College of Arts and Sciences

About the College


2013 Recipients

The College of Arts and Sciences recognized the outstanding accomplishments of our faculty and staff at the inaugural CAS Appreciation and Recognition Social held on April 23, 2013, in the CUB Senior Ballroom.

Faculty Awards

Scholarship/Research/Creative Activities


Early Achievement in Scholarship/Research/Creative Activities

Avantika Bawa
Assistant Professor, Fine Arts WSU Vancouver

Avantika BawaAvantika Bawa is a an artist, curator and academic whose interests lie in transforming the act of drawing into sculptural gestures that react formally and also conceptually to architectural spaces and their history. Her curatorial work began with a hotel room show during the Art in Chicago Fair in 1998 and has grown through her studio and gallery, Aquaspace - a laboratory for new and multi-media art. In April 2004, she was part of a team that launched Drain - Journal of Contemporary Arts and Culture, where she remains the co-founder and editor. Since joining the WSU Vancouver faculty in 2010, Avantika has had seven solo exhibitions and nine group/juried exhibitions, co-curated two exhibitions, and been a visiting artist or lecturer at 14 venues. Her work is international, and included in eight collections, half of which are in her native India. She is represented by Saltworks Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, and Gallery Maskara in Mumbai, India.

Mid-Career Achievement in Scholarship/Research/Creative Activities

Ming Xian
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry

Ming XianDr. Xian is a distinguished and accomplished research scientist. Boasting an h index of 20, he was cited 152 times in 2012, alone. He brought a total of $484,581 to WSU in grants and contracts in 2012 and gave 17 invited international talks last year. His unique research capability and novel thinking about problems has made his group one of the, if not the leading laboratory in his fields of study. He is a panel reviewer for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and chaired the Pacific Northwest Undergraduate Research Symposium on Organic Chemistry from 2009-2011. He has recently been elected the chair of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Washington-Idaho Border Section. He was awarded the Teva USA Scholar Award-American Chemical Society and the Chinese-American Chemistry and Chemical Biology Professors Association (CAPA) Distinguished Faculty Award in 2012, among numerous other prestigious awards in preceding years. His accomplishments are not limited to research, as his students awarded him a 4.9 out of 5 for his teaching last year.

Outstanding Career Achievement in Scholarship/Research/Creative Activities

Tom Dickinson
Eminent Professor, Department of Physics

Tom DickinsonDr. Dickinson is a leader in the applications of physics and chemistry to materials science through a wide range of innovative and rich experimental studies. He led the formation of and became the first director of the Center for Materials Research at WSU, and is also the Co-founder of the Ph.D. Program in Materials Science at WSU. He has published more than 350 technical articles and book chapters including 11 major publications in 2005, alone. He has offered 16 invited Gordon Conference presentations and has standing invitations at institutions all over the world. He has been continuously funded in applied surface science for over 35 years and currently has two major Department of Energy (DOE) grants, a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, plus serves as co-PI on one NSF grant and one National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant. He created several new courses, in addition to leading the initiative to start honors courses in physics, mathematics and chemistry. He also developed, introduced, and integrated a computer based questioning and tutoring system to pose and computer grade non-trivial questions. He has won numerous awards and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from his undergraduate institution, Western Michigan University, in 2003.

Teaching/Advising Awards


Lutz Memorial Teaching Excellence Award in Undergraduate Teaching

Judith McDonald
Professor, Department of Mathematics

Judith McDonaldDr. McDonald is an excellent professor, supportive advisor, and dedicated mentor actively involved in outreach efforts and extremely passionate about the material she teaches. She cares deeply about her student’s learning and comprehension, and displays genuine respect for each student. She is dedicated to providing the best mathematical experience possible, whether she is teaching a math phobic student, or an honors student. She helps her students develop both as researchers and teachers, so much so that two former students, now Assistant Professors, often find themselves modeling their interactions with students after the example she set. She has developed two new undergraduate courses since joining the WSU faculty in 2001. She developed a graduate course in Linear Algebra and initiated and facilitates a Linear Algebra Seminar for both faculty and graduate students. She was recently recruited by Pearson Education to help in the preparation of the fourth edition of the top selling introductory linear algebra textbook, Linear Algebra and its Applications, and created an electronic version that brings mathematical ideas and concepts to life. She has a signed contract to become a co-author on the fifth edition of the textbook itself.

