UC MagazineUniversity of CincinnatiUC Magazine

UC Magazine

University of Cincinnati 2011 Faculty Awards Winners

Entrepreneurial Faculty Achievement Award

Chong H. Ahn, PhD
Mitchell P. Kartalia Professor of Electrical Engineering
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Recognized internationally as one of the pioneers in the field of BioMEMS and lab-on-a-chip, Ahn has published more than 300 journal and peer-reviewed conference papers and obtained six U.S. patents.  In his 16 years at UC, he has managed more than $15 million in research funding from NSF, NIH and DARPA. To transfer the UC intellectual property and technologies developed from his UC research, he started Siloam Biosciences, Inc., in 2004. In 2009, UC presented Ahn with the Emerging Entrepreneur Award.

Today, his company has successfully launched Optimiser™, the next generation of a 96-well microtiter plate, a standard tool in analytical research and clinical diagnostic testing laboratories. Optimiser will provide cost-effective, quantum-leap performances for immunoassays, ELISA and IVD through innovative microfluidics. With an 8,000 square-foot of manufacturing facility in Cincinnati's Forest Park, Siloam partnered with UC in 2010 to obtain a $3.0 million grant for the Ohio Center for Microfluidic Innovation (OCMI) for advancing microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip technologies.

George Barbour Award for Good Faculty-Student Relations

Mary S. Benedetti, EdD
Associate Professor, Literacy & Second Language Studies
College of Education, Criminal Justice & Human Services

“I have the best job in the world. I get paid to talk about topics I love, with people who want to listen to me.”  Benedetti began teaching at UC in 1987 and earned her doctorate from UC in 1998. She is director of the center that oversees all English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) courses at UC. The program provides English instruction to international or immigrant students who have been accepted into a graduate or undergraduate program and need additional support for skills such as oral presentation, dissertation writing or general undergraduate writing. She also prepares students in the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) program.

Students say their connections with her remain strong in the years following graduation. Benedetti says the key is to recognize that the term, “student” is temporary. “They are colleagues and they are mothers and fathers who at this point in their lives happened to choose to become students.”

The award is named for a geology professor and world adventurer who was dean of the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences from 1938-1958. The award has been a UC tradition since his students created the honor upon his retirement.

“I love what I do,” says Benedetti. “This award is such a wonderful affirmation of all my years here. Usually, my students make me proud. Sometimes, they exasperate me. But always, always, they remain mine.”

Faculty Award for Exemplary Contributions in Service

John Cuppoletti, PhD
Professor, Molecular & Cell Physiology
College of Medicine

It makes perfect sense that, during his 25 years of leadership and service at UC, Cuppoletti spent almost 15 years as a volunteer firefighter in the suburb of Greenhills.

“I learned a lot of leadership there,” says Cuppoletti, who put those skills to good use in a number of positions including chair of the Faculty Senate, chair of the Ohio Faculty Council and president of the Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors.

Colleagues say they may not always agree with him, but in the end he stays focused on reaching a consensus. As Cuppoletti puts it, “I am outspoken, and I generally speak my own mind—but when I’m representing other people I also remember that I’m representing them.”

Cuppoletti has been particularly active in the areas of tenure, academic freedom and due process and appropriate discipline. Fittingly enough, the Faculty Award for Exemplary Contributions in Service to the University was established by the Faculty Senate under Cuppoletti’s leadership.

Cuppoletti, whose undergraduate and doctoral degrees are from the University of California, Davis, joined the UC faculty in 1986 along with his wife and research partner, Danuta Malinowska, PhD. He has received over $14 million in extramural grants over his career at UC, has 13 patents and has trained over 70 individuals from high school students to visiting international scientists.

Distinguished Research Professor

Jay Lee, DSc
L.W. Scott Alter Ohio Eminent Scholar in Advanced Manufacturing
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Lee joined UC in 2005 as an Ohio Eminent Scholar and L.W. Scott Alter Chair Professor in Advanced Manufacturing. The founding director of the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Intelligent Maintenance Systems, he has helped dozens of global companies partner with institutions from all over the world in a quest to develop prognostic technologies for smart predictive maintenance and reliability systems.

