculty and graduate students who are teaching for the first time. She volunteers her time to answer any questions the new teachers have, she runs training sessions for our online homework systems, and mentors new graduate students to help them become successful and effective teachers. Her role in helping our new teaches is instrumental in the Math Department's success.
In conclusion, Ms. Jumonville is not only a great teacher, she is a great person as well. She always has a smile on her face and is always very positive. Her easygoing personality draws students to her. She has impacted the Math Department with her teaching of our current students, helping our future students, and mentoring our first time teachers.
The 2014 honorees were recognized at a reception on Friday, March 21, 2014. Some information about each honoree is provided below.
2014 Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Outstanding Professors
photo caption: Dr. Paul Klerks of the Biology Department receives his award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Paul Leberg, Head of the Biology Department.
During his 22 years of service to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Dr. Klerks has distinguished himself in the areas of research, instruction and service. Dr. Klerk's contributions to his field are outstanding. He has published over 65 peer-reviewed papers, often in the top journals in his field. Dr. Klerks has been cited over 1100 times by scientists from around the world and his impact on the field of ecotoxicology is still increasing.
Dr. Klerks has helped generate over $5 million dollars in funding over the course of his career. Recently he was lead PI on a successful $1,025,091 proposal to study the effects of the BP oil spill on the state's coastal waters.
An outstanding instructor, Dr. Klerks teaches some of the most heavily subscribed upper-level and graduate classes in our department. Student evaluations in these classes are consistently at or above departmental and university averages. In terms of graduate students, he has one of the largest laboratories in the department (6 students this semester). During his time at the University, 14 of his students have earned MS degrees and 3 have earned doctorates. Many of his graduate students have gone on to have productive careers as scientists.
Dr. Klerks has an extensive history of service. At the professional level, he serves as an editor for one of the top journals in his field. As PI on many doctoral fellowship proposals submitted to the Board of Regents, he has generated over a million dollars in support for our graduate program. At the departmental level, Dr. Klerks has served on, and chaired, many college and university committees. Dr. Klerks is always willing to help and has served as an important member of our graduate studies committee for the last decade.
In summary, Dr. Klerks exhibits all of the traits associated with the ideal faculty member and colleague.
Aghalaya S. Vatsala
pjoto caption: Dr. A.S. Vatsala of the Mathematics Department receives her award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Keng Deng, Head of the Mathematics Department.
Dr. Aghalaya Vatsala has been a faculty member at UL Lafayette for thirty years. As a professor of mathematics, she has taught a wide range of courses, from introductory to graduate-level. During her career, she has published 125 peer-reviewed journal articles, 40 conference proceedings and 3 research monographs. She has served as the major professor of ten Ph.D. students and is currently directing two more. Dr. Vatsala has also been a co-PI on two major federal grants funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army Research Office.
2014 Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Outstanding Teacher
photo caption: Dr. Ross Chiquet of the Mathematics Department receives his award from Dr. Azmy Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and Dr. Patricia Beaulieu of the Mathematics Department.
Dr. Ross Chiquet, an exceptional teacher, a wonderful colleague with a genuine compassion for students has had a far reaching positive effect on students and his peers in the UL Lafayette Department of Mathematics. He has taught courses ranging from College Algebra to Fundamentals of Mathematics. One by one, student by student he has built a teaching reputation known by students and peers. He has a unique ability to motivate students to learn mathematics. He is able to explain complicated concepts in a way that everyone can understand. His command of course material is seamless.
He is generous to a fault with his time when it comes to helping students. (Pass by his office and there is a group of students discussing mathematics or just eager to have someone just listen. The students are his and many are not his.) He has helped strengthen the Mathematics Department undergraduate program. For several years he has voluntarily taught Math 370 and Math 371 (the Undergraduate research series) working with several math majors on research projects. These students are a further testament of his outstanding teaching, for each has gone on to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics.
Dr. Chiquet serves as advisor for first-time freshmen and transfer mathematics majors; Faculty advisor for The UL Lafayette Math Society, the Sigma Alpha Lambda Service Honors Society, and the Ragin Cajun Hockey Club Team.
In addition to all of this, Dr. Chiquet is very active in research. He has attended and presented his research work at many conferences. Since completing his Ph.D. program in 2009, he has had five research articles published. He served as a member of Admission by Committee and Scholarship Appeals Committees. As Director of Freshman Mathematics, he has overseen freshman courses, supervised teaching assistants, developed placement and credit exams, and has been a calming influence when dealing with students. His outstanding work ethic led to his appointment as Assistant Department Head in August of 2013.