Arts and Sciences Award Winners Spring 2017

Faculty / Department Kudos


The photo above was taken at the spring Faculty Awards Luncheon. (left to right back)

  • Scott Marler, Associate Professor, History, Thomas W. Briggs Excellence in Teaching
  • Ralph Albanese, Professor, World Languages and Literatures, Distinguished Research in Humanities
  • Tom Nenon, Professor of Philosophy, Dean of College of Arts and Sciences
  • Kriangsiri Malasri, Instructor, Computer Science, Distinguished Teaching
  • Gregory Washington, Associate Professor, Social Work, Excellence in Engaged Scholarship
    (left to right front)
  • Ladrica Menson-Furr, Associate Professor, Director, English, Excellence in Teaching
  • Abby Parrill-Baker, Professor Associate Dean, Chemistry, Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty
  • Paul Balister, Professor, Mathematics, Distinguished Research in Science, Engineering and Mathematics

Be sure and visit the Accolades Website for additional information on awards, presentations and publications.

Department of Anthropology

Faculty Research Grant Awardees

Congratulations to Drs. Katherine Lambert-Pennington (Dept. of Anthropology) and Laura Saija (Dept. of Planning) who were awarded a Faculty Research Grant, from the College of Arts and Sciences, in the amount of $10,000. Their project is titled "The Simeto River Agreement (SRA) and the Quest for Democratizing Development". Their proposal is one of 12 successful applications out of over 20 submissions!

Department of Biological Sciences

Prestigious journal publishes paper

Dr. Jennifer MandelA paper co-authored by Dr. Jennifer Mandel, was published online on May 22nd in the prestigious journal Nature. "The Sunflower Genome Provides Insights Into Oil Metabolism, Flowering and Asterid Evolution" delves into the evolutionary history of the subgroup of flowering plants known as asterids. The authors also identified new candidate genes and reconstructed genetic networks for flowering time and oil metabolism, two major breeding traits, and found that the flowering time networks have been shaped by the latest whole-genome duplication. "We are really excited to report this work in Nature," said Mandel. "The publishing of a high-quality reference genome for sunflower will aid in agricultural, ecological and evolutionary studies across the globe. Read more about Dr. Mandel's paper.

NIH grant examines the contributions of environmental pollutants to skin disease

Drs. Thomas and Carrie Hayes Sutter received a NIH-funded grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Science. This award is a competitive renewal of their previous grant entitled, "Cellular Determinants of Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Signaling." This five year, $1.6 million award examines the contributions of early-life exposures to environmental pollutants to the risk of eczema, a serious skin disease that is common in children and predisposes them to allergy and asthma. Learn More

Research Updates

The Genetics Society of America (GSA) announced the newly appointed leaders of their Early Career Scientist Steering Committee, which includes graduate student Adam Ramsey, who is a Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Dr. Jennifer Mandel. The committee is charged with understanding the interests, concerns, and challenges of early career scientist members of the GSA. Read about Adam's work at

Dr. Ramin HomayouniCongratulations to Dr. Ramin Homayouni professor of Biological Sciences and director of the Bioinformatics program. He received a $390,000, two-year award from the National Institute on Aging to investigate "Regulation of Mitochondrial Dehydrogenases and Neuronal NADH Levels Via Interaction of Nipsnap1 and APP Intracellular Domain." Nipsnap1 is a novel mitochondrial protein that interacts with the Alzheimer's Disease amyloid precursor protein. These studies will provide new insights into the mechanisms responsible for metabolic dysfunction and neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer's. Dr. Homayouni's website.

Professor Bernie J. Daigle, Jr. Receives ARL Grant

Dr. Bernie J. Daigle, Jr Receives ARL GrantProfessor Bernie J. Daigle, affiliate faculty with the Biology Department, has been awarded a $485K research grant from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. The five-year grant, entitled "Knowledge-Driven Multi-omic Biomarker Identification for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder," will identify and evaluate diagnostic biomarkers for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from multiple high-throughput "omics" datasets (e.g., transcriptomics, epigenomics, metabolomics) and demographic/clinical covariates (e.g., age, gender, weight, blood chemistry measurements) collected from Iraq and Afghanistan veteran volunteers. Prof. Daigle will develop and apply novel statistical and machine learning algorithms to these data to more accurately diagnose PTSD in future subjects. More information can be found on the Biology Department website at

An article from the lab of Dr. Amy Abell, assistant professor of Biological Sciences, appeared in Cell Reports. Co-authors include Robert J. Mobley, Deepthi Raghu and Ramin Homayouni. The title is "MAP3K4 Controls the Chromatin Modifier HDAC6 during Trophoblast Stem Cell Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition."

