Writer: Carlos Andres Lopez, 575-646-1955, email@example.com
For the first time in its 132-year history, New Mexico State University hosted an all-virtual convocation to kick off the start of a new semester.
NMSU’s Spring 2021 Convocation took place Jan. 19 on Zoom, featuring remarks from Provost Carol Parker and an awards presentation. NMSU community members and the general public may watch a recording of the ceremony at http://bit.ly/3sAmI4t.
NMSU traditionally hosts a convocation in January and August to celebrate academic excellence and welcome faculty and staff back to campus after the summer and winter breaks. For many years, NMSU hosted the biannual ceremony at Atkinson Recital Hall on the Las Cruces campus. However, state COVID-19 restrictions prompted the university to shift its first convocation of 2021 to an all-digital format, said NMSU Teaching Academy Director Tara Gray, who coordinated and emceed the ceremony.
Eight faculty members were honored during the awards presentation. The awards highlighted faculty success from across the NMSU system.
“As I participated in convocation, I was struck by the many admirable accomplishments of our faculty this year,” Parker said. “We have much to celebrate.”
ASNMSU President Mathew Madrid and student Katie Meyer, who chairs the ASNMSU Christmore Awards committee, presented the Christmore Awards for Teaching Excellence to Nichole Hamilton, assistant professor of theatre arts, and Kate Bove, assistant professor of Hispanic linguistics. Named after former accounting department head Patricia Christmore, the award recognizes a pair of tenure-track faculty members from the Las Cruces campus.
Hamilton teaches classes in acting for stage, film and TV, non-majors and vocal production, and she created the Artist Gym for students to workshop material outside of class.
Bove teaches linguistics classes in Spanish and English, including introduction to linguistics, the structure of language, and courses in her areas of expertise, semantics and pragmatics.
Luis Cifuentes, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School, then presented four research awards with help from deans Rolando A. Flores, Lakshmi N. Reddi and Enrico Pontelli.
Akasha Faist, assistant professor of animal sciences, received the Early Career Award, which honors a pre-tenured faculty member. Faist’s research group works to overcome biological and environmental constraints that limit ecological restoration.
Igor Sevostianov, professor of mechanical engineering and director of NMSU RISE, received the Distinguished Career Award, which honors a tenured faculty member. Sevostianov’s research focuses on the micromechanics of materials. He has published more than 250 journal papers and co-authored three books.
Punam Thakur, technical director/lab manager at the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, received the Research Recognition Award, which honors a staff or faculty member. As the manager for the center’s Radiochemistry Laboratory, Thakur oversees the radiochemistry wet lab and radiochemistry count room.
Catherine Jonet, associate professor of gender and sexuality studies, and Laura Anh Williams, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies and director of gender and sexuality studies, received the Team Research Award, which honors any team of two or more researchers, either faculty or staff.
Jonet’s work focuses on how literature, film and other creative forms are knowledge projects deeply imbued with aesthetic and social meanings. Williams’ research brings together feminist and queer theories, food studies, visual cultures and critical refugee studies.
Abdessattar Abdelkefi, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, received the Westhafer Award, the highest award for research at NMSU. Abdu’s research interests include dynamics and vibrations as well as aeroelasticity. He has received a combined $3.5 million in funding from various agencies, including the National Science Foundation, Army Research Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.
All the award winners received a plaque and a stipend. Following Tuesday’s ceremony, each recipient attended a virtual reception in their honor, giving them an opportunity to celebrate their achievements with colleagues.