The College of Arts and Sciences' Distinguished Research Award (CASDRA) was initiated in 1993-94 upon the recommendation of the College Council for Research
and Graduate Studies. Awards may be given in four areas: Natural Sciences and Mathematical
Sciences; Humanities; Social Sciences; and Engaged Scholarship, which was initiated
in 2005. Faculty members may receive the CASDRA only one time.
In recognition for outstanding research achievements, each recipient receives $500.00
toward research expenses, a plaque, and recognition at our August faculty meeting.
We are very pleased today to acknowledge four of our faculty members for their outstanding
research performance. Dr. Robert Blanton, Department of Political Science, is receiving the CASDRA in the area of the Social
Sciences; Dr. Teresa Dalle, Department of English, is receiving it in the area of Engaged Scholarship; and both
Dr. Robert Kozma, Department of Computer Science, and Dr. Abby Parrill, Department of Chemistry, are receiving the CASDRA in the area of Natural Sciences
and Mathematical Sciences.
Dr. Robert Blanton, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, completed his Ph.D. in Political
Science at the University of South Carolina in 1996 and joined the faculty at the
University of Memphis in 1997. Since 2002, Professor Blanton has also served as Director
of International Studies. He is being recognized with the CASDRA in the area of Social
Sciences. Before becoming a member of our faculty, Rob taught at Georgia College and
State University. He received the Early Career Research Award from the college in
2002 and was recognized in 2005 for being an Outstanding Advisor in the college as
In his letter of nomination, Dr. J. Harvey Lomax notes that "the policy implications
of Dr. Blanton's work are enormous." In Rob's words, "the main body of my research
deals with the intersection between political phenomena and the global economic order.
Though the global economy permeates many facets of our lives, there are many key aspects
of this phenomenon that have not been examined in a scientific fashion….an overarching
goal of my research has been the systemic examination of the global economic system,
as well as its relation to political phenomena such as trade institutions, armed conflict,
and respect for human rights."
Professor Blanton is author of Defining The "New World Order:" Economic Regions and
Patterns of Global Cooperation (1998, Garland Publishing) and over 15 refereed journal
articles and chapters. Among the letters recommending Rob for the research award one
person writes that his "scholarly work represents a successful mix of theoretical,
practical, historical, and analytical. His work is not divorced from reality…Blanton's
analysis is consistent and original….His work has played an important role in helping
scholars understand that trade and human rights are not a black and white/good or
Let me summarize by saying that I believe Dr. Blanton is the consummate scholar: he
is cutting edge in his analysis and conclusions, yet open to new ideas, strategies,
Dr. Teresa Dalle, Associate Professor of English and English as a Second Language Coordinator, received
her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Arizona in 1983 and joined the University
of Memphis faculty in 1984. She is receiving the CASDRA in recognition of her accomplishments
in Engaged Scholarship.
Dr. Eric Link, Chair of the Department of English, in his nomination letter for Dr.
Dalle, writes, about how active she is "on a daily basis, with community organizations.
She is a model of using her expertise in her field to aid community growth and development.
As a specialist in ESL, Professor Dalle has spent a career bridging the gap between
the University of Memphis and local, regional, and national groups dedicated to aiding
non-Native speakers of English improve their ability to live, work, and flourish in
English speaking communities throughout the world." Letters from colleagues outside
the University of Memphis concur: one colleague at the DeNeuville Learning Center
notes that Dr. Dalle "ties community work with research for her and her students…By
bringing in graduate students to the work of the center, Dr. Dalle has combined the
mission of the University with the mission of DeNeuville Learning Center."
