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Early Career Research Awards

Every year as part of our annual August faculty meeting tradition, the College of Arts and Sciences confers the Early Career Research Award (ECRA) to a select group of faculty members who are in the early stages of developing their research programs.

In recognition for their research achievement, each recipient of the ECRA receives $250 that can be applied toward research-related expenses, a plaque, and recognition at our August faculty meeting.

This year we are very pleased to announce that three faculty members are receiving an Early Career Research Award: Dr. Keri Brondo, Department of Anthropology; Dr. Philip McCarthy, Department of English; and Dr. Lan Wang, Department of Computer Science. 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.


Keri Brondo

Dr. Keri BrondoDr. Keri Brondo, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology at Michigan State University in 2007 and joined the faculty at the University of Memphis that same year. Previously Dr. Brondo held a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at Michigan State University’s College of Social Science.

Dr. Brondo describes her scholarship as contributing to "basic research, theory and application in the areas of (1) the anthropology of environment and development; (2) the anthropology of work; and (3) gender and social justice." She has over a decade of experience working in afroindigenous communities in Central America, focusing on "indigenous rights to territorial control and resource management in the context of tourism development." In addition--in the area of business anthropology-- she participated in a study on work practices and socialization at a General Motor’s assembly plant in Lansing, Michigan.

In her letter of nomination, Professor Kathryn Hicks, Department of Anthropology, notes that Dr. Brondo’s strong research publication reflects a balance between her earlier international research and development of new research agendas here in the Mid-South. Department Chair Dr. Ruthbeth Finerman described Dr. Brondo’s work as being of "the very highest caliber." "Her publications appear in our discipline’s most prestigious journals…[including] the flagship journal the American Anthropologist."

In addition to 13 refereed journal articles and chapters, Dr. Brondo has co-edited a National Association for the Practice of Anthropology (NAPA) Bulletin and is first or co-author on five agency reports. She was Co-PI on a Strengthening Communities Grant through the Community Foundation of Great Memphis, United Way, and the University of Memphis.

A leading internationally recognized applied anthropologist in a letter of support for Dr. Brondo’s nomination wrote, "She has the experience and skills to engage students in applied research on locally-based issue, and on research questions of general concern to our entire discipline. Her developing national and international reputation makes her an ideal candidate for the Early Career Research Award."


Philip M. McCarthy

Dr. Philip McCarthyDr. Philip M. McCarthy, Assistant Professor, Department of English, completed his Ph.D. in Linguistics in the Department of English at the University of Memphis in 2005. Dr. McCarthy held a Post-doctoral Fellowship in Computational Linguistics and later a Senior Research Scientist position in the Institute for Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis (2005-2009) before joining the faculty in the Department of English first as a Visiting Assistant Professor and then in 2009 as an Assistant Professor.

Dr. McCarthy describes his work as highly interdisciplinary and collaborative, working with colleagues in the departments of English, Psychology (especially the Institute for Intelligent Systems), and Computer Science. He notes that he helped to "develop some of the most advanced and innovative automated software….Each of these multi-million dollar funded projected yielded numerous advancements in learning technology. [His own] "projects include leading publications in automated approaches to feedback, text categorization, and textual assessment measures."

In his letter of nomination, Art Graeser, Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of Institute for Intelligent Systems, notes that "Philip has a first-rate analytical mind…and gives dazzling presentations to an audience that spans children, researchers, administrators, and business people. He is among the most persistent, hardworking researchers whom I have seen." Charles Hall, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Memphis, reiterates the place of collaborative work in Philip’s research career: "he creates a community of explorers that would not be possible without his enthusiasm, productivity and a commitment to research…" Eric Link, Chair of English, writes, "To state that Dr. McCarthy has had success as a scholar early in his career is a startling understatement."

In addition to 20 journal articles, 4 book chapters, and 30 published refereed conference proceedings already published, Dr. McCarthy has two book projects under contract, including one with Cambridge University Press.


Lan Wang

Dr. Lan WangDr. Lan Wang, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, completed her Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004, and joined the University of Memphis faculty in 2004. In addition, she is a faculty member in the Center for Information Assurance and faculty affiliate in three different programs on campus, including the Bioinformatics M.S. program.

Dr. Wang describes her work in this way: "I conduct research on computer networking and security issues. My specific research areas are Internet Attack Mitigation, Scalable Internet Design, Internet Monitoring, and Wireless Medical Monitoring." She has placed special importance on cross-institutional collaboration in addition to her cross-University of Memphis projects. This has had positive results in terms of networking and interdisciplinary efforts.

Professor Robert Kozma, Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences, nominated Dr. Wang and notes that she "is an internationally recognized expert in the area of wireless communications, both hardware and software aspects. She has published 32 peer-reviewed publications; many of them appeared in highly competitive conferences and premier journals…"

Dr. Wang has also been very active in applying for and receiving funded grants, including two major research and supplemental grants from the national Science Foundation.

In an external letter from a leading computer science professor, Dr. Wang is described as having the "ability to identify larger challenges, follow these challenges, and produce results that have lasting theoretical value as well as strong relevance to current operations."

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