Spring Accolades 2020

Accolades Spring 2020
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August 2020

Grants & Fellowships

Assistant Professor Evan Roberts (Sociology) and colleagues (Dr. Sam Blickhan, Adler Planetarium; Ben Wiggins, UMN Libraries) have been awarded an NEH Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities grant to run a multi-year institute for groups building crowd-sourced transcription projects. 


July 2020


Professor and McKnight Endowed Presidential Chair Phyllis Moen (Sociology) has been named the recipient of the prestigious Work and Family Researchers Network's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Graduate students Erika Sanborne and Brooke Chambers (Sociology) have received university-wide awards from the Council of Graduate Students as Outstanding Teaching Assistants for the Fall 2019 semester.

Professor Traci Mann (Psychology) is the 2020 recipient of the Society for Health Psychology’s Cynthia D. Belar Award for Excellence in Health Psychology Education and Training.  

Niloofar Sarlati (PhD 2019, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature) has won the Honorable Mention for the 2020 University of Minnesota Best Dissertation Award in the Arts and Humanities for her dissertation, "Tokens of Depreciation: The Commerce of Politeness Between British and Iranian Economies of Modernity." Her advisors were Associate Professor Shaden M. Tageldin (Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature) and Professor John Mowitt (University of Leeds).  

Graduate Student Elena Gambino (Political Science) has received the prestigious Leo Strauss Dissertation award, given annually by the American Political Science Association for the best dissertation in Political Theory, "Presence in Our Own Land: Second Wave Feminism and the Lesbian Body Politic."

Grants & Fellowships

Associate Professor and McKnight Presidential Fellow (2020-23) Maggie Hennefeld (Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature) was co-awarded a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Development Grant. The project is a 4-disc DVD/Blu-ray set on "Cinema's First Nasty Women."

June 2020


Graduate Student Teresa Gowan (Sociology) was named a 2019-20 recipient of the UMN Council of  Graduate Students (COGS) Outstanding Advisor Award.

The Spring 2020 recipients of the Sharon Borine Award for Top Capstone in Psychology are: Claudia Herbert, Samantha Gardow, Samuel Lee, and Rachel Jensen

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Wrigley-Field (Sociology) has been named the 2020 Winner of the ASA Mathematical Sociology section's Outstanding Article Award for her Demography article, "Multidimensional Mortality Selection: Why Individual Dimensions of Frailty Don't Act Like Frailty.” 

Grants & Fellowships

The Americal Council of Learned Societies' Digital Extension Grant program fosters team-based collaboration among scholars at all career stages and expands opportunities for scholarly engagement with the digital humanities. The grants of up to $150,000 advance established digital initiatives at colleges and universities and extend their reach to new communities of users. Two of the six projects awarded grants included CLA faculty:  

Professor and Chair Karen Mary Davalos (Chicano and Latino Studies) and Postdoctoral Associate Mary Thomas (Chicano and Latino Studies) for "Generative Rhizomes: Extending Digital Discovery of Mexican American Art."

Assistant Professor Benjamin Wiggins (History) for "Optimizing Crowdsourced Transcription using Handwritten Text Recognition"

PhD candidate Roque Diaz (Music) has been selected as one of the 2020 American Express NGen Fellows. The American Express NGen Fellows program, part of the American Express Leadership Academy, offers a transformative opportunity for changemakers, age 40 and under, to strengthen their leadership capacity, hone their change-making skills, and build connections with some of the social sector’s most influential leaders. Every year, the NGen Fellows program selects 12 individuals to participate in the nine-month leadership development program.

May 2020


Amelious N. Whyte, Jr., Director of Public Engagement, received both the University Greek Community's Outstanding Advisor Award and the Student Unions & Activities Tony Diggs Excellence Award - Outstanding Student Group Advisor for his work as the academic advisor for Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity. In May he was appointed by the Fraternity's board of directors to the role of Educational Director, in this role he will advise the fraternity's leadership on matters relating to scholarship and educational programming for its 150+ chapters, and serve as a resource for individual chapters seeking to enhance their individual scholarship and/or educational programming. 

