Annual awards celebrate professors on all campuses

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Every year, a chosen few of UNH’s outstanding faculty members from each college and school receive Faculty Excellence Awards in recognition of their achievements in teaching, scholarship and service. University-wide awards recognize public service, research, teaching and engagement. The 2023 award recipients include:

Alyssa O'Brien

Alyssa O’Brien, 2023 Award for Excellence in Teaching, CHHS

Alyssa O’Brien teaches Introduction to Professional Nursing; Maternal and Newborn Nursing; Making Babies; Human Development, Interaction and Learning Across the Lifespan; and Public Health Nursing in the undergraduate nursing program. Outside of her course work, in her six years at UNH she has mentored more than 35 students as they completed their minor, worked as teaching assistants or completed their honors theses or individual evidence-based projects. Alyssa is a McNair program mentor and is also the Honors-in-Major coordinator for the department of nursing.

In addition to encouraging students to develop a passion for lifelong learning, O’Brien has a deep commitment to advancing women’s health and family nursing and has been instrumental in shaping the curriculum and developing innovative teaching methods that engage students in critical discussions and analysis of these health issues. Among other efforts, she collaborated with the women’s and gender studies program to cross-list two new nursing courses, allowing nursing students to minor in women’s studies.

O’Brien’s colleagues report that she is a leader in implementing active learning strategies and that she seeks out and implements new teaching methods that encourage student participation and create a collaborative learning environment. In every course she teaches, O’Brien tells the students that learning is a collaborative effort. If they can do better, she will tell them, so they can plan together. If she can do better, she asks them to let her know (and she does ask, all the time, and they do tell her!) so that her courses are supportive spaces where everyone is actively engaged in a learning community.

O’Brien’s students evidently agree. She consistently earns 5 out of 5 on the Quality of Instructor item in the Student Experiences of Learning. This award is not only a recognition of Alyssa’s teaching excellence but a testament to her unwavering dedication to shaping the future of countless minds.

Shuili Du

Shuili Du, 2023 Award for Excellence in Research, Paul College

Throughout her career, Shuili Du has demonstrated a deep commitment to understanding how businesses can positively impact society while thriving in a competitive marketplace. Her unwavering dedication, extraordinary talent, and pursuit of excellence in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainability and innovation are remarkable.

Her research has consistently adhered to the highest standards of academic rigor and integrity. Shuili Du’s publications in top journals and her extensive body of work, cited over 9,200 times on Google Scholar, are a testament to her influence and impact in her field. Notably, her article “Maximizing business returns to CSR: The role of CSR communication” has been cited over 3,000 times, underlining the significant influence of her research.

Shuili Du’s dedication to academic excellence extends to mentoring and teaching, where she generously shares her knowledge and expertise with undergraduate students and future scholars alike. Her recent receipt of the United Nations Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) Research Excellence Award and her Fulbright-Hanken Distinguished Chair appointment underscore her international recognition. Serving as a section editor for the Journal of Business Ethics further reflects on her influence in the field.

Her research has illuminated the intricate relationship between business and society, tackling pressing issues like sustainability and the social implications of artificial intelligence. Shuili Du exemplifies the qualities we cherish in academia – passion, creativity, and the relentless pursuit and dissemination of new knowledge – all while being a most admired colleague.

Robin Hackett

Robin Hackett, 2023 Award for Graduate Faculty Mentor, COLA

Robin Hackett is a professor of English and core faculty member of women’s and gender studies. After serving for eight years as director of the English graduate program, Hackett is once again serving as the interim graduate director this year. She was also instrumental in developing a graduate certificate in feminist studies.

Over the course of her career, Hackett has co-edited three scholarly collections, authored a monograph and authored or co-authored 17 essays and book reviews. Her scholarly field combines British literary modernism, women’s studies and queer theory. Her scholarship and leadership have been recognized within her department and across campus. She has won the Michael DePorte English Department Award, a Burnham Residency Fellowship, the Kidder Fund Award, the Bronze UNH Sustainability Award and the Women’s Commission Award, among many others.

