2014 Faculty Awardees

The Italia-Eire Foundation Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award
William Wuest, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry

Working with student researchers, Dr. Wuest’s work aims toward developing the next generation of antibiotics. In 2014, one of his students received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Wuest is an innovator in the classroom, using Socrative, an iPhone app that allows students to instantly share answers and give feedback during class. There are also Jeopardy-like games and chemistry-themed music videos. Working with a nonprofit afterschool program, Wuest launched Project GISMO, short for Generating Interest in the Scientific Method through Outreach.

The Dean’s Distinguished Excellence in Mentoring Award
Irina Mitrea, Professor, Department of Mathematics

Dr. Mitrea has brought several successful K-12 outreach initiatives to CST, including Girls and Mathematics, which has reached more than 150 Philadelphia-area middle-school students. The program has provided a unique opportunity for Temple undergraduate and graduate students to develop leadership and outreach skills. Her impact on undergraduate students also includes organizing Temple’s participation in the International Mathematical Modeling Competition. She is active in the undergraduate mathematics club, and helps undergraduates participate in regional mathematics conferences. She involves graduate students directly in her research, helping them develop professional skills and preparing them to participate in first-rate mathematics research conferences.

The Dean’s Distinguished Excellence in Mentoring Award
Wendy Urban, Instructor, Department of Computer & Information Sciences

As the Information Science & Technology academic advisor, Urban helps her students examine their strengths and weaknesses and guides them toward optimal academic and career paths. She initiated a program that pairs students new to the major with upperclassmen. She also mentors students for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, a lifealtering event for many students. Several students who have attended have gone on to secure jobs with Microsoft and other leading companies. She also has helped secure scholarship funding from Vanguard to support students attending the conference.

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Ilya Buynevich, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth & Environmental Science

Dr. Buynevich teaches physical geology, process geomorphology and coastal processes. He works closely with undergraduates as both a mentor of students in the Undergraduate Research Program and as the department representative to CST’s Science Scholar Program. Since joining Temple in 2009, he has supervised five master’s students, three of whom are pursuing doctoral degrees in the field of geosciences. His research focuses on geological records of extreme events and animal-substrate interaction using geomorphological, sedimentological, geophysical and geoarchaeological methods.

The William Caldwell Memorial Distinguished Teaching Award funded by Seda Tarzian (BS ’48, Bio)
Erik Cordes, Associate Professor, Department of Biology

Since joining Temple in 2008, Dr. Cordes’ undergraduate courses have included, Experimental Marine Biology, Marine Ecology and Honors Introductory Biology. His undergraduates have presented research posters at semester-end symposia at Temple, and a number of them earned scholarships and participated in the Undergraduate Research Program. He also has taught four different graduate seminars, including Deep-Sea Biology, which provide advanced instruction to students pursuing research. Several of his students have accompanied him on a research voyage in the Gulf of Mexico, spending time in a submersible to study deep-sea coral.

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
David Grandstaff, Professor, Department of Earth & Environmental Science

Dr. Grandstaff joined Temple University as an instructor in 1973, earned the rank of professor in 1987 and twice served as chair of the department. He teaches introductory geology, geochemistry and two graduate geochemistry courses. He often uses the Socratic method, continually questioning his students. His research includes using rare earth elements and other geochemical tools to better understand the depositional and diagenetic environment of fossilization and taphonomy of vertebrate remains.

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Eugene Kwatny, Professor, Department of Computer & Information Sciences

Dr. Kwatny joined the department in 1979. He has conducted numerous independent studies with undergraduate students in his career at Temple. He developed and manages a peer-tutoring program and has made major contributions to both undergraduate and graduate curriculum and program development. While his own research interests include real-time, distributed systems; laboratory automation; and biomedical signal processing, Kwatny mentors student researchers and serves on dissertation committees. He also oversees the department’s co-op program and meets with students weekly to discuss their experiences.

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Christopher Pascucci, Instructor, Department of Computer & Information Sciences

A 2004 Temple Information Science & Technology graduate, Christopher Pascucci joined the department as an instructor in 2006. His teaching is varied, including large service courses, programming courses and advanced courses in the IS&T major. In addition to outstanding contributions in the classroom, he is a member of several committees: Cyberspace, which is responsible for curriculum development, textbook review, course assessment and re-certification; Outreach, which is responsible for establishing relationships with high schools and community colleges; and IS&T Undergraduate, which oversees curriculum development for undergraduate degree programs.

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Elena Ya Vishik, Assistant Professor (Instructional), Department of Mathematics

Dr. Vishik, who joined the Department of Mathematics as a teaching assistant in 1996, became an assistant professor (instructional) in 2007. She is the undergraduate calculus course coordinator, overseeing all of the course sections and designing syllabi, coursework, midterms and final examinations. In 2011, she earned the Department of Mathematics teaching award. Her fields of interests include compact homogeneous spaces of Lie groups and invariant affine connections.

The Dean’s Distinguished Award for Excellence in Research
Rongjia Tao, Professor, Department of Physics

Dr. Tao’s research deals with the viscosity and turbulence in liquid suspensions such as crude oil, blood and molten chocolate. He has developed new physical models and invented new technologies that significantly reduce the viscosity and suppress the turbulence in these fluids. His technology is on the verge of revolutionizing the way crude oil is being transported, with tremendous economical and societal impacts. As physics chair from 2007 to 2014, the department experienced an extraordinary rise in the number of faculty, research publications and research funding.