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Association of Former Students University-level Distinguished Achievement Awards

 

Since 1955 The Association of Former Students has recognized outstanding members of Texas A&M University’s faculty and staff for their commitment, performance and positive impact on Aggie students, Texas citizens and the world around them.

 

Each year The Association of Former Students generously makes funds available to provide faculty and staff at Texas A&M with a number of awards recognizing achievement in teaching, research, individual student relationships, continuing education/extension, graduate mentoring, staff and administration. Receipt of an Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award is one of the highest university honors that can be bestowed upon a faculty or staff member.

 

 

 

 

2015 ASSOCIATION OF FORMER STUDENTS

 DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

 

 

Teaching

 

Ahmed Abdel-Wahab ’03
Professor, Chemical Engineering Program
Texas A&M University at Qatar

Ahmed Abdel-Wahab is professor of chemical engineering and holder of the Itochu Professorship in Engineering at Texas A&M University at Qatar. He joined the Qatar faculty after earning his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in 2003. Dr. Abdel-Wahab is known as an absolutely inspirational teacher. His students laud his unique ability to clearly present challenging engineering concepts with spirited enthusiasm that makes learning a truly exciting and rewarding experience. He is also a visionary faculty member. Soon after the Qatar Campus initiated its Chemical Engineering Program, Dr. Abdel-Wahab recognized the need to include environmental issues in the curriculum and moved to develop the first environmental engineering course in 2007. Implementation of the Graduate Studies Program in 2010 provided an opportunity to sharpen focus on environmental education and Dr. Abdel-Wahab characteristically stepped up. Largely as a result of his vision and determination, Texas A&M has established one of the finest environmental programs in the Arabian Gulf Region. Dr. Abdel-Wahab is also known as an exceptional student mentor, advocate, and role model. He has a genuine interest in students’ well-being and helps them work through the challenges they face pursuing an engineering education. His caring and concern as a teacher and mentor are clearly described in his students’ own words, “He is one of us; humble character; available and open to all of our concerns and doubts; approachable personality; unmatched devotion to his students; genuine care for us; close to us as students; maintains a friendly relationship; very kind, loving, caring person; friendly nature; pervasive caring for his students; maintains a friendly attitude toward all students; gives positive encouragement.” Dr. Abdel-Wahab has contributed in a major way to the unqualified success of Texas A&M University at Qatar during its first 11 years of successful operation.

 

Oral Capps, Jr.
Regents Professor
Department of Agricultural Economics

Oral Capps, Jr., Regents Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics, earned his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech. After stints teaching at Virginia Tech and the University of Minnesota, he joined the faculty of the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences in 1986. He is nationally recognized for his scholarship in demand analysis, econometric modeling, and forecasting methodology with large data sets. But, the students in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences recognize him as one of the best teachers at Texas A&M University. As a leader in agricultural economics, Dr. Capps works closely with professional organizations in the food-producing industries. The major upside of all these connections is his ability to bring real world scenarios to the classroom and show students the most current industry developments. Dr. Capps has been a master teacher and superb mentor to undergraduate and graduate students during his almost 30 years at Texas A&M. He has taught more than 90 sections in 7 subject matter areas to approximately 6,000 students! Most students are familiar with Dr. Capps as the teacher for Introductory Agricultural Economics. He volunteered to teach this large course because he understands how critical the course is to freshmen students. His passion for the course led him to write an Introduction to Agricultural Economics textbook, which is now in its sixth edition. In the classroom, Dr. Capps brings lecture material to life, helping students to remember and apply the concepts discussed. A supporter says students leaving Dr. Capps’ class possess “knowledge they can leverage in their future careers and lives.” His nominators sum up, saying that an excellent teacher brings out the best in students. Dr. Capps cares about them as individuals, their learning, and their future success. He is an “amazing teacher and true friend of the students.”

