Faculty Awards Hand Awards

2019 Hand Awards for Distinguished Faculty Achievement

Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2019 Hand Awards for Distinguished Faculty Achievement.

Ana Eire

Ana Eire, Ph.D., Professor of World Languages and Cultures
Hand Award for Research, Creative and Professional Activity

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Isabel Botero, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Family Enterprise and Entrepreneurship
Hand Award for Research, Creative and Professional Activity

The Hand Award for Distinguished Faculty Achievements are made possible through the continued generosity of trustee emeritus and alumna Dolly Hand and her husband, Homer Hand. Through their support of excellence in higher education, we are honored to recognize outstanding faculty.  The awards have been presented to faculty since 1988, with recipients whose names many in the audience will recognize as faculty who have been transformative to this institution—Michael Rickman, Karen Kaivola, and Leonard Nance to name a few. 

Faculty over the years have been presented with Hand Awards in two primary areas:  Community Impact, and also Research, Creative and Professional Activity.  This year, we recognize the professional achievements of two outstanding faculty members in the category of Research, Creative, and Professional Activity.  Both of these faculty members have significantly contributed to the knowledge of their fields, the vibrancy of Stetson University’s pedagogy and academic culture, and the world beyond this campus.


The first 2019 Hand award honors a faculty member who joined the Stetson University almost three decades ago.  Since then, she has published multiple books that have garnered national attention in her home country, leading her to be considered, as one nominator writes, “the foremost scholar of Spanish poetry in Spain.”  Because of her established renowned reputation as a Spanish poetry critic, she is currently working on another commission preparing an introduction to the 25th anniversary edition of an anthology of poetry entitled El sindicato del crimen. For her professional commitment, and in recognition and celebration of her substantial scholarly contributions, it gives me great pleasure to present the first of two 2019 Hand Awards for Research, Creative, and Professional Activity to Professor Ana Eire.


Historically, there have been Hand awards that recognized the stellar work of faculty who have been at Stetson for a short period of time, and then go on to do great things at Stetson.  Some examples include then-Assistant Professors Terri Witek, Stephen Robinson, and Sue Ryan, who all won the Hand recognition just a few years after they joined Stetson.  This year’s 2nd 2019 Hand award recipient is a prolific scholar with 46 publications, a frequent invited review for prestigious journals, and an internationally known expert in her field.  She has presented her research in the U.S., Europe and Latin America, and last year was awarded second place in the Adalberto Viesca Sada Family Business in Latin America’s Award.  In only her fourth year at Stetson, this faculty member is using her extensive research as the academic foundation for reviving the family business curriculum in the School of Business Administration. For her professional commitment, and in recognition and celebration of her substantial scholarly contributions, it gives me great pleasure to present the second of two 2019 Hand Awards for Research, Creative, and Professional Activity to Assistant Professor Isabel Botero.

Presented by Provost Noel Painter on May 11, 2019 at the 133rd annual Undergraduate Commencement

Faculty Accomplishments Faculty Awards

Stetson Economics Professor Awarded Virtual Reality Grant

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Walk into Alan Green’s International Economics class this fall and students will be geeked out in goggle-like, headset contraptions, looking as if they stepped out of some sci-fi film.

But Green’s students actually will be stepping into the world of virtual reality, thanks to a grant awarded to the Stetson Chair of Economics.

Alan Green, Ph.D., chair of Stetson's Department of Economics
Alan Green, assistant professor of economics, receives VR Grant from Nearpod.

Green, Ph.D., assistant professor and chair of Stetson’s Economics Department, is one of just 50 instructors at elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools around the world to be awarded as part of the inaugural Virtual Reality Grant Program founded by Nearpod. The education technology company develops digital learning tools, virtual reality and interactive content for use in classrooms.

Green, who also is director of Africana Studies at Stetson, will have access to Nearpod VR headsets and more than 25 VR-based lesson plans. The grant also includes professional development, one-on-one support services and a Nearpod license for the university.

As a teacher and research economist, Green focuses on international development, trade and poverty, but he also conducts research on effective pedagogy. That research led him to use a Nearpod teaching app this past year.

“I can use their app and put questions in it and build in presentations, quizzes, activities, all sorts of things,” Green said. “During class I’ll be lecturing, but then I’ll mix in questions that students answer on their phones, laptops or whatever. Rather than them passively sitting there, they’re being forced to hear something and answer a question about it. So they have to think about it, process it and hopefully understand it.”

When Nearpod announced it was accepting applications for its new virtual reality grant program, Green readily saw the potential for use in his International Economics and Essentials of Economics II classes.

