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Five LSUS members recognized at outstanding faculty awards

: LSUS faculty members Dr. Jemin Kim, Melinda Caddel, Dr. Urska Cvek, Dr. Margaret Gifford and Dr. Roger Zhao were recognized for their excellence Monday at the LSUS Outstanding Faculty Awards.

Five LSUS faculty members were honored at the University’s Outstanding Faculty Awards ceremony Monday at the Noel Memorial Library. Three awards were given for teaching excellence with one research and one service award.

Dr. Urska Cvek received the research award, Dr. Margaret Gifford received the service award, and teaching awards were earned by Melinda Cassel, Dr. Jemin Kim and Dr. Roger Zhao. The Research and Faculty Development Grant Committee reviewed the nominations and selected the winners. Each winner received a $6,000 award.

Cvek, a computer science professor, holds the Lisa Burke Bioinformatics Endowed Professorship. “(Cvek) has a unique multidisciplinary background, expertise and insight that spans more than 20 years,” read one of her nominations. “She has been initiating, planning, developing, and executing research projects independently and with collaborators in multidisciplinary teams that have resulted in grant-funded proposals and publications by faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students.” One such example is partnering with LSU Health Shreveport personnel to secure a large grant for research to lower costs for Louisiana Medicaid patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Gifford is an assistant psychology professor is credited with significant growth in the program.

“(Gifford) put a huge effort into recruiting, advising and mentoring,” one nomination read. “Additionally, she developed an internship class for our undergraduates, which is a standout learning experience for our students to apply classroom concepts to the real world in local clinic settings. Accomplishing this is no light task.”

Cassel spends time outside of the classroom to make sure her students grasp the math material. “(Cassel) is the first to arrive and last to leave almost every day,” read her nomination. “Students love her as a teacher, mentor, and as a support. “She works with departments like the Student Success Center/Initiatives, Academic Affairs, and each member of our department to help our students in every possible way.”

Kim has developed meaningful relationships with students and faculty alike.

“(Kim) generously shares his knowledge and expertise with his colleagues, embodying qualities such as hard work, genuine enthusiasm, and effective communication essential for academic success,” his nomination read. “His encouragement of individual responsibility and adeptness at engaging students who may otherwise feel discouraged further underscore his effectiveness as an educator.”

Zhao has evaluated and strengthened the computer science department’s curriculum among other achievements. “(Zhao’s) impact on our program has been profound, and he’s hit the ground running,” his nomination read. “He identified the areas for improvement within our curriculum and took decisive action to revitalize it.”

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