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Three receive Regents Professorships during NMSU 2020 Spring Convocation

New Mexico State University faculty and staff were welcomed back to campus on Tuesday, Jan. 21, during the Spring 2020 Convocation ceremony at NMSU’s Atkinson Recital Hall. Every fall and spring, convocation is held to honor excellence on campus.


Large group of people
The Spring 2020 Convocation award winners. January 21, 2019 at the Atkinson Music Recital Hall. Front from left: Provost Carol Parker, Sonja de Vargas, Barbara Gamillo, Magdelena Pando, Gracieia Unguez, Connie Lyons, Myra Garcia, Charlotte Gard, Nichole Pietrasiak, Barbara Chamberlin, Julia Barello and Chancellor Dan Arvizu. Back from left: President John Floros, Rolston St. Hilaire, William Gould, John Campbell, Mark Klaene, Terry Armstrong, Abdessattar Abdelkefi, Edward Lopez, James Herndon, Jean-Paul Vessel and Jamil Al-Nouman. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)

“The start of a new semester is a special time on a university campus,” said Provost Carol Parker. “With all the growth and opportunity that spring offers, it is fitting that we pause to celebrate the best of New Mexico State University.”

Reflecting NMSU’s commitment of excellence to intellectual endeavors, 19 faculty members, two groups of students and one department were recognized.

“The faculty, staff and students honored here today are extraordinary,” said NMSU President John Floros. “These individuals are shining examples of what it means to be from New Mexico State University.”

Regent Professorships, the highest honor a faculty member can receive, were awarded to Rolston St. Hilaire, professor and department head of plant and environmental sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Julia Barello, art professor and department head, and Graciela Unguez, biology professor – both in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The NMSU Board of Regents established the Regents Professorship in 2001. It recognizes faculty who have made outstanding contributions to the university’s mission, and honors contributions in areas of education, research, outreach education and public service.

Eleven faculty members were honored for their teaching excellence with the Donald C. Roush Excellence in Teaching award. The accolade is named after Roush, a former NMSU executive vice president, in recognition of his 35 years of teaching improvement in New Mexico.

The Roush recipients are John W. Campbell, College of ACES; James W. Herndon and Jean-Paul Vessel, College of Arts and Sciences; Charlotte Gard, College of Business; Magdalena Pando, College of Education; Terry W. Armstrong, College of Engineering; Myra J. Garcia, College of Health and Social Services; Sonja de Vargas, NMSU Alamogordo; Jamil Al-Nouman, NMSU Carlsbad; Edward G. Lopez, NMSU Dona Ana; and Connie Lyons, NMSU Grants.

The University Research Council recognized five faculty and staff in three categories with the Exceptional Achievement in Creative Scholarly Activity.

Recognized for their work during their early career are Abdessattar Abdelkefi, Mechanical Engineering; and Nicole Pietrasiak, Plant and Environmental Sciences.

Barbara Chamberlin, Innovative Media Research and Extension; and Williams Gould, College of Business, are recognized for their distinguished careers.

Mark Klaene, the Director of Observations at Apache Point Observatory who oversees four telescopes, 10 facilities, 30 personnel and an annual budget of $3.5 million, and has authored or co-authored more than 30 papers, is honored for his research.

Recognized this year were the top research posters presented by students during the Research and Creativity Week on campus. During the November event, which included open houses and various public events, 35 undergraduate and 110 graduate students participated in a poster competition.

The winners of the poster competition are Dominique Hellmich, biology; Sajal Kumar, computer science; Yvonne Lucero, plant and environmental sciences; and Yashoda Larkar, art.

Second place posters are the work of Sean Cochran, kinesiology; Amanda Erlandson, molecular biology; Ruby Sharman, computer science; Jeremy Grajeda, electrical engineering; Katherine Chudy and Mahsa Yaghoobi Kiaseh, art; Ahmed Kanaan, Devyn Rice and Ryan Salazar, mechanical and aerospace engineering; Kylee Kristine Forest, animal and range sciences; Soumi Mitra, biology; Jorge Garcia and Nuwanjjula Samarasingha, physics.

The Engineering Technology and Surveying Engineering department received the Excellence in Assessment Award, recognizing its outstanding assessment processes in academic units at NMSU.