“Nearpod is pushing what they call virtual reality field trips,” Green said. The goggle-like VR headsets use video, audio and even interactive capabilities so that “you can take a virtual trip somewhere. My field research is in economic development, studying poor countries around the world and how they can grow. So we can take a trip to a country in sub-Saharan Africa and get a really strong visual of a village, what people live like, what their houses are like. That makes a lot stronger impression than me just giving students numbers on GDP per capita.”

Along with the benefits of virtual reality field trips, Green’s grant application also proposed that VR technology could vastly enhance online teaching.

“I’ve done some online teaching and didn’t particularly enjoy it because there’s a separation,” Green said. “You’re not interacting with students in real time. With virtual reality, we could have a class and physically be anywhere in the world, but then we all put on our headsets and we come into a virtual classroom and we can teach and learn that way.

“One of the valuable things Stetson offers is small classes and interaction with professors. Virtual reality online learning could be a lot closer to the classroom experience.”

Green said he will “get to play around with the headsets this summer and see what we can do. This fall it’s not going to be in every class, it’s not going to be full time.” But he plans to “find instances where students can take a virtual trip during class.”

More than 300 schools applied for the Nearpod grants, which were awarded to schools across the United States as well as in Nigeria, Japan and Spain.

by Rick de Yampert

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Faculty Accomplishments Faculty Awards

Stetson Receives $210,000 Grant For Prison Education Project

The Stetson Community Education Project was awarded a $210,000 grant and will expand classes for incarcerated men in Tomoka Correctional Institution, as well as begin offering college credit for courses this fall.

Stetson Professor Pamela Cappas-Toro in classroom in Tomoka state prison.
Assistant Professor Pamela Cappas-Toro is a co-founder of Stetson’s Community Education Project at Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach.

The Laughing Gull Foundation approved a grant for $70,000 a year for three years for the Community Education Project (CEP), which has offered classes in the Daytona Beach prison since 2015, said Pamela Cappas-Toro, Ph.D., assistant professor of World Languages and Cultures (Spanish) at Stetson.

Beginning this fall, the project will offer one course each semester for non-degree-bearing college credit. Twenty students are expected to enroll this fall and that number will grow to 30 men next fall.

The grant will pay to hire a project coordinator, who will tutor incarcerated students and serve as a liaison with the state Department of Corrections, Cappas-Toro said. The grant also will provide textbooks and school supplies, support students’ emerging scholarship and creative course projects, and add a computer lab for the men, who currently do the coursework by hand.

Andrew Eisen stands in front of the class with a powerpoint slide.
Andrew Eisen, adjunct professor of history at Stetson, teaches a class on the Cuban Missile Crisis in Tomoka Correctional Institution.

“This is going to mean an expansion of our program at Tomoka,” said Andrew Eisen, Ph.D., adjunct professor of history at Stetson and one of the founders of the program. “It will be small, incremental growth to ensure the quality of our program.”

Eisen and Cappas-Toro were involved in a similar prison-education program at the University of Illinois when they were graduate students there. After the married couple arrived at Stetson, they started the program at Tomoka Correctional Institution with Jelena Petrovic, Ph.D., Stetson assistant professor of Communication and Media Studies. The following year, Melinda Hall, Ph.D., assistant professor of Philosophy at Stetson, joined the effort. Currently, the four professors co-direct the project.

Since then, more than 25 Stetson professors have taught classes, led workshops and provided guest lectures to the students in the prison. Subjects have included history, Spanish, philosophy, mathematics, communication, computer sciences and English. They have been supported in part by the Nina B. Hollis Institute for Educational Reform and its Research Impact Award.

The program received its original seed funding through the Hollis Renaissance Fund, which supports new programs in hopes that their success would then be further supported with grants from outside organizations. This is exactly what happened with CEP, said Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D.

Wendy Libby smiles and laughs while standing in the front of the class of incarcerated students.
Stetson President Wendy B. Libby has given a guest lecture at Tomoka Correctional Institution.

“Teaching at the Tomoka Correctional Institution fits squarely into our mission,” said Libby, who has been a guest lecturer at the prison.  “That our faculty have been so enormously supportive underscores how clearly this work aligns with Stetson’s values.”

Stetson’s undergraduate students do not visit the prison but have been involved in the program, interning in the CEP office on the DeLand campus and designing proposed logos for the project. Students in a Digital Arts class, taught by Brown Visiting Teacher Scholar Madison Creech, M.F.A., came up with the logos and sent videos of their presentations to the incarcerated students, who then provided feedback on the designs.

Assistant Professor Jelena Petrovic

“It is wonderful to see the academic efforts of Stetson students align with the work and community of our students at Tomoka. Stetson students in Creech’s class emphasized that the incarcerated men are part of the Stetson community, and this is precisely what we hope for,” said Hall.