Department of Computer Science

Prof. gives keynote in Warsaw, Poland

Prof. Dipankar Dasgupta gave the keynote talk in Warsaw, Poland at MMM-ACNS 2017, the 7th International Conference on Mathematical Methods, Models, and Architectures for Computer Network Security. In the keynote talk on August 28, Prof. Dasgupta presented his work on adaptive multi-factor authentication which considers dynamic factors in varying operating environments.
More information about the keynote talk can be read in the program.

Dipankar Dasgupta New Text on User Authentication New Text on User Authentication by Prof. Dasgupta

Prof. Dipankar Dasgupta has had a new textbook entitled Advances in User Authentication published through Springer-Verlag.

Intended as a graduate-level text, the book covers recent developments in the field, including Prof. Dasgupta's own grant-funded research in the area. The text was co-authored with two of his students, Arunava Roy and Abhijit Nag.

Professor Deepak VenugopalProf. Venugopal Has Paper Accepted at IJCAI

Prof. Deepak Venugopal has had a paper accepted at IJCAI 2017, the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence.

The paper, "Efficient Inference for Untied MLNs," is in collaboration with colleagues at Adobe Research and UT Dallas. Prof. Venugopal will also be co-presenting a half-day tutorial on Markov logic and its applications at the same venue. IJCAI 2017 will be held August 19-25 in Melbourne.

Professor Thomas WatsonProf. Thomas Watson Has Paper Accepted at FOCS

Prof. Thomas Watson has had a paper accepted at FOCS 2017, the 58th Annual IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science. The paper, entitled "Query-to-Communication Lifting for BPP," is joint work with Mika Göös and Toniann Pitassi.

FOCS is one of the two top-tier conferences in computer science theory. This year's event will be held in October in Berkeley, CA.

Malasri Receives Teaching Award

Instructor Kriangsiri Malasri has been selected as a recipient of the 2017 Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award. The award will be formally presented at a luncheon in April. This award is the latest of several recognitions that Mr. Malasri has received for his teaching and advising, including the Thomas W. Briggs Excellence in Teaching Award (2012), Alumni Association Distinguished Advising Award (2013), Dean's Award for Teaching Excellence (2014), and Dean's Award for Advising Excellence (2015).

Malasri will also serve as a content reviewer for the teacher-developed online modules in a $75,000 2017 Improving Teacher Quality grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to develop online CS education modules for middle school students.

"Mobile Health: Sensors Analytic Methods and Applications" textbook released

Dr. Santosh Kumar together with two MD2K investigators (Dr. Jim Rehg from Georgia Tech and Dr. Susan Murphy from University of Michigan) are editors of "Mobile Health: Sensors Analytic Methods and Applications," a textbook on mHealth released recently by Springer. The book provides comprehensive look at current trends in mHealth technology in a way that that is accessible to newcomers to the field of mHealth as well as established researchers in the field. It features articles by mHealth thought leaders in the areas of mHealth applications, sensor development, analytic methods to predict current and future states of health and disease, and the development of mobile interventions that can improve health outcomes. The textbook is available online at

Data Networking Grant

Professor Lan Wang is part of a team that received a $2.5 million NSF CRI grant that began Sept. 1. The "CRI-New: Collaborative: Building the Core NDN Infrastructure" project (with U. Arizona, UCLA, and Washington University at St. Louis) aims to support the evaluation, experimentation, and further development of the Named Data Networking (NDN) architecture. The NDN project has received over $16 million of NSF funding since 2010.

Department of History

Dr. William Campbell recently delivered the final presentation associated with his project for the National Parks Service on the 18th century treaties signed at Fort Stanwix, in modern-day upstate New York. He gave the talk at Fort Stanwix to representatives of the First Nations, NPS employees, and some select public. Check out press the coverage in the Utice Observer-Dispatch.

Congratulations to Dr. Benjamin Graham and PhD candidate Troy Hallsell, two of MOCH's Freeburg Fellows for Spring 2018! #gohistory #moch

Congratulations to Dr. Scott Marler, recipient of the 2017 Thomas W. Briggs Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award!

Center for Information Assurance (CfIA)

Online Cyber Security Course Featured on WMC Action News 5

Carolyn Butler from the Center for Information Assurance was recently featured on WMC Action News 5 to talk about an upcoming free online course. The course, Understanding Social Engineering Attacks, will be available through the ACT Online site beginning in April. The full WMC Action News 5 clip can be viewed at this link.

