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Jan. 28, 2019

2019 William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Awards

Evangelyn Alocilja

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
College of Engineering 

Evangelyn Alocilja is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on nanobiosensor technologies for disease-causing pathogens. Her research combines engineering with the biological sciences to develop biosensors to keep food systems safe and the environment clean. The stated purpose of her lab is to save lives, protect the nation and sustain the economy by diagnosing infectious and antimicrobial resistant diseases early, rapidly, inexpensively and through point-of-care nanoparticle-based biosensors. 

Since 1993, Alocilja has generated more than $5 million in external funding. With research that translates into innovations that benefit society, Alocilja holds 10 U.S. patents, with several more pending or under review. In 2012, she was named an MSU Innovator of the Year and, in 2015, she was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors. In 2017, she was a finalist for the national 2017 Manufacturing Innovator Leadership Award. 

Alocilja has published more than 125 peer-reviewed journal articles, written 15 books and book chapters and has given more than 200 invited and technical presentations. Her work has been cited nearly 5,000 times. 

Alocilja is an excellent teacher and mentor. She has developed eight undergraduate and graduate courses, all of which either define the discipline of biosystems engineering and/or define the concentration of biomedical engineering within biosystems engineers.

She was instrumental in formulating the bio-systems engineering program and was lead faculty in creating the biomedical engineering concentration. She consistently receives high SIRS ratings and has received the College of Engineering’s Withrow Teaching Excellence Award three times (2005, 2011 and 2015) and the American Society of Engineering Education Award for Excellence in Teaching Materials and Methods in Biological and Agricultural Engineering in 2003. She has graduated almost 30 master’s and doctoral students and is currently advising six. 

In 2016, she received MSU’s Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor of the Year Award. 

Alocilja has established global alliances with institutions and scientists in Southeast Asia (Philippines, Indonesia and Japan), South Asia (India, Nepal and Sri Lanka) and Latin America (Mexico, Peru and Colombia). She is the founder of the Global Alliance for Rapid Diagnostics with membership in 20 countries. 

For her commitment to advancing knowledge and transforming lives through research, teaching and professional and international service, Evangelyn Alocilja is a richly deserving recipient of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award. 

Susan M. Barman

College of Human Medicine 

Susan M. Barman has been on faculty at MSU for more than 40 years. Her research focuses on neural control of cardiorespiratory function, with an emphasis on the characterization and origin of the naturally occurring discharges of sympathetic and phrenic nerves. Her recent work demonstrates that neurons in the lateral tegmental field, or LTF, of the medullary reticular formation play an important role in mediating autonomic re exes — important in various physiological and pathophysiological states. The major objectives of her neurophysiological research are to determine the types of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters within the LTF that account for re ex-induced changes in sympathetic activity, to identify the types of LTF neurons responsible for re ex-induced changes in sympathetic activity and to determine the role of the LTF in control of phrenic nerve activity. 

Barman has been continually funded for 26 years by the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, and was the recipient of a prestigious NIH MERIT Award. She has published nearly 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and 30 peer-reviewed meeting proceedings and reviews. She has published 50 book chapters, many of which were invited. She has also given more than 30 invited presentations. Barman is author of the well-respected physiology textbook, “Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology.

Barman is a committed teacher in the College of Human Medicine, or CHM, teaching physiology and pharmacology concepts throughout the curriculum and serving as a problem-based learning facilitator. She was part of the development group for the neurology domain and the thought, behavior and emotion domain. Recently, Barman was instrumental in CHM’s curricular development as the college moved into the shared discovery curriculum. 

Barman has been a recipient of the Outstanding University Women Faculty Award, the College of Human Medicine Distinguished Faculty Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology. She has served on the College Advisory Council and as chair of the Graduate Studies Committee as well as numerous departmental committees. She has been very active in the American Physiological Society, including serving on its council and as president. 

For her significant accomplishments as a scholar, teacher and leader in the College of Human Medicine and the field of physiology, Susan M. Barman is highly deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award. 

Eric Freedman

College of Communication Arts and Sciences 

A common thread runs through Eric Freedman’s work as a scholar, teacher, trainer and practicing journalist: advancing the essential role of a free press as a foundation of democracy, transparent governance and informed citizen activism. That thread is evident whether he is researching barriers to effective environmental news coverage in Central Asia, leading his Capital News Service students as they report on public policy in Michigan, training professional journalists abroad or writing for the public about environmental discoveries or U.S. politics. 