However, what might be Hackett’s most valuable contribution is the tireless mentorship and education she has provided her students. While at UNH, she has served on 22 master’s and 22 Ph.D. committees, including 16 as chair. As a mentor, students and faculty alike cite her ability to deftly push for excellence while also maintaining an encouraging approach for proven student success.

One of her many nominators summed up the sentiment: “Everything I know today about being a literary scholar and teacher began and was initially fostered in some way by Robin Hackett’s exceptional gift for mentorship.”

Casey Golomski

Casey Golomski, 2023 Outstanding Associate Professor Award, COLA

Casey Golomski’s remarkable contributions have earned him a nomination for the title of Outstanding Associate Professor, an honor bestowed upon him by two esteemed departments: anthropology, his academic home, and women’s and gender studies, where he plays a pivotal role as a core faculty member. This award is particularly timely, as it recognizes Golomski’s extraordinary efforts during the challenging times of the pandemic.

As a scholar, Golomski has been nothing short of exceptional. His consistent output of peer-reviewed articles demonstrates his unwavering commitment to advancing knowledge in his field. Furthermore, his upcoming book, “God’s Waiting Room,” promises to shed light on the lives of Black, white, and queer residents in a South African old age home, revealing how individuals, often positioned as adversaries, discover grace amidst mutual oppression.

What sets Golomski apart is his rare combination of academic excellence and unwavering support for his colleagues and community. While some with such prestigious achievements may withdraw from day-to-day responsibilities, Golomski consistently demonstrates his dedication. Beyond the university, Golomski contributes his time and expertise to the local community, notably the Seacoast African American Cultural Center, earning him the Spirit of NH volunteer award. On a personal level, Golomski’s character shines brightly, making him an exemplary human being.

Christopher Bauer

Christopher Bauer, 2023 Distinguished Professor Award, CEPS

Chris Bauer personifies “Distinguished Professor.” He is a remarkable teacher, sage mentor, and eminent scholar. His dedication to serving chemistry and education extends well beyond UNH, and this has been especially impactful here in New Hampshire. After more than four decades of service at UNH, Bauer remains among the most effective, energetic, and productive chemistry faculty members in the country.

Bauer has spent his career innovating teaching and remains an instrument for improving teaching across our department, in CEPS, and university wide. Bauer pioneered the Peer Led Team Learning (PLTL) program in our department, which has since spread and is now celebrating its 25th anniversary. This approach to active learning is one facet of Bauer’s career-long devotion to inquiry-based education and is strongly coupled to UNH brand of high impact practices.

His passion and devotion go well beyond UNH. Bauer is known globally as a pioneer in chemistry education research. When he started the CER Ph.D. track in our department, it was one of the first in the country and is still regarded as one of the premier programs in the world. Bauer was also the primary advocate for a formalized center to advance science and mathematics education statewide. He served as a PI with Drs. Karen Graham, Dawn Meredith and Eleanor Abrams for the UNH IMPACT Center, which ultimately became endowed as the Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education, which continues to spearhead educational reforms and professional development in the K-12 arena across the region.

Lin Zhang

Lin Zhang, 2023 Outstanding Assistant Professor Award, COLA

Professor Lin Zhang is an academic rising star in the fields of digital capitalism and transnational technological innovations, a passionate teacher of global media cultures and an asset to UNH, particularly through her contributions to international studies, social justice and cross-cultural inclusion.

Zhang’s groundbreaking scholarship intervenes into timely cultural and political discourse, such as current controversies over the rise of digital capitalism and transnational relations. Her impressive record of consistently high-quality scholarly work has been, without a doubt, outstanding.

Zhang’s research expertise and academic reputation is exemplified by her many invited contributions to podcasts and news stories covering the international and cultural implications of evolving media platforms (such as TikTok), the state of the Chinese economy, digital labor and the work culture at tech companies and the history of China’s Alibaba, which demonstrates her research expertise and growing scholarly reputation. Zhang also has notably enhanced the department of communication’s curriculum by adding a global focus while also supporting students’ desires to better understand their world — a world that has been so shaped and influenced by rapidly evolving digital technologies, transformed work cultures and transnational politics.

