COS Faculty Honored with Pegasus Professor Award

2015-Pegasus-professorsTwo College of Sciences faculty members were recently presented the 2015 Pegasus Professor Award, the highest academic honor at the university.

Pegasus Professors are chosen from senior members of the faculty who have been a professor at least five years and have achieved noteworthy research and/or creative activity of national and international impact.

They are presented with a $5,000 stipend and a $5,000 research grant.

Kerstin Hamann is a professor of political science and a leading scholar of west European political economy and labor politics. Colleagues describe here as a tireless leader in promoting excellent teaching strategies to enhance student learning and is selfless about sharing her knowledge with leaders in her discipline.

Hamann has multiple degrees including a Ph.D. in political science from Washington University. She joined UCF in 1995 as an assistant professor and today is chair of the department. Her research and teaching has had an impact here and abroad. Her reputation and work has led to several appointments including being named an honorary faculty member at the Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia in Madrid, Spain, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Political Science Education and vice president of the American Political Science Association.

Hamann has written multiple scholarly articles, which have appeared in highly ranked peer-reviewed journals, and has multiple grants from agencies as diverse as Spain’s Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness to the Miami-Florida European Union Center.

“She is the archetype of the teacher-scholar – an excellent teacher, excellent in scholarship, and engaged in important service to her discipline,” wrote College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson in his nomination letter. “She is the very model of a senior faculty member.”

Her work goes beyond the classroom and research. She’s worked hard to take political science to the online world.

“Dr. Hamann is a key player in UCF’s distributed learning initiative, developing effective pedagogies for the online environment. She is a national leader in online learning, having developed an important research program in technology-enhanced teaching and learning,” said Charles Dziuban, director for Research Initiatives for Teaching Effectiveness at UCF.

Cynthia Young, is a professor in mathematics, an associate dean for the College of Sciences and interim vice provost for international affairs and global strategies.  She is also a leader in enhancing UCF as a center for STEM studies.

She has multiple degrees including a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of Washington. She came to UCF in 1997 and as an assistant professor was selected by the Office of Naval Research for the Young Investigator Award to support her research in mathematical modeling of atmospheric effects on laser beams with interest in laser radar and laser communications systems. She has earned more than $147 million in research funding while at UCF. In addition to atmospheric propagation studies, Young leads several STEM education initiatives at UCF.

She helped create the EXCEL program at UCF, which has become a national model for recruiting and retaining students. The program began in 2006 and has since then increased the number of women in science and math majors by 3 percent and underrepresented groups by 6 percent. The program’s success has made it a national model with universities requesting workshops about setting it up.

“Dr. Young is a visionary and a leader and she has demonstrated these skills during her tenure at UCF,” said Michael Georgiopoulos, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. He’s worked with Young for years on joint research projects, which is why he nominated her for the award. “Her contributions in STEM education and STEM student retention, in my opinion, are hard to match by any other faculty at UCF or across the nation.”

College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson noted that not only is Young an excellent researcher and teacher, but that she cares for fellow faculty.

That’s why one of the first initiatives she completed as an associate dean was a mentoring program for new faculty, both tenure-track and non-tenure track. In 2013, faculty members in the program earned National Science Foundation Career and Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator awards.

“She thought carefully about obstacles that can trip up new faculty members, and how to navigate them; and as a result new faculty are progressing rapidly,” Johnson said. “Her heart-felt concern for the faculty is apparent, and has earned her their trust and gratitude.”

For a full list of 2015 Pegasus Professor Award recipients, please visit UCF Today.

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