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Research For All

Susan Rundell Singer, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Rollins College; President-elect of St. Olaf Colleg


Engaging undergraduates in research in the U.S. dates back 200 years, influenced by the German university model that brought students and faculty together as research collaborators. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was one of the early adopters. Founded in 1834, lecturing at RPI was eschewed in favor of students engaging in experimental work as the core pedagogy. Key breakthroughs in genetics were made by undergraduates at Columbia in the 1920s. The launch of Sputnik led to federal funding for undergraduate research in the late 1950s. For decades after, the traditional apprenticeship model of summer research or engagement during the academic year defined undergraduate research. The model expanded to the broader range of disciplines. Across many institutions these opportunities are now open to all students, regardless of major. 

By the mid-2000s, there was growing research documenting that undergraduate research was key in the retention, graduation, and pursuit of graduate studies. The impact of research experiences has a particularly strong and positive impact on members of traditionally marginalized groups. Concurrent with the recognition of impact was the recognition that the traditional apprenticeship model doesn’t scale and most students did not benefit from this vital learning opportunity. New approaches to scaling impact have emerged through course-based research afford more equitable and inclusive access to this high impact practice. Embedding research in courses makes it possible for students with extensive employment commitments to benefit. The approach has effectively created opportunity in both 2-year and 4-year institutions. As the research on undergraduate research advances, more is emerging about the specific benefits to different approaches and a clearer articulation of value of learning through research experiences. 

Susan Rundell Singer, Ph.D, is an experienced national and institutional leader in higher education, uplifting the value of a liberal arts education. Currently, she serves as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at Rollins College and is President-elect of St. Olaf College. Previously, she led the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and was the Laurence McKinley Gould Professor of Biology at Carleton College, where she directed the Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching. Recruited to NSF by the White House, she was charged with implementing holistic, evidence-informed approaches to increase persistence and success of all undergraduates. She led 14 federal agencies in achieving the undergraduate goals of the first Federal STEM Education 5-year Strategic Plan, including producing one million more STEM graduates by 2018.  She pursues a career integrating higher education and science aimed at improving undergraduate education at scale. Her scholarship focuses on partnerships and networks of organizations collaboratively advancing undergraduate STEM education, with an emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Equitable and excellent undergraduate education is a signature element of her successes at Carleton, NSF, national organizations, and Rollins, enhanced by a strong track record with partnerships and fundraising. Susan is an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow, and recipient of the American Society of Plant Biology teaching award and Botanical Society of America Charles Bessey award. She is a past-chair of AAAS’ Education Section. Currently, Susan is an Association of American Universities Senior Scholar, chairs the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Board on Science Education, and serves on the Board on Life Sciences and the Roundtable on Systematic Change in Undergraduate STEM Education. She chaired several NASEM studies, including Discipline-based Education Research. Her Ph.D. is in Biology, from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 

April 11, 2023

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Managing and Leading by Keeping it Simple in a Challengin Higher Education Landscape

Faculty Accomplishments Faculty Accomplishments Faculty Awards McEniry Awards

2022 William Hugh McEniry Award for Excellence in Teaching

Congratulations to the recipient of the 2022 William Hugh McEniry Award for Excellence in Teaching

Established in 1974, the McEniry Award for Excellence in Teaching is considered to be Stetson University’s most prestigious award based on the highest attainment of teaching excellence as personified by the former Dean of the University, William Hugh McEniry. Exceptional teaching in the classroom is at the heartbeat of this award, along with intellectual growth, professional competency, academic activities outside of the classroom, and meaningful service to students and the University as a whole.

This year’s McEniry selection committee had an incredibly challenging job. Stetson is a community full of highly deserving teacher-scholars. This year’s awardee stood out as an exceptionally impactful educator at Stetson and within their field. There is a clear record demonstrating that this faculty member is a phenomenal teacher. Thoughtfully written nominations demonstrated a deep commitment to high-quality teaching.

A nomination by a fellow faculty member notes: “This professor is a star at everything he does. He is electric in the classroom. A superb intellect. A fine writer. His scholarship is set to do groundbreaking work in broad cultural fields”.

A student nomination states: “This professor really pushed all his students to achieve academic excellence. He maintained a very high standard in class and promoted a higher level of thinking. This professor was always very accessible and open to help students outside of class hours.”

