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College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Research Award
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The College of Arts and Sciences’ Distinguished Research Award (CASDRA) was initiated in 1993-94. Awards may be given in four areas: Natural Sciences and Mathematical Sciences; Humanities; Social Sciences; and Engaged Scholarship, which was initiated in 2005.

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. Charles Hall, Department of English, is receiving the CASDRA in the area of Engaged Scholarship; Dr. Sanjay Mishra, Department of Physics, is receiving the award in the area of Natural Sciences and Mathematical Sciences; Dr. Wanda Rushing, Department of Sociology, is receiving the award in the area of the Social Sciences; and Dr. Cynthia Tucker, Department of English, is receiving the award in the area of the Humanities. These brief remarks are abbreviated from more extensive information about each awardee located on the CAS website.

When I call your name, please come up to the stage so that we can recognize your accomplishments.


Charles Hall

Dr. Charles HallDr. Charles Hall, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics, Department of English, completed his Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Florida in 1983 and joined the faculty at the University of Memphis in 1984. He served as Coordinator of ESL and the M.A. Concentration in TESL/TEFL in the Department of English from 1990-1997. He is being recognized with the CASDRA in the area of Engaged Scholarship.

Dr. Hall has also been recognized at the University of Memphis with a Distinguished Teaching Award in 1989 and 2006. He also received the Outstanding Faculty Award from Disability Resources for Students in 2009. He has received a Senior Fulbright Lecturing Award for the Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia twice (1989, 1993).

Dr. Hall describes his work over the past 20 years as involving “students, faculty, and members of the Greater Mid-South community in international activities...[in 2009] we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the joint U of M/University of West Bohemian TEFL (Teaching English as a Second Language) program…”

In his letter of nomination, Dr. Eric Link writes, “For over a decade, Professor Hall has been building communities in the legal English field….he has created legal English curricula, courses, workshops, and training programs in countries such as Armenia, Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, Romania, Albania, Sudan, and Iraq….Dr. Hall is the very model of the professor who is not content to conduct his scholarship behind the closed and narrow confines of an academic building. He has built his career on opening doors to English language literacy in countries around the world.”

In her letter, Dr. Emily Thrush notes that “Dr. Hall has taken the concept of engaged scholarship beyond the limits of Memphis and Shelby County to communities around the globe….He is unquestionably personally responsible for inspiring more students from Memphis to go abroad and teach for periods ranging from the 3 weeks of the Pilsen program to several years than anyone else in the area.”

Dr. Hall is first or co-author of 9 books and monographs, including American Legal English (University of Michigan Press 1999, 2007), which has also been published in Arabic, Russian, and Chinese. These are in addition to referred article and proceedings.

From many letters submitted by colleagues from around the world in support of Dr. Hall’s nomination, I have chosen one to quote: an Attaché for Cultural and Educational Affairs writes about Charles’ leadership and contribution to the Language4Law project for Central and Southeastern Europe:“Charles not only established his credentials (a linguist who has a deep and nuanced understanding of the legal profession and the language used by expert legal practitioners), but then, through his natural diplomatic skills and uncanny ability to make others feel that they are not only heard, but understood, brought the group together and created productive working teams.”


Sanjay Mishra

Dr. Sanjay MishraDr. Sanjay Mishra, Professor, Department of Physics, completed his Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Missouri—Rolla in 1996 and joined our faculty at the University of Memphis in 1999. He is being recognized with the CASDRA in the area of Natural Sciences and Mathematical Sciences.

In his letter of nomination Physics Chair Dr. M. Shah Jahan describes Dr. Mishra’s considerable contribution to the research agenda in physics at the University of Memphis: “Starting from scratch, he has established an experimental materials science research program to conduct materials characterizing of nano/bio-magnetic materials…his program is not only being sustained with external support, but also expanding with every year…”

Dr. Mishra similarly describes his intent when he came to the U of M: “Since my inception at the University of Memphis I had an ardent desire to establish a rigorous materials science research program. I set my mission after carefully aligning my research activities in line with the U of M research mission.”

With regard to publications, Dr. Mishra has authored well over 70 peer reviewed journal articles and over 40 peer reviewed proceedings articles. He has been very successful in obtaining funding for his research. This year he has been funded by a two year NSF-EAGER grant, and in 2005-06 received funding from NSF as well. These are only two examples of over a dozen funded projects in which he has been PI or Co-PI.

In one of the several external letters of support for Dr. Misha’s nomination, the colleague writes: I am impressed with how Sanjay started with essentially nothing and established research projects in two separate areas in a relatively short time, building an extensive materials science and nanomaterials research laboratory and an extensive publication record in both fields. The number of publications Sanjay has produced in the last five years is truly remarkable for someone without an army of PhD students and postdocs working for him.”

