2020 Faculty Award Recipients

Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award Dr. Irena Lasiecka  |  Distinguished University Professor; Chair  |  Department of Mathematical Scinces
Before joining the faculty at UofM in August 2013, Dr. Irena Lasiecka served 26 years at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, as a Commonwealth Professor of Mathematics, an endowed chair. She earned her PhD in Applied Mathematics at the University of Warsaw. She taught at the Polish Academy of Sciences before being invited as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles under the guidance of late distinguished professor A.V. Balakrishnan. Her present-day research is focused on mathematical control theory of models governed by interactive dynamical systems with a variety of goals, including suppressing turbulence in fluids, achieving noise attenuation in an acoustic environment or controlling flutter in an oscillating structure. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Army Research Office. She has published over 350 research papers and eight research monographs.

Dr. Lasiecka was the first woman to receive the SIAM Reid Prize (2011) and the Richard Bellman Control Heritage Award (2019). She is a Fellow of American Mathematical Society (2015), the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (2019), the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (2004) and a Distinguished Fellow of the Collegium of Eminent Scientists of the Kosciuszko Foundation (2004). She is the recipient of the IFIP Silver Core Award of the International Federation of Information Processes IFIP (1989). She holds an honorary Presidential Professorship in Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences (2012).

Dr. Lasiecka serves as the editor-in-chief of two leading journals in her field: Applied Mathematics and Optimization [Springer Verlag] and Evolution Equations and Control Theory [AIMS]. She serves as an associate editor of numerous other mathematical journals.

UofM Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Awards

Dr. Hasan AliDr. Hasan Ali  |  Associate Professor  |  Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Dr. Hasan Ali received his PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (focusing on power systems) at the Kitami Institute of Technology, Japan, in 2004. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes, primarily Modern Grid with Renewables, Electrical Power Quality, Power System Stability/Control, Wind Energy Conversion System, Introduction to Smart Grid, Energy Conversion, and Advanced Circuit Analysis. He won the Outstanding Faculty Teaching award from Herff College of Engineering in 2019. Dr. Ali brings energy and creativity to every course he teaches. In his classes, he focuses on various aspects of electrical power and shows students how their world is impacted by power. Through detailed explanations and meaningful questions, Dr. Ali leads his students to their own discovery of difficult power and energy concepts.

Philip BabinPhilip Babin  |  Instructor  |  School of Accountancy

Philip Dean Babin, MBA, CPA, CMA, FPC, joined the UofM faculty after 31 years as a practicing Certified Public Accountant working in accounting, payroll and federal and state tax positions at Arthur Andersen, Perkins Restaurants, FedEx and CBIZ MHM. He teaches Financial Accounting to sophomore business students of all majors in the FCBE and serves as course coordinator for this introductory accounting course. He also teaches in the Honors College and the MBA and Executive MBA programs. Other awards include the Briggs Foundation, Helen Hardin Honors College and the George Johnson teaching awards. Mr. Babin received his bachelor’s degree from Christian Brothers College and his MBA from the University of Memphis. His approach of a high energy classroom experience and individual student meetings makes him a favorite among undergraduates. 

Tammy JonesTammy Jones  |  Instructor  |  Department of English

Tammy R. Jones teaches a variety of undergraduate courses in the Department of English and works with students from several different programs. She teaches both developmental as well as Honors sections, participates in the Tiger Learning Communities, has served as a mentor for new teaching assistants in the First-Year Writing Program and co-leads a study abroad program in the United Kingdom. Additionally, to prepare instructors for work with newcomers and refugees, she developed the teacher training curriculum for the Connect Language Center in Memphis. She is the recipient of the CAS Award for Teaching Excellence and the Helen Hardin Honors College Excellence in Teaching Award. She is the co-author of “How Would a Document Designer Create Classroom Material?” and “Unlocking the Visual Puzzle: Understanding Textbook Design,” which appeared as part of the TESOL Classroom Practice Series.

Lenard WellsDr. Lenard Wells  |  Instructor  |  Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice  |  Awarded Posthumously

Dr. Lenard Wells graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee with a bachelor's in Psychology and a master’s degree in Public Administration. He earned both degrees while working full-time on the Milwaukee Police Department. Dr. Wells earned his PhD in Leadership, Learning and Service from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. He brought more than 30 years of criminal justice experience into the classrooms with energy and creativity. His students create and analyze mock crime scenes. He inspired his students to allow their brain, heart and training to guide them.