A second student nomination states: “This professor effortlessly explains all of the information. I personally look up to him as an ACADEMIC GIANT.”

Yet, a third student nomination states: “This professor has found a way to make his students enjoy taking his classes while also keeping us on our toes.”

I am delighted and honored to announce this year’s award winner! For the first time in the history of Stetson University, the McEniry Award for Excellence in Teaching will be presented to the winner of the Hand Award for Research, Creative, and Professional Activity. Please join me in wishing heartfelt congratulations to the recipient of the 2022 William Hugh McEniry Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Professor of Music.

Dr. Daniil Zavlunov!

Presented by Dr. Hala El Arag, Professor of Computer Science, on May 6, 2022 at the 2022Academic Awards and Recognition Ceremony

Faculty Accomplishments Faculty Accomplishments Faculty Awards Hand Awards

2022 Hand Awards for Distinguished Faculty Achievement

Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2022 Hand Awards for Distinguished Faculty Achievement.

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. 

This year, we recognize the professional achievements of two outstanding faculty members in two primary areas:  Research, Creative, and Professional Activity and Community Impact.  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, Sue Ryan, and Isabel Botero, who all received the Hand recognition just a few years after they joined the University. Both recipients of this prestigious recognition were invited to join the faculty in 2014. In sum, during their short tenure at Stetson University, they have made significant contributions to their fields, to Stetson’s vibrancy and vitality, to our academic culture, and to the world beyond this campus.


The first 2022 Hand Award honors a faculty member whose quality of research and writing has had a transformative impact on the School of Music and on Stetson University. As a musicologist, he is a scholar of Music History with many interests including Russian, French and Italian opera of the 19th century, Russian and Soviet music, music and politics and theories of musical form. His research into music censorship in 19th century Imperial Russia, specifically during the reign of Tsar Nicholas II, is groundbreaking and of significant interest to students of opera worldwide. His command of both musicology and theory demonstrates a latitude of expertise comprising individual composers, genres, and time periods.

Furthermore, he maintains an impressive publication record in high impact academic readership sources including the Journal of Music Theory, the Journal of Musicology, and in the Cambridge and Oxford University presses. The variety, breadth, scope, cross-disciplinarity, and international appeal of his repertoire has positioned his body of work as important and valuable beyond the world of music. To that end, this scholar ranks among the top music historians in the nation and abroad.

One nominator wrote, “Twelve publications (and others already underway) are many for any discipline at Stetson where research and publications are a measure of contribution.” Another wrote, “My career in all facets – including performance, teaching, and administration – has well prepared me to understand and appreciate exceptional individuals such as [this professor]”.

Therefore, it gives me great pleasure on behalf of the faculty and staff at Stetson University to present the 2022 Hand Award for Research, Creative, and Professional Activity to Associate Professor Daniil Zavulov for his professional commitment, and in recognition and celebration of his substantial scholarly contributions.


This year’s second 2022 Hand award honors a faculty member who has accomplished an extraordinarily impactful breadth and scope of timely work within the eight years of her tenure at Stetson University. A scholar, teacher, and practitioner, she rapidly compiled a distinguished record of community service, becoming a key force in Stetson’s relationship with the broader community. Her special focus has been on the health needs of underserved communities including the Spring Hill community of southwestern DeLand. In collaboration with various community partners, she has initiated or supported multiple studies and programs. This work included comprehensive needs assessments of all African American communities to demonstrate the need for improved public health and nutritional resources and an Oral History of the James W. Wright building in DeLand, research that resulted in grant funding awarded and the building being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2016, she received an Exceptional Community Partner Award from the Spring Hill Neighborhood Association for her exemplary work. And with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, she provided vital community support by serving as staff epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health.

One nominator wrote, “In my entire time directing community engagement efforts for the university, [this professor] stands out for being the most consistent and effective faculty collaborator with our non-profit partners in the greater Spring Hill community. Truly, I believe that no faculty member epitomizes the connection of our institution’s academic and civic missions as strongly as [this professor]”.

For her professional commitment and in recognition and celebration of her substantial contributions to the Stetson community and the greater DeLand and Volusia communities, it gives me great pleasure on behalf of the faculty and staff at Stetson University to present the second 2022 Hand Award for Community Impact to Associate Professor Asal Mohammadi Johnson.