William F. Mullen Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

David Leonard
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies

David LeonardDr. Leonard shows remarkable concern for his students both within and outside the classroom. His desire to inspire and empower his students is evident in the quality, consistency, new technology and innovation of his curriculum. He is passionate about the material he teaches, and seeks innovative ways to engage students in dialogue and push them to challenge their assumptions and themselves. In place of exams, he asks students to apply what they are learning in class through multimedia projects, in movies, and through the creation of web pages and pamphlets that might reach a broader public. Much of Dr. Leonard’s work takes place outside of the classroom. When he is in his office, there is almost always at least one student, often more, discussing class, debating sports, history, or politics, and frequently receiving guidance about their futures. In addition, he emails each of his classes at least once a week, routinely including key terms, central questions, commentaries on class discussions and loose ends, as well as additional readings to redirect energies. He played a pivotal role in the expansion and revision of the Comparative Ethnic Studies (CES) and Critical Culture, Gender and Race Studies (CCGRS) curriculum, designing new courses at the leading edge of the field and of interest to students. He has effectively used Skype to bring authors and experts into his classes, and Twitter to foster civic engagement. He was also among the first to integrate clicker technology at WSU and regularly scores 4.5 or higher on a 5.0 scale for teaching each year.

Excellence in Graduate Teaching and/or Mentoring

Ken Nash
Professor, Department of Chemistry

Ken NashDr. Nash joined the WSU faculty in 2003 to fulfill a lifelong ambition to teach nuclear and radiochemistry. His continued support and encouragement, especially through scientific discussions, continually strengthen his relationships with his students and foster not only critical thinking about experimental results, but a deeper understanding of the scientific implications therein. Dr. Nash has mentored 23 graduate students, and overseen the completion of three Masters of Science degrees and 10 Ph.D.’s; he currently has three students Ph.D. qualified and five will take oral prelims within the next two years. He always gives valuable advice and tries, if needed, to guide students who are getting off track, yet allows students to ‘figure things out on their own.’ He goes out of his way to help his young colleagues, former students, and post-docs with their careers by promoting them within different professional organizations, and taking them under his wing for major writing assignments, such as book chapters and review articles. Due to his abundant personal connections to the Department of Energy (DOE) National Lab system, it has been possible to tailor the research programs of most graduate students so that they are mentored in part by nuclear scientists from the DOE labs. He has been continually funded for the past 32 years for an approximate total of $25M, received in collaboration with scientists at multiple national laboratories and through numerous universities and individual grants.

Excellence in Teaching by Clinical Faculty

Sheila K. Converse
Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Music

Sheila K. ConverseDr. Converse epitomizes the mission and goal of this award in recognition of a teacher exceptionally committed to teaching and to her students’ learning. She offers a non-traditional approach to classroom instruction and inspires students with her unique, interdisciplinary approach that imparts knowledge while creating a sense of connection between art, literature, history, science, philosophy, music, and everyday life. She has helped guide students who have personal issues, as well as disabilities. Shelia’s concern for one particular student led to a permanent change in the type of visual aids used in her Vocal Pedagogy course. She was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006 by the WSU Office of Undergraduate Education and the title of Outstanding Teacher in 2009 by the WSU Honors College, in addition to being nominated as an Outstanding Mentor in the same years. Dr. Converse’s thesis advisees in the Honors College typically receive ‘Pass with Distinction’ and she routinely receives an ‘Outstanding’ rating both as an instructor and for the content of her classes.

Excellence in Teaching by Instructor

Jeanette Martin
Senior Instructor, Department of Mathematics

Jeanette MartinDr. Martin’s students frequently refer to her as ‘by far one of my favorite teachers’ due to her ability to teach mathematics to those who have a history of struggling to understand concepts or who have been out of practice for an extended period of time. Her ability to help her students forget their fears and enjoy mathematics during and upon conclusion of her class is astounding. Determined to provide as much assistance and guidance to her students as she can in order to give them the best chance of succeeding, she returns detailed feedback for every assignment and has integrated the use of the virtual world Second Life (SL) into her on-line course. She developed several interactive ‘math toys’ within SL, and arranges a virtual field trip each semester so that students can visit with each other and work together on math activities. Her student evaluations are extremely positive and well above course and department norms.

