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Faculty Awards

The essence of the College of Charleston resides in the talent, commitment and achievement of its faculty. Each year, at the end of the spring semester, the College recognizes outstanding faculty accomplishment and dedication in teaching, research and advising. The 2011-2012 awards are listed here.

The William R. Moore Distinguished Teacher-Scholar Award honors one faculty member who has done an exemplary job of integrating research into teaching over the course of a career and works closely with students on their own research to enrich their intellectual lives. The 2012 recipient, Pamela Riggs-Gelasco, is the chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She is emphatic about including undergraduates in all facets of her research, and has mentored over 30 students in summer research experiences. She enjoys teaching the full range of undergraduates, from freshmen to seniors. In her work, she has developed a learning community for pre-med students, an upper-level research course for biochemistry majors, and a seminar course on the biochemical basis of disease for senior biology and biochemistry majors. She also serves as program director for the College’s $1.5 million award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which supports research and science education initiatives. In addition, in 2007, she received a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award in the Chemical Sciences from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. Lastly, she currently holds the Membane Teaching Chair in Chemistry and Biochemistry in recognition of her outstanding efforts in the classroom.

The Distinguished Teaching Award honors a faculty member who has demonstrated a commitment to high standards and teaching excellence throughout his or her career. The 2012 honoree is Tracy Burkett, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. She specializes in research methods, political sociology and environmental sociology. In her 14 years at the College, she has taught a wide variety of courses including Social Network Analysis, Environmental Sociology, Political Sociology, and Contemporary Social Issues. She has directed the Minor in Environmental Studies Program since 2008 and teaches courses in that program. She also enjoys working with students on independent research projects, and is currently working with students to investigate the impact of urban agriculture on social capital formation and community development.

The Distinguished Research Award is given annually to a professor who has distinguished him or herself by way of research. Jon Hakkila, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has published 39 separate refereed papers, four books and book chapters, 61 conference proceedings, one article in a popular magazine and 56 abstracts. He has also received 37 externally funded grants (primarily from NASA and NSF) for a total of $1,969,283. His research methodologies involve the detection and classification of astronomical objects (using data mining and statistical tools), the role of instrumental biases and selection effects in time-series analyses, and analysis of global distributions of galactic and cosmological astronomical sources. He has used these tools to study cosmic gamma-ray bursts, which are energetic, beamed, supernova explosions. He has also been involved in the discovery that gamma-ray bursts are the most luminous objects in the universe. In addition, Dr. Hakkila has used data mining tools in gamma-ray-burst classification, and has played a key role in exploring the pulsed nature of gamma-ray-burst emission.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes the contributions of a colleague who, beyond their required duties, has a sustained career of serving the college community in an outstanding and distinguished manner. Mitchell Colgan, chair of the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, is this year’s recipient. He has demonstrated tremendous generosity in time and effort as a contributor to a summer remote-site field course. In addition, he significantly supported efforts to develop the new Natural History Museum at the College, which has seen over 10,000 visitors since it’s opening in April 2010. In addition, he played a key role in developing the Master’s in Environmental Studies degree program. Further, he led efforts to obtain grants from NASA that have contributed over $10 million to the construction of the College’s new science building, and he served as a founding director for the South Carolina Space Grant program.

The Distinguished Advising Award honors those faculty members who have demonstrated a sustained dedication to students, assisting them with all aspects of academic advising. This year, two individuals were honored with the award: Scott Peeples in the Department of English and Jeffrey Wragg in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Peeples is an associate professor who has taught 17 different courses in his 20 years at the College. He specializes in antebellum American literature and the work of Edgar Allen Poe in particular. From 1999 to 2006 he coordinated the American Studies program, and currently serves as Associate Chair of the English department. Wragg is an associate professor who teaches the full spectrum of courses in the department and also organizes the research poster session for the School of Sciences and Mathematics. He has been to China several times and spent a semester there teaching at Fuling Normal University in 2006. His academic background has enabled him to excel in advising students.