ICYMI - Faculty and Department Kudos

In Case You Missed It

iCODE: Adaptive Training of Students’ Code Comprehension Processes Vasile Rus

The UofM has been selected to receive funding in the amount of $1,999,595 DR. VASILE RUS, Jack and Jane Morris Professor, is PI for the project in an anticipated timeframe of 3 years. The project combines design-based research with randomized controlled trials supporting CS majors, non-CS majors, and students from underrepresented groups (females, students of color, first generation status) to engage in code comprehension activities. More Details




Additional award, research and presentation information can be found on the CAS Accolades website.


Sept - Dr. Lindsey Felman, assistant professor of Anthropology was recently quoted in the Sierra: The national magazine of the Sierra Club. Read the complete article here.

Aug- Dr. Lindsey Feldman, assistant professor of Anthropology, was quoted in a story in Drilled News on the use of inmate labor to fight wildfires in Arizona. Read the story here.

Aug- Dr. Keri Brondo, professor and chair of Anthropology, provided historical context for the article "Minority Group Fears 'Genocide' in Trump-Backed Honduras" in the Daily Beast. Full Article

Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change

Aug- Daphene McFerren, executive director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change, wrote a column about Congressman John Lewis for The Daily Memphian. Read the column here.

Biological Sciences

Prothonotary Warbler feeding the kidsProthonotary Warbler feeding the kids

Dr. Keith Bowers shared a video of his research. In it, a male prothonotary warbler sings just before delivering food to his nest, passing it to his brooding mate, who then feeds their young. Much about these behaviors, and the decisions underlying them, is unknown. Ongoing research in the Bowers Lab (ekbowers.com) seeks to understand the evolutionary and physiological bases of these behaviors. Watch the Video!

Congratulations to Drs. Malle Carrasco-Harris, Judy Cole and Steve Reichling for their publication in the Urban Naturalist entitled "Cozy in the City: The Morphology and Spatial Ecology of Copperheads in an Urban Forest". This study examines the home range of copper head snakes in Overton Park, an urban old growth forest in Memphis, TN. Use this link to read the paper.

Sept 30 - A new publication from Dr. Shawn Brown and colleagues studying the structure of the microbiome of Medicago truncatula, a small annual legume native to the Mediterranean basin. Read More...

Aug- Congratulations to Dr. Cassandra Nunez and colleagues for their recent article in Applied Animal Behavior Science entitled "Rising up to the challenge of their rivals: Mare infidelity intensifies stallion response to playback of aggressive conspecific vocalizations". This paper describes how feral mares changing social groups impacts feral males responsiveness to potential rivals. Take a look!

Aug- Another paper... this one from Dr. Jim Adelman and colleagues. Their recent paper entitled "Employing very high frequency (VHF) radio telemetry to recreate monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) flight paths" in Environmental Entomology describes tracking monarch butterflies to quantify their movement patterns across agricultural landscapes. Take a look!

Aug- More recent publications! Congratulations to Karl Rohrer & Dr. Michael Ferkin for their publication "Long‐term repeatability and stability of three personality traits in meadow voles" published in Ethology. This paper describes the consistency of animal personality traits over time and major life events. You can read it here!

Aug- A new publication by Drs. Carrie and Tom Sutter as well as undergraduate researcher Hailey Rainwater explores the role of dioxin-induced upregulation of nitric oxide synthase in skin cell differentiation. Details here!

Aug- It's been quite the week for good news! Congratulations to Dr. Shawn Brown who has been awarded a grant (as Co-PI) from Environmental Engineering at NSF entitled "Exploring Coupled Physical, Biological and Chemical Processes that Control Lead Fate and Transport through Plastic Plumbing Materials". Read more about the Brown Lab.

Aug- Congratulations to Kelsey Clark, Kaitlynn Messler and Dr. Michael Ferkin for their recent publication in Ethology. This paper describes how meadow voles use scent memory to choose between familiar and unfamiliar mates. Read the paper!

Aug- Congratulations to Dr. Duane McKenna for his recent publication in Current Biology. His paper entitled "Evolution: Symbiotic Microbes Mediate Host Rangeof Herbivorous Beetles" describes the evolution of metabolic interactions between an herbivorous beetle and its obligate bacterial symbionts. You can read the paper by clicking here!

Aug- Congratulations to Drs. Judy Cole, Dan Baker (CHEM) and Abby Parrill (CHEM) on their recent article "Benchmarking GPCR homology model template selection in combination with de novo loop generation" published in the Journal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design.

Aug- Congratulations to Prabin Shrestha and Dr. Tit-Yee Wang for their recent article "Synergistic and antagonistic interactions of triclosan with various antibiotics in bacteria" published in in J Environmental Sci Health, Part C: Toxicology and Carcinogenesis.