 

John C. Keyser
Professor
Department of Computer Science & Engineering

John Keyser, professor and associate head for academics in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, joined the faculty of the Dwight Look College of Engineering after earning his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2000. His nominators say that he is an outstanding and gifted teacher, a brilliant researcher, and an individual who is committed to serving his profession and the students of Texas A&M. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in computer graphics, including the required undergraduate courses, Programming Studio and Analysis of Algorithms, and seminar courses. His department head credits him as a key contributor to the wholesale revision of the department’s undergraduate curriculum. She says he came up with the big picture of how the courses could fit together, providing greater flexibility and preparing students for internships, earlier; both of which helped improve retention. Dr. Keyser generously contributes time to students outside the classroom. He coached the student programming team that won first place in the south-central U.S. region in 2004 and competed in the international finals in 2005. He also served as the advisor for the Texas Aggie Game Developers, the advisor for the Texas A&M Computing Society, and coordinator for the department’s high school contests. Dr. Keyser is a devoted research mentor to both undergraduate and graduate students. He has graduated 9 Ph.D. students and 11 master’s students, as well as mentoring 4 undergraduate students in research. Dr. Keyser consistently receives glowing feedback from his teaching evaluations and his students credit him with helping them build successful careers. One former student writes that, even years after graduation, he still seeks Dr. Keyser’s advice. “Am I still his student? Not in the traditional sense, but I still value his opinion greatly. And he continues to teach me things. Does all this make Dr. Keyser a great teacher? It does to me.”

 

Nancy L. Klein
Associate Professor
Department of Architecture

Nancy Louise Klein is associate professor in the Department of Architecture. She earned her Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College and taught at Indiana University and the University of Missouri at Columbia before joining the faculty of the College of Architecture in 2006. Dr. Klein’s courses in architectural history change the way students see the world, introducing them to cultural context, design, and technology in a global setting. Her nominators say she is truly an outstanding teacher, who draws on her passion, knowledge, and expertise, providing students with tools for building knowledge while seeking a deeper understanding of the world. Despite teaching large lecture classes, she is able to engage her students in reading and understanding the language of architecture. And, she consistently receives high marks on her student evaluations (4.7 or better out of 5), which is particularly notable considering the rigor of her courses and the number of large section courses she teaches. One of her former students writes, “Her passion inspired me to continue learning about how architecture can shape the human experience…. Every class lecture is another adventure into the ancient world.” A former graduate student says Dr. Klein “helped us to find ways to relate the history of thousands of years ago to current events, and more personally to our own interests and current architectural design projects.” Her colleagues in the College of Architecture also hold Dr. Klein in high esteem, both as a scholar and as a teacher with an extraordinary reputation in the classroom, commenting that her advanced undergraduate classes and graduate seminars allow students to develop skill sets that are essential for any career, such as the ability to communicate effectively in writing and speech and to always have a critical approach to knowledge.

 

Arvind Mahajan
Regents Professor
Department of Finance

Arvind Mahajan, Regents Professor and the Lamar Savings Professor of Finance in the Mays Business School, earned his Ph.D. from Georgia State University and joined the Texas A&M University faculty in 1980. He is known as a pioneer in international business education. His nominator says, “Simply stated, Arvind Mahajan is one of the best teachers I know. He has consistently excelled in educating our students at all levels.” Course evaluations, testimonials from peers, former and current students, and business executives, as well as the innovative teaching materials he has developed establish beyond a doubt that Dr. Mahajan is a demanding, deeply caring, and highly effective teacher. Supporters say that he affects students on multiple dimensions and his life mission is to broaden his students’ horizons, deepen their understanding, and help them succeed. And he has been doing this successfully at Texas A&M for 35 years! Over his career he has developed countless new courses, “internationalized” Aggies by taking them on Study Abroad expeditions, cultivated thousands of minds, and helped many students become successful scholars, executives, lawyers, and business professionals. While Dr. Mahajan motivates his students to do their best, he also demands the best from himself. A former student writes, “I would notice that Dr. Mahajan’s light was still on as I left the West Campus Library after a late night of studying. He was no doubt helping a student…or continuing his own research.” His nominator concludes, not much has changed since that student graduated; Dr. Mahajan’s light still remains on and students are always welcome.

 

Stjepan Meštrović
Professor
Department of Sociology

Stjepan G. Meštrović earned his Ph.D. from Syracuse University and taught at Lander College before joining the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts in 1991. He is well known for his work on social theory, culture and war crimes. He has served as an expert witness at The Hague for the International Court of the Tribunal for Yugoslavia, at courts martial pertaining to abuse at Abu Ghraib, and at multiple other courts martial and clemency hearings. He is the author or editor of 18 books as well as more than 70 articles, chapters, or essays. He has garnered numerous awards and honors for his research. But, along with his incredibly productive research record, Dr. Meštrović has always been known for his inspiring teaching. His quantitative teaching evaluations are always among the very highest in the Department of Sociology, and his students often remark that he has inspired and transformed their thinking. His nominator says that a large part of what makes Dr. Meštrović such an effective teacher is his ability to explain incredibly complex issues and analyze them in ways that do not completely overwhelm his students. In addition, he is well known for taking time to talk to students both inside and outside of class. A current student credits Dr. Meštrović with changing his whole outlook on his college experience, writing, “I became far more interested in school when I found a professor that actually taught through conversation and application as opposed to a professor that simply talked at me. I found a professor that left me constantly thinking about theory and its true application.” A graduate student summarizes, “He has repeatedly modeled the type of professor that I would like to be one day; compassionate but not a pushover, humorous yet serious about education and about fostering a love of learning—esteemed yet humble.”