Department of Mathematical Sciences

Professor Hongqiu Chen presented an invited lecture at the Sino-French Conference on Modeling, Mathematical Analysis, and Computation, June 9-12, 2017, at Xiamen University in China. This conference was in honor of Professor Claude-Michel Brauner, on the occasion of his 70th birthday. Visit the conference website.

Professor Béla Bollobás presented the 28th Marden Lecture on March 28, 2017, at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Professor Jerome Goldstein gave a plenary talk at the ICMC Summer Meeting on Differential Equations on February 8, 2017, at Sao Carlos, Brazil. Visit the conference website, including links to the poster and program.

Department of Philosophy

Professor Michael Monahan's edited volume, Creolizing Hegel, has received a glowing review in Peace Review.
From the review: "The essays collected in Creolizing Hegel make a compelling case for the claim that Hegelian thought not only has a role to play in contemporary discourse, but also contains overlooked resources for dismantling the oppressive categories
that Hegel himself helped put in place." Read the full review of his book at the publisher website.

Check out the proceedings of last year's Spindel Conference, "Critical Histories of the Present," in the Spindel Supplement of the Southern Journal of Philosophy! 

Congratulations to Professor Shaun Gallagher, whose new book, Enactivist Interventions: Rethinking the Mind, is hot off the press!

  • A compelling vision of mind as embodied and situated in the social world,
  • Ground-breaking work from a leading figure in the interdisciplinary study of the mind
  • Draws on analytic philosophy, pragmatism, and phenomenology, as well as the sciences of the mind and brain 

Visit the publisher website for full details.

Philosophy Circle Tutoring

The Philosophy Department's undergraduate organization, the Philosophy Circle, announced a new tutoring program for undergraduate students in philosophy classes. When students need help preparing for an exam, revising term papers, or working through a text, there are several tutors here to help!

Department of Physics and Materials Science

Physics Faculty Members Receive NSF Grants

Dr. Xiao Shen and Dr. Jingbiao Cui have recently been awarded an NSF grant to support a project titled "Silicon Telluride, A 2D Material with Unique Variable Structure." The research team combines theoretical and experimental studies to develop 2D materials with desirable properties and to achieve a fundamental understanding of the unique phenomenon in silicon telluride, which is expected to make significant impact on the field of low dimensional materials, electronic and optoelectronic industry. The research activities are integrated with educational efforts, augmenting the undergraduate and graduate curriculums through hands-on projects, enriched course materials, and summer workshops on nanomaterials to inspire the students' interest in science, The total award is $392,679 and it runs from July 1st 2017 through June 30th 2020. Read more on the recipients research here  

Dr. Thang Ba Hoang has also recently been awarded an NSF grant  to support his project titled "Directional Superradiant Light Emission from Epsilon-Near-Zero Plasmonic Nanochannels." The project utilizes experimental and theoretical approaches to help realize new materials and structures that enable controlled light emission for use in next generation energy efficient electronics, such as nanoscale lasers, as well as well advanced optical communications and sensing technologies. The project supports undergraduate and graduate student involvement in research as a means of encouraging pursuit of advanced study and research careers in nanophotonics. The total award amounts $361,177 and it runs from July 1st 2017 through June 30th 2020. Read more on Dr. Hoang's research here 

Dr. Muhammad S. Jahan  has been selected to receive the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. As you know, Albert Nelson Marquis founded Marquis Who's Who and this is one of the highest honors a listee can receive. More information will be available on this recognition in the future.

Biologistics Funded Research for 2017 include:

Department of Political Science

Congratulations to Dr. Michael Sances! His article "Ideology and Vote Choice in U.S. Mayoral Elections: Evidence from Facebook Surveys" has been accepted for publication in Political Behavior. Political Behavior is considered a top journal in the area of American Politics.

Congratulations to Dr. Nicole Detraz and Dr. Dursun Peksen! Their co-authored article "'Women Friendly' Spending? Welfare Spending and Women's Participation in the Economy and Politics," has been accepted for publication at Politics and Gender. The journal is considered a top political science journal on gender and politics and on women and politics published by American Political Science Association.

Congratulations to Dr. Sharon Stanley! She will be promoted to Full Professor on September 1, 2017. We just received notification that the University of Memphis Board of Trustees has approved her promotion – the last step in a year-long process. Being awarded the rank of Professor is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a faculty member.

