Faculty, deans and staff at St. Edward’s are frequently praised for the expertise and contributions they bring to their fields and teaching. In 2019 alone, they’ve received prestigious awards, written viewpoints for the media on current events, and shared research and perspectives with the public on topics they’re passionate about. Here’s a roundup of some of their impressive achievements this year.
Distinguished Young Researcher
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) selected Raychelle Burks, assistant professor of Chemistry, as a 2019 Young Observer. Burks is one of 12 professionals to be recognized at the 50th IUPAC General Assembly and 47th World Chemistry Congress in Paris, France, in July 2019. The Young Observer Program introduces the work of IUPAC to the best young researchers in the U.S., providing them opportunities to collaborate with internationally acclaimed scientists to address global science policy issues.
Global Marketing Award
Juli James, assistant professor of Marketing, was recognized with a 2019 Marketo Revvie Award from Adobe for her work with Marketo’s marketing automation software platform. She was named Marketo Champion of the Year for her many accomplishments, including contributing to the Champion Tips and Tricks video series and participating in the Marketo customer mentor program pilot. James has taught and trained Marketo and marketing automation to more than 200 students at St. Edward’s, many of who have gone on to work in Marketo-specific roles.
Literary Honor Society
2019 Texas Poet Laureate and novelist Carrie Fountain, writer-in-residence at St. Edward’s, was elected as a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, an honor society that celebrates Texas literature and recognizes distinctive achievements across all literary genres. Her award-winning work includes two volumes of poetry, Burn Lake and Instant Winner, as well as a young-adult novel. Fountain also hosts a weekly KUT radio program and podcast, This Is Just to Say, in which she talks with acclaimed poets about their poetry.
Head Coach Andre Cook led the St. Edward’s men’s basketball team to a record 30 wins in 2018–2019. The Hilltoppers snagged the Heartland Conference Regular Season title, Heartland Conference Tournament Championship and advanced to the NCAA Regional Final, while being ranked as high as #2 nationally. The record-setting season resulted in four coach-of-the-year awards for Cook in 2019, including the national Clarence Gains Award from CollegeInsider.com given to the most outstanding men’s college basketball head coach in NCAA Division II.
Excellence in Academic Advising
Helping college students navigate their academic and career decisions requires strong interpersonal and advising skills. Lindsey Taucher ’94, an advising specialist in the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences, has been recognized for taking that responsibility to heart. Taucher received a 2019 Merit Award for excellence in professional academic advising from NACADA, the National Academic Advising Association. The award honors advisors who meet NACADA’s rigorous measures, such as building strong relationships with advisees and contributing to student success rates.
Promoter of Civics Education
David Thomason, assistant professor of Political Science, and his colleague Jamie Carroll, a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin, co-wrote an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman encouraging the passage of two civics education bills before the 2019 Texas Legislature. In their article, they make the case that mandatory civics education will prepare “citizens who are ready to tackle challenges in their community, to understand how to work collaboratively with government, and to hold their elected officials accountable to the needs of their community.” Students in Thomason’s Political Science class actively lobbied for the bills.
Advocate for Migrant Women
Laurie Cook Heffron, assistant professor of Social Work, wrote an article about the emotional and physical toll that pursuing asylum takes on Central American women and their children. Her research reveals that migrant women fleeing violence experience more trauma while being detained for seeking asylum. Cook Heffron’s article originated in The Conversation, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. It also appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News. Her work is informing advocacy programs and policy makers of the violence and abuse facing this population.
Protector of LGBTQ Youth
Adam McCormick, professor of Social Work, and his student Meagan Biscamp penned an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News asserting that Senate Bill 17, which allows state-licensed workers to deny services based on their religious beliefs, would be detrimental to LGBTQ youth. McCormick and Biscamp argued that the bill, introduced and passed during the 2019 Texas Legislative Session, will limit mental health services for LGBTQ youth, who are far more vulnerable to depression, self-harm and suicide than most any other group of young people.
Campaigner for an Education Degree
When the 86th Texas Legislative Session wrapped up on May 27, 2019, a little known House Bill stood solidly in the “passed” column. HB 3217 allows students who attend universities and colleges to once again graduate with a bachelor’s degree in education, which surprisingly, they have not been able to do since 1979. Why, you may wonder? Glenda Ballard, dean of the School of Human Development and Education, sheds light on this topic in her article in the Austin American-Statesman: “Will an Education Degree Become New Again?”, published prior to the House vote.
Champion of Citizen Science
For Gary Morris, dean of the School of Natural Sciences, every person can play a role in the advancement of scientific discovery, often in their own backyard. In recognition of Nation Citizen Science Day on April 13, Morris penned an op-ed for the Austin American-Statesman about citizen science and why all Texans should be involved. He offers examples of ways everyone can engage in this popular pursuit, such as recording observations of plant life, animal migrations, weather patterns and night-sky brightness. These projects invite the public to collect, share and analyze data, both to learn more about their world and to contribute to scientific research.
Expert in Video Game Quality
Robert Denton Bryant, director of Video Game Development, was invited by Quantic Lab to speak at Game Quality Forum Global in Amsterdam in June. The forum brings together industry leaders from around the world to discuss all aspects of the game quality lifecycle, from development, to release, to live support. Bryant’s presentation, “From Hardcore Gamers to Hardcore Testers: How to Hire and Manage the Best Team,” revealed innovative methods for improving recruitment and retention efforts, and retaining the best testers. In this recent article, he talks about The Wizard of Oz, breaking into the video game business and getting more women into the field.
Collector of Oral History
When St. Edward’s hosted the eighth annual Texas Oral History Association conference in April, Jena Heath, along with colleagues from other university libraries in Texas, presented the voices, essays, photographs and videos from her oral history project, Our China Stories. Inspired by her adopted daughter from China, Heath, an associate professor of Journalism and Digital Media, launched the ongoing digital storytelling project in 2016 to chronicle the experiences of Chinese adoptees. The project is housed at the Munday Library at St. Edward’s. Prior to the conference, Heath shared insights on the value of oral history in her article in the Austin American-Statesman.