Faculty recognized for achievements

McDaniel College Chemistry professor Rick Smith, pictured conducting genealogy research in an African American cemetery.
August 28, 2012

Chemistry professor Rick Smith, pictured conducting genealogy research in an African American cemetery, is among faculty recognized for their numerous scholarly pursuits, often in collaboration with students, earning them recognition in their fields.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, McDaniel faculty received 24 professional awards, attended 129 professional conferences, gave 149 lectures and presentations, and published 16 books, 52 articles and 62 newspaper pieces. Many of these were collaborative projects, with students as co-researchers and co-publishers, including 262 separate faculty-student research collaborations.

At the opening faculty meeting, Professor of Chemistry Rick Smith was awarded the Faculty Special Achievement Award for reinventing himself as a scholar to pursue not simply a new research topic but an entirely different field after decades of successful laboratory research, support from major grants and a long list of publications in anti-cancer and anti-AIDS drug design. Smith might easily have rested on his laurels, but instead began studying the genealogy of 18th and 19th century African Americans in Accomack County, Va.

Making use of the historical materials available – public records, personal materials and old cemeteries, augmented at times by oral accounts from living descendants – Smith devoted himself to increasing knowledge of the large populations of slaves and freed blacks whose lives and experiences left few traces in the official records. The results have been published in columns in newspapers, in books and exhibitions.

He now has focused his research attention on 16 black cemeteries in Frederick County, Md., and recently took students in his “Discovering Your Past” Jan Term course with him to work at the Mount Olive Methodist Episcopal Church Cemetery near New Windsor. Smith’s new knowledge is shared with descendants, with local communities, with his student collaborators and with the world through his websites AccomacRoots.com and FrederickRoots.com.

Faculty were also recognized during the opening faculty meeting with awards for books, scholarly publications, creativity and grants. Among the professors receiving book awards at Professors of Foreign Languages Thomas Deveny and Mohamed Esa, L. Stanley Bowlsbey Chair in Education and Graduate and Professional Studies and Professor of Education Francis “Skip” Fennell, Adjunct Lecturer in Writing for Children and Young Adults certificate program Lisa Graff, Professor of English Emeritus Leroy Panek and Professor of Political Science and International Studies Herb Smith.

Those professors recognized with Scholarly Publications awards are Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies Anouar Boukhars, Professor of Foreign Languages Thomas Deveny, Associate Professor of Computer Science Sara Miner More and Associate Professor of Computer Science Pavel Naumov.

Creativity Awards went to Associate Professor of Communication Richard Brett for his screenplay “Love is Blind,” Associate Professor of Communication Robert Lemieux for the exhibit “Kings of the Pages: Comic Strips & Culture 1895-1950,” Adjunct Lecturer in Music Mark Lortz for original compositions, Associate Professor of Art and Art History Steven Pearson for three solo exhibits and one group exhibit, and Associate Professor of Communication Jonathan Slade for his documentary “Historic Barns of Maryland.”

Two professors received Faculty Grants Awards. Professor of English Pamela Regis was recognized for two grants of $100,000 each from the Nora Roberts Foundation to support the work of serious academic scholars of romance literature, to further the acceptance of romance as a genre, to build a permanent American romance collection in Hoover Library and to support an international conference on popular romance as well as to establish the Nora Roberts Center for American Romance at McDaniel College, a master class for scholars of American romance and the Nora Roberts Fund in support of the Center for Experience and Opportunity.

Professor of Library Science Ramona Kerby received a $240,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to address the critical shortage of school librarians in underserved Maryland regions.   

Click here for a listing of faculty awards.

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