Excellence and Distinction

Faculty Honored for Exceptional Contributions

Georgia Southern University faculty members are engaged in groundbreaking research and play a leading role in guiding our students as they pursue their academic goals. Each year, faculty members are honored for their exceptional contributions in the areas of teaching, research and service.

Excellence in Contributions to Instruction Award Winners

The award recognizes faculty who demonstrate excellence in the classroom and beyond. The award is administered through the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Professor Shainaz Landge, Ph.D. College of Science and Mathematics

Shainaz Landge is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She said her teaching style is “very interactive,” which allows her to deliver complex material in multiple ways to reach students where they are.

“Students are asked to choose a difficult topic and work on it through any art form such as song, poems, music, videos, poster, animation, mnemonics, analogy, etc.,” she said. “Because students spend an ample amount of time on the project and have to understand it on a deeper level, they can then help other students on the topic, which leads to an even greater understanding.”

Landge said her passion for teaching comes from the excellent teachers she had in the past. “They opened my eyes to a new world and I want to provide that same experience for others. Once they get that ‘aha’ moment and the spark in the eyes of understanding, I feel satisfied. I strive to teach to understand the material in depth and connect with the real world.”

Professor John Dobson, Ph.D. Waters College of Health Professions

John Dobson is an associate professor in the Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology. He uses a blended learning style that incorporates lecture, demonstration, technology and facilitation in his classes. He teaches exercise physiology, anatomy and physiology, cardiopulmonary pathophysiology and ECG interpretation, human performance and nutrition.

“The most enjoyable part of my job is when I can guide students to an understanding of complex physiological phenomena, such that they feel good about themselves because they really understand the concepts,” he said. “In those moments, when the light first switches on for them, there is often a flash of joy on the students’ faces that is utterly contagious.”

Dobson said he is honored “to have my name listed along with the many eminent educators who have received this award.”

Judge Ron Ginsberg Faculty Excellence Award Winner

This award recognizes the overall outstanding teaching (face-to-face, online or blended) of a full-time Armstrong Campus faculty member. The Center for Teaching Excellence oversees recommendations for this award.

Professor Geneva DeMars, Ph.D. College of Science and Mathematics

Geneva DeMars is a lecturer in the Department of Biology. She joined the biology faculty on the Armstrong Campus in 2010 as an instructor, and became a lecturer in 2013.

“Dr. DeMars is the epitome of a scholarly educator,” said Scott Mateer, Ph.D., associate chair of the biology department. “She teaches gateway courses that are predominantly freshman and sophomore students who are often first-generation, underprepared, ‘at-risk’ students. Not only is she a challenging instructor who cares for her students, but Dr. DeMars is also constantly assessing and challenging herself to improve as an educator.”

Kristina Brockmeier Faculty Award Winner

This award is presented to an Armstrong Campus faculty member who is recognized as an outstanding teacher and made significant contributions to the university and its students. The Center for Teaching Excellence oversees recommendations for this award.

Grant Gearhart, Ph.D. College of Arts and Humanities

Grant Gearhart, an assistant professor and director of the Language Resource Center, teaches Spanish and Spanish literature to undergraduates.

His commitment to teaching, service and outreach “comes from having incredible mentors and colleagues along the way, and just trying to copy what I see them doing,” he explained.

“Our students put a lot on the line to be here, and they deserve my best effort, which I try to give every day.”

Gearhart is now into his fourth year of teaching on the Armstrong Campus and he admitted surprise at receiving the Brockmeier Faculty Award.

“I was very honored, especially when you consider past recipients of this award. They are some of the teachers I most admire on our campus. I’ve felt incredibly supported since I arrived in 2015, and without that encouragement I couldn’t do what I do.”

Excellence in Research/Creative Scholarly Activity Award Winners

This award recognizes professors who excel in research while teaching full time. It is administered through the Office of Research Services and Sponsored Programs.

Professor Mujibur Khan, Ph.D. Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing

Mujibur Khan, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, conducts cutting-edge research in nanocomposites, nanofibers and nanotechnology.