Presented by Dr. Rosalie Richards, Associate Provost for Faculty Development on May 6, 2022 at the 2022 Academic Awards and Recognition Ceremony

Faculty Accomplishments Faculty Awards International Awards

2 Stetson Faculty Receive International Recognition

Two Stetson University School of Business Administration professors have been recognized by two separate international organizations for outstanding achievements.

porrait outside
Isabel Botero

Isabel Botero, Ph.D., assistant professor of family enterprise and entrepreneurship, was awarded the Advanced Certificate in Family Wealth Advising (ACFWA) and honored as a Fellow of the Family Firm Institute (FFI) at the 2018 FFI Global Conference held in London, England.

To be named a fellow honoree, Botero had to achieve comprehensive professional knowledge and significant expertise over the past 10 years that may now be shared and used by family business owners and family wealth management clients. The Family Firm Institute (, an international professional membership organization of more than 1,800 individuals and organizations across 88 countries, provides interdisciplinary education and networking opportunities for family business and family wealth advisors, consultants, educators and researchers.

“Becoming a Fellow for the Family Firm Institute is an honor for me because it highlights my collaborative work to help family enterprises around the world become better,” explained Botero. “It also acknowledges the importance of education and research in the field.”

Jennifer Foo

Jennifer Foo, Ph.D., professor of finance, also has been honored as a member of the Jewish National Fund’s Winter 2018-2019 Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel. This competitive academic fellowship gives full-time higher education faculty members the opportunity to participate in a 12-day all-expenses-paid academic trip to Israel. The program strives to link scholars from diverse disciplines with their Israeli counterparts at major universities to initiate collaboration and exchanges, and to give participants an opportunity to explore Israel’s history, politics, culture and economy. Foo is the first Stetson University faculty member to receive this fellowship.

“This fellowship is an invaluable and exciting opportunity for me to learn about Israel,” said Foo. “I look forward to learning how an entrepreneurial and innovative business spirit can be born out of a necessity to grow and survive, as it did in Israel.”

Neal Mero

“This recognition of Dr. Botero and Dr. Foo highlights the quality of faculty who serve in the Stetson School of Business Administration,” said Neal P. Mero, Ph.D., dean and professor of management. “In addition to bringing global recognition to Stetson for their work, my colleagues leverage that expertise through their service as incredible teachers and scholars delivering a world-class education to our students.”

-Marie Dinklage

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Faculty Accomplishments Faculty Awards International Awards International Learning

Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel

The Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel seeks to link scholars from diverse disciplines with their Israeli counterparts at major institutions for the purpose of initiating exchanges and collaborations. Past faculty fellows at Stetson are Professors Jennifer Foo (Winter 2019) and Ronette Lategan-Potgieter (Winter 2020).

Full-time university and college faculty members are invited to participate in a 12-day, all-expenses-paid academic trip to Israel. The program covers the cost of flight to Israel from New York City, as well as all in-country room and board expenses. If selected for this competitive academic fellowship, WORLD: Rinker Center for International Learning will cover the cost of roundtrip airfare between Orlando and New York. 

The application is due by September 22, 2022

Questions about the application? Feel free to reach out to Paula Hentz or Jennifer Foo

Faculty Accomplishments Faculty Awards Summer Grants

2022 Summer Grants for Faculty Research & Creative Inquiry

The Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs is pleased to congratulate our Stetson teacher-scholar faculty on the submission of proposals for innovative scholarship, research and creative inquiry. The following Summer Grants Program projects were recommended by the Professional Development Committee to the Provost for their outstanding potential and dedication to Stetson’s mission of teaching, research, and artistic development:

Tony Abbott, Creating a Web Map of William Bartran’s Travels in Florida

Robert Askew, Validation and Replication for Textual Scholarship: Cluster Analyses of Variation in Extant Copies of the Elizabethan Sonnet Sequence Astrophil and Stella

Nicole Banton, Why We Choose; Strong support from chair

Teresa Carmody, Body, Archive, Essay;

Su Young Choi, Should I Post as an Activist or an Influencer?