Service Awards


Excellence in Professional Service

Sue Clark
Regents Professor, Department of Chemistry

Sue ClarkDr. Clark has played a strong role in national and international energy in addition to science policy. From 2003 to 2011, she served on many subcommittees within the Department of Energy (DOE) Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. From 2005 to 2009, she served on the Nuclear and Radiation Studies board of the National Research Council and played a significant role in developing the Cleanup Technology Roadmap for the DOE Office of Environmental Management. Also in 2011, President Obama appointed her a Board Member to the US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. She has had a major impact on science education at the State, National and International level, and in 2009, was elected to the governing board for the US Council for Chemical Research. She is the Editor for the journal Radiochimica Acta, which plays a key role in disseminating research in the field of radiochemistry, and is heavily used by both students and specialists in radiochemistry. In 2012, the American Chemical Society awarded Dr. Clark the Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal, which is used to ‘recognize distinguished service to chemistry by women chemists’. Since joining the Chemistry Department Faculty in 1996, she has worked independently and collaboratively to generate over $18M in extramural funding.

Excellence in Institutional Service

Carmen Lugo-Lugo
Associate Professor, Department of Critical Culture, Gender and Race Studies

Carmen Lugo-LugoDr. Lugo-Lugo is a stellar scholar who pushes public and academic debates, is a dynamic and inspiring teacher, a committed mentor, and a dedicated member of the WSU community. She currently serves as co-chair of the Academic Integrity Board, co-chair of Student Conduct, and as a member of the General Education Committee/UCORE Committee. She has played an instrumental role in the growth and development of Critical Culture, Gender and Race Studies (CCGRS) and spearheaded the department’s assessment efforts. Her impact is being felt from faculty governance to student conduct, from academic integrity to curricular development. She has served on an overwhelming number of committees since joining the WSU faculty in 2003. Dr. Lugo-Lugo pushes her colleagues to grow as scholars, helps them grow as teachers, and inspires them to become more active members of the WSU community.

General Awards


Advising Excellence

Yung-Hwa Anna Chow
Academic Advisor, Department of General Studies and Advising Center

Yung-Hwa Anna ChowAnna Chow represents the very best advising practices at WSU. She consistently demonstrates outstanding skills in providing guidance and support for students, challenging them to explore further career enhancing opportunities, including courses and workshops that promote the development of specific job skills. She displays extraordinary compassion and does an outstanding job of identifying extenuating factors in a student’s situation and creating uniquely tailored actions plans for troubled students. She excels in motivating and reassuring them that they can still graduate and join the Cougar Nation of alumni. Students praise her caring attitude, availability and her genuine interest in them as individuals. She is an excellent role model and constantly ensures that students receive the best advising experience possible so that they graduate well prepared for the increasingly competitive job market. She handles even the most difficult situations with common sense, compassion, and the occasional referral to the Counseling Center; she also reaches out to faculty mentors. Ms. Chow has been recognized for high quality advising activities locally, regionally, and nationally, winning numerous advising and mentoring awards.

Distinguished Faculty Award

Yogendra Gupta
Director, Institute for Shock Physics and Regents Professor, Department of Physics

Yogendra GuptaYogendra Gupta, Washington State University Regents Professor and director of the Institute for Shock Physics (ISP), has been selected to receive the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Faculty Award for 2013.  This award honors Dr. Gupta for his contributions to the college, WSU and to his field of study in which he is recognized internationally. 

His research work at ISP involves understanding fast physical and chemical changes produced by the propagation of high-pressure shock waves in condensed matter. “As director of the Institute for Shock Physics, Dr. Gupta is a strong advocate for quality research at Washington State University, and his tireless efforts have put WSU on the international map as an outstanding center for shock-wave research,” said V. S. Manoranjan, Senior Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

In 2004, Dr. Gupta established the Applied Sciences Laboratory (ASL) on the River Point Campus in Spokane.  According to Dr. Santanu Chaudhuri, ASL senior scientist and principal researcher, “ASL is a contract research organization that integrates multidisciplinary activities in the physical sciences, life sciences and engineering to undertake a broad range of applied research projects for corporations and government agencies, including technology transfer for commercial applications.”

ASL’s latest partnership seeks to develop corrosion-resistant materials for the aerospace industry and is partially funded by the state of Washington’s Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation (JCATI).  This is a unique public/private partnership as the other major participant is the Spokane-based Triumph Composite Systems.  Since its inception, ASL has generated almost $17M in research revenues.

Dr. Gupta is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Society for the Advancement of Science.  He received the American Physical Society Shock Compression Science Award in 2001.  He has produced more than 200 publications, including articles on shock waves in the Encyclopedia of Physics and the Encyclopedia of Science and Technology.  He is a member of a number of the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on the Review of Quality of the Management and of the Science and Engineering Research at the Department of Energy National Security Laboratories and the External Advisory Committee for Review of Pulsed Power Sciences Center, Sandia National Laboratories.  His honors at WSU include promotion to Regents Professor in 2005, the President’s Eminent Faculty Award also in 2005, and the President’s Excellence Award for Research and Creative Activity in 1994.


