Newswise — The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University has named recipients for its 2020-2021 awards for faculty and staff.

In total, the Eberly College recognized 11 individuals across four categories for their talent, commitment and service to the College and WVU.

“This year, more than any other, required us to rely on one another as we navigated working and living in new circumstances,” said Gregory Dunaway, dean of the Eberly College. “Regardless, the Eberly College’s faculty and staff persevered, and these honorees exceeded all expectations in their commitment to our students and our wider community. I cannot thank them enough for how they exemplify our values of respect, curiosity, inclusivity and service.”

Outstanding Staff Awards

Erica Bentley is the director of pre-award services in the Eberly College Office of Research. Her colleagues acknowledge her proactive and detail-oriented approach to creating budgets for grant proposals. 

“Erica is an outstanding representation of WVU values. Her communications and work are always timely, clear and thorough. She treats me with respect and is highly motivating,” said Melissa Blank, an associate professor of psychology. “Not surprisingly, the writing and submission of grants is stressful and sometimes disheartening. She understands not only numbers but research design and logistics. I can throw out some estimates and ideas for the basics and know that she will come back with an airtight plan for the funds and how they will be used. I can always count on Erica to bring a smile to my face, which is a small way to make a big impact during those trying times.” 

Mison Beondy-Dean is a program specialist in the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics. In this role, she manages the department’s main office and budget, including purchasing equipment and overseeing needs related to the building and technology.

“I have been at WVU for over 40 years and have had the pleasure of working with many wonderful, effective administrative staff. Mison has outperformed them all in terms of her efficiency, attitude and professionalism,” said Professor of French Janice Spleth. “In a culturally diverse department of around 100 international faculty and graduate assistants, she is always cheerful and helpful. Her ability to communicate effectively in our miniature United Nations has been awesome. Since she is often the first person that new students and visitors meet, it is reassuring to know that the initial impression of the department will be overwhelmingly positive and so well represented.”

Joy Green joined the Department of Communication Studies nine years ago. As a program assistant, she supports several administrative aspects of the department, including graduate student programming, extra credit research opportunities for undergraduate students and coordinating logistics of practicum courses. 

“Joy is always willing to help anyone who needs assistance, whether it is a student, a staff person or a faculty member. If Joy does not have an answer to a question for a student, she finds the answer quickly,” said Matthew Martin, professor of communication studies. “Students frequently let me know how helpful and valuable Joy is and how quickly she attends to their needs. Our students are online, but I have witnessed many students come visit the office to meet ‘Joy’ – the person who guided and nurtured them during their time at WVU.” 

Outstanding Teacher Awards

Susana Donaldson is a teaching associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. During her time at WVU, she has reached students through numerous roles, including a teaching assistant professor, undergraduate advising specialist, director of undergraduate studies and a faculty affiliate for the Honors College’s EXCEL program

“I can attest to the personal impact that Donaldson has had on our students and the department as a whole. Within each of these roles she embodies the teaching mission of Eberly College – to promote the full development of the student as an individual and as a member of society,” said Lindsay Kahle Semprevivo, a teaching assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. “Overall, Donaldson demonstrates both excellence in teaching and – especially with the current onset of COVID-19 – exceptional innovation in instruction.” 

Alan Goodboy is a professor and the doctoral graduate studies coordinator in the Department of Communication Studies. He is committed to exceptional advising and mentorship of graduate students. 

“It is Goodboy's role as a mentor for these graduate students that distinguishes his teaching performance from his peers,” said Scott Myers, chair of the Department of Communication Studies. “Through his teaching, he embodies the mentor role and actively supports, encourages and promotes our students' personal, educational and professional development. It does not matter whether the student is one of his graduate advisees or a student enrolled in one of our graduate programs. If a student seeks his assistance, Goodboy is willing to help.”

Hal Gorby is a teaching assistant professor and the coordinator of undergraduate advising in the Department of History. For the 2020-2021 academic year, he was selected as a Teaching and Learning Commons faculty associate. Gorby is known for his student-centered approach and innovative course design. 