 

James D. Pennington
Instructional Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry

After earning his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Jim Pennington joined the faculty of the College of Science in 1998. His primary responsibility and professional passion is teaching three sections of sophomore organic chemistry for non-majors each semester. He says being able to interact with and influence these future doctors, dentists, veterinarians, and engineers at a critical time in their intellectual development is a blessing and incredibly rewarding. Among his colleagues and students, he has earned a reputation as an energetic, enthusiastic, challenging, and rigorous instructor who holds his students to the highest standards while doing everything in his power to help them succeed. He holds multiple office hours most days and an evening help session once a week. For his devotion, his students honored him as a Fish Camp Namesake. Dr. Pennington also enjoys motivating others to enjoy and learn about sciences in his role as the coordinator and chief presenter for the Texas A&M Chemistry Road Show, one of the premier outreach programs of the university. The Chemistry Road Show is a K-12 program that is presented 50 to 60 times per year at schools and to other organizations throughout Texas, reaching about 10,000 students annually. Many of these students are motivated to pursue careers in science—perhaps at Texas A&M. Serving as coordinator of the Roadshow has an added bonus for Dr. Pennington because he has the opportunity to work closely with and mentor 20 or so Aggies who participate as assistant demonstrators, putting them on a path to involvement in service and community outreach. A former student writes, “Dr. Pennington renewed my love for science and gave me the motivation to continue pursuing my goal of becoming a physician.… I am now in medical school…and without a doubt, he is the most helpful and encouraging professor I have had during my academic career.”

 

W. Shawn Ramsey ’90
Associate Professor
Department of Animal Science

Shawn Ramsey, associate professor and assistant head for undergraduate programs in the Department of Animal Science, joined the faculty of the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences upon completing his Ph.D. at New Mexico State University. For the past 18 years, his teaching has touched the lives of more than 10,000 Aggies. By the numbers, Dr. Ramsey teaches close to 700 students each long semester and receives average course evaluation scores of 4.8 or above on a 5.0 scale. However, the real success of his teaching goes well beyond these statistics. A former student in one of his largest classes—typically 350 students—stated, “I felt like he was talking directly to me. Despite the 349 other students in that class, Dr. Ramsey always had a way of making me, and every other student, feel important, feel respected, and feel valued.” Another student stated, “He is the epitome of encouragement and motivation, and he went above and beyond to prepare me to achieve my goals.” Dr. Ramsey is known for his efforts to get to know each student, to learn about their specific interests, and then to introduce them to other students with similar backgrounds or interests. In addition to classroom teaching, Dr. Ramsey coaches the undergraduate wool and mohair judging team. He teaches them not only how to evaluate wool, he also teaches them how to succeed outside their comfort zones. Not surprisingly, he has coached four national champion and eight intercollegiate champion teams. Dr. Ramsey’s accomplishments do not stop with his classroom teaching or coaching a judging team. He also leads one of the largest study abroad programs to New Zealand and conducts the annual Aggieland Lamb and Goat Camp for junior high and high school students during summer. His nominator sums up, saying that Dr. Ramsey is unquestionably one of the most outstanding teachers in the college, the university, and the nation.

 

Nova J. Silvy
Regents Professor
Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences

Nova Silvy, Regents Professor, Senior Faculty Fellow, and associate department head for undergraduate programs in the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, has been a faculty member in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences since earning his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 1975. Over his 40 years of service to Texas A&M University, Nova Silvy has authored more than 280 refereed publications and contributed to the understanding of more than 100 wildlife species. Undoubtedly, he has made an impression in the wildlife profession. Dr. Silvy firmly believes that both undergraduate and graduate education are integral to a university research program. He also believes a quality education begins with the involvement of students in field research. This philosophy has empowered hundreds of undergraduates and more than 100 graduate students through field experiences and “hands-on” training. Here’s what some of them have to say. “Nova was always available within and outside work hours.… He always treated his graduate students as equals and as a result, promoted their professional development. He never needed to demand excellence—his students were always willing to give him their best effort.” “Dr. Silvy simply led by example. He personally demonstrated what a good ethical scientist is all about on a daily basis.” “His guidance not only was critical to my success in graduate school, but also prepared me well for professional achievement. The fact that he can offer individualized guidance while routinely directing 15-18 graduate students is nothing less than amazing.” Ultimately Dr. Silvy’s impact will be seen in years to come the accomplishments of the next generation of wildlife scientists.