Rachel Core, Respiratory Disease and Social Change in China

Sarah Cramer, Cultivating experiental learning and food democracy in carceral spaces

Joel Davis, Validation and Replication for Textual Scholarship: Cluster Analyses of Variation in Extant Copies of the Elizabethan Sonnet Sequence Astrophil and Stella

Kristine Dye, Elucidating the mechanisms of cellular transformation and tumorigenesis by MCPyV ST necessary for the development of Merkel cell carcinoma

Mayhill Fowler, Comrade Actress: Soviet Ukrainian Women on the Stage and Behind the Scenes

Tandy Grubbs, Modified-Lorenz computational simulations to assess the severity of atmospheric climate fluctuations within a warming planet

Sean Kennard, Video Recording of Beethoven’s ‘Pathetique’ Sonata and Chopin’s ‘Heroic’ Polonaise

Eric Kurlander, A Global History of the Nazi “Jewish Question”: Three Territorial “Solutions” and the Role of Great Britain

Alexander Martin, Toward a New Approach to Text-Music Relationships in Song

Michael McFarland, Discourse Strategies in Sudden Change Rhetoric: Argument and Invention in Evangelical Preaching

Kushbu Mishra, Investor Sophistication and Retirement Planning

Luca Molnar, The Tragedy of Men

Hunter Murphy, Analyzing the Correlation between Pedagogy and Outreach in the Academic Library

Erin Nickell, More Than Just a Name: The Impact of a Star-Quality Rating System for Audit Partners on Investor Decision Making

Elizabeth Plantan, State-Society Relations under Authoritarianism

Yohan Ripert, Sustainable Independence: Rewriting African Freedom with Eloquence and Diplomacy, 1956-1977

Joshua Rust, Enactivist Social Ontology

Amy Smith, Mapping Children’s Conceptions of Duration as an Attribute of their Lived Experiences: A Comparative Case Study

Faculty Accomplishments Faculty Awards Sabbatical

2022-2023 Sabbatical Awards

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2022-2023 Sabbatical Awards:

Benjamin Tanner, Associate Professor and Chair of Environmental Science and Studies, “Is Water Lettuce a Native Aquatic Plant in Florida?”

Christopher de Bodisco, Assistant Professor of Economics, “Expert Judgement, Meta Analysis and the Development of Conservation Planning Priorities”

Dengke Chen, Assistant Professor of Digital Arts, “Digital Preservation of the Endangered Tujia Cultural Heritage”

Hala ElAarag, Professor of Computer Science, “Using Extended Knowledge Graph for Detection of Non-Conventional Information Pollution.”

Hari Pulapaka, Associate Professor of Mathematics, “Graph Theoretic Properties of the Flavor Network.”

Holley Lynch, Assistant Professor of Physics, “Edge Effects on Tissue Spreading in Amphibians”

Jason Evans, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Studies, “Operationalizing Resilience Metrics for Climate Adaptation and Ecosystem Restoration in the Southeast Atlantic Coastal Region.”

Kathy Jo Piechura-Couture, Professor of Education, Nina B. Hollis Institute of Educational Reform, “L.I.F.E (Learning Incredible Skills for Everyday Curriculum”

Mary Ellen Oslick, Associate Professor of Education, “Enhancing the Science of Reading with Dyslexia Training”

Michael Eskenazi, Professor of Psychology, “The Creation of An Open-Source Eye-Tracking Corpus with Reading Skills Measures”

Randall Croom, Professor of Management, “The Interesection of Organizational Behavior”

Ranjini Thaver, Professor of Economics, “The Relationship Between Economic Growth and Financial Depth in India, Brazil, and South Africa Alliance.”

Robert Sitler, “Professor of World Languages and Cultures, Director of Latin American and Latino Studies Program. “

Ron Hall, Professor of Philosophy, “Language and Love”

Steven Smallpage, Assistant Professor of Political Science, “Excavating the Concept of Political Romanticism”

Susan Peppers-Bates, Associate Professor of Philosophy, “Christianity, Hermeneutical Injustice, and Epistemic Vice”

Tim Peter, Professor of Music, “Singing in South Africa: Opportunities for Field Studies, Musical, Educational, and Cultural Immersion”

William Andrews, Associate Professor of Management, “Transforming the Political Economy: Prioritizing Change in Developing Economies”