Freedman’s research and instructional accomplishments are both global and local. His work has raised MSU’s profile as far away as Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Tbilisi, Georgia and as close as Traverse City and Three Rivers. Globally, he was one of the early Western scholars of the post- Soviet mediascape, particularly in remote, but strategically important Central Asia. For more than 15 years, his research, professional trainings, teaching and mentorships have influenced scholars, democracy-building NGOs and professional journalists who work diligently in the face of serious — sometimes deadly — barriers to press freedom and pluralistic media. 

Locally, Freedman’s Capital News Service students have written thousands of articles for newspapers and online media across Michigan about crucial state issues, such as health and social services, economic development, crime and justice, the environment and education, furthering MSU’s land-grant mission. As Knight chair and director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, his work connects the local with the international, particularly on transborder issues in the Great Lakes region. 

Freedman works with courageous journalists who report under threat of arrest, attack — even assassination — in their own countries. He works with MSU students who break stories that reveal urgent problems in state government. He works with dedicated journalism faculty and research collaborators who struggle with inadequate resources, low salaries and governmental constraints at universities in their home countries, and he brings those lessons back into his classes and into his scholarship. 

For his significant accomplishments as a scholar, teacher, trainer, mentor and role model to students, Eric Freedman is richly deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award. 


Efstratia Kalfagianni

College of Natural Science 

Efstratia Kalfagianni is a major figure in the field of low dimensional topology and knot theory who has pioneered the use of invariants to enumerate the density of knots; essentially, she conducts world-class research in topology and knot theory. 

Identifying the number of distinct knots of a given complexity is one of the fundamental questions of our age, and Kalfagianni has published a seminal monograph on quantum and geometric knot invariants that connects coefficients of the Jones polynomial on links to the Tuttle polynomial on graphs. Her work has important applications to the study of partition functions in quantum field theory that estimate the amount of information a topological quantum computer can potentially store. 

Kalfagianni is the senior leader of the highly regarded topology group at MSU, whose prominence has spearheaded the mathematics department’s rise into its tier-one National Research Council research ranking.

Kalfagianni’s publication record is outstanding, with major papers in the Transactions of the American Mathematical Society and Advances in Mathematics. She is in great demand as a colloquium speaker, including a distinguished plenary lecture to the American Mathematical Society in 2013. She was named a fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2019. 

Kalfagianni has twice been a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study (1994-1995, 2004-05) in addition to a visiting member of the Max Planck Institute in Bonn, Germany (2007) and the Edward Schrodinger Institute in Vienna, Austria (2014). She has had continuous NSF support as a sole-PI since her arrival at MSU, including serving as PI of a National Science Foundation, or NSF, Focused Research Group, the most prestigious NSF funding available to pure mathematicians. She is an editor of the New York Journal of Mathematics. 

Kalfagianni is an outstanding mentor of young talent, having supervised six PhD students and five postdoctoral fellows who have gone on to research positions at major universities or in industry. Her profound commitment to graduate student mentoring focuses on the professional and emotional growth of her students. 

As an internationally renowned scholar and exceptional research mentor, Efstratia Kalfagianni is highly deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award. 

Michael Largey

College of Music 

Internationally recognized award-winning scholar, Michael Largey, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on music in Haiti. He has mentored a generation of ethnomusicologists working on music in the Caribbean, who have benefitted greatly from his intellectual brilliance and wisdom. A true leader, he has influenced many as a researcher, a teacher, a mentor and an actively engaged volunteer within the community. 

Largey is one of the most well-respected figures in the field of ethnomusicology today, which is evident through the number of awards and honors he has received for his work. His second book, “Vodou Nation: Haitian Art Music and Cultural Nationalism,” received the 2007 Alan Merriam Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology, one of the highest honors in the field. His first book, “Caribbean Currents: Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae,” received two prestigious honors in 1996: the Gordon K. Lewis Memorial Award for Caribbean Scholarship and the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award. Largey has published nearly 20 articles, book chapters and reviews and presented more than 30 professional papers. 