 

Ching-Yun Suen
Professor of Mathematics
Texas A&M University at Galveston

Ching-Yun Suen earned his Ph.D. from the University of Houston. After teaching there and at Texas A&M University, he joined the faculty of Texas A&M at Galveston in 1984. His outstanding reputation as a teacher stems from his deep commitment to the teaching profession and his lasting influence on his students. Dr. Suen is loved by his students. He is known for treating them with respect and devotion. A former department head writes that there were always students coming to Dr. Suen’s office and that he spent endless hours helping them to understand mathematics. A colleague adds that Dr. Suen brings “enthusiasm into all his classes” as evidenced by his excellent course evaluations and glowing comments from students. A former student commented that he remembers how much he “enjoyed his class and how easy he made understanding calculus.” But perhaps the most touching endorsement is that of a former student who wrote a strong letter of support for Dr. Suen despite the fact that she was just released from the hospital following a second heart transplant. During her freshman year, the student was diagnosed with heart failure and could not attend classes. She was given “incompletes” in most of her courses, but her Calculus I professor required her to take the final exam. Although not the professor in question, Dr. Suen volunteered to tutor her three times a week for four weeks at her parents’ home, which required him to travel from Galveston to Sugar Land, Texas, each time. With his help, she passed the course and ultimately graduated. She writes, “He went above and beyond to help a student like me with special circumstances, and I know I would not have passed the final exam without his help. He is a very generous, kind and caring teacher.” A colleague sums up, saying, “Dr. Suen is an outstanding teacher and a valued member of our department.”

 

Research

 

Deborah Bell-Pedersen
Professor
Department of Biology

Deborah Bell-Pedersen earned her Ph.D. at the State University of New York at Albany. Following postdoctoral work at Dartmouth Medical School, she joined the College of Science faculty in 1997. Her research investigates how the circadian clock regulates daily rhythms in behavior, physiology, and biochemistry. Defects of the human clock are associated sleep disorders, and for unknown reasons, epilepsy, cerebrovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, headaches, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Understanding how biological clocks function can lead to new ways to improve human health. Dr. Bell-Pedersen is well respected in her field. She has published more than 50 articles in top journals, garnering more than 5,900 citations, and she is frequently invited to present her work at scientific meetings and seminars across the country. Among her awards and honors, Dr. Bell-Pedersen has received the Jo Ann Treat Award for Excellence in Research and the Texas A&M Women Former Students’ Network Eminent Scholar Award. In 2014, she was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Microbiology. A colleague writes, “…the results of her research efforts have added substantially to the basic body of knowledge of how clocks drive an organism, and she is already making sure that these findings can be used to improve the quality of life.… Deb stands out as a distinguished researcher.” A department head at another university writes, “Dr. Bell-Pedersen has made significant research contributions to the filamentous fungal and clock research communities and is a highly-respected leader in these fields.… She is on a steep upward trajectory and we will continue to see her accomplish great things in the future.” Another colleague sums up, “Simply stated she’s among the best there is…in the field of circadian rhythms, in the entire world.”

 

Darren L. DePoy
Professor
Department of Physics & Astronomy

Darren DePoy is an astronomer and holder of the endowed Rachal/Mitchell/Heep Professorship in Physics in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. He also serves as deputy director of the Munnerlyn Astronomical Laboratory. He joined the faculty of the College of Science in 2008. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii. Dr. DePoy is a world leader in the development of astronomical instrumentation for ground-based telescopes. Before coming to Texas A&M he was the director of Astronomical Instrumentation at The Ohio State University. While there, he was project scientist for the Dark Energy Survey camera—the world’s largest digital camera—that is now working in Chile. Although it is common for astronomers who are experts in instrumentation to not do science along with instrumentation development, Dr. DePoy actively uses the instruments he builds. His main field of work has been the study of active galactic nuclei fueled by the enormous black holes, and the discovery of exoplanets using “microlensing,” the rapid brightening and fading of a distant star by a foreground object. He is also involved with other initiatives, including the Giant Magellan Telescope. His leadership in astronomical instrumentation has positioned Texas A&M as a premiere institution in astronomical instrumentation. His international impact is expressed by a few quotes from colleagues. “Darren’s contributions to astronomical research…have expanded the frontier of astronomical observations,” “His work has enabled, or aided, the research of hundreds of professional research astronomers world-wide,” and “By training the next generation of instrumentalists DePoy is making a contribution to the future of astronomy that will endure.” His nominator sums up, saying, “We were incredibly fortunate to bring Prof. DePoy to Texas A&M.”