Nov - Congratulations to Drs. Xiaohua Huang and Yongmei Wang, current (Raymond Wilson & Caleb Gallops) and former (Ryan O'Connor & Elyahb Allie Kwizera) graduate students and collaborators on their recent publication. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsami.0c12395

Oct - The UM Dept of Chemistry congratulates Dr. Tim Brewster, undergrad student Kylie Loadholt, and their collaborators on their recent paper reinvestigating catalysis in an Iridium dihydroxybipyridine catalyst. Read more about this...

Oct - The UM Dept of Chemistry congratulates Drs. Nathan DeYonker and Qianyi Cheng, undergraduate student Maura Washington, graduate student Joseph Burns, and collaborator Dr. Ryan Fortenberry on their recent publication. This work helps to provide tools to help study metal complexes of dinitrogen as an important astrochemical species. Both student authors on this project were NASA TN Space Grant Awardees in 2019. Great work all. Read the abstract...

Sept - The UM Dept of Chemistry congratulates Dr. Tim Brewster and grad students (Malcolm, Natalie, Angel, Connor, & TJ) and collaborators on the publication of their recent paper about aluminum bimetallic complexes in @DaltonTrans. "Systematic evaluation of the electronic effect of aluminum-containing ligands in iridium–aluminum and rhodium–aluminum bimetallic complexes" Read More on this publication...

July- Dr. Nathan DeYonker, assistant professor of Chemistry, was named by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement as one of 13 new Fellows for its Scialog: Chemical Machinery of the Cell initiative. Co-sponsored by RCSA and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Scialog: Chemical Machinery of the Cell aims to catalyze breakthroughs in the understanding of chemical processes in the living cell that will lead to a new era of advancement in cell biology. This program is supported and funded by the Research Corporation and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. This meeting brings together rising stars to form multidisciplinary teams to design novel projects and compete for seed funding. Congratulations Dr. DeYonker.  See Full Details

July- The UM Dept of Chemistry congratulates Dr Xuan Zhao & colleagues on their recent paper in Angewandte Chemie that extends their evaluation of Cobalt complexes as electro‐ and photocatalytic catalysts for hydrogen evolution in neutral water. Learn More

Computer Science

Christos Papadopoulos Joins Department as Sparks Family Chair of Excellence

Sept - Dr. Christos Papadopoulos was recently appointed and joined the UofM in August as the Sparks Family Chair of Excellence in the Department of Computer Science. This chair of excellence, housed in the University’s Division of Research & Innovation, will provide flexibility to focused and/or interdisciplinary areas of research excellence to contribute toward the University’s strategic research goal of attaining and maintaining Carnegie R1 classification status. With this goal in mind, the position was assigned to Computer Science in July 2019. Full details can be found on the Computer Science website.

UMRF Ventures Professorship Awarded to Thomas Watson, Computer Science

Sept - The University of Memphis Research Foundation (UMRF) awarded Dr. Thomas Watson, Computer Science a UMRF Ventures Professorships in August for "Structural Communication Complexity." The professorship is awarded based on the progress of junior faculty in advancing the research capacity of the UofM. The professorship is for a period of two years beginning Sept. 1 and includes a stipend that can be utilized for research and other related expenses. Early Career Awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal funding agencies are among the most prestigious awards a junior faculty member can earn and are the best indicators of long-term research success. UMRF is committed to retaining and growing this top-level talent and offers these professorships to any recipients of Early Career Awards from major federal funding agencies.

Aug -The Department of Computer Science received a $10,000 grant from the National Center for Women & Information Technology to help recruit and retain female undergraduate students. Read more here.

Aug- Computer Science professors Vasile Rus and Scott Fleming are co-PIs (principal investigators) on a new $3.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program. The project is titled "Advancing the Science of Learning Data Science with Adaptive Learning for Future Workforce Development." Learn more here.

Mathematical Sciences

Spring- Congratulations to Dr. Irena Lasiecka who was awarded the 2020 William R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award.  This is the highest honor awarded by the university to its faculty members, as indicated on the awards website, hosted by the Provost's Office.

Spring- Congratulations also to Dr. Roberto Triggiani,  who received the 2020 UoM Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Research in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics. You may read about all the alumni awards at this website, scrolling about halfway down the page.

Spring- Congratulations to Yunusa Olufadi, second-place winner in the 32nd Annual Student Research Forum for the Math and Computer Sciences category. The judges found this research on A Method for Analyzing Multivariate Mixed Endpoints with High-Dimensional Covariates to be remarkable.

Spring- Congratulations to Misty Freeman who was selected as a faculty member for one of the statewide dual credit (SDC) content teams who will be creating new curriculum resources for high school teachers. This work will align high school and post-secondary education in Tennessee.

