Faculty Award Winners (2018)
St. Thomas Aquinas Excellence in Teaching
Dr. Shivas Amin
Associate Professor of Biology
“I say this with full confidence that Dr. Amin has a rare, incredible talent to convert a small introduction science class to the discovery of the truths of nature and life,” a student nominator said.
Dr. Amin has restructured his introductory biology class using active, inquiry-based pedagogy that encourages students to discover biology for themselves. He has designed all of his classes to incorporate inquiry-based learning and received positive student feedback. Dr. Amin also advises many undergraduate biology and bioinformatics students, and mentors all STEM students as the HIS-STEM Project Director.
Joseph M. McFadden – Excellence in Service
Dr. Kristina Leyden
Assistant Professor of Nursing
“Dr. Leyden exemplifies extraordinary service and outstanding dedication to UST, the Peavy School of Nursing and each individual nursing student,” a student nominator said.
She has volunteered with Freshman Symposium, organized a mission trip to Honduras as a high impact teaching practice, mentored student honor societies and mentored nursing students throughout their time at UST and beyond. In the broader UST community, she serves on multiple campus committees, including the Curriculum Committee, the VPAA search committee and the Call Toward Tomorrow’s strategic thinking oversight committee.
SAINT Edith Stein – Excellence in Research
Dr. Steven Jensen
Professor of Philosophy
Director of the Center for Thomistic Studies
“In the past three years, Dr. Jensen has published three books, multiple journal articles and several book reviews. He has also given many scholarly presentations, served on the editorial board of several journals and directed several Ph.D. dissertations,” a faculty nominator said. As one book reviewer stated, “His scholarship on Thomas Aquinas is impeccable.”
Chemistry Professor Wins Professional Chemist Mentor Award
University of St. Thomas Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Javoris Hollingsworth received the 2018 Mentor on the Map Award from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers on Sept. 20. According to NOBCChE, the award is based on the dedication the recipient has shown to the educational development of others and the passion he has shown for STEM.
While a senior in high school, Hollingsworth received the Gates Millennium Scholarship, a full-paid scholarship that provides “an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential.” Hollingsworth now serves as a Gates Ambassador and hosts information sessions for students interested in attending college—an example of his mentorship work that the award recognizes.
Communication Professor Discusses Flawed Forensics in the Justice System at Harvard
UST Communication Professor Nicole Casarez, J.D., participated in a panel discussion on flawed forensics in the justice system on Oct. 25 at Harvard Law School. The event was jointly presented by ProPublica and the Houston Institute. The discussion was inspired by the ongoing series by reporter Pamela Colloff, tracing how blood-spatter analysis—a forensic discipline with little grounding in science—became entrenched in the criminal justice system in the 1990s and 2000s.
This discussion shined a light not only on blood-spatter analysis but other forensic disciplines (hairs, bite marks, shoe and tire impressions, handwriting and even fingerprints) that a 2009 National Academy of Sciences report warned were not as scientific as they purported to be. The conversation also examined what the path toward reform looks like. Casarez, who is an attorney, was chosen because of her work with the Houston Innocence Project, where under her inspiring guidance, death row inmate Anthony Graves was exonerated and freed in 2010.
Accounting Professor Wins Contribution to Teaching Award
Associate Professor of Accounting Dr. John E. Simms received the Best Contribution to Teaching Award from the American Accounting Association in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 5. Simms was given this prestigious award for his paper, “Teaching Accounting Ethics using Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” a study focused on connecting Catholic ethics and accounting compliances. When the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act, was passed in 2002, Simms noticed a shift in the teaching of accounting; Ethics became crucial to the materials being taught. This shift inspired Simms to look for ways to evolve accounting ethics to more than just compliance. Simms used common themes between Catholic teaching and accounting compliances such as integrity and impartiality as bridges between the two sets of values.