Since joining Georgia Southern in 2012, he has established the Nanomaterials Research Lab, and received a grant of $153,000 from the National Science Foundation to acquire state-of-the-art equipment for fabrication, characterization and performance tests of nanocomposite materials for structural, biomedical, energy and environmental applications.

Currently, Kahn and his students are conducting research into targeted cancer drug delivery. They are working to develop nanoparticles that encapsulate cancer drugs, transport them to a tumor, treat it and have the nanoparticles dissolve harmlessly.

Khan and his team, in collaboration with Augusta University Cancer Research Center, developed high voltage induced nanonization of breast cancer drugs and inhibitors and processing of nanocapsules for targeted and image guided therapy. Such nanocapsules will utilize the altered tumor environment to facilitate accumulation of the drugs at the tumor site and enable specific targeting of the tumor and to achieve growth inhibition and enhanced therapeutic efficacy.

Professor Andrew Hansen, Dr.P.H. Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

Andrew Hansen is an associate professor of community health in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior. His research interest focuses on chronic disease prevention at the population and community level.

He and his co-researchers’ publications in the Journal of the American Medical Association and Childhood Obesity regarding trends in weight loss efforts and weight misperceptions gained widespread recognition in multiple media outlets nationally and internationally including the Washington Post and NBC’s “Today” show.

Hansen singled out Professors Jian Zhang, M.D., Dr.P.H.; Amy Hackney, Ph.D.; and Tony Pritchard, Ed.D.; for their collaborative efforts on these and other studies.

“Working with and learning from others is very rewarding,” he said, and credits the environment and opportunity created by those at the College and Georgia Southern as key elements for his success. “Also rewarding is how the research allows for the integration of teaching and mentoring of students along with service to the community,” he added.

H. Dean Propst Award Winner

This Student Government Association award honors a faculty member for outstanding involvement in the student life of the campus.

Professor David Bringman, DPT Waters College of Health Professions

David Bringman is an assistant professor and rehabilitation sciences program coordinator. He has been a faculty member on the Armstrong Campus for nine years.

His active involvement in the student life of the campus is centered on fostering student success throughout the educational process.

“Students are the reason I am at the University,” he said. “Helping a grad or undergrad student define their goals and developing relationships with students and professors is a very rewarding experience.”

Bringman’s work has been at the policy level and helping foster student success across the campus.

“I have chaired the Student Success Committee, Student Activities Committee, and worked very closely with the SGA Presidents while I was serving as Senate President and President-elect. I have also been heavily engaged in first year orientation and was the faculty speaker for Navigate for many years.”

Distinguished Faculty Service to the University Award Winner

This award is presented to a faculty member who has shown outstanding service to the University.

Professor Wayne Johnson, Ph.D. Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing Wayne Johnson, a mechanical engineering professor, has been a faculty member on the Armstrong Campus for 14 years.

He decided to become a teacher to “inspire others to think critically and contribute solutions to the world’s problems,” he said. “Engineering provided the unique opportunity to achieve both of those goals.”

Johnson’s focus in service and outreach has been as an advocate for students, staff and faculty through his work in the faculty senate. He has worked also to improve faculty diversity and campus awareness of diversity-related issues in general.

“None of us are where we are today solely because of our individual efforts, surely someone at some point assisted us. Thus, each of us has a social responsibility to give back to others in some way.” He said he is honored that his colleagues have recognized his efforts to serve the University community.

Langdon Honored with State-wide Regents’ Award

Jody Langdon, a professor in the Waters College of Health Professions, received the 2018 Regents’ Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award. The kinesiology professor was presented the award and a check for $5,000 during the University System of Georgia Foundation’s annual Regents’ Scholarship Gala in Atlanta last March. Langdon was recognized for her work integrating Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) principles from both the scholar and leadership points of view. More than 600 guests including the regents, USG presidents and Georgia’s governor and first lady attended the gala.

Distinguished Faculty Service to the Academic Discipline Award Winner

The award is presented to the faculty member who contributes significantly to his or her discipline.