Staff Awards


Administrative Professional Staff Excellence Award

Justine Rupp
Senior Academic Coordinator, School of Biological Sciences

Justine RuppJustine Rupp is a dedicated mentor and outstanding supportive member of her department. Her superb knowledge of WSU’s guidelines and rules makes the task of advising students much easier, and her knowledge and motivation to help truly improves the lives and academic careers of the students. Her ‘can-do’ attitude, competency, and efficiency helps make the School of Biological Sciences (SBS) more effective and successful. Since joining SBS in 2002, she has become the essential resource for faculty for all of their academic planning and advising needs, and helps them prepare for new courses and curriculum changes. She finds innovative ways to do her job and routinely networks with others across the university to share ideas. She serves on the SBS Curriculum Committee, Scholarship Committee, and the WSU Data Advisory Group. 

Civil Service Staff Excellence Award

Kris Johnson
Secretary Lead, Department of Mathematics

Kris JohnsonKris Johnson has proven herself to be an invaluable member of the office team since joining the Department of Mathematics in December 2003. She has been instrumental during the department re-organization since merging with Statistics, and is able to focus on the many important details, without losing sight of the big picture. She takes ownership in the department’s needs, frequently solving problems and taking the initiative to right wrongs because she truly cares about students, staff and faculty. Not only does she come up with solutions to problems, she thinks about ways to make things run more efficiently and often challenges the status quo. She steps up to share her knowledge with new employees, ensuring the department continues to run smoothly. Her care for the department is evident; she came up with and implemented the now annual Pi Day event for the department. She works tirelessly to ensure the success of the department, faculty, staff and students.


Graduate Student Awards


Distinguished Graduate Student in Arts

Kayla Trabun Johnson
School of Music

Kayla Trabun JohnsonKayla Trabun Johnson is an exceptional role model, mentor and leader. As a teaching assistant, students trust her leadership and musicianship, and they always learn and improve under her leadership. Not only is her academic record outstanding, she has received numerous honors, scholarships, and meritorious awards. She has been extremely active in many student organizations within the department, almost always holding a leadership role. Mrs. Johnson has demonstrated not only the fundamental teaching skills necessary, but the heart and soul of what a true musician and teacher brings to the classroom.

Distinguished Graduate Student in Humanities

Aaron M. Moe
Department of English

Aaron M. MoeAaron Moe is an exemplary poet, teacher and role model. He has already published six peer-reviewed articles on American poetry, with two more accepted for publication later this year. He has delivered 11 conference presentations and will have delivered 13 by the end of this semester. He is the founder and principal editor of an online journal devoted to the poetry of W.S. Merwin, Merwin Studies, whose inaugural issue will appear sometime in the next few weeks. He has won just about every award the English Department offers. His research, writing, and teaching have all been recognized as exceptional by a wide range of audiences and evaluators.

Distinguished Graduate Student in Social Sciences

Lawrence Behmer, Jr.
Department of Psychology

Lawrence Behmer, JrLawrence Behmer is a passionate, driven researcher focused on motor learning with a specific interest in mirror neuron research. He single-handedly rebuilt the department’s EEG laboratory, and has conducted at least five studies examining issues related to cognitive factors underlying action planning. He is currently on an academic fellowship in the Integrative Training in Health-Assistive Smart Environments (IGERT) at WSU, and due to his excellent time management skills, has demonstrated that he can juggle several commitments successfully. He has one published manuscript, a manuscript submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, three other manuscripts in preparation, and two other projects in progress. He has presented his work six times at national and international conferences over his two and half years at WSU.

Distinguished Graduate Student in Sciences

Jared L. Aurentz
Department of Mathematics

Jared L. AurentzJared Aurentz is an outstanding computer programmer. He is extremely fast at computation of zeros and polynomials and Eigenvalues, making use of companion matrices. He has one paper, titled ‘Fast Computation of the Zeros of a Polynomial via Factorization of the Companion Matrix’ accepted for publication in the prestigious Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Journal on Scientific Computing, with a second, titled ‘Fast Computation of Eigenvalues of Companion, Comrade and Related Matrices’ under review. Jared is sole author of a paper, ‘A Factorization of the Inverse of the Shifted Companion Matrix’, currently under review at the Electronic Journal of Linear Algebra. Mr. Aurentz’s other work involves carrying out numerical simulations of certain equations that model molecules in order to characterize materials with superior optical properties that could lead to faster internet or super-fast optical computers.

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