“These programs are very much needed, especially in a state like Florida that has one of the highest prison populations in the country,” said Petrovic.

The Laughing Gull Foundation provides grants to increase access to credit-bearing college courses for incarcerated students, primarily in the South, according to its website. The Foundation awarded the grant to Stetson’s Community Education Project this month after visiting the DeLand campus and the prison classroom in February.

Assistant Professor Melinda Hall

“We are very excited to partner with Stetson University and we appreciate the inspiring work of the Community Education Program!” wrote Hez Norton, interim executive director of the Laughing Gull Foundation, in an email announcing the grant on June 12.

The Stetson organizers hope other faculty members continue to join the project. Already, Joshua Eckroth, Ph.D., assistant professor of Computer Science, has expressed interest in helping with setting up the prison computer lab.

“We’re able to draw on the expertise and the willingness and dedication of faculty members who have from day 1 helped us build this program, all as volunteers,” Eisen said.

– Cory Lancaster

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Faculty Accomplishments Faculty Awards

Stetson Receives NSF Grant For New Microscope

group photo outside Sage Hall.
Principal investigators: top left, Roslyn Crowder, PhD, associate professor of biology; top right, Holley Lynch, PhD, assistant professor of physics; bottom left, Heather Evans-Anderson, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences; bottom right: Lynn Kee, PhD, assistant professor of biology. Photo: Stetson University/Ciara Ocasio

By virtue of a Major Resource Instrumentation Grant from the National Science Foundation, Stetson is receiving $266,000 in funding to purchase an inverted fluorescent microscope system — capable of imaging over a wide range of living biological samples from subcellular structures to small organisms. 

The microscope system will be used to engage undergraduate students across biology, health sciences and physics in superior training through faculty-mentored research projects, and promote the implementation of inquiry-based lab experiences for students in upper-level biology and physics courses. 

Also, the system will provide a substantial foundation to support and enable fundamental pioneering research by junior faculty members, and foster sophisticated capstone research for seniors under the mentorship of faculty members committed to student training and advancing the participation of underrepresented and minority undergraduates in the sciences.

Enlarged image of cancer cells under a microscope
Microscopic image of HeLa cancer cells stained with chemical dyes to visualize the internal structures (red and green) and DNA (blue). Photo: Stetson University

Collectively, these invaluable experiences will promote scientific competency in students as they achieve a comprehensive range of career goals and contribute to the development of the next generation of scientists.

Highlights of the anticipated research: 1) tracking migrating cells in living tissues to link cellular and subcellular mechanisms to tissue-scale movements; 2) examining improperly located cell death proteins in malignant cells; 3) dissecting communication pathways that regulate cardiac myocyte cell proliferation and regeneration in Ciona intestinalis; 4) examining spatial organization and dynamics of iridescent marine bacteria; and 5) promoting education through use of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology by undergraduates in a Genetics course to manipulate and label genes in order to visualize effects in living organisms. 

“This really opens up new avenues of research at the cell and, especially, the subcell level at Stetson. We have a growing number of researchers who work with that scale in three departments. And it will allow students to use a research-grade microscope.”

Principal Investigator Holley Lynch, PhD, assistant professor of physics

Stetson’s Principal Investigator is Holley Lynch, PhD, assistant professor of physics. Co-Principal Investigators are Lynn Kee, PhD, assistant professor of biology; Roslyn Crowder, PhD, associate professor of biology; and Heather Evans-Anderson, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences.

“This really opens up new avenues of research at the cell and, especially, the subcell level at Stetson,” Lynch said. “We have a growing number of researchers who work with that scale in three departments. And it will allow students to use a research-grade microscope.”

Lynch noted that while some of Stetson’s science faculty/researchers need to see “very small things, such as look inside cells,” others need to see how cells behave over time. The new system, which is expected to arrive on campus later this fall, is “flexible,” she said.

Evans-Anderson agreed, commenting, “This kind of imaging will help all of us.” 

In 2018, Kresge Foundation funds led to Stetson’s acquisition of an advanced stereo microscope, which effectively aids in the visualization of tissue layers and development of organisms. The new microscope system will deliver even greater power of magnification and capability to see inside cells, Evans-Anderson said, adding that extensive interdepartmental collaboration will result.

“I see this as a really good steppingstone. Having this equipment here enables us to apply for other kinds of grants that will fund our research and take our students to the next level,” Evans-Anderson concluded.

Notably, the NSF, with an annual budget of $8.1 billion (FY 2019), is the funding source for approximately 27% of the total federal budget for basic research conducted at U.S. colleges and universities.

-Michael Candelaria

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