Skip to main content

Faculty members receive 2009 Faculty Achievement Awards


May 12, 2009

Nine outstanding ASU faculty members have been recognized at the highest level of the university, receiving 2009 Faculty Achievement Awards after being nominated by their deans. They represent the top intellectual contributions by ASU faculty.

This is the third year for the annual awards, which are given in two general areas: excellence in defining edge research and creative activities; and excellence in classroom performance.

The nine individuals, representing a wide range of disciplines, were honored at a reception May 7 in the Carson Ballroom of Old Main. The awards were presented by Elizabeth D. Capaldi, executive vice president and provost, and President Michael Crow.

This year’s awardees are the following:

• Best Professional Application of Research: Steven Corman, School of Human Communication, and Fernando Ponce, physics

• Defining Edge Research in Social Sciences: Scott Decker, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Sally Kitch, women and gender studies

• Young Investigators: Henry Sodano, mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Andrei Belitsky, physics

• Best Performance or Art Work: John Risseeuw, School of Art

• Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction: Susan Larson, elementary education, Division of Teacher Preparation

• Excellence in Undergraduate Student Mentoring: Patricia Murphy,  School of Letters and Sciences

Corman leads a team of scholars and practitioners at the Consortium for Strategic Communication who engage in timely and vital research on the role of communication in the global struggle against violent extremism. His work has had impact beyond the university, bringing financial investments from both the Department of Defense and the Department of State. His extensive public outreach includes a series of white papers on the CSC Web site written for strategic communication practitioners and government decision makers.

Ponce is the editor of nine books, inventor of seven patents and author of more than 200 publications. A recognized expert in the field of nitride semiconductors, he continues to advance the areas of solid state lighting, which has important implications for reducing energy consumption and mitigating global warming, and solar-cell technology, likely to be an important renewable energy method and a means for reducing carbon emissions and global warming.

Decker is one of the nation’s leading experts on gangs, gang crime and law enforcement responses to gang crime. His work on gangs alone includes seven books which are frequently cited, and his award-winning research on drug smuggling was the first to predict the shift in cocaine distribution routes from the Caribbean to Mexico. His qualitative research includes fieldwork with active gang members, residential burglars and armed robbers, and he has written 15 scholarly books and received close to $4 million in grant funding.

Kitch is a major international leader in the field of women and gender studies, a rigorous and creative theorist who leads the Institute for Humanities Research. She uses feminist theory, legal theory and philosophy to grapple with the larger issues of race, class and gender, and her work on these issues is central to the new School of Social Transformation. She is a gifted teacher who helps her students understand the value of theory for analyzing these complex issues.

Sodano is internationally recognized as a leader in the fields of energy harvesting, multifunctional materials and nanotechnology, with 86 technical publications and more than $2 million in research awards. In only four years as an assistant professor he has developed a thriving research program and won numerous awards including the NSF CAREER award. He develops ingenious approaches to problem solving that advance applications while increasing our understanding of the basic mechanics of materials and systems.

Belitsky is already highly regarded worldwide as a brilliant theoretician who has had a remarkable impact in the field of sub-atomic physics. His work has inspired an experimental upgrade at the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility at the Jefferson Laboratory in Virginia. As a theoretical particle physicist and assistant professor at ASU since 2004, he has more than 80 publications and has been successful obtaining significant external support for his research.

Risseeuw has had a distinguished career as a socially involved printmaking artist, addressing issues that include political corruption, equal rights, environmental abuse, fascism, illegal wars and arms proliferation. For a recent body of work he traveled to war-torn countries and collected materials and stories, then crafted handmade paper from articles of clothing from landmine victims, on which he printed stories of survivors, horrific accounts of victims and appalling statistics. “Handmade Paper Landmine Prints” is a profound statement for our time.

Larson is a highly engaging faculty member who champions student success in math, a difficult discipline area, and who uses a variety of strategies in her teaching approach that have increased undergraduate students’ math achievement scores. She also has developed technology tools to support her students in grasping course content, and has partnered with Liberty School District to prepare their teachers in effective math teaching methods. Her passion and enthusiasm, coupled with her effective teaching methods, are the basis for her students’ success.

Murphy, while teaching 475 undergraduate students in 30 creative writing courses over three years, planned, developed and implemented a literary magazine run by undergraduates, Superstition Review. The biannual online publication gives students a first-hand opportunity to learn about the field of publishing, and supports the school’s degree program in literature, writing and film. Students interview famous writers from across the country, and they edit, design and promote the publication, gaining experience and technological skills far beyond most undergraduate humanities programs.

Corman, Ponce, Kitch and Belitsky are in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Decker is in the College of Public Programs, Sodano in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, Risseeuw in the Herberger College of the Arts and Larson in the College of Teacher Education and Leadership.