“Gorby is devoted to helping our students succeed, thoughtfully designing classes and being dynamic in the classroom,” said Kate Staples, chair of the Department of History chair. “Like many departments and units on campus, we have been experimenting with the ways to better serve our students and meet their needs. Gorby volunteered to spearhead this initiative, and his leadership is crucial.”

Outstanding Researcher Awards

Mason Moseley, assistant professor of political science, recently published two books on the interactions between citizens and political regimes. 

“Protest State: The Rise of Everyday Contention in Latin America” (Oxford University Press, 2018) considers how protests are a daily form of political participation in certain democracies but not others. “Life in the Political Machine: Dominant-Party Enclaves and the Citizens They Produce” (Oxford University Press, 2020) discusses how local politics shape broader political attitudes and behavior. 

“I seek to understand how institutional context influences the political lives of everyday people and how these cross-level processes in turn strengthen or undermine democracy,” Mosely said. “My research in comparative political behavior has explored the root causes of mass mobilization in protests, political attitudes and participation among individuals who reside within local political machines and sources of variation in citizen support for basic tenets of democracy.” 

Jason Phillips, Eberly Professor of Civil War Studies in the Department of History, seeks to understand how ordinary Americans faced uncertainties during the Civil War Era and how people’s responses to the conflict changed society and culture. He explores these questions in his latest book, “Looming Civil War: How Nineteenth-Century Americans Imagined the Future” (Oxford University Press, 2018).                                

“The importance of this research transcends Civil War history in several ways,” Phillips said. “By shifting the historian’s gaze from the past to futures past, the book offers a model for how to analyze the diverse time periods of past societies. It also presents a case study for cultural explanations of warfare and other major events by showing how irrational forecasts shape the causes and contingencies of history.” 

In the last decade, forensic science research has shifted toward the creation of technology for more cost-effective and faster solutions for crime scene investigation while increasing the objectivity and reliability of the data. The Department of Forensic and Investigative Science’s Tatiana Trejos is leading these efforts. She has developed ways to analyze and interpret gunshot residue evidence at crime scenes. 

“Since WVU’s doctoral program in forensic science was launched in 2016, I have shaped its development of cutting-edge research with a strong foundation in statistics and raised its international recognition, which has the potential to lead to more standardized practices in the field,” said Trejos, an assistant professor of forensic and investigative science. “My ultimate goal is to play a key role in international efforts

to develop methods that enhance the trace evidence reliability and efficiency, providing the justice system with streamlined processes with fewer errors and delays.”

Outstanding Service Awards

Melissa Bingmann, director and associate professor of public history, has single-handedly reintroduced National History Day in the state of West Virginia after lapsing since 2000. This program promotes the value of history to students and teachers throughout West Virginia through programming like a statewide-contest, guest speakers and more. WVU graduate students assist in coordinating the contest and serve as judges, and the experience makes them highly competitive for future employment.

Since relaunching the program in 2016, 18 to 30 West Virginia high school students have participated each year, getting the opportunity to travel and present their research projects at the National History Day event.

“I am passionate about this program because of the benefits it brings to WVU and the Department of History,” Bingmann said. “This program supports WVU’s land-grant mission, helps introduce West Virginia high school students to the WVU campus and provides a professional development opportunity for our graduate students.”

Jessica Hoover, associate professor of chemistry, has combined science and art in a public outreach project that addresses “chemophobia” in this age of suspicion of science and the labeling of research as fake news. Since 2016, Hoover’s Community Engagement in Science Through Art project has involved students in science outreach, communication and artistic and engineering design to create interactive science and art displays accessible to the public.

“The public distrust of science and the denial of its role in enabling technological and societal advances seem to be influenced more by the media than by education,” Hoover said. “CESTA is a cross-disciplinary summer program held at WVU designed to bring chemistry to the Morgantown community in a format that is fun, interesting, educational and beautiful. The public can interact and engage with chemistry on an emotional level, allowing the sculptures to generate intrigue and curiosity instead of fear and distrust. The outpouring of community and media interest in this program suggests promise for the opportunity to use art to improve the public’s relationship with chemistry.”