Associate Professor Hakim Abderrezak (French & Italian) is among the Berlin Prize recipients for 2020-21. The Berlin Prize is awarded annually by the American Academy in Berlin to scholars, writers, composers, and artists from the United States who represent the highest standards of excellence in their fields. 

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, AAS Outreach Coordinator,  is the recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Playwright in Residence award. Saymoukda's nearly $200,000 prize will enable her to be Theater Mu's resident playwright and focus on writing plays for the next three years. She will also work to support the development of Southeast Asian playwrights and APIA theater designers and creatives and be an agent in integrating Mu with the various Minnesota communities she has connected with through her work with the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans. Saymoukda and Theater Mu is one of thirteen playwright/theater pairs to receive this national award. 

Publications and Creative Activities

Assistant Professor Elliott Powell's (American Studies) new book Sounds from the Other Side: Afro-South Asian Collaborations in Black Popular Music, is now available for order from The Minnesota Press. The book is an interdisciplinary analysis of the political implications of African American musicians’ South Asian influence since the 1960s. 


April 2020


Professor Erika Lee (History) has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States and is dedicated to honoring excellence and leadership, working across disciplines and divides, and advancing the common good.

These following instructors have been selected as recipients for this year’s University of Minnesota Community-Engaged Scholar Award. This award is presented to University faculty or staff members for exemplary publicly-engaged scholarship that embodies the University of Minnesota’s definition of public engagement. 

Associate Professor Mai Na Lee (History) 

Associate Professor David Feinberg (Art) 

Senior Teaching Specialist Luverne Seifert (Theatre Arts and Dance)

Assistant Professor V.V. Ganeshananthan (English) 

Professor Angus W. McDonald III (Psychology) is the recipient of the University of Minnesota’s most prestigious recognitions, the Distinguished McKnight University Professorship.

Hathaway Distinguished Professor and Distinguished McKnight University Professor Robert Krueger (Psychology) has accepted an offer to be the Chairperson for the Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section for the National Institutes of Health. He will hold the chairship for two years.

Congratulations to the nine CLA students awarded the President's Student Leadership and Service Award. Graduate student Katrina Yezzi-Woodley (Anthropology), and undergraduates Mahad Omar (Global Studies), Meara Cline (Geography), Miki Schumacher (English), Nathan Gray Garcia (Psychology), Risa Roth (Developmental Psychology), Jude Goossens (Neuroscience & Philosophy, Ethics and Civic Life), Ashley Fechner (Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, Human Physiology), Alex Finley (Biochemistry, Technical Writing and Communication).

Grants & Fellowships

Assistant Professor Aisha Ghani (Anthropology) has been awarded a year's fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, one of the world's most prestigious research institutes.

Graduate student Lexi Scharmer (Psychology) has been selected to receive the Graduate Student Paper award from the Midwestern Psychological Association. She is one of six recipients to receive this competitive award.

Graduate student Michelle Thai (Psychology) is now a two-time awardee of the MnDRIVE Research Fellowship in Neuromodulation. She received this award for her clinical research in neuromodulation, a developing transdisciplinary field focused on the treatment of neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders with technology-based interventions.

Graduate student Amber Joy Powell (Sociology) has been awarded a Beverly and Richard Fink Summer Research Fellowship.

Publications and Creative Activities

The Museum of Contemporary Art Kittengale is presenting "Strange Self" by Lecturer Kristen Sanders (Art), a series of twelve images taken at various stages in the evolution of a single painting.


March 2020


Congratulations to Assistant Professor Kate Lockwood Harris (Communication Studies) and Assistant Professor Margaret Hennefeld (Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature) on being selected as McKnight Presidential Fellows. The three-year award is given to recipients who are recommended by their college dean and chosen at the discretion of the executive vice president and provost based on excellence in research and scholarship, leadership, potential to build top-tier programs, and ability to advance University of Minnesota priorities.

Associate Professor Malinda Lindquist (History) and McKnight University Professor Richard Lee (Psychology) are recipients of a 2019-20 Horace T. Morse - University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. Each year since 1965 the University of Minnesota recognizes a select group of teachers for their outstanding contributions to undergraduate education. 