Dr. Dursun Peksen has been selected as one of the 2016 Top 20 Reviewers for Political Research Quarterly. He was included in the Top 20, selected out of several dozen colleagues who reviewed at least two manuscripts for PRQ in 2016, and for approaching the task with an unusual combination of promptness, thoroughness, and insight. The winners are annually awarded a small gift certificate from SAGE Publications in recognition of their service to PRQ. PRQ is one of the leading general political science journals.

Dr. Dursun Peksen's paper "Neoliberal Policies and Human Trafficking for Labor: Free Markets, Unfree Workers?" (co-authored with our former colleagues Robert and Shannon Blanton) has been been accepted for publication at Political Research Quarterly. PRQ is one of the leading general political science journals.

Dr. Sharon Stanley's book "An Impossible Dream? Racial Integration in the United States" has just been released by Oxford University Press. 

Dr. Michael Sances and Dr. Sharon Stanley will receive Faculty Research Grants from the University of Memphis. Michael Sances will receive $10,000 for his project "American City Elections Study." Sharon Stanley will receive $5,000 for her project "U.S. Post-Racialism and Brazilian Racial Democracy in Comparative Perspective."

Our alum Leah Windsor (M.A. '06) has received two grants from the University of Memphis' Division of Research and Sponsored Programs' Research Investment Fund. She serves as the Principal Investigator on the project "Congruence and Conflict in Linguistic and Biometric Markers", and she is a co-PI on the project "Financial Infrastructure Stability and Cyber-security FISC".

Dr. Nicole Detraz and Dr. Dursun Peksen have been named Editors of the International Studies Review. ISR is a leading journal in the field of international relations published by the International Studies Association. The editorial team also includes our own alum Chad Clay (M.A. '07), who is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia. This is an extraordinary accomplishment and speaks to the high quality of Nikki's, Dursun's and Chad's scholarship.

Department of Psychology

Dr. Nick Simon hosted a summer student through the UofM CRESH (College Research Experience for Students in High School) program. The student (Sneha Sharma) won second place in the CRESH poster competition with her poster titled "Modeling Addiction Vulnerability with a Rat Risky Decision-making Task." Sneha is pictured with Grad student Daniel Gabriel (left) and Dr. Simon (right).

Dr. Nick Simon sponsors CRESH Student

Military PTSD Research

Dr. Meghan McDevitt-Murphy is seeking participants for Project BRAVE, a study to help better understand the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder on the lives of combat veterans. Participants who complete the full study may earn up to $350. For more information, visit the UofM Mediaroom. 

Dr. Idia Thurston will give a presentation titled "Protective Effects of Weight Misperception among Youth with Obesity" Monday, April 24, 4 p.m., at Rhodes College in Kennedy 201.

Faculty Research Grant

Drs. Idia Thurston and Katie Howell were awarded a Faculty Research Grant in the amount of $10,000 for their project titled "The Impact of Stress and Resilience on Obesity-related Metabolic Complications in Adolescents."

Department of Social Work

University of Memphis Students, Faculty, & Staff Elected to NASW

The Department of Social Work is pleased to announce that two students, one faculty member, and one staff member will serve on the board of the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). NASW is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world. NASW-TN has over 2000 members and is the major professional organization of social workers in the State of Tennessee. Congratulations to our representatives!

Shelby Stonecipher, senior social work major, was elected to be the BSW student representative to the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers 2017-2018 Board of Directors.

Lauren Ellis Robinson, MSW student, was elected to be the MSW student representative to the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers 2017-2018 Board of Directors.

Benetra Mangum-Johnson, PhD, LAPSW, Clinical Assistant Professor, was elected to be the Mid-West Branch Chair to the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers 2017-2018 Board of Directors.

Maggie Landry, LMSW, MSW-PDI Coordinator, Social Work Alumni Chair, Community Advisory Board member was elected to be the West Branch representative to the Tennessee Chapter Committee on Nominations and Leadership Identification of the National Association of Social Workers.

(Photo below left to right: Benetra Mangum-Johnson, Lauren Ellis Robinson, Maggie Landry, and Shelby Stonecipher)

Social Work

Department of Sociology

Congratulations to Kendra Murphy on her award for 10 years of service to the University of Memphis!

Professor Gretchen Peterson had a blog post on the NCAA March Madness tournament and men's emotions published at "Engaging Sports":

Big shout out to Dr. Wes James! He will be presenting some of his work in DC for a congressional briefing sponsored by the Population Association of America's 2017 meetings, April 4th! This is a huge honor and opportunity!


Many College of Arts and Sciences faculty members are featured in the online award site Accolades. Please make sure and visit Accolades to read more about the exciting research and programs presented by our faculty.