Professor Joshua Williams, Ph.D. College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Armstrong Campus psychology students who want to engage in research, may turn to Joshua Williams, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology.

He said, “Students engaged in undergraduate research are able to take ownership of projects and examine real world questions they may have by applying scientific principles they learn in the classroom.”

In his main area of expertise Williams examines “how young infants learn motor skills and how different early experiences can lead to varied developmental trajectories.”

The professor said winning the award is extremely special because the nomination came from colleagues in his department.

Professors from the Statesboro Campus were recognized at this year’s convocation in Statesboro. Pictured (from left to right) are: Mujibur Khan, Andrew Hansen, Shainaz Landge, John Dobson, Christine Whitlock and Mosfequr Rahman.

Award for Distinguished Service of a Part-time Faculty Member

The award recognizes an Armstrong part time faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding service to the students, to the university and/or to the discipline.

Professor Faye Kirschner, M.Ed. Waters College of Health Professions

Faye Kirschner, an alumna of Georgia Southern, Armstrong Junior College and University of Georgia, has been teaching tennis on the Armstrong Campus for 22 years and said winning the award was an honor and a surprise.

The retired Savannah-Chatham Public School educator loves teaching and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Kirschner said teaching tennis skills to all levels of students is challenging.

But, she added, it is exciting to “see the progress of students who, in the beginning, cannot hit the ball over the net, but by the end of the term they demonstrate great progress.”

Distinguished Faculty Service Award to the Community

The award is presented to a faculty member who has shown outstanding service to the local or larger community.

Professor Bill Dawers, M.A. College of Arts and Humanities

Bill Dawers is a senior lecturer in the Departments of Writing and Linguistics, and Communication Arts. He is also a strong advocate for the University and the Savannah community.

Dawers believes “strongly in social justice and fairness,” and thinks that academics have an obligation to bring their energy and expertise out into the “so-called real world.” He has advocated for good public policy for 18 years in his City Talk columns in the Savannah Morning News.

“I have frequently covered local issues through various blogs, including the music blog ‘hissing lawns,’ which I founded in 2013,” he said. “In terms of campus service, I am most proud of my work on various search committees that have resulted in excellent new University employees.”

The professor was president of the board of the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home at a time of dramatic expansions in the nonprofit’s programming, visitors and public profile.

Professors from the Armstrong Campus were recognized at this year’s convocation in Savannah. Pictured (from left to right) are: Bill Dawers, Wayne Johnson, Joshua Williams, Faye Kirschner, David Bringman. Not pictured: Grant Gearhart and Geneva DeMars

Excellence in Service Award Winners

This award honors and rewards faculty who use their academic disciplines to provide non-compensated assistance to the community, region and the academic arena. It is administered through the Provost’s Office.

Professor Mosfequr Rahman, Ph.D. Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing

Mosfequr Rahman, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said winning this award is an inspiring recognition of his hard work and devotion to Georgia Southern.

He has taught 16 different mechanical engineering courses and has served the University, the College, the mechanical engineering department and his professional societies in various capacities, including as committee chair, committee member, senator, student advisor, faculty mentor, laboratory coordinator, research supervisor for undergraduate and graduate students, session chair, session organizer, reviewer of various technical journal/conference papers and performed community outreach activities. He also serves as faculty advisor for the University’s Bangladesh Student Association.

Rahman said it is thrilling to serve others at “my beloved institution and in my community.”

Professor Christine Whitlock, Ph.D. College of Science and Mathematics

Christine Whitlock, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is a back-to-back University Excellence Award winner. Last year, she received the award for Excellence in Contributions to Instruction.

Whitlock said while it’s nice to be noticed for her work over the past two decades, it is not necessary.

“It is a fundamental belief of mine that healthy and thriving citizens should always give back to the community,” she said. “We have talents and time that should be used to better society.”

Whitlock has devoted “energy to students and colleagues in ways that vary from tutoring to upholding Title IX mandates.”

She has been the advisor for two student organizations, one of which earned national recognition twice, and has served with fellow faculty members on departmental, college and University committees.