Her courses address insightful questions about the cultural, economic and political impacts of East Asia, the evolution of global capitalism intersected with the rise of digitization and resulting reconceptualization of work and workers around the world.

May-Win Thein

May-Win Thein, 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award, CEPS

May-Win Thein is a scholar in the field of system dynamics and control. Her ultimate goal is to develop a collaborative ecosystem of autonomous robots bridging space, air, ground and sea. Her science fiction-worthy ambition coupled with her unfaltering commitment to student success and well-being have resulted in a dedicated and enthusiastic swarm of CEPS students who perennially sing praises for her work inside and outside of the classroom.

May-Win has continuously adapted her demeanor and approach to teaching and mentoring to meet the needs of our students. She invests time in her students, learning their names and prioritizing answering their questions. She is regularly referred to as the best professor in CEPS due to her ability to explain difficult concepts and her genuine care for students. She is strongly committed to the retention and advancement of women in STEM as evidenced by her enduring role as the beloved advisor for the college chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

May-Win’s impact on our students extends well beyond the classroom, as she sets a high bar for developing and leading experiential learning opportunities, including senior capstone projects, undergraduate research and student design competitions. She advises dozens of students on interdisciplinary projects each year, involving national and international competitions and engaging with national defense agencies. Several of these projects have been converted to student organizations, providing longstanding and transformative opportunities in robotics and engineering for our students.

May-Win’s dedication to fostering a love for learning is an inspiration to all in the field of education.

Michael Dube

Michael Dube, 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award, UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law

“Michael Dube is the best professor I have ever had.” This is what one of Dube’s students had to say about him in a recent evaluation of the Amateur Sports Law course at the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law. Students describe Dube’s classes as thought-provoking and a lot of fun. In recent feedback from his students, one said “Professor Dube is an excellent lecturer,” another added “His knowledge and teaching style are amazing” and a third noted “Professor Dube appears to be genuinely interested in student success.”

As a distinguished member of the faculty, Dube has dedicated seven years to enriching the academic experience as an adjunct professor, currently serving in his second year as a visiting assistant professor. His students reap the rewards of his extensive professional background, including roles as an associate attorney at Sherman Silverstein Kohl Rose & Podolsky and White and Williams LLP.

Within the law school, Dube is renowned for his exceptional teaching across three pivotal courses: Civil Procedure, Drug Law, and Amateur Sports Law. His unwavering passion and infectious enthusiasm for these subjects have catalyzed student interest and active participation. Indeed, Dube’s students often express that his fervor for Amateur Sports Law is so palpable that they themselves have become fervent enthusiasts. Fostering such a profound transformation in the classroom is no small feat; it is a hallmark of exceptional educators.

Kerry Nolte

Kerry Nolte, 2023 Excellence in Public Service Award, CHHS

Kerry Nolte is a board-certified family nurse practitioner specializing in community health and substance use treatment and has dedicated her career to advancing the health of and healthcare access for people involved in substance use and recovery. In New Hampshire, a state grappling with a high rate of opioid-related deaths, Nolte has dedicated her career to addressing this crisis.

Nolte co-founded the New Hampshire Harm Reduction Coalition in 2017, an initiative dedicated to addressing the needs of people who use substances. Under her guidance, New Hampshire Harm Reduction Coalition has provided vital services such as needle exchange programs and a mobile overdose prevention van, actively combating drug-related harms across New Hampshire. She has extended her commitment by mentoring UNH students, guiding them in service projects to reduce stigma and increase compassion.

Beyond community level action, Nolte’s impact extends to state and national levels. She has advocated for legislation supporting syringe services programs and has supported all eight operating programs in New Hampshire. Her expertise and service have garnered national recognition, with invitations to contribute to the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors’ CDC-funded Syringe Services Program best practices advisory committee. Her contributions directly influenced the guidelines published by the CDC in 2020.

Anna Wainwright

Anna Wainwright, 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award, COLA

A scholar of Renaissance studies, gender and race, Anna Wainwright is also an extraordinarily effective and inspiring instructor. Students marvel at her deftness making connections between a wide range of complex concepts and approaches — whether language, Medieval politics, Renaissance literature, or Italian motherhood — and how she uses creative, hands-on assignments empowering them to connect these subjects meaningfully with their own lives and contemporary concerns.