 

Vijay P. Singh
Professor
Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering

Vijay Singh is a professor and the inaugural holder of the Caroline and William N. Lehrer Distinguished Chair in Water Engineering in the Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering. He joined the faculty of the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences in 2006. He earned his Ph.D. from Colorado State University and his D.Sc. from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. A world-renowned hydrologist in the area of water resources engineering, he is recognized for his seminal contributions in several key areas, including: watershed modeling, floods and droughts, entropy theory-based modeling, copula-based analysis, risk and reliability analysis, and climate change impacts on water resources. With more than 700 refereed journal articles, 23 books, another 55 edited books, and 80 book chapters, his scholarly contributions have immensely impacted water research and education globally. Dr. Singh has received more than 60 national and international awards for his contributions and professional service, including the Arid Lands Hydraulic Engineering Award; the Torrens Award, the Norman Medal, and the Vent Te Chow Award of the American Society of Civil Engineers; and the R.K. Linsley Award and Founders Award of the American Institute of Hydrology. A supporter writes, “Prof. Singh is always far ahead of his time with interesting and profound ideas which have had a significant impact on the direction and practice of hydrology and water resources. His long contribution to the body of knowledge is stunning.” Another supporter sums up, writing “I truly believe that…when we assess the creative thinkers and doers of this generation of hydrologic engineers that Dr. Singh's name will be among the elite. He is certainly known and respected by everyone currently in the field of hydrologic analysis and design.”

 

Haiyan Wang
Professor
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Haiyan Wang is a professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, who currently works part time at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a program director in the Division of Materials Research. She joined the faculty of the Dwight Look College of Engineering in 2006 after earning her Ph.D. from North Carolina State University and completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Wang’s research covers a wide range of topics in ceramic thin film and materials science, including: high temperature superconductors, solid oxide fuel cells, nuclear radiation-tolerant materials, and batteries and thin film devices, all related to energy research. She has published more than 300 journal articles in prestigious journals, presented 150 invited talks at international conferences and holds 8 patents in the areas of thin film processing and architectures. She has been cited more than 6,500 times with an H-index of 39. She is a fellow of the ASM International. Her awards and recognitions include the TAMEST O’Donnell Award in Engineering, an ASM International Silver Medal Award for Outstanding Mid-Career Materials Scientist, an NSF Career Award, the Presidential Early Career Award, and an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award. Her nominator comments that “…Professor Wang has strongly demonstrated her exceptional abilities as a teacher, engineer, and scientist.” Other supporters add, “Dr. Wang is unquestionably an outstanding scientist with exceptional skills and extraordinary achievements in the areas of electronic materials and nanotechnology,” and she is well known as a “stellar researcher and leader in the ceramic field. Without any doubt, she will continue to make great contributions to our society!”

 

Mark E. Westhusin ’83
Professor
Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology

Mark Westhusin is a professor in the Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology, joining the faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences in 1992. He earned his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. His research program has successfully cloned bulls, goats, the world's first cat and first white-tailed deer. As a result of his and his colleagues’ efforts, Texas A&M is now recognized as having cloned more different animal species than any other institution in the world (6 species - cow, goat, pig, horse, cat, white-tailed deer). The goal of all this once futuristic and now mainstream activity is to produce genetic copies of world-class animals and genetically engineer livestock with improved production characteristics, such as increased muscle development and resistance to disease. Dr. Westhusin has received numerous honors, including the National Institutes of Health Director’s Award, the American Society of Animal Sciences Scholarship Award, Pfizer Research Award, and Richard H. Davis Teaching Award. He was picked as one of Texas Monthly’s “35 People who Will Shape Our Future.” He has authored more than 75 scientific publications in prestigious journals, given more than 60 invited talks through the world, and contributed to several books. Here are a few comments from his supporters. “Mark has been at the forefront of developing and applying reproductive technologies to real world problems.” “Dr. Westhusin has an excellent and balanced record with strengths in multiple areas including research publications and extramural funding, excellent teaching skills in both the classroom setting and individual mentoring, and a high level of collegiality as supported by his multiple collaborative projects.” “Dr. Westhusin has clearly changed the world with his research and will continue to do so for a very long time.”