Spring- Congratulations to Mathematical Sciences faculty who were recognized at the University's Research Celebration on February 25, 2020.  For being First Time Principal Investigators in FY19, Alpha Ba was recognized for his Dual Enrollment Grant from  the Southwest Community College and Gisele Goldstein was recognized for her CBMS  Regional  Conference at Montgomerry Bell Park. George Anastassiou was recognized for being a 2019 Book Author/Editor.

Spring- Congratulations to Máté Wierdl, who has been awarded the Paul Erdős Professorship in Mathematics. He has been awarded this professorship for 2020-2023.

Political Science

Sept - Congratulations to Dr. Derefe Chevannes! His article "The Laboring of Black Politics: Decolonial Meditations on Claudia Jones" has been accepted for publication by the Political Research Quarterly. PRQ is among the leading, peer-reviewed generalist journals in political science, and is hosted by the Western Political Science Association.

Aug 28 - Congratulations to Dr. Eric Groenendyk! He has been elected to serve on the Governing Council of the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP). As part of serving on the Governing Council, he will serve on one of ISPP's Operating Committees; write and review reports and recommendations from other committees, helping to drive the future direction of ISPP; review ISPP's finances and vote to approve ISPP's annual budget; and attend 2 Governing Council meetings per year. His election represents a significant recognition of his international standing in the discipline.

July 7- Congratulations to Dr. Eric Groenendyk. His article "What Motivates Reasoning? A Theory of Goal-Dependent Political Evaluation" (co-authored with Yanna Krunikov) has been accepted for publication at the American Journal of Political Science. AJPS is considered one of the Top Three journals in political science.

June 29- Congratulations to Dr. Kris-Stella Trump. She has received one of the Small Research Grants from the American Political Science Association for her project "Lazy Natives" and "Hard Working Immigrants": Comparing the Impact of Deservingness Cues on Perceptions of Deservingness." APSA is the leading professional organization for the study of political science, and the award of $2,500 represents a very prestigious recognition of her work.

Dr. Dursun Peksen is the 2020 recipient of the Quincy Wright Distinguished Scholar Award. Recipients of the Quincy Wright Distinguished Scholar Award have an exceptional record of scholarship in international studies and a distinguished record of service to the International Studies Association. Among the many service activities Dursun has provided to the ISA is his current role as one of the editors of the International Studies Review, a leading journal of the International Studies Association. Dursun will receive the award and will be honored with a roundtable at the next International Studies Association Midwest Meeting in the fall.

June 2- Congratulations to Dr. Dursun Peksen His article (co-authored with Ryan Yu-Lin Liou and Amanda Murdie) "Revisiting the Causal Links Between Economic Sanctions and Human Rights Violations," has been accepted for publication at Political Research Quarterly. PRQ is a peer-reviewed journal published by the Western Political Science Association.

May 16- Congratulations to Dr. Kris-Stella Trump. Her article "The Effect of Postcard Reminders on Vaccinations Among the Elderly: A Block-Randomized Experiment" (co-authored with Nuole Chen, Stacy Hall and Quan Le) has been accepted at Behavioral Public Policy. Behavioral Public Policy is an interdisciplinary and international peer-reviewed journal devoted to behavioral research and its relevance to public policy.


July- Dr. Roger Kreuz, associate dean, College of Arts & Sciences, Professor, Experimental (Cognitive) in Psychology, published "Why 'I was just being sarcastic' can be such a convenient excuse". Read full article here>

Aug - Dr. James Murphy, professor in the Department of Psychology, was awarded $35,881 from Washington State University with the National Institutes of Health for his project "Integration of Motivational Interviewing and Behavioral Economics Theories to Enhance Measurement of Client Language as a Mechanism of Behavior Change."

School of Social Work

Laura Taylor receives the 2020 Junior Faculty Award for the Council on Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Diversity of the Council on Social Work Education

Dr. Laura C. Taylor has been a faculty member with the University of Memphis Department of Social Work since 2011. She served as the director of BA field placements from May 2011 to June 2015. Dr. Taylor served as clinical assistant professor and director of MSW field placements from June 2015 to July 2017. In August 2017 she was promoted to assistant professor. Dr. Taylor's research interests involve social determinants of health that influence how African Americans seek out and experience mental health care. She has published five peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Taylor has 22 years of professional experience as a social worker. She runs a small clinical practice providing individual psychotherapy, with a specialization in African American women and mental health; supervision to master's level social workers pursuing clinical licensure; exam preparation to social workers seeking master's and clinical licensure; and consultation to practitioners and agencies.