Professor Traci Mann (Psychology), Associate Professor Thomas Wolfe (History), and Professor Emeritus Kathleen Hansen (HSJMC) have received CLA's 2019-2020 Arthur "Red" Motley Exemplary Teaching Awards. Established in 1994, this annual award rewards top educators who demonstrate a passion and commitment to teaching.

Grants & Fellowships

Associate Professor David Karjanen (American Studies), Associate Professor Bianet Castellanos (American Studies), Assistant Professor Elliott Powell (American Studies), and Associate Professor & Director of Ojibwe Language Program Brendan Fairbanks (American Indian Studies) have won 2020-21 Imagine Grant Awards. The Imagine Fund grant programs support projects in the arts, design and humanities at the University of Minnesota. 

Publications and Creative Activities

Professor Ray Gonzalez (English) was selected as one of three lead artists for the third season of Art IS, a program of TPT, Twin Cities PBS television. He has invited CLA poetry alums Su Hwang and Roy Guzman, along with Mankato poet Michael Torres, emerging artists who will co-create an hour and a half program of interviews and poems. 


Professor Katherine Scheil (English) is the American Lead/International Champion for a new project called Everything to Everybody, which was just awarded a nearly two million pound grant for a multicultural revitalization of Shakespeare. Scheil has an English major working with her on the project as part of the CLA Dean's Freshman Research program.  


February 2020


Four CLA professors have received a University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship: a two-year award designed to advance the careers of exceptional junior faculty. Congratulations to Assistant Professor Erin Durban (Anthropology), Assistant Professor Samuel Fletcher (Philosophy), Assistant Professor Joseph Farag (Asian & Middle Eastern Studies), and Assistant Professor Christopher Pexa (English and American Indian Studies).

Four CLA faculty members have received the University of Minnesota's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education. This honor is awarded to exceptional candidates nominated by colleges in their quest to identify excellence in graduate and professional education. Congratulations to Associate Dean and Professor Jane Blocker (Art History), Department Chair and Professor Ann Waltner (History), Professor Penny Edgell (Sociology), and  Distinguished McKnight University Professor Gordon Legge (Psychology).

Professor Paul Sackett, the Beverly and Richard Fink Distinguished Professor (Psychology) has been awarded the Dunnette Prize from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Professor Sackett, only the third recipient of the $50,000 award, was given this honor for his extensive work expanding knowledge of the role of individual differences in workplace, higher education, and military settings.

Assistant Professor Dan Griffin (Geography, Environment and Society) was awarded a three-year grant from the NSF Paleo Perspectives on Climate Change program totaling nearly $700K.

Associate Professor Kathryn Grace (Geography, Environment and Society) received the Outstanding Research Award at the MN Population Center based on the quality of her publications in top population studies journals.

Grants & Fellowships

Assistant Professor Zozan Pehlivan (History) received a prestigious 2020-21 research grant from The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation for the project "A Climate of Violence: Environmental Crises in late Ottoman Empire" The project illuminates the role of environmental crises on the rise of violence in nineteenth-century Ottoman Kurdistan, a micro-region stretching from Asia Minor to Iran, Syria, and Iraq.


January 2020


Professor Ray Gonzalez (English) has received a Southwest Book Award for, Cutting the Wire: Photographs and Poetry from the U.S./Mexico Border, written with Lawrence Welsh.

Northrop Professor and Department Chair Brenda J. Child (American Studies) has received the American Library Association 2020 American Indian Youth Literature Award for Picture Book for “Bowwow Powwow: Bagosenjige-niimi’idim."

Paul Frenzel Land Grant Professor of Liberal Arts V.V. Chari (Economics) has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB). The award will be presented during the Institute's Foundation Day Function. 

Dr. Mai See Thao (Anthropology, PhD 2018) received the Hmong Woman of the Year Award at the 2019 Hmong New Year Celebration. Her anthropological research on social factors that affect biomedical care for marginalized populations earned her this historic win.

PhD student Erika Sanborne (Sociology) is the recipient of the Council of Graduate Students' (COGS) Aaron and Anna Beek Graduate Student Teaching Award. 