A fellow researcher describes Lee’s work as having transformed traditional reliability practices from “fail and fix” to a “predict and prevent” approach. Procter & Gamble alone estimates that Lee’s advances have resulted in more than $100 million of savings in productivity for their company. In less than six years, Lee and his research team — around two dozen PhD students and postdoctoral researchers — have brought in more than $5 million in research funding. He’s also tirelessly committed to teaching and nurturing both undergraduate and graduate students.

Not surprisingly, his courses fill up quickly, and distinctions from his college include both Professor of the Year and the Master Educator Award. Jay’s energy and enthusiasm are legendary and a big part of why his students go on to great success. He is truly a role model for manufacturing researchers.

Mrs. A.B. “Dolly” Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching

Rebecca Leugers, PT, MS
Assistant Professor, Physical Therapy
College of Allied Health Sciences

Leugers spent 12 years as a practicing physical therapist before coming to teach at UC's College of Allied Health Sciences, so she knows firsthand the challenges and joys of helping patients regain motor function after disease or injury.

As an assistant professor of rehabilitation sciences, she's made it her mission to ensure her students experience those ups and downs before they’re expected to treat neurological patients in a clinical situation.

Given that her classes typically fall before students’ clinical internship, Leugers has found a way to help them prepare for that next level in their education. Drawing from past patients and connections, she has developed a network of nearly 20 patient volunteers—all willing to share their experiences with a neuromuscular condition or injury, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, amputation and other impairments.

“It takes a while to develop that group of people who will come in year after year,” she says, “and who are willing to let the students fumble around with them and learn.”

Her carefully structured lessons have earned her wide praise from her students and colleagues. Those interactions, intended to show students the whole person behind a patient’s injuries, have taught her students empathy for their patients’ condition over sympathy for their limitations—and stem from Leugers’ own belief that the patient can do just as much to teach students as the professor.

Mrs. A.B. “Dolly” Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching

Colleen McTague, PhD
Assistant Professor, Geography
McMicken College of Arts & Sciences

Cincinnati is a laboratory of discovery for the students in McTague’s classes. Teaching courses in urban geography, Cincinnati and the Tri-State and political geography, McTague makes it a point to not rely on PowerPoint when her students are studying topics in UC’s backyard.

Whether it’s a field trip to Carew Tower, Cincinnati’s subways and recycling facilities or downtown homeless shelters, she brings geography to life for her students—and with rave reviews. Students enroll in multiple courses taught by McTague and many credit her with their decision to major in geography. Their praise comes not from an easy course load, but from McTague’s ability to push students to think critically.

She holds her students accountable by remembering all of their names and encouraging class participation. As a recent student said: “She makes a conscious effort to get to know her students; she learns everyone’s name, their major, their interests, and then makes use of this information to keep discussions engaging and personally relevant for the whole class.” Without McTague’s help tracking down scholarships, advising research projects, or even just chatting after class, multiple students agreed: earning a college degree may have never been possible.

Outstanding Adjunct Award

Eric W. Mueller, PharmD
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Pharmacy Practice & Administration
Winkle College of Pharmacy, College of Nursing

There’s always that one college course that students label as “killer”—and it’s usually a required course, meaning there’s no alternative if you want that degree. So why then is the intense (elective) course in critical care pharmacy taught by Mueller always full?

“It’s known as the ‘hardest elective’ in pharmacy school ... but Mueller’s love of pharmacy and teaching was evident in every slide and explanation. He made you want to learn the material because it just seemed so exciting,” one of Mueller’s former students, says in her recommendation that Mueller receive the 2011 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award.   

Mueller, a full-time critical care pharmacist at UC Health University Hospital, director of the critical care pharmacy residency there and coordinator of the college’s critical care pharmacy program, says he sees his role of adjunct professor and preceptor as an opportunity in itself. And his instructional reach extends to the UC College of Nursing, where he teaches psychopharmacology and pharmacology to graduate students in the advanced nurse practice track.
What he does, his peers and colleagues say, is afford doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students—and pharmacy residents rotating through the hospital’s critical care unit—experiences that will lead to confidence in the profession.

Faculty Award for Exemplary Contributions in Service

Cora K. Ogle, PhD
Research Professor, Surgery
College of Medicine

For Ogle it’s fun to “connect the dots” at the University of Cincinnati—to bring different faculty, staff, alumni and community members out of their shells and talking together.

