2014 College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Awards

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

In recognition for outstanding research achievements, each recipient receives $500.00 toward research expenses, a plaque, and recognition at the CAS August faculty meeting.

We are very pleased this year to recognize two of our colleagues for their outstanding research performance. Dr. Thomas Sutter is receiving the CASDRA in the area of Natural Sciences and Mathematical Sciences and Dr. Arleen Hill, Department of Earth Sciences, is receiving the award in the area of Engaged Scholarship.

Arleen Hill

Dr. Arleen Hill, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Awards 2014Dr. Arleen Hill, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences, is receiving the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Research Award in the area of Excellence in Engaged Scholarship. Dr. Hill received her Ph.D. in Geography from the University of South Carolina in 2002 and joined the faculty of the Department of Earth Sciences in 2003.

Engaged scholarship entails academic projects that involve faculty members and student's community organizations in a sustained manner, receive positive visibility, and result in professional products such as peer-reviewed publications, collaborative reports, and external funding. In essence, such engaged research encompass establishing and maintaining productive relationships between the community and the university. Dr. Hill describes her research as "Scholarship that is academically rigorous and relevant while rooted in community defined needs…" with a focus on environment hazards/disasters.

Dr. Hill's research has received recognition earlier through the Early Career Research Award (2003, College of Arts and Sciences), the First Responder Award by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (2012), and a nomination for the Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award nomination (2013). She has been recognized for her collaborative post-disaster projects in Haiti, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Mid-South, Florida, and Oregon.

In his nomination letter, Dr. George Swihart describes her engaged scholarship by writing, "Dr. Hill is an engaged and applied hazards researcher specializing in: impact of catastrophic events on society and the environment; what makes people and places vulnerable to hazards; and how communities can address vulnerability and establish resilience." In addition to many highly complementary letters by colleagues in her home department and others with whom she has collaborated across the university, the value of Dr. Hill's scholarship is clearly recognized by colleges who have worked with her on engaged projects. For example, one colleague from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) writes, "The best example of Dr. Hill's skill and effort was during the great Mississippi Flood of 2011. …By using her GIS expertise, Dr. Hill was able to construct critical decision tools for government officials that allowed them to make essential planning decisions."

Arleen Hill's scholarly work is a prime example of invaluable collaboration between the University of Memphis and its wider communities.

Thomas R. Sutter

Dr. Thomas Sutter, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Awards 2014Dr. Thomas R. Sutter, Professor of Biological Sciences and Feinstone Chair of Molecular Biology, is receiving the College of Sciences Distinguished Research Award in the area of Natural Sciences and Mathematical Sciences. He completed his Ph.D. at the University Of Cincinnati College Of Medicine in 1988 and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Before joining the University of Memphis faculty as Professor and Feinstone Chair in 1999, Dr. Sutter was a member of the faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.

For over twenty years Dr. Sutter's research has focused on understanding the prevention and causation of cancer. In his nomination letter Biological Sciences Department Chair Dr. Randall Bayer writes that over his fifteen years at the University of Memphis, "Dr. Sutter has developed and maintained an active and federally-funded laboratory for the study of environmental chemicals in relations to the etiology and prevention of cancer…." In point of fact, his University of Memphis research program has been continuously funded, with awards from the National Institutes of Health, industry, and foundations. Over the past five years, he has received more than $3,000,000 in support of his research.

Dr. Sutter's research and professional contributions are particularly respected by colleagues across the country and internationally. One such colleague writes, "Dr. Sutter has an outstanding record of publications in peer reviewed journals demonstrating an exceptional clarity for understanding chemical processes that has allowed him and his team to develop the basis for a common mechanism of initiation at the molecular level that can lead to the assessment of disease susceptibility, as well as prevention." A colleague at another institution writes, "Tom Sutter is an outstanding, highly regarded research scientist whose work has contributed important insight into processes important in disease etiology, prevention, and treatment."

Whatever indicator of accomplishment is considered—impressive publication record and participation in prestigious professional meetings, re, grantsmanship, graduate, postgraduate, and undergraduate student teaching and mentoring, collaboration with an eclectic group of colleagues and relevance of his research in addressing highly significant medical issues--Dr. Sutter excels as a scientist and professional colleague. We are fortunate to have him as our colleague at the University of Memphis.