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New Mexico State University faculty, staff honored at convocation

New Mexico State University honored 13 of its faculty and staff at the fall opening convocation today (Thursday, Aug. 19).



New Mexico State University President Michael Martin, back row left, honored fall convocation award winners, back row from left: Jon Hunner, Ramon Dominguez, Brian Rourke, Stephen Starnes, R. Wayne Headrick, and J. Michael Paul; and front row from left: Son Cao Tran, Diane Zellmer, Jeff Amato, Susan W. Brown, Gary Eiceman, Zohrab Samani and Keith McNeil. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

ia Christmore Faculty Teaching Awards of $500 were awarded to Brian Rourke, an assistant professor in English, and Stephen Starnes, an assistant professor in chemistry and biochemistry.



Rourke joined the NMSU English Department in 2000. Since then his students and colleagues have noted his ability to make difficult, abstract material accessible and applicable to life.

Starnes also joined the NMSU faculty in 2000. He has said he entered academia because he wanted to impact students' lives and that his greatest pleasure in life is helping students realize their potential.

The Dennis W. Darnall Faculty Achievement Award was presented to Jon Hunner, director of the Public History Program. Hunner enjoys working with the fabric of the past.

"If we interview people, preserve buildings and put up museums, we know where we came from and are better prepared for the future," Hunner said.

University Research Council Awards for Exceptional Achievement in Scholarly Activity of $2,000 were presented to Jeff Amato, an assistant professor in geological sciences; Gary Eiceman, a professor in chemistry and biochemistry; Zohrab Samani, a professor in civil and geological engineering; and Son Cao Tran, an assistant professor in computer science.

Amato loves to rock climb, but its not only his favorite past time it's also part of his research, which involves field-based structural geology using state-of-the-art technology.

Eiceman has been conducting cutting-edge research that has brought in more than $6 million in the past 24 years. He also has authored or co-authored more than 170 publications in topics from ion mobility to chemical separations with gas chromatography.

Samani's research interests stink, literally. He is currently developing a "digester" system that will take dairy cattle manure and convert it to methane, which can be used to generate electricity.

Tran is the associate director of the Knowledge Representation, Logic and Advanced Programming Laboratory. The mission of the lab is to conduct cutting-edge research in the areas of logic and constraint programming, knowledge representation and parallel processing, with emphasis on practical applications.

Six faculty and staff received Fort Bliss Federal Credit Union Achievement Awards of $1,000 each.

Fort Bliss FCU Faculty Service Awards, for service to the university and community, went to Ramon Dominguez, an associate professor in educational management and development, and R. Wayne Headrick, a professor in accounting and business computer systems.

Under Dominguez's direction, the NMSU Community College Leadership Program has become the largest distance education doctoral program offered by the university.

Headrick is the director of the Master of Business Administration Program and supervised the complete revision of the program.

The Fort Bliss FCU Faculty Research Award went to Keith McNeil, a professor in counseling and educational psychology. For 37 years, McNeil has focused his research on a statistical model known as the General Linear Model.

The Fort Bliss Professional Staff Achievement Award in Research went to Susan W. Brown, a professional development coordinator in the College of Education's Educational Research Center. Brown is the director of the Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academies program. Her research and grant writing skills have benefitted faculty, students and thousands of school children throughout southern New Mexico.

The Fort Bliss FCU Professional Staff Award went to J. Michael Paul, assistant director for projects in the Office of Facilities and Services. Paul assists clients with a wide variety of modification and improvement projects. He has been instrumental in developing parking lots, remodeling space and installing turf grass, among other things.

The Fort Bliss Classified Staff Award was presented to Diane Zellmer, a secretary in the philosophy department. According to the faculty, Zellmer keeps the department afloat. She is not only a secretary, she is a bookkeeper, a social events planner, a mentor and a graphic artist.