A research professor in the College of Medicine’s burn surgery division, she enjoys introducing colleagues to the variety of life at the university. She’ll take them with her to CCM jazz concerts and Bearcat athletic events, work with students on the Cincinnati May Festival and fund her own trips to reach out to donors and alumni.

“I’ve been here 38 years and things change all the time,” she says. “But people get too isolated, even in their own department—they don’t realize there’s a whole big university out there, there’s other colleges, there are other campuses even.”

In almost 40 years teaching, she has mentored more than 40 medical students and trained more than 35 fellows in her lab. But Ogle’s dedication to UC shows in her service outside her own academic interests. She is a four-time co-chair of the UC Foundation’s Proudly Cincinnati Faculty/Staff Campaign, leading 2010’s record-breaking campaign that saw 3,309 donors contribute more than $4.6 million to needs and initiatives at UC. She has served on the Friends of CCM Board, worked in the athletics department fundraising and volunteered at student pep rallies and events.

Colleagues note Ogle’s seeming inability to stay by the sidelines—in whatever area she devotes herself to, she takes charge of her assignments and often furthers them with a leadership role.

George Rieveschl Jr. Award for Creative and/or Scholarly Works

Adrian L. Parr, PhD
Associate Professor, Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies/School of Architecture & Interior Design
McMicken College of Arts & Sciences, College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning

Since earning her PhD a mere nine years ago, Parr has worked tirelessly to turn a critical eye on everything from Leonardo Da Vinci and French philosopher Gilles Deleuze to corporations and the environment. With a background in social and political philosophy and ethics, Parr’s research stands at the intersection of social and political theory, critical theory, cultural studies, feminist theory and critical art theory.

She uses her theoretical foundation and passion for change to fuel her research in architecture and activism. In less than a decade, she has written and edited six books (another forthcoming) including “Deleuze and Memorial Culture,” “Hijacking Sustainability” and “Exploring the Work of Leonardo da Vinci within the Context of Contemporary Philosophical Thought and Art.”

She has also written for peer-reviewed publications on a number of topics, including Abu Ghraib, the Holocaust and national security. An internationally acclaimed scholar, Parr’s research is as well received as it is prolific. She has earned clamoring reviews for “Hijacking Sustainability,” a book that uncovers the manipulation of sustainability by corporations for profit, and her edited anthology “The Deleuze Dictionary” appears on the recommended reading list for graduate courses in a number of disciplines.

Innovative Uses of Technology in Teaching Award

Leigh M. Smith, PhD
Professor, Physics
McMicken College of Arts & Sciences

As distance-learning courses become the norm across universities, science and engineering classes have lagged behind due to the inherent hands-on nature of the courses. But with innovative and organized technologies already available to UC faculty, Smith has created a distance-learning environment that not only brings the virtual classroom to life, but with success rates mirroring those of in-person classes.

Using podcasts, a web-based math tutorial system, Just-in-Time Teaching questions, personal response clickers, and podcasted mini-lectures and demonstrations, Smith dedicates a great deal of energy organizing and synchronizing technology to better engage both in-class and distance-learning students. By uploading podcasts of his physics demonstrations, Smith gives students the opportunity to revisit class discussion from home. Personal response clickers help gauge understanding of a topic instantly from the lecture hall.

Smith also incorporates ALEKS, a web-based tutorial to help students struggling with math, as well as Just-in-Time Teaching—online questions due the night before a lecture to make students more accountable for reading assignments. These tools have proven to help students better understand the subjects of introductory physics, and have decreased withdrawal and failure rates. Such successes indicate the bright potential for integration of technologies in the classroom.

George Rieveschl Jr. Award for Distinguished Scientific Research

Peter J. Stambrook, PhD
Professor, Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry & Microbiology
College of Medicine

As an undergraduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, Stambrook, switched from engineering to biology because, as he puts it from the safe distance of several decades, “I couldn’t draw a straight line.”

That may have been the last time he took the easy way out. Stambrook is being honored for an approach that has typically led him away from the crowd as he sought insight into the mysteries of cancer.