One semester, for example, Wainwright integrated UNH’s Social Innovation Challenge into her Intermediate Italian course. Making the challenge both linguistically and culturally relevant, students had to identify and research a social problem in Italy and suggest a solution based on their expanding international cultural competencies. The students created and filmed proposals in English for submission to the challenge, which they also translated into Italian; subsequently, Wainwright mentored three Innovation interns.

Students and colleagues praise Wainwright’s impressive success training numerous students in rigorous, sophisticated, high-level research. One colleague states: “Lots of us try to support and encourage undergraduate research. But what Anna does better than anyone is support students through the step-by-step process of undertaking research. She gives them a set of skills that she helps nourish until they take root and from which a student can grow future projects in addition to the one, they are undertaking under her guidance.”

Wainwright’s pedagogical passion and acumen are such that she is not content to be an excellent teacher herself — she also spearheads helping others teach effectively, as with her recently co-edited casebook, Teaching Race in the European Renaissance.

Molly Dorsey

Molly Dorsey, 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award, COLA

An expert in the history of war and society, medicine and law, Molly Dorsey offers impressively diverse courses across disciplinary boundaries. Whether for history, justice studies or the honors program, Molly attracts students with her ability to capture and hold their interests. Her incorporation of “interesting stories” and “impactful questions”, as one student noted, “brought the material alive and made me grasp the significance of historical inquiry.”

Indeed, the enthusiasm of undergraduate and graduate students for her teaching is extraordinary. She receives consistently high praise for her passion and “remarkable ability to make history come to life.” Known for her high standards, her class assignments are both creative and demanding. In several courses, the students’ major assignment is to produce a documentary film as a group effort; and in the History of Espionage, for example, Molly asks students to play a game she has devised to highlight the challenges involved in analyzing intelligence and the factors that multiple actors must consider. Carefully crafted, these teaching methods have powerful results.

Describing her pedagogical approach, Molly emphasizes giving students what they need, not just what they want, and providing them the skills that empower them as lifelong learners. Relatedly, students appreciate being pushed to work to their full potential. One student commented: “I always considered myself a hard worker with high standards. Molly pushed me to a whole new level academically” and “always expected the best work possible.” Molly nurtures such excellence while always being compassionate, patient and understanding.

With unwavering commitment and innovative teaching methods, Molly has inspired countless students throughout her career.

Mauricio Pulecio

Mauricio Pulecio, 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award, COLA

Professor Mauricio Pulecio’s teaching across Spanish, English and women’s and gender studies means that numerous UNH students avail of his impactful expertise in postcolonial Hispanic studies. Peer observations and student evaluations offer stellar praise of Pulecio as a highly original, engaging and caring instructor. His “contagious enthusiasm” for teaching topics as diverse as Spanish grammar, Queer Cinema and Literature & the Law, translates to student success, whether that looks like mastering a tricky grammar point, developing tools for analyzing visual texts, honing skills for broaching challenging topics or gaining a deeper understanding of social justice in Latin America.

A student in his Intermediate Spanish class wrote: “The environment he created was a judgment-free zone where I felt like I was able to make mistakes and learn from them. One of my favorite things was our final project about human rights violations. My partner and I investigated the rights of the transgender population in Latin America. I am so appreciative that Professor Pulecio takes the time in his classes to include real-world issues and gives his students time where they can reflect on enduring issues throughout the world. I learned a lot from his class that I was able to take away.”

Beyond the classroom, Pulecio has enhanced student engagement through initiatives such as the NH Migration Project, and the Puerto Rico Lab focusing on post-disaster resilience. Additionally, his leadership on DEI pedagogy for the Global Racial and Social Inequality Lab (GRSIL) supports faculty immersion in inclusive teaching, further extending the generativity of his effective teaching.