To quote from another external letter: “It will not be an exaggeration to state that the contribution made by Dr. Mishra in the field of materials science has put the name of the University of Memphis on top in the field of magnetic nanomaterials research….I must say that the long list of Dr. Mishra’s accomplishment both as a researcher and an educationist is enviable. What is most impressive about Dr. Mishra is that he has established commendable research activities in a non-PhD granting department.”


Dr. Wanda RushingWanda Rushing

Dr. Wanda Rushing, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, completed her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1998, and joined the University of Memphis Sociology faculty that same year. Since 2007 she has served as Director of Women and Gender Studies, which is part of our Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Memphis. She is receiving the CASDRA in the area of Social Sciences.

Dr. Rushing describes herself as “sociologist who specializes in the study of social inequality. My scholarship utilizes interdisciplinary approaches, combining theories of globalization with theories of race, class, and gender stratification to explain connections between contemporary and past actions that occur in particular places. To date, most of my efforts have focused on the post-World War II American South, but I am increasingly interested in global/local phenomena in other times and places.”

Dr. Rushing was nominated by three colleagues: by Dr. Larry Petersen, Department of Sociology; Dr. Joy Clay, Professor of Public and Nonprofit Administration and Associate Dean; and Dr. Graves Enck, Department of Sociology. Each nominator comments especially on Dr. Rushing’s recently published book, Memphis and the Paradox of Place. Globalization in the American South (University of North Carolina Press, 2009). Drs. Petersen and Clay write: “Wanda Rushing’s field of research can be described as historical sociology with an emphasis on social inequality. Her work is theoretically driven, relies on detailed historical research, and treats time and place as fundamental for understanding historical social processes.”

Professor Enck observes: “President Raines’ recent reiteration of the university’s mission is the framework for my nomination because I believe Dr. Rushing’s book Memphis and the Paradox of Place meets Dr. Raines’ imperative that the university’s research agenda “first has to make a connection here” …”and what’s needed in Memphis.”

In an external letter, a prominent sociology colleague writes, “The keystone of that achieving is…her recent book Memphis and the Paradox of Place… [It] does indeed represent a new direction and a very promising one…Memphis is another story [from other Southern cities] it carries the burden of its history into the future. That history—as cotton entrepôt, mule-trading center, and home of the blues….The result was an important book, one that should help to shape the discussion of the South for years to come.”

In summarizing Dr. Rushing’s scholarly contribution to date, a colleague from another university writes, “While Dr. Rushing’s book [Memphis and the Paradox of Place] stands as a powerful, indeed a singular achievement, and alone merits her receipt of the awards. She has also done other work that adds to her scholarly reputation today. She is the editor of the volume on Urbanization, The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (forthcoming 2010). This is a massive undertaking and a special contribution to the history of the South.”


Cynthia Tucker

Dr. Cynthia TuckerDr. Cynthia Tucker, Professor, Department of English, completed her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa in 1967. She joined the University of Memphis faculty in 1967. Since coming to Memphis, Dr. Tucker has served also as a Visiting Faculty member at the Graduate Theological Union at UC Berkeley (1996, 1998) and at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival (1999, 2000).

Dr. Tucker describes her scholarly work in this way: “Trained in the integrative approach of Comparative Literature and engaged by the waves of social reform that democratized the humanities, I’ve been researching 19th and 20th century women’s lives for thirty-five years. By using the tools of biography and ‘bottom-up’ historiography to move the issue of gender to the center of the analysis, I’ve been helping to fill significant gaps that skewed our view of the past and limited what it could teach us.”

Dr. Gene Plunka, Department of English, in nominating Dr. Tucker commends her for the quality of her five published books. He writes, for example, “Tucker’s next [the third] book was probably her most well-known scholarly work: Prophetic Sisterhood: Liberal Women Ministers of the Frontier, 1880 to 1930. First published by Beacon and later by Indiana University Press, the book is a seminal historical study of frontier women who entered the ordained parish ministry…..Moreover, because of her [Dr. Tucker’s] national reputation in the areas of women’s studies and biography, she has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences, divinity schools historical society meetings, and symposiums throughout the United States for the past thirty-five years.”

Dr. Tucker has authored five books, including the most recent (Oxford University Press 2010) No Silent Witness: The Eliot Parsonage Women and their Unitarian World; an art catalog; a study guide; a student anthology, and several refereed journal publications and book chapters. Her work has been well supported with external funding. Over the years that Dr. Tucker has been a member of our faculty, she has received over 25 external grants to support her research and travel, including from the Durham Foundation and several from the NEH.

In an external letter a colleague writes this about her most recent book No Silent Witness, “The work will, I believe open the question of women’s silent contributions to American culture, not only in the church, but in education and philanthropic organizations as well. This is fresh and original work, deeply rooted in unpublished primary historical documents, and framed in a narrative with a wide chronological and geographical framework.”

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