They are inspirational teachers and notable scholars whose work expands the reputation of the university and guides student research paths. They are mentors who become sources of personal and professional support for students who are far from home or having personal or educational challenges during their graduate careers. They’re regarded as faculty members devoted to student success and who routinely become lifelong professional-world advocates.
Those attributes, and many more, are the basis for why nine Syracuse University professors have been named as Excellence in Graduate Education Faculty Award recipients. The 2022 honorees are:
- Patrick W. Berry, associate professor of writing, rhetoric and composition in the College of Arts and Sciences;
- Carol Fadda, associate professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences;
- George Kallander, associate professor and director of the history department’s graduate studies program in the Maxwell School;
- Shannon Monnat, associate professor of sociology and Lerner Chair for Public Health Promotion in the Maxwell School;
- Shikha Nangia, associate professor of biomedical and chemical engineering and bioengineering graduate program director in the College of Engineering and Computer Science;
- S.P. Raj, Distinguished Professor and chair of marketing and director of the M.S. in Marketing program in the Whitman School of Management;
- Theresa Singleton, professor of anthropology in the Maxwell School;
- Sara Vasilenko, assistant professor of human development and family science in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, and
- Bei Yu, associate professor and program director of the Ph.D. program in information science and technology in the School of Information Studies.
Each year, the Graduate School recognizes faculty whose teaching and mentoring contribute significantly to graduate education at Syracuse University. Candidates are evaluated for the awards based on the supportive environments they create for graduate research and scholarship; superior teaching and advising practice and responsible professional conduct; enhancement of students’ academic and professional skills; and how they help students pursue employment and professional success. Students’ and associates’ attestations letters nominating this year’s award winners also typically reference an added dimension: faculty that are reliable, relatable resources providing individual support for students who are experiencing personal-life difficulties or facing educational-goal challenges.
Patrick W. Berry researches literacy narratives, digital media and production and community outreach. His recent book, “Doing Time, Writing Lives: Refiguring Literacy and Mass Incarceration,” which analyzes the teaching of college writing in U.S. prisons, earned the Conference on Community Writing’s 2019 Outstanding Book in Community Writing Award. His nominator (Ph.D. student Zackery R. Muñoz) recalled how Berry pushed him to attend a writing conference, recommended his work to an editor and connected with him regularly over Zoom during 2020 as Muñoz faced being 2,000 miles from home, experienced the death of his mother and endured his first Syracuse winter amid the isolation of COVID lockdown.
Carol Fadda pursues research in Arab and Muslim American Studies, American Studies, critical race and ethnic studies, and transnational studies. In “Contemporary Arab-American Literature: Transnational Reconfigurations of Citizenship and Belonging,” she uses Arab American literary and visual texts from the 1990s and beyond to contest negative representations of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. Her current project, “Carceral States and Dissident Citizenships: Narratives of Resistance in an Age of “Terror,” highlights U.S. global carceral practices using Arab and Muslim citations of incarceration and confinement derived from the “War on Terror.” Her nominator (doctoral student Natalie El-Eid) credits Fadda with being a living example that spaces exist and can be forged so Arab women in academia can achieve success.
George Kallander is director of the history department’s graduate studies program and director of the East Asia program in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He teaches courses on Korea, Japan, the Korean War, East Asia and global history. Nominating Associate Professor Norman Kutcher references how much Kallander’s skills add to the department’s Asian history teaching team, broaden the reputation of the program and the University, and attract students. He calls Kallander a source of information “on a wide range of national histories and over a shockingly broad swath of time,” and cites his “extraordinary linguistic ability” of being proficient in Korean, Mongolian, Japanese and classical Chinese languages.
Shannon Monnat is a rural sociologist, demographer and population health scholar who researches demographic and geographic trends and differences in health and mortality, including how those differences explain drug use and overdose rates. Monnat also serves as director of the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, co-director of the Policy, Place and Population Health Lab, senior research associate at the Center for Policy Research and a research affiliate for the Aging Studies Institute. Student nominators (Joshua Grove and Yue Sun) note Professor Monnat’s strong mentorship, her facilitation of unique opportunities in graduate research and her well-organized and engaging lecture style.
Shikha Nangia studies the blood-brain barrier using theoretical and computational techniques, and how drug molecules transport across the blood-brain barrier. Her NSF-CAREER funded project looks for a cure for brain-related ailments such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Her group also focuses on computational multiscale modeling of nanomaterials, including nanomedicine, drug delivery nanocarriers and nano-bio interactions as a key to a new era of cancer treatment. Her nominator (Ph.D. student Katie Piston), says Monnat is “a fantastic teacher and mentor,” a “true scientist, creating innovative solutions to scientific problems,” and that her “resolute confidence…is what has guided me and allowed me to make it to the end” of the doctoral program.
S.P. Raj is director of the Earl V. Snyder Innovation Management Center. His research on marketing strategies, their influence on customer behavior, and managing new product development and innovation has been cited extensively. He has taught marketing strategy, marketing management, integrated marketing communications, marketing and the Internet and marketing research, and pioneered the use of multimedia in the classroom. His nominator (Marketing Ph.D. student Jaihyun Jeon) said Raj’s introduction of an innovative, dual-professor mentor program, facilitation of research opportunities and personal interest as he acclimated to a new country were instrumental to his student success.
Theresa Singleton researches historical archaeology, African diasporas, museums, and North American and the Caribbean life. She has contributed to exhibitions and published on various aspects of African American life in the United States, including a book on her studies of a coffee plantation and comparisons of plantation life in the Caribbean and the United States. She recently began research on slavery in Cuba. Her nomination, submitted by majority vote of the Anthropology Graduate Student Association, noted “intangible qualities that make graduate education better”—a sense of fulfillment, outstanding dedication to graduate students and being consistently there for her advisees” as the basis for her recommendation.
In her research, Sara Vasilenko focuses on adolescents and young adult health and wellbeing, including sexual behavior and its health risks and normative development. Vasilenko also researches sexual behavior at all ages and how it is associated with physical, mental and social health outcomes. She is also interested in developmental methodology, including longitudinal analysis and person-centered approaches. Her nominator (Corrine Blake) noted how Vasilenko started a structured research lab that was open to all students and how she has helped to foster student interest in research of all kinds.
Bei Yu studies natural language processing and computational social science. She examines how machine learning and natural language processing techniques can improve information quality, organization and access in the science and health domains. She recently researched exaggerated claims and misinformation in science news. Her nominator (doctoral student Yingya Li) points to the kind of teaching that makes Yu stand out: “Lectures that are very helpful with a nice combination of theoretical concepts and hands-on skills…clear expectations for what should be considered quality work…methods that can be directly applied to current practices in research and industry…very clear feedback for each assignment submitted.”