The telltale phrases show up in his nomination letters for the award: “Contrary to dogma …”  “At a time when other investigators  …”  “Peter again is pushing the envelope.” And, in more than one letter, the C-word—in this case, creativity.
Stambrook disdains conventional wisdom.  “I tell my students and postdocs two things,” he says: “Don’t believe everything you read in the literature.  And data that don’t fit your hypotheses are very often the most exciting data, because those are the data that lead you in new directions.”

Questioning began early for Stambrook, who became interested in DNA replication and cell cycle regulation as a graduate student. He was the first to show that, in a vertebrate organism, the temporal sequence with which DNA duplicates itself can change during embryogenesis.

Stambrook’s current research focuses on a critical signaling pathway that responds to DNA damage.  He also has formed a collaboration with the UC Brain Tumor Center to develop novel cancer gene therapy approaches.

Distinguished Teaching Professor

George G. Suckarieh, PhD, PE
Professor, Construction Management
College of Engineering & Applied Science

After 32 years of outstanding teaching at the University of Cincinnati, one might suspect that Suckarieh would have settled on his favorite teaching methods by now. For Suckarieh, however, higher education is a “journey” and helping his Construction Management students arrive with excellence requires him to continually assess and learn old and new pedagogies.

Alumni describe him as a man with a passion for teaching who constantly seeks new ways to motivate his students. The enthusiastic educator has consistently brought fresh ideas to the classroom, both from industry contacts and from new initiatives in teaching methods. As a testament to his dedication, Suckarieh has given countless hours to service projects both locally and abroad while also mentoring many national award-winning teams as the longtime advisor to UC’s Student Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors.

In 2003, he was awarded the John Trimmer Award for Excellence in Teaching Construction Education by the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. One colleague offers this apt summation of Suckarieh’s career: “He has been a superb teacher to thousands of students, incorporating a special mix of knowledge, innovation and enthusiasm. He has left an imprint on the university to which all should aspire.”

Emerging Entrepreneurial Achievement Award

Georg F. Weber, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Winkle College of Pharmacy

A simple blood test can detect many conditions: diabetes, HIV, hepatitis, to name a few. However, there is no generic blood test to detect cancer ... yet.  But one need only look to cancer researcher Georg Weber for confidence that such a blood test, and other “simple” cancer diagnostics and treatments, could soon become commonplace.

Weber, a native of Germany, was licensed to practice clinical medicine, but he instead turned his eyes toward teaching and research in the U.S. His interest and dedication to cancer research—more specifically to cancer metastasis, or how cancer spreads—grew “paradigm by paradigm” over the years, he says, but at UC, the unique opportunity for clinical applications arose.

That dedication proved itself in 2006, when Weber led a team of cancer researchers from across the country to identify the molecule, osteopontin-c (OPNc), as more accurate than existing biological signposts used to predict which breast cancers will develop into advanced forms of the disease.

Early on in his research, Weber realized that if OPNc is only present in cancers, there would be an opportunity to target this molecule in diagnosis and treatment. Subsequently, he applied to and enrolled in Cincinnati Creates Companies—a UC collaborative that teaches researchers and inventors about the business of running a business—and in 2007, with the help of the business incubator, BIOSTART, he registered his company MetaMol to develop and commercialize diagnostic applications and anti-cancer drugs with a focus on metastasis. 

Outstanding Adjunct Award

Stephanie A. Wyler, JD
Adjunct Professor, Criminal Justice
College of Education, Criminal Justice & Human Services

Judge Wyler earned her law degree and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from UC. She presides over both the juvenile and probate courts in Clermont County. Judge Wyler began teaching one course a year at UC beginning in 1999 and now teaches 10 courses a year in criminal justice and human services – two of them are now online. “It’s important to bring my real-world experiences into the classroom. They love my war stories,” she says.

Wyler says the role of the adjunct faculty member is a vital role in higher education. “It’s a perfect balance. As a judge, I can give my students a pragmatic approach to juvenile justice issues and in my role as a professor, I can keep up on trends and take what I learn and research as a professor back to court.”

Her students agree. “Judge Wyler is an amazing teacher,” says Cayla Black, a sophomore in criminal justice. “She doesn’t just write notes on a board – she makes them come to life.”

“Since 1999, she has been bringing real-world experiences about children and families to the classroom, challenging students to understand difficult issues that emerge in her courtroom and in our community,” says Lawrence J. Johnson, dean of CECH. “She epitomizes our identity as an urban research university.”