 

Kirk O. Winemiller
Regents Professor
Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences

Kirk Winemiller is Regents Professor in the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences. Earning his Ph.D. from the University of Texas—Austin, he joined the faculty of the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences in 1992. He has published more than 200 papers and has been cited nearly 11,000 times. His research focuses on enhancing understanding of populations and communities of freshwater and estuarine fishes and has contributed significantly to the development of food web theory in basic ecological research. He has applied this research to enhancing the management and conservation of these fisheries in Texas and around the world. He has received a number of very significant honors, including the Vice Chancellor’s Graduate Teaching Award and the Vice Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Award at Texas A&M, the Outstanding Fisheries Research Award and the Special Recognition Award from the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, and the Ecological Society of America’s prestigious Mercer Award. In 2007, he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His nominator says that Kirk Winemiller’s name is “synonymous with fisheries ecology and management worldwide.” A former student credits his research with clarifying many aspects of the very complex ecology of freshwater fishes, “from the evolution of life history strategies (i.e., how and when fishes allocate resources into reproduction) and the evolutionary origin of tropical fish diversity, to the structure of food webs in aquatic communities, the flow of nutrients in large tropical river ecosystems and the human impacts on aquatic systems from invasive species and altered surface flow to gold mining, hydroelectric dams, and overfishing.” A colleague concludes, “Without doubt he is contributing to consolidate the TAMU reputation in general ecology, fish ecology and aquatic ecosystems management around the World.”

 

 

Individual Student Relations

 

Sue Geller
Professor
Department of Mathematics

Sue Geller earned her Ph.D. from Cornell University. She has been on the faculty of Texas A&M for 33 years, serving as a professor of mathematics in the College of Science with a joint appointment in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. She has published research on both abstract algebra and on biostatistics. Dr. Geller has had a transformative effect on the pedagogical mission of the Department of Mathematics. She founded the department’s undergraduate honors program—one of the first such programs on campus—and has served for many years as its director. Her extensive and effective work with honors students was recognized in 2012 by the University Honors Program, which presented her the Director’s Award for Outstanding Service to Honors Programs. She also helped create a specialized track of the Master’s degree program in mathematics intended for prospective teachers. Her exemplary record of innovative teaching and effective mentoring was recognized in 2014 by the Texas Section of the Mathematical Association of America. Here are some comments from her former students. “I just got a job as an accountant at the school administration office in my hometown. I believe the skills I learned in your class played a huge role in helping me secure the job.” “Dr. Geller possesses several qualities that set her apart as an outstanding supporter of students… [She] strove to foster students’ learning outside of coursework. …Dr. Geller still stands out as one of the most influential and inspiring people I have met. I visited her fairly recently, and true to form, her office was filled with students. Even in that visit, she offered me advice and guidance for my academic career.”

 

 

Donna Hajash
Instructional Associate Professor
Department of Visualization

Donna Hajash, instructional associate professor in the Department of Visualization in the College of Architecture, earned her master’s from Siena Heights University. She has been employed by Texas A&M University since fall 1983, when she was hired as a graphic designer in a publication design office on campus. In fall 1984, she was hired as a lecturer in the Department of Journalism to teach the only course in graphic design. This was a lecture/lab course in which 60 students were enrolled each semester. When the Department of Journalism was eliminated, she was hired by the architecture department to teach graphic design. Later she moved to the visualization department as part of the ARTS program. She now teaches Graphic Design 1, 2, and 3 as well as a Senior Graphic Design Studio. She is the advisor to the student group of AIGA, the Professional Association for Design, which she formed at Texas A&M in 2007. She is also the Visualization Department’s Study Abroad coordinator for the Santa Chiara, Italy, program, advising students and preparing them for their semester abroad. Endorsements from her former students demonstrate Ms. Hajash’s impact on students. “I cannot say enough good things about Professor Hajash. As a professor, she is one of the most amazing I have ever had. There is not a day that goes by where I am not reminded of what I learned from her.” “Donna is more than simply a professor—she is a mentor, friend and inspiration to many of her students. She has a true passion for what she does and commits time and energy above and beyond what is expected of her.” “Had it not been for those formative design courses taught by Donna at A&M, I would never have fallen in love with design and been willing to pursue my current career path.”