As a dedicated teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, Largey has served as an adviser to an impressive list of students, making a significant contribution to the development of the ethnomusicology field. In the words of one of his undergraduate students who went on to receive a PhD, “his guidance led me to pursue ethnomusicology.”

His success as a teacher has been recognized through the receipt of an MSU Teacher–Scholar Award in 1998, the MSU College of Music Dortha J. and John D. Withrow Excellence in Teaching Award in 2010 and the Fintz Award for Teaching Excellence from the MSU Center for Integrative Arts and Humanities in 2012. 

In terms of professional service, Largey has served as president of the Midwest chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology, served on review panels for the National Endowment for the Humanities and served on the editorial advisory board for the Center for Black Music Research and CR: The New Centennial Review. 

Largey’s generosity extends to the community at large. Fluent in Haitian Kreyòl, he has volunteered his skills as a translator for several nonprofits working with Haitian refugees and supported the rebuilding of cultural centers damaged by the 2010 earthquake. 

For his accomplishments as a scholar, teacher and mentor, Michael Largey is most deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award. 

Filomena Nunes

College of Natural Science 

Filomena Nunes has demonstrated excellence in scientific research, leadership, service, teaching and mentoring budding scholars throughout her career. An internationally recognized expert in nuclear reaction theory, she focuses her research on analyzing nuclear reactions with rare isotopes, using them to extract information to answer such fundamental questions as the origin of visible matter in the universe. 

Nunes played a particularly critical role in founding the FRIB Theory Alliance, a coalition of scientists from universities and national laboratories who seek to foster advancements in theory related to diverse areas of FRIB science, optimize the coupling between theory and experiment and stimulate the field by creating permanent theory positions across the country. She successfully convinced nuclear theorists at other institutions, who needed assurance that they would benefit, and the DOE, which was focused primarily on advancing FRIB, not on nuclear theory. 

One of the reasons Nunes was successful in her efforts to found the FRIB Theory Alliance was the high regard with which her work is held among nuclear physicists. She has published more than 125 articles with more than 2,400 citations and has given nearly 100 invited talks. Additionally, Nunes has been part of nearly every major national committee on nuclear physics. She has received numerous grants from the NSF and DOE and was a key player in a Center of Excellence for Radioactive Ion Beam Studies for Stewardship Science supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration. She has been named an American Physical Society fellow, a prestigious recognition given to significantly less than one percent of the membership annually. 

Nunes has always been a passionate advocate for increasing women’s and underrepresented minorities’ participation in the sciences and has highlighted the work of many young women scientists, empowering them on campus and in the nuclear community. The graduate students she has mentored have won prestigious fellowships, and she has been the mentoring adviser to most of the graduate students in reaction theory. In 2017, MSU named Nunes the Inspirational Woman of the Year. 

For her research accomplishments and visionary leadership at the departmental, university, national and international levels — and her advocacy for increasing diversity in the science fields, Filomena Nunes is richly deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award. 

Sieglinde Snapp

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources 

Sieglinde Snapp has a comprehensive and sustained record of excellence in research, instruction and outreach. In the research arena, she has focused on the role of rotational diversity, legume integration and compost management to enhance reliance on biological nitrogen fixation, temporary immobilization for nitrogen retention and building up labile carbon to improve nitrogen efficiency in field crop systems; cropping system properties that enhance soil aggregation, soil carbon sequestration and legume traits for enhanced phosphorus availability for improved efficiency; and soil carbon management through investigation of the role of multipurpose crops, cover crops and perennial grains to enhance active soil carbon pools and soil carbon sequestration. 

Snapp serves as the board representative for global agronomy within the American Society of Agronomy, or ASA, and the chair of the ASA Sustainable Intensification Community of the Environmental Quality section. She was elected an ASA fellow in 2010 and awarded the International Service in Agronomy Award in 2015. She received Fulbright Fellowships in 2009 and 2016 and the John K. Hudzik Emerging Leader in International Studies Award at MSU in 2008. 

An important aspect of Snapp’s service to MSU and the greater community emphasizes the training and mentoring of students to work in international agriculture while imparting the importance of transdisciplinary work. Central to her success in this area is a deep commitment to developing action learning educational and extension materials. She has written 127 journal articles, edited two books and written 25 book chapters and dozens of extension materials documenting soil health and nutrient management techniques in forms accessible to scholars and educators in developing countries. 

