RICHMOND — The State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) and Dominion Energy honored 12 recipients of the 2020 Outstanding Faculty Awards at a luncheon today at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. Since 1987, these awards have recognized faculty at Virginia’s institutions of higher learning who exemplify the highest standards of teaching, scholarship and service.

Nominees were selected by the institutions, reviewed by a panel of peers and chosen by a committee of leaders from the public and private sectors. In all, 85 nominations were submitted this year. This group was narrowed to a field of 27 finalists and then to the 12 recipients, each of whom receive $7,500 from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation.

Recipients came from campuses large and small throughout the Commonwealth and from two- and four-year institutions, private and public. Their fields of expertise ranged from biology to public policy. They represent the highest level of scholarship, teaching, mentoring, public service and research in Virginia.

“Virginia’s system of higher education is among the best in the country,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “This is due in large part to our outstanding faculty members who continually give their time, talent, and expertise to help their students learn and grow. We thank them for their commitment to ensuring Virginia students have the skills they need to succeed, and contribute to our global society.”

“SCHEV shares the Commonwealth’s vision to create a thriving, successful Virginia,” said Peter Blake, director of SCHEV. “In fact, the activities we celebrate today – outstanding teaching, research and service to one’s field, students, campus, community and world – help transform not only individual lives, but also advance the economic and cultural prosperity of the entire Commonwealth.”

This marks the 16th year Dominion Energy has partnered with SCHEV to honor the Commonwealth’s outstanding faculty members.

“Today, the Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes 12 of its best and brightest college faculty,” said Hunter A. Applewhite, president of the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. “The devotion and passion of the individuals recognized today help to strengthen our communities and inspire the next generation of leaders.”

2020 Outstanding Faculty Award Recipients
Listed below are the recipients in alphabetical order. Asterisks indicate Rising Star (early-career achievement) awards. Complete bios and photos are available on SCHEV’s website.

Nicolas Balascio* is an assistant professor of geology at William & Mary. He is a paleoclimatologist who uses geologic records to reconstruct Earth’s climate history. An authority on Arctic paleoclimatology, he has worked with student collaborators to investigate how recent rates of warming compare to those of past centuries and millennia by precisely dating and analyzing geochemical clues in lake sediments.

Amorette Barber is an associate professor of biology and director of the office of student research at Longwood University. Dr. Barber’s research focuses on enhancing immune responses to cancer. She also serves as the STEM-H summer research program coordinator, co-founder and chair of the university-wide Student Research Showcase, and leader of local and statewide high school science outreach programs.

Kent Carpenter is a professor and eminent scholar in biological sciences at Old Dominion University. He also has managed the Marine Biodiversity Unit of the Global Species Programme of The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). His primary research interests are marine conservation biology, systematics and evolution of bony fishes, ecology of coral reefs, and marine biogeography and phylogeography of the Indo-West Pacific.

Cynthia R. Deutsch is a professor of psychology at Central Virginia Community College where she has taught more than 6,000 undergraduate students over her 18-year career. She was the 2019 recipient of the Susan S. Wood Professorship for Teaching Excellence from the Virginia Community College System and the recipient of the Faculty Leadership award at Central Virginia Community College in 2015 and 2018.

Kirsten Heidi Gelsdorf* is a professor in the Batten School and director of global humanitarian policy at the University of Virginia. Her career has included field postings with the United Nations and other organizations to support responses to the Ethiopian famine, South African regional food crisis, Liberian war, tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina, Pakistan earthquake, Timor-Leste security crisis and the Haiti earthquake.

Ryan David Huish is an associate professor of biology at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. With a background in botany and cultural anthropology, he is fascinated with how historic and modern peoples use plants for food, medicine, art, music and metaphor. His research interests incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to address basic and applied questions in ethnobotany, ecology and plant conservation.

Timothy E. Long is a professor of chemistry at Virginia Tech. He also serves as director of the university’s Macromolecules Innovation Institute, which boasts an internationally recognized polymer program of more than 60 affiliated faculty and 110 graduate students involved in diverse areas of polymer science and engineering.

Cynthia Lum is a professor of criminology, law and society at George Mason University and a former police officer and detective with the Baltimore City Police Department. She is a global expert of evidence-based policing and has collaborated with local, state, federal, and international policing organizations and agencies to improve law enforcement operations through science and research translation.

Diane R. Murphy is a professor of information management at Marymount University. Her research interests include data science, health care informatics and cybersecurity, including detecting disinformation. Dr. Murphy came to the U.S. in 1980 and worked on advanced projects for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Murphy began her career in the European pharmaceutical industry and was an early leader in chemical informatics, using technology to predict the biological effects of chemicals.

Wing Ng is an Alumni Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech. His research has resulted in safer air transport, reduced fuel consumption and decreased environment impacts from aircraft propulsion engines. His research with Rolls-Royce has led to the building of a new aircraft engine manufacturing plant in Prince George County, creating hundreds of high-tech jobs.

Arthur Weltman is the 2019-2021 Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Virginia, and professor and founding chair of the department of kinesiology. He is also professor of medicine and founding director of the Exercise Physiology Core Laboratory. His research focuses on the effects of exercise on clinical outcomes and examines how intensity of exercise affects evidenced-based outcome measures.

Jeremy Wojdak is a professor of biology at Radford University. His biological research focuses on the ecology of freshwater habitats in Virginia. Wojdak emphasizes experiential learning for his students through problem-based learning, study-abroad experiences, and course-embedded research projects. He has led six university- and national-level STEM education reform projects focused on improving curriculum and instruction for students.