Another colleagues with the English as a Second Language program for Memphis City
Schools, writes, "Dr. Dalle pioneered the development of English language instructional
programs in the Memphis area with the Center for Intensive English Language Study…Teresa
uniquely embodies your award criteria of engaging projects, community outreach, and
mutually productive relationships with the community." Among the other numerous support
letters, I'd like to cite comments from Professor Emily Thrush, one of Dr. Dalle's
colleagues in English: "The need for licensed teachers in ESL in the Memphis City
and Shelby County school systems has grown exponentially over the past 10 years…[with
currently] well over 6,000 students…Teresa has worked closely with coordinators of
ESL in both the city and the country….This resulted in a 3-year grant (On Track) that
paid tuition for 40 local teachers each year for 3 graduate courses, and provided
2-day workshops for an additional 50 mainstream teachers each semester on how to work
with ESL students in a mainstream class. The OnTrack grant impacted more than 500
teachers in the Memphis area."
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Dr. Robert Kozma, Professor of Computer Science, received his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Delft
University of Technology, the Netherlands, in 1992 and joined the faculty at the University
of Memphis in 2000. Previously he held research and faculty positions at the University
of California, Berkeley, University of Otago, New Zealand, and Tohoku University,
Dr. Kozma was Senior Research Fellow at the National Research Council, 2006-2008.
He is receiving the CASDRA in the area of Natural Sciences and Mathematical Sciences.
He describes his research area as being focused on "computational and mathematical
modeling of large-scale complex processes, with special focus on computational neurodynamic
aspects of intelligent behavior in biological and artificial systems." Professor Stan
Franklin nominated Dr. Kozma, stating, that his "highly interdisciplinary research
includes groundbreaking work in computational neurodynamics (with neuroscientist Walter
Freeman at Berkeley), in neuropercolation theory (with mathematician Bela Bollabas,
Jabie Hardin Chair at the University of Memphis), in cognitive neuroscience (with
cognitive scientist Leonid Perlovsky of Harvard), and in robotics (with roboticist
Edward Tunsetel of the Jet Propulsion Lab at Cal Tech)."
Over the past eight years he's published almost fifty articles in esteemed international
research journals and in the proceedings of highly selective conference, and has edited
two important books. His research has been consistently well supported by external
grants." He was also nominated by Professor George Anastassiou. His research—much
of it collaborative and interdisciplinary—has been funded extensively by the National
Science Foundation and the United States Air Force Research Laboratory.
Among the many letters of support commending Dr. Kozma for his research accomplishments,
I will quote one who writes that Dr. Kozma's "ground-breaking results greatly influenced
the field, and his ideas serve as a basis for future studies by various researchers
and research groups worldwide." He has published over 165 peer-reviewed articles in
journals and proceedings, as well as co-authoring 5 books.
Dr. Abby Parrill, Professor of Chemistry, received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Arizona
in 1996, and joined our faculty in 1998. She is also a Visiting Scientist at St. Jude
Children's Research Hospital. Dr. Parrill received an Early Career Research Award
in 2000, the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2007 from the College of Arts and Sciences,
and the Olin Atkins Professorship from the University of Memphis in 2007.
She was nominated by three of her colleagues Dr. Peter Bridson, Department Chair,
Dr. Gary Emmert, and Dr. Yongmei Wang. She describes her research program as focusing
on "elucidating the structures of proteins involved in the production and biological
functions of bioactive phospholipids…which play an essential role in both normal and
abnormal biological processes." In Dr. Emmert's letter, he writes, "This work has
direct implications on cancer research….she has also collaborated with researchers
at the Scripps Research Institute to better understand the mechanisms that relate
certain chemicals to the initiation of cancer, thus demonstrating that her work has
even broader application."
Professor Parrill has published over 55 peer-reviewed publications, including a co-edited
book entitled Rational Drug Design: Novel Methodology and Practical Applications (1999).
Her research has been funded extensively by the National Science Foundation, the National
Institutes of Health, the Elsa Pardee Foundation, and the American Heart Association,
among others. One of the letters of support describes "her outstanding contributions
to the understanding of the molecular interactions that determine selectively and
affinity of proteins…In just a few years, she has become one of the top three acknowledged
leaders in the computational modeling of LPA and SIP interactions…."
Dr. Bridson summarizes Dr. Parrill's research career to date: "The range of activities
in which Abby has been successful is most impressive. She is held in high regard by
her collaborators, including many students, both graduate and undergraduate, who have
worked with her."
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