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Faculty members honored for research and service

Faculty members honored for research and service

Photo courtesy UNT. Professors Jincheng Du, Nandika D'Souza, Rebecca Dickstein, Melinda Levin, and John Ruiz. Five University of North Texas faculty members have been honored for their leading contributions to research, scholarship, and creative activities in areas ranging from botany to engineering to film to public health.

Faculty members honored for research and service
November 21
15:52 2012

Jason Yang
Senior Staff Writer

For the second consecutive year, the Office of Research and Economic Development honored five faculty members for their contributions to research, scholarship and creative activities earlier this month.

The awards were divided into five categories: research leadership, teacher scholar, creative impact, early career award for research and creativity, and competitive funding.

Department chairs nominate the honorees, who each received $3,000 to $5,000 in cash.

Warren Burggren, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said UNT decided to deliver the now-annual awards after looking at major research universities that honored their best faculty members.

“We have faculty members that are just as good as those universities, so why not award them as well?” Burggren said. “These awards just prove they are the elites of elites, and I can’t think of a better group of people representing our scholarly effort.”

Mechanical and energy engineering professor Nandika D’Souza has been at UNT for 16 years and received the research leadership award for her work on developing renewable materials that outperform their non-renewable counterparts.

D’Souza was unavailable for comment.

Biological science professor Rebecca Dickstein has spent 12 years at UNT and received the teacher scholar award for her excellence in providing a comprehensive and stimulating education for her students.

Dickstein said she spends at least 20 hours a week talking to her undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students. She plans to take her students out to dinner with the cash prize.

“It’s very nice to be recognized, but I want to thank my students because I wouldn’t receive this award without them,” Dickstein said. “I’m very proud of my students.”

Radio, television and film professor Melinda Levin, a 16-year veteran of UNT, received the creative impact award for her work in documentaries focusing on environmental, cultural and social issues.

Levin has received media industry awards for her work on films such as “The New Frontier,” “Sustainable Ranching in the American West,” and “River Planet.”

Levin said she plans to buy a new DLSR camera to use for future documentaries. She also plans to donate some of the money to a local animal shelter.

“My colleagues and I have won a lot of awards,” Levin said. “But it’s nice to get recognized by your own institution.”

A relative rookie, Jincheng Du, five-year UNT faculty member and material science and engineering associate professor, received the early career award for research and creativity for his research on using computers to understand biomedical responses.

Du said he plans to give his cash prize to his wife. He considered it a great honor for a junior faculty member to be recognized, and thanked his students.

“UNT has provided an excellent environment to grow academically,” Du said. “This is a recognition of my research as well as my group and students who have been working on the project.”

Psychology assistant professor John Ruiz, who has been at UNT since 2008, received the competitive funding award for receiving the largest faculty grant of the year, $1.6 million, for his research on psychosocial influences on the heart.

Ruiz said he plans to buy gifts for his colleagues with his cash prize, and hopes his research will contribute to therapy to relieve heart stress under various psychosocial influences.

“In some way, I hope this is just the beginning for my research,” Ruiz said. “So we can highlight the importance of stress and disease on our hearts.”
Burggren said these awards will only be beneficial for UNT and will hopefully boost faculty performances.

“I’m just excited to have this award system for our best and greatest researchers,” he said.

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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