Snapp’s teaching focuses on sustainable agriculture. She co-developed the MSU graduate specialization in ecological food and farming systems and a multidisciplinary, university-wide undergraduate minor in sustainable agriculture and food systems. She co-edited a textbook on agricultural systems regularly used for teaching international agricultural systems courses and international agricultural development. She has advised 12 PhD and 12 master’s students — many from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups and countries. 

For her significant impact in all four of MSU’s mission areas: research, teaching, outreach and international engagement, Sieglinde Snapp is a most worthy recipient of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award. 

Julie A. Winkler

College of Social Science 

Julie A. Winkler is one of the country’s most committed and influential geographers, with extraordinary accomplishments in research, teaching and service to the discipline. Inspired by her youth in the northern Great Plains, where powerful thunderstorms can tower into the atmosphere, Winkler has built a career in meteorology and climatology widely respected by her peers. She has investigated the nature of heavy precipitation events, how air flows near the Earth’s surface and the potential effects of future climate change on the agricultural industry. 

Winkler is a prolific scholar, with more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, scores of public presentations and more than 50 invited seminars. Her research has been published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Geophysical Research Letters, International Journal of Climatology and Nature Climate Change. Winkler played a critical role as lead author on the National Climate Assessment with respect to climate change in the Midwest. 

Winkler has acquired more than $11 million in funding to support her research, which has been recognized with several prestigious awards, including being named a fellow in the American Meteorological Society in 2003, the same year she obtained a Fulbright Award as a senior specialist in Poland and a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Climate Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers, or AAG. 

Winkler’s service to her profession is extensive. She served as president of the AAG in 2013 and was awarded AAG’s prestigious Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Award in 2017. She earned the Charles Franklin Brooks Award for service from the American Meteorological Society in 2010 and worked as a reviewer for L’Oréal USA Fellowships for Women in Science from 2009 to 2012. Winkler has served as the editor of the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. 

Winkler is an excellent teacher and mentor to both undergraduate and graduate students. She has taught a variety of courses at MSU, ranging from Introduction to Meteorology to Advanced Research Design. Although her classes are rigorous, her students nevertheless rank her among the department’s best instructors. 

Julie A. Winkler is clearly a tremendous asset to the fields of meteorology and climatology. For her outstanding work in the area of atmospheric research and her service to the discipline, her students and the university, she is richly deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award. 

Jeffrey C. Wray

College of Arts and Letters 

Jeffrey C. Wray is a nationally recognized filmmaker and screenwriter, having created a number of films distinguished by considerable acclaim. His latest film, “The Evolution of Bert,” a creative musical wonder, premiered at the prestigious Chicago International Film Festival as a nominee for the Roger Ebert Award. It also screened in the noted Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best First Feature. One review of “The Evolution of Bert” ends with this encomium, “Witty and poignant, the film offers a candid discussion on the black reality, using genuine characters and inspired musical choices, but it’s the poetry that elevates this film to another level, creating theatrical moments in time that deserve to be treasured and held in posterity.” 

Wray’s films are distinguished by recognition. His first, “The Beautyful Ones,” won two festival awards and was screened throughout the world. His production of the PBS drama, “China,” based on a short story by Charles Johnson, was revered for how it broke with conventional stereotypes of black men and garnered several best feature and best producer awards at film festivals. Wray’s screenplay, “Eclipse,” was a finalist at the Sundance Producer’s Lab in 2015; for it, the Czech Summer Writing Workshop at Charles University in Prague invited him to participate. 

Wray’s work has been supported by nearly 20 grants and fellowships throughout this career, including fellowships from the Wexner Center for the Arts and the John Kittredge Foundation. 

Wray’s role in the life of the MSU and East Lansing communities cannot be overemphasized. During a very dramatic moment, shortly after the killing of Trayvon Martin, at a film screening of “Fruitvale Station,” he spoke on a panel of black faculty and community members to a packed house. His comments were personal, ethical and inspirational. He spoke as a father, a son and a member of the MSU community, as a black man who understood, long before the slogan, Black Lives Matter, how much they did, indeed, need to matter. 

Jeffrey C. Wray is an exceptional and productive artist, teacher and member of the university community. He is richly deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award. 

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