Faculty Awards Willa Dean Lowery Grant

Willa Dean Lowery Awards 2022

We congratulate our winners of the 2022 Willa Dean Lowery Fund to Support Research in the Natural Sciences:

Roslyn Crowder, Associate Professor of Biology

Examining Hypoxia-Induced Caspase-8 Post-Translational Modifications in Hypoxic Cancer Cells

Caspase-8 is a mediator of regulated cell death, apoptosis. Caspase-8 mediated cell death is used clinically to target and eliminate pathogenic cells in diseases including cancer, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Loss of caspase-8 activity has been identified as a cell death resistance mechanism, highlighting the requirement of complete caspase-8 activation for cell death progression. Hypoxia is a term that refers to conditions with low oxygen levels. Hypoxic regions in solid, malignant tumors have been found to be resistant to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, presenting therapeutic challenges. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy utilize initiation of cell death pathways involving caspase-8 activation to kill cancer cells.

Caspase-8 protein receives several post-translational modifications (PTMs) that effect protein function including phosphorylation (adds phosphates), ubiquitination (adds ubiquitin) and sumoylation (adds SUMO). Cullin3 ligase and A20 deubiquitinase are associated with adding and removing ubiquitin to and from caspase-8, respectively. PIAS ligase and SUMO specific protease SENP1 are associated with adding and removing SUMO to and from caspase-8, respectively. Hypoxia has been shown to alter protein phosphorylation. While changes to phosphorylated proteins under hypoxia have been studied, changes to ubiquitinated and sumoylated proteins, remain largely unexplored. Regulation of caspase-8 sumoylation and ubiquitination, under hypoxia, has not been investigated.

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Higher Education at the Crossroads

Dr. Christopher Roellke, President, Stetson University, Professor of American Studies and Education

As the global COVID 19 pandemic penetrated the United States in early 2020, colleges and universities found themselves scrambling to address this ongoing public health crisis.  In the Spring 2020 semester, emergency task forces were established, campuses were shut down, faculty moved their instruction to virtual formats, and the entire higher education industry braced itself for the financial fallout.  In addition to having to invest additional resources in classroom technology, ventilation, and personal protective equipment, colleges and universities continue to respond to revenue shortfalls, including reductions in both tuition and room and board revenue.  

In some cases, investments in technology, internet access, and innovations in teaching and learning have led to new ways of delivering high-quality instruction to students in hybrid and virtual learning environments.  In other cases, students and families have turned to litigation to demand tuition refunds, arguing that colleges and universities have engaged in “breach of contract” by not providing a fully in-person instructional environment and have failed to provide the quality of education promised.   

Unemployment and underemployment and the “great resignation” have made it exceptionally difficult, particularly for lower income families and students, to sustain their investments in post-secondary education.  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) has provided trillions in economic stimulus support, including billions in aid for K-12 education and for higher education.  Nonetheless, enrollment uncertainty, coupled with a lingering pandemic, presents ongoing and complex challenges for higher education.  In many ways, higher education is at a crossroads. Some institutions are hanging on to long-standing traditions and curricular pathways, while others have emphasized advances in remote learning, hybrid pathways for degree completion, and a broader set of innovative practices.  In this keynote address, President Roellke will address these challenges and will outline emerging strategic priorities for Stetson University as our institution charts a course for its future.

Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, is the 10th president of Stetson University, accepting the university’s leadership on July 1, 2020.  Dr. Roellke joined Stetson from Vassar College, where he was Dean of the College and Professor of Education.  As Dean of the College, he was on the President’s Senior Leadership Team and oversaw most aspects of Vassar’s day-to-day life.  Upon his departure, he was named Dean of the College Emeritus.  Dr. Roellke did his undergraduate work at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and his graduate studies and PhD at Cornell University.  A Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Roellke also served as a visiting scholar at Yale University Law School. Dr. Roellke’s wife, Kim, is a veterinarian and they have three daughters, Emma, Julia and Olivia. Emma is currently a medical school student at the New York University Long Island School of Medicine.  Julia is a science educator and sustainability coordinator at the Dwight School in New York City.  Liv is a senior at Poughkeepsie Day School and is an avid equestrian who competes in the jumper division in regional and national horse shows.