Jennifer Purrenhage

Jennifer Purrenhage, 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award, COLSA

Passion, energy and unwavering commitment to teaching excellence: that is how students and colleagues alike describe Jennifer Purrenhage. Purrenhage’s ability to inspire students, whether in the popular Discovery class she teaches, or the senior level required wildlife inventory and monitoring class, is unmatched. Students consistently say Purrenhage is their favorite teacher, and at the same time they indicate that she requires a lot from them, both in terms of work and critical thinking. You cannot simply attend Purrenhage’s classes; you need to think not only about what you are learning but how you will apply the knowledge. This type of self-reflection pushes her students to get the very most out of their education.

Purrenhage brings real-world research into her classroom. Students learn how to sample turtle and salamander populations and contribute to data collection that is part of a multi-state research network. Students gain skills, but they also become members of the broader scientific community. This experience is more inspiring than a simple laboratory exercise. Invariably, these classroom experiences inspire students to continue doing research with Purrenhage who sponsors SURF and McNair opportunities on a regular basis.

Purrenhage also motivates her colleagues. A faculty member who contributed to her nomination package wrote: “Jen’s ability to inspire and teach students to think critically and creatively indirectly has inspired me to strive to become a better educator, and one of the main reasons I want to stay at UNH is to continue to work with and learn from Jen. She is hands down the best educator I’ve ever encountered.”

Her innovative teaching methods, tireless commitment to student success, and unwavering support for her peers have made her a true beacon of excellence in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture.

Russell Miles

Russell Miles, 2023 Jean C. Brierley Award for Excellence in Teaching, Paul College

Russell Miles, a senior lecturer in the decision sciences department at Paul College, has consistently showcased excellence in his teaching approach, spanning over a decade. His courses cover a wide gamut, from foundational classes like ADMN 580 (Management Information Systems) to specialized electives such as ADMN 845 (Supply Chain Management). Across these diverse subjects, a recurring theme presents itself: His dedication to the holistic development of his students.

An alumnus articulately encapsulates the sentiment many share: “Russell’s support and mentorship has undoubtedly been integral to my post-academic success.” This commitment is further underscored by his impressive development and management of the Paul Projects: Corporate Engagement Program, which goes beyond the classroom and taps into real-world application.

His students, both past and present, are consistent in their praise. One undergraduate captures this essence, noting, “You can tell how much work he puts into his teaching and how much he truly enjoys it. He truly wants his students to succeed.” On the graduate front, a student highlighted the transformative experience, sharing, “This class gave me great knowledge in this area of focus and has sparked great interest for future job endeavors.”

Furthermore, Miles’ commitment to pedagogical evolution stands out. His innovative animated lecture videos, which he generously shares with peers, have become a trademark of his teaching method, as have his ongoing efforts in curriculum development, notably in supply chain management.

Courtney Rice

Courtney Rice, 2023 Distinguished Faculty Award, Granite State College

The Granite State College Distinguished Faculty Award is given in recognition of excellence in teaching where recipients exemplify this distinction through the sharing of knowledge in a challenging but supportive learning environment and by demonstrating and inspiring lifelong learning in their students.

The last ever recipient of this award as Granite State College is Courtney Rice, program director for undergraduate health and wellness programs. Rice is an exemplar of the characteristics associated with this award, including a fierce dedication to student success, innovation in effective student learning strategies, meticulous attention to curriculum scaffolding, cultivation of deep industry partnerships, and a deep commitment to career preparation.

Rice also serves as a leader on the college’s Assessment Task Force which explores ways to expand the college’s robust Institutional Outcomes Assessment initiative. In the years since adoption of this framework, Rice has regularly trained her faculty on how to conduct assessments, as she has also sought and integrated their feedback on the rubric itself.

Her colleagues describe Rice as a leader, a scholar-practitioner, and a dedicated instructor who graciously shares her work, her feedback and her ideas. Rice welcomes any opportunity to collaborate, because she knows our students will benefit most from fresh ideas, even when they are not her own.

Rice has helped to create the vibrant and rewarding culture of teaching and learning that so many students have valued in Granite State College, and her efforts will carry forward with GSC now a part of the UNH College of Professional Studies.