 

Administration

 

Eleanor M. Green

Dean

College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Eleanor Myers Green has held the Carl B. King deanship of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences since 2009. She is the first woman to serve as dean in the college’s nearly one hundred year history. Dr. Green is a board certified specialist in both large animal and equine practice as a Diplomate of both the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. After receiving her BS degree in Animal Science from the University of Florida, Dr. Greened earned her DVM from Auburn University (1 of 3 women in her graduating class of 100). She has served as the first woman president of three national organizations: the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians, and the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Her nominator says that “Dean Green’s administrative record at TAMU is one of sustained leadership and service.… She has brought about positive, enduring change to our college, as well as to the university and her profession. …Quite simply, we are a different place than we were six years ago. We are more enthusiastic, optimistic, and successful.” Her supporters endorse her as “a person of great integrity and compassion, and a visionary leader among her peers.” “There is no one better at listening to the needs and wants of others than Dr. Green. She is an amazing facilitator and consensus builder.” “The culture of Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science has changed, and is well on a path to even more progressive change.” “…She has a wholesome, heartfelt, and effective concern for her students and colleagues. She genuinely cares for them; their well-being is her top priority. I can think of no higher tribute to be paid to an educator and/or administrator.”

 

Extension, Outreach, Continuing Education and Professional Development
Distinguished Achievement Award

 

James C. Cathey ’91
Extension Wildlife Specialist & Associate Professor
Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences

James Cathey earned his Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. Chief among his many roles is extension wildlife specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service—a role he fulfills as associate professor and associate department head in the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences. He joined the department in 2002 and AgriLife Extension in 2005. He has authored 68 publication and fostered development of many social media outlets. He provides expertise to Texas landowners, agricultural producers, and county extension agents in 71 counties, often about grassland restoration, northern bobwhite, wild pigs, Rio Grande wild turkey, and urban deer. He is a member of the Wildlife Society and past president of the Texas chapter. He has been Texas Wildlife Association director since 2008 and serves as an instructor for education events in its Conservation Legacy program. Dr. Cathey provides leadership to the Texas Master Naturalists program, which has received several national and state awards. His technical articles have been recognized by the Texas Section of the Society of Range Management and the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society, while his teamwork earned the 2014 national extension “Working Differently in Extension” award for achievements of the Feral Hogg Community of Practice. His nominator says Dr. Cathey is “energetic, personable, highly motivated, and committed to excellence,” and an “exemplary extension educator with exceptional mastery of wildlife science, outstanding communication skills, extraordinary productivity, resilient team leadership, and commitment to outreach education.” A supporter credits his leadership for the success of the state’s award-winning “rainwater harvesting task force.” Another supporter concludes, “…the impact of his vision, innovative strategies, and accomplishments is seen now and will continue in the years to come from the next generation of landowners and natural resource professionals he has prepared and empowered to ‘carry the torch.’”

 

Staff

 

Yasser Al-Hamidi

Laboratory Manager

Texas A&M University at Qatar

Yasser Al-Hamidi is a laboratory manager in the Mechanical Engineering Program at Texas A&M University at Qatar. Mr. Al-Hamidi began his career at there in 2007. He earned a Master of Science degree in Micro-Mechatronics and Microsystems from the University of Fanche Comte in France. He has previously held positions in laboratories in both higher education and private industry. His professional interests include precision and micro-mechatronic systems, combustion engine control, vibration suppression using input shaping control techniques, and real-time and networked control systems design. He recently won the branch campus Big Idea campaign—launched to promote and encourage innovation, creativity, and productivity—with a proposal to spread knowledge of 3-D printing and its likely impact. In addition, he is a recipient of STAR award to recognize him for his distinguished Service, Team spirit, Attitude and Responsibility. Mr. Al-Hamidi is a member and a former chair of the Staff Advisory Council. His nominators say that he not only manages the teaching labs, he also helps plan and develop experiments. His dean writes that “in addition to his commitment, initiative, innovation and professionalism, he has served in all of his activities as a superior role model and did so for many constituencies…TAMUQ faculty, staff and students…community members…and even high level officials. His calm, patient nature coupled with his knowledge and expertise have made only the most positive of impacts on those with who he interacts.” Another supporter comments that “he is an exemplary employee whose work demonstrates commitment to the Texas A&M University core values.…he leads initiatives that are beyond his job responsibilities to promote the university within the community, enrich the students’ educational experience, and support faculty members.”