UofM Alumni Association Distinguished Research, Creative Achievement & Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Awards

- Distinguished Research in the Social Sciences, Business & Law -

Dr. Dursun Peksen

Dr. Dursun Peksen  |  Professor  |  Department of Political Science

Dr. Dursun Peksen (PhD, University of Missouri, 2008) joined the Department of Political Science in 2012. His teaching and research interests focus on the subjects of foreign policy, international political economy and human rights. He has published over 50 journal articles and book chapters, in prestigious journals including but not limited to European Journal of International Relations, International Interactions, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Politics and World Development. His work on economic sanctions, human rights and military interventions has been included in several policy reports published under the United Nations and European Union. His research has been cited in media outlets such as Atlantic, New York Times and Washington Post. Dr. Peksen was recently awarded the Quincy Wright Distinguished Scholar Award by the International Studies Association-Midwest. He is an editor for the journal International Studies Review, and previously served as an associate editor for the journal Foreign Policy Analysis. He served as president of the Foreign Policy Analysis Section of International Studies Association and president of the International Studies Association-Midwest.

- Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Award -

Susan Elswick

Dr. Susan Elswick  |  Associate Professor  |  School of Social Work

Dr. Susan Elswick obtained her Master of Social Work at the University of Tennessee in 2006 and her Doctor of Education in Instructional and Curriculum leadership with a specialty in Applied Behavior Analysis at the University of Memphis in 2011. She has more than 15 years of clinical mental health experience that includes community mental health, case management, residential programming, ABA-based programming, school-based programming, parent coaching, integrated behavioral health, infant mental health and home-based services. Her research interests include the use of evidence-based behavioral interventions for addressing client’s needs, the use of expressive art therapies/experiential therapies in the field of social work practice and the use of informatics and technology in the field of social work. Dr. Elswick is the author of 25 peer-reviewed journal publications and two monographed books. She served as the editor for one book publication. She also has more than 30 referred conference presentations and has received more than $1 million in internal and external grants to date. She was also awarded the NASW-TN West Branch Social Worker of the Year (2017) and the prestigious Gary Lee Shaffer Award for Academic Contributions to the Field of School Social Work by the School Social Work Association of America (2018).

- Distinguished Research in Science, Engineering & Mathematics -

Roberto Triggianai

Dr. Roberto Triggiani  |  Distinguished University Professor  |  Department of Mathematical Sciences

Dr. Roberto Triggiani received his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1973. He became a professor of mathematics at the University of Florida in 1983 and moved to the University of Virginia in 1987. In August 2013, he joined the UofM as a Distinguished University Professor. He has authored more than 220 research papers and several monographs in the area of partial differential equations, as they arise in applications of control and inverse theory in mechanics, acoustics and fluids. They contain numerous mathematical breakthroughs. A 1,100-page, research monograph, authored jointly with Dr. Irena Lasiecka and published in the prestigious Encyclopedia of Mathematics and its Applications (Cambridge University Press, 2000), collects the authors’ original research work over 20 years. It received the rare Feature Review by the American Mathematical Society. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Army Research Office. He has served as associate editor of numerous math journals and co-editor-in-chief of NonLinear Analysis B, 2012-18. He will hold an NSF Research Professorship at the University of California, Berkeley, in the spring semester of 2021.

- Distinguished Research in the Humanities -

Dr. Peter BrandDr. Peter J. Brand  |  Professor  |  Department of History

Dr. Peter J. Brand (PhD, University of Toronto 1998) is a  historian and Egyptologist specializing in the history and culture of ancient Egypt during its imperial age (ca. 1550-1100 BCE). He has authored three books and dozens of articles on Egyptian kingship, monumental construction, temple art, popular religion, warfare and diplomacy. His fourth book is a historical biography of Ramesses II. Dr. Brand is director of the Karnak Hypostyle Hall Project, which is recording, conserving and interpreting hundreds of scenes and hieroglyphic texts carved on the walls and columns of the Great Hypostyle Hall. The project uses cutting-edge technology to model and reveal the inscriptions on this forest of 134 giant columns.

About the UofM Faculty Awards

Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award

The Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award is the highest distinction given to a faculty member by the University. The award is given annually to one faculty member who has made outstanding and sustained contributions to scholarly creative activity, teaching and service, bringing honor and recognition to the University.

UofM Alumni Association Distinguished Research Award

The Alumni Association may make up to five awards annually to faculty who have brought honor and recognition to the University through their research or creative activities. Candidates must have been employed full-time by the University of Memphis for at least five academic years prior to the semester of their application or nomination.

UofM Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award

Students, faculty and alumni submit nominations for the Distinguished Teaching Award. Up to four faculty members are honored annually for their dedication to high-quality teaching.