Professor Yanjie Bian (Sociology) is the winner of the 2020 IACMR Distinguished Scholarly Contribution Award. Professor Bian is a pioneer in the areas of Chinese guanxi, social networks, and social inequality. Learn more: z.umn.edu/IACMR 

PhD Amanda Kate Weber (Music), student of Director of Choral Activities Kathy Saltzman Romey, has received the 2018 Julius Herford Dissertation Prize from the American Choral Directors Association for her dissertation, "Choral Singing and Communal Mindset: A Program Evaluation of the Voices of Hope Women's Prison Choir." This is one of the highest honors in the academic field of choral conducting. 

Grants & Fellowships

The latest round of full Interdisciplinary Collaborative Workshop (ICW) grants have been awarded. Now in its fourth year, the ICW program has supported 17 workshops; workshop leadership teams have collectively brought together 184 faculty and staff members from CLA, 82 from other units at the University of Minnesota, and 101 scholars and professionals from outside the University. The full grants of up to $85,000 support interdisciplinary projects that bring together faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students from a variety of fields to intensively study topics that span disciplines. The ICW full grants in this round are as follows:

Environmental Humanities Initiative 2.0: New Directions in Research and Outreach

Professor and Department Chair Christine Marran (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies)

Associate Professor Dan Philippon (English)

Queer and Trans* Ecologies: Bodies, Social Relations, and Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene

Assistant Professor Aren Aizura (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)

Merle Davis Mathews ( Anthropology)

Associate Professor Kate Derickson (Geography, Environment & Society)

Associate Professor Kale Fajardo (American Studies)

Professor Rebecca Montgomery (Forest Resources)

Khoi Nguyen (American Studies)

Assistant Professor Corinne Teed (Art)

Workshop and Pilot Investigation of Auditory Behaviors of Bald Eagles

Professor and Executive Director of the Center for Applied & Translational Sensory Science Peggy Nelson (Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, CATSS)

Assistant Director Lori Arent (Raptor Center)

Associate Director of Engineering and Facilities Jeffrey Marr (St. Anthony Falls Laboratory)

JoAnn McGee (Animal Bioacousticians) 

Associate Engineer Christopher Milliren (St. Anthony Falls Laboratory)

Professor and Director of the Auditory Perception and Cognition Lab Andrew Oxenham (Psychology, Otolaryngology, CATSS)

Associate Professor and Executive Director of the Raptor Center Julie Ponder (College of Veterinary Medicine) 

Professor Patrick Redig (College of Veterinary Medicine) 

Edward Walsh (Animal Bioacousticians)

Associate Professor Katharine Gerbner (History) has won a National Endowment for the Humanities for her project “Constructing Religion, Defining Crime: Slavery, Power, and Belief in Colonial America” which will explore religion and religious freedom in colonial America as they were shaped by slavery and the criminalization of black religious practices.

Professor Peter Mercer-Taylor (Music) has won a National Endowment for the Humanities for his project “Classical Music in Pre-Civil War American Hymnody: A Digital Anthology for Listening and Singing.” Professor Mercer-Taylor plans on preparing an open-access digital anthology of almost 300 hymn melodies published in the United States before 1861 derived from European classical music.

Director Jeanne Kilde (Religious Studies), Research Fellow Virajita Singh (OED/CDES), Professor Penny Edgell (Sociology), and Assistant Professor Aisha Ghani (Anthropology, Religious Studies) have received a Faculty Driven Initiative Award from the University of Minnesota's Institute for Diversity, Equity, and Advocacy (IDEA) to augment the work of the Religion and the Public University Collaborative, sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study. The award will be used to bring in a nationally noted speaker on the subject of religion and public education and to host faculty and staff conversations regarding religion and the UMN campus climate. 

Publications and Creative Activities

Assistant Professor Sima Shakhsari (GWSS) has published Politics of Rightful Killing, Duke University Press. Analyzing online and off-line ethnography, Shakhsari looks at a transnational network of Iranian bloggers and provides an account of digital citizenship that raises questions about the internet's relationship to political engagement, militarism, and democracy.

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