 

Sandra D. Maldonado
Business Administrator II
Department of Communication

Sandra Maldonado, a 17-year veteran staff member at Texas A&M University, is the business administrator for the Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts. She previously worked in similar capacities for the College of Medicine and the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. She is the recipient of the College of Liberal Arts Superior Service Award, the President’s Meritorious Service Award, and a College of Liberal Arts Staff Professional Development Grant. She holds an associate’s degree in business administration from Blinn College and is continuing her studies as a part-time student at Sam Houston State University. Her strengths include mentoring and developing other staff members, helping them appreciate the important roles they play in the success of higher education. In that, she serves as an excellent role model and mentor. Her positive attitude, patience, and strong work ethic are shared as staff are developed and promoted into leadership roles within the university. Her nominator says that she is the most talented, dedicated, and innovative staff member that he has worked with over his career. He says, “What separates her from other staff members…is the combination of her being a high performer and the demonstrated impact she has had on the lives of the people who work with her, both within our academic department and beyond.” She achieves her consistent and high level of performance by paying attention to the details of the job and going beyond what is expected. Her colleagues credit her with creating a supportive departmental climate and always exhibiting grace under pressure. In difficult circumstances, she has consistently demonstrated a pattern of stepping up and being a calming influence in the middle of a storm. A faculty member in the department concludes, “I cannot imagine where the department would be without her faithful service over the years.”

 

Graduate Mentoring

 

Michael R. Kinney
Associate Professor
Department of Accounting

Michael Kinney is an associate professor and KPMG Faculty Fellow in the Department of Accounting in the Mays Business School. He began his career at Texas A&M after earning a Ph.D. at the University of Arizona. He has received several college and departmental teaching awards and has been a Price Waterhouse Teaching Excellence Professor. Over his career, he has taught courses at all program levels spanning multiple content areas. But for the past eight years, he has been teaching exclusively in the Mays MBA programs in College Station and Houston and also playing a substantial role as subject matter expert in the required capstone projects undertaken by all MBA students. In addition, since 2007, he has served as coordinator of the Ph.D. program in accounting. Because students in the Executive and Professional MBA programs are full-time employees and the program is taught in Houston, faculty mentoring is particularly important. His nominator explains that Dr. Kinney is always willing to spend an extraordinary amount of time outside of class to help his students develop academically and personally. “He aspires to establish a personal relationship with each one” even though he usually teaches more than 150 MBA students and approximately 20 Ph.D. students each year. Following up, a colleague comments that Mike Kinney is the perfect balance of encouragement and truth for his students, “unafraid to confront when necessary, but always urging them on to greater things.” In conclusion, his nominator says, “He is a very important asset to our MBA and Ph.D. students and I am confident that he will continue to make significant contributions to our students and programs throughout his career.”

 

Dorothy E. Shippen
Professor
Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics

Dorothy Shippen joined the faculty in Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences in 1991 after earning a Ph.D. in biology at the University of Alabama and completing postdoctoral fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco. She established the plant Arabidopsis thaliana as a model for understanding the structure and function of telomeres, which are the “caps” on the ends of chromosomes. She has received numerous awards, including the Texas A&M Faculty Fellow award, the AgriLife Research Senior Faculty Fellow award, the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research, and The Association of Former Students’ Distinguished Achievement Award for Research. These accomplishments would not have been possible without her dedication to mentoring graduate students. She has mentored 23 graduate students, and 17 have earned their doctorates so far. Fifteen of these students continued their research careers as postdoctoral fellows. Dr. Shippen is one of the most successful graduate mentors in the department: on average, her Ph.D. students publish 4.5 papers (twice the departmental average) and graduate in 5.7 years (one year less than the departmental average). Recognizing that successful graduate students need more than scientific mentoring, Dr. Shippen developed courses and workshops on building lab management skills. Uniformly, her graduate students praise her mentorship, declaring that she treated them as colleagues, both respecting their ideas and placing high expectations on them. One former student writes, “The most important value I acquired from Dorothy is perseverance.” Another says, “She always listens and considers every idea, and truly celebrates and cheers every success.” Still another adds, “…there is always some part of our spirit that stays in Dorothy’s lab. …I believe this is due to Dorothy’s personal charm, her charitable mentorship, friendship, encouragement, and inspiration.”

 

 

 

 

Call for Nominations

The 2014-15 Call for Nominations, which includes helpful guidelines and important deadlines, as well as associated files, are available for download below.