Kristen Johnson

Kristen Johnson, 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award, College of Professional Studies, Manchester campus

Kristen Johnson teaches at all levels of the biology and biotechnology programs at UNH Manchester, where her interactions with both undergraduate and graduate students are critical to the breadth of her contribution to the college. She genuinely trusts that the underpinning of a robust education is cultivated by deep student engagement.

Her pedagogical methods challenge students to think critically, applying what they are learning to practical problems in biotech research and industry. In lectures, she implements active learning modules and project-based learning to achieve these goals.=

In her laboratory courses, Johnson provides course-based research experiences for students to develop and undertake novel studies to understand how to ask questions, design experiments, gather and analyze data, and, most importantly, manage adversity in research.

Students echo her investment, enthusiasm, and support for their scientific work: “Dr. Johnson was an amazing instructor. She explained the material in class very well. She always came to class enthusiastic about the material she was going to cover that day,” one student said. Another added, “Group-based discussions were awesome; this really helps students who have anxiety talking in front of a whole class. Problem-based learning was also good in bringing out the ingenuity in students.” And a third noted, “Dr. Johnson made me see the potential in myself! Going into this course, I was challenged and encouraged to think outside of the box. She reinvigorated my drive to be a scientist.”

Roger Grinde

Roger Grinde, 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award, Paul College

Professor Roger Grinde is a lifelong learner who consistently demands as much from himself as he does from his students. He immerses himself in his specialties of business analytics and information systems to keep current on the latest technological advancements and adapts his curriculum accordingly.

Grinde firmly believes that students must be challenged to get the most out of learning and be competitive in the job market. He never compromises on the rigor of his courses. Despite the challenging nature of Grinde’s courses, he has a talent for breaking down and explaining complex concepts and materials in a simple and straightforward manner for students to understand.

Grinde goes the extra mile in the classroom to make learning meaningful, interesting and engaging for students by designing and choosing examples, exercises, live demonstrations, real-world data sets, case studies and assignments that are highly relevant and applicable to real life and the business world. He also creates a participatory learning environment through interactive learning games and hands-on learning-by-doing activities.

Grinde is open-minded about new technology and encourages his students to utilize it in their studies, but consistently stresses that technology is no substitute for domain knowledge, and they must always be prepared to interpret and explain data they use in their exercises.

A student’s appraisal succinctly encapsulates his impact: “Professor Grinde did an excellent job. The aspect of this class I really appreciated was utilizing modern–day tools to perform data visualizations. I really enjoy a class that does not just follow a textbook and this class kept my interest the entire time. It was also awesome that some of his presentations included updated information from the past few days or even day.”

In nominating Grinde for this award, Jing Wang, associate professor of information systems, says, “During the time I have known Professor Grinde, I have been very impressed with his commitment and passion for teaching excellence, dedication to the success of his students and versatility in teaching a wide range of courses at various student levels and with different delivery modalities.”

Jo Sias

Jo Sias, 2023 Excellence in International Engagement Award, CEPS

Since 2001, Professor Jo Sias has been an active faculty in the department of civil and environmental engineering, where she has made significant contributions to the educational, research and outreach missions of UNH.

Sias is a well-known expert internationally: She is editor-in-chief of the leading international journal in her research area and has recently delivered invited lectures in Africa, Europe and Central and South America. She held the prestigious Fulbright fellowship during 2015-2016. Sias helped develop a cotutelle (dual Ph.D. program) agreement between UNH and University of Parma and co-advised UNH’s very first cotutelle doctoral student. Some examples of Sias’ efforts to enhance the international visibility of UNH includes hosting of research fellows and visiting graduate students from China, Italy and Serbia as well as participating in the European Commission’s Marie Curie International Training Network.

Sias has supervised and co-supervised 41 graduate students and three post-doctoral research associates, 25 of them international students and scholars representing Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Italy, Nigeria and Vietnam. This diverse international makeup of her research group clearly demonstrates internationalization in her research and advising.

Sias’s individual and collaborative efforts at building international engagements and enhancing the international visibility of UNH are exemplary. She has fostered several international research collaborations, mentored diverse groups of international students, hosted international scholars at UNH and she continually brought a global perspective to her undergraduate and graduate courses.

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