Dr. Elena Delavega, MSW program director & associate professor in the School of Social Work, is a scholar who studies poverty, particularly poverty in urban areas. Delavega's article, "Mexico City buried its rivers to prevent disease and unwittingly created a dry, polluted city where COVID-19 now thrives", was recently published in The Conversation. Read full article here>

Dr. Robin Lennon-Dearing Announced as NASW-TN Social Work Educator of the Year

Dr. Robin Lennon-Dearing was recently announced as the NASW-TN Social Work Educator of the Year in a recent NASW-TN Newsletter Announcement

Dr. Robin Lennon-DearingLennon-Dearing, Associate Professor, received the "Social Work Educator of the Year" Award from NASW Tennessee Chapter in April 2020. Dr. Lennon-Dearing consistently demonstrates commitment to the core values of social work through her teaching, research and service. Dr. Lennon-Dearing takes an innovative and engaged approach to teaching. She adds a service-learning component to her classes so that students may apply what they have learned in the classroom to the field. Her research exhibits her commitment to social justice and empowerment of marginalized populations. She has been an HIV researcher for 20 years and is currently using her findings to advocate for the modernization of HIV criminal laws and policies in Tennessee. Dr. Lennon-Dearing has received national recognition for her scholarship. In 2015, she won the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression Scholarship Award from the Council on Social Work Education for her article on social worker's attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ population. Dr. Lennon-Dearing is an active member of the National Association of Social Workers and has established an annual mentor dinner for social work students to meet with professional social workers in the community to seek advice and guidance about their careers. Over the years Dr. Lennon-Dearing has had many accomplishments in the profession of social work, at the University and in the community.


Dr. Wesley James, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, was awarded $1,381,320 from Delta Health Alliance with the U.S. Department of Education for his project "Evaluate Impact of Health and Education Programs in the Mississippi Delta."

World Languages and Literatures

Dr. Vania Barraza was invited by the University of Chile research group on Chilean youth representation in the media to present "Las chicas en el cine" ("Girls in the Cinema") on Oct. 14th. You can find her presentation at www.juventudes.cl/post/tardes-de-cine-las-chicas-en-el-cine or www.facebook.com/watch/?v=350646532809153.

Dr. Robert Kelz presented "La colaboración del escritor antifascista Paul Zech con la revista chilena Deutsche Blätter, 1943-1946. Un puente entre culturas" at the symposium Charlas Argentino-Germanas del Centro DIHA, hosted by the Universidad Nacional de San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 10, 2020 (online).

Dr. Hironori Nishi's article "Bunmatsu de no kakokee no nijuushiyoo: kakokee + deshita ni tsuite no koosatsu" ["Two consecutive past-tense forms in Japanese: An analysis of past-tense form + deshita"], has appeared in the Proceedings of the 28th Central Association of Teachers of Japanese Conference (CATJ28), pp. 87-96.

Dr. Will Thompson was one of the presenters at the St. Louis Public Library History Zoom Expo on November 7, 2020. Dr. Thompson spoke about the activities of the Center for French Colonial Studies, in particular the Center's new digital archive of its quarterly publication, Le Journal.

Dr. Francisco Vivar has had his article "De persona de campo a escritor: Luis Landero y Pierre Michon" accepted to be published in 1616. Anuario de Literatura Comparada.

Melanie Conroy presented "Metrics for French Literary History" at the Digital Humanities 2020 Conference online on July 22; Dh3020 was originally scheduled to take place in Ottawa, Canada. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3l3y8SnuxY&t=6s

Patrick McFadden, adjunct instructor of Classics, was elected vice president of the American Classical League and started his term in July. The vice president is responsible for planning the ACL annual convention, the ACL Institute, and vetting submissions for the program.

Hironori Nishi's article, entitled "Japanese te iu ka as a sentence-final expression in writing," has been accepted for publication in East Asian Pragmatics.

Sept - Robert Kelz's essay "Routes to Buenos Aires" appeared in Vorstufen des Exils / Early Stages of Exile, ed. Reinhard Andress (Leiden: Brill, 2020): 149-161.

Errol M. O'Neill was elected to a two-year term as Communications Co-Coordinator of the Mid-Atlantic Association for Language Learning Technology (MAALLT), which includes Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Aug 28 - Melanie Conroy presented "Frank Kafke and the intellectual work of digital humanities" at the inaugural digital Early Modern Quarantine Conference in the UK on Friday, June 26. Dr. Conroy also presented "Metrics for French Literary History" at the Digital Humanities 2020 Conference online on July 22; Dh3020 was originally scheduled to take place in Ottawa: 

Aug 28 - Hironori Nishi presented his paper, entitled " Bunmatsu de no kakokee no nijuushiyoo: kakokee + deshita ni tsuite no koosatsu [Two consecutive past-tense forms in Japanese: An analysis of past-tense form + deshita]" at the 28th Central Association of Teachers of Japanese Conference hosted by Macalester College on May 30, 2020 (online).

Past Kudos