Agricultural business professor Annette Levi shortlisted for top teaching award

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Dr. Annette Levi, professor of agricultural business, was selected for the Fresno State’s Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching 2022announced Dr. Xuanning Fu, Acting Fresno State Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The Provost’s Awards also honored the following faculty:

  • Dr. Steve Blumenshine, Professor of Biology – Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement Awards
  • Dr. Amila Becirbegovic, Assistant Professor of Modern and Classical Languages ​​and Literature — Faculty Service Award
  • Dr. Mark Baldis, Department of Kinesiology and Dr. Janine Nkosi, Department of Sociology — Outstanding Lecturer Award

Five faculty members were selected in the Promising New Faculty category of the Provost’s Awards in recognition of their exemplary achievements in teaching, research, creative endeavors and/or service among non-tenure-track faculty . The winners are:

  • Dr. Luis Fernando Macías, Assistant Professor of Chicano and Latin American Studies
  • Dr. Kimberly Stillmaker, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering and Geomatics
  • Mai Der Vang, Assistant English Teacher
  • Dr. Ettore Vitali, Assistant Professor of Physics
  • Dr. Varaxy Yi Borromeo, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership

The Provost’s Awards were established in 1993 to recognize outstanding teaching, research, and service that are central to Fresno State’s mission.

Recipients provide students with a nurturing environment that promotes learning and affirms the University as an intellectual and cultural leader in the Central Valley.

Winners will be celebrated at an event at 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 12 in the North GymnasiumRoom 118.

Excellence in teaching

Dr Annette Levi (farm business) has taught in a variety of areas for the Department of Agricultural Affairs since joining Fresno State in 2008. She integrates work experience and scholarly pursuits to create professional learning environments for his students. His greatest impact in the department is the integration of high impact teaching practices into the curriculum. She worked with the Richter Center to develop a service-learning course for students to engage with local nonprofits. She was assigned to an internship course where she developed a list of agriculture business majors and alumni and sent them notifications about career opportunities. And Levi has organized and offered study abroad programs in China and Chile so students can learn how foods grown in those regions reach tables around the world. She then developed service learning abroad study programs in Africa.

Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement Awards

Dr. Steve BlumenshineDr. Steve Blumenshine (biology) work focuses on fish ecology and bioenergetics, aquatic habitat analysis, water quality and watersheds. He has received over $1.5 million in research funding since 2013, has a strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, and over 100 conference presentations. In 2018, he received the College of Science and Mathematics Outstanding Faculty Research Award and received two US Fulbright Awards, one for research in Germany and one in Thailand. Its approach and success includes integrating students into its research group and working with external collaborators to increase the exposure of applied research and its implementation in the classroom. Blumenshine, who started at Fresno State in 2001, was recently named director of the California Water Institute’s Division of Research and Education.

Faculty Service Award

Dr Amila BecirbegovicDr Amila Becirbegovic (Modern and Classical Languages ​​and Literatures) is a German language scholar who is one of the lead researchers, translators, and writers on the President’s task force to review the University Library’s naming. It helps to read documents in German to root out secrets and develop empathy and acceptance so that we don’t live in fear of the past. She is a survivor of the genocide, having escaped the concentration camps in Bosnia. Her expertise is in how visual media affect the memory of the genocide. Becirbegovic has served on many university committees, including serving as chair of the library subcommittee that ensures faculty have a voice in library collections and practices. She sits on the executive committee of the College of Arts and Humanities and was chosen as the leader of the college’s honors cohort and will design a course around her research on genocide, memory and trauma.

Best Speaker Award

Dr Mark BaldisDr Mark Baldis (kinesiology) has been a lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology for over 21 years, teaching in the areas of exercise science, sports training, general kinesiology and physical education. He has taught full courses in the Department of Physical Therapy and is a regular guest instructor in the Departments of Biology, Public Health, and Food Science and Nutrition. Bladis was the coordinator of the exercise science option and director of the human performance laboratory for more than 10 years. It plays a key role in guiding and coordinating the exercise science program. He received the Faculty Mentorship Award from the College of Health and Human Services and the Outstanding Counselor Award from the University’s Campus Counselor Network. Bladis holds nine professional certifications and/or licenses and has completed thousands of hours of continuing professional education. He has incorporated these certifications and training into the courses he teaches, creating opportunities for exercise science students to earn their own professional certifications as well.

Dr Janine NkosiDr Janine Nkosi (sociology) has been a lecturer since 2011 and has brought transformative energy to education through community-based research and service-learning experiences. She uses her expertise to impact the community while teaching students the importance of public scholarship for social change. She trains students to survey community members, analyze their data, and reflect on their own lived experiences. Together, she and her students were instrumental in working with community organizations to investigate evictions and push for the passage of the Rental Housing Improvement Act in 2017 in the city of Fresno. She leads a team of student organizers in her classes to advocate for affordable housing policies and tenant protections in Fresno, in the face of a housing crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Promising new faculty

Dr Luis Fernando MaciasDr Luis Fernando Macias (Chicano and Latin American Studies) came to Fresno State in 2017 and has made exemplary achievements in teaching, research, and service, as well as serving as an advocate for students of color, especially those who have no papers. He co-chairs the University’s General Education Evaluation Subcommittee and serves on the Curriculum Committees of the College of Social Sciences and the Department of Chicano and Latin American Studies. He participates in the graduate study group of the ED program, is co-chair of the international education committee of the College of Social Sciences and serves on the honors and scholarships committee. Macías has published four peer-reviewed articles and authored a manuscript in the Journal of Higher Education. He received the Provost’s Award for Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times in 2020 and the College of Social Science Outstanding Teaching Award.

Dr. Kimberly StillmakerDr. Kimberly Stillmaker (civil and geomatics engineering), an alumnus of Lyles College of Engineering, joined Fresno State as a tenure-track assistant professor in 2016. She teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate engineering courses civilian and played an influential role in the design and development of a new freshmen introductory engineering course. Stillmaker invested in learning new ways to teach during the pandemic and continued to be an effective instructor. Her research focuses on structural engineering and gender equity in engineering. She is a key contributor in a $1.25 million multi-campus grant from the National Science Foundation to focus on a cross-campus networking and mentoring system and a faculty-wide advancement dashboard. of the system to increase the representation of women in engineering faculty.

May Der VangMay Der Vang (English) maintains an active writing and publishing portfolio, having recently gained attention for the release of her second book of poetry titled ‘Yellow Rain’, which has been reviewed by major national publications and is a finalist for two National Poetry Prizes. She came to Fresno State in 2018 to share her enthusiasm for poetry with a diverse student body. She coordinates the Philip Levine Poetry Prize for the Master of Fine Art; created and advises Hmong American Ink and Stories, a space for Hmong American students to develop as writers; sits on several committees; and partnered with the Laureate Lab Visual Wordist Studio on a project of experimental creative art/poetry workshops. She teaches a new seminar, “Refugee Poetics,” which gives voice to those who have been historically displaced.

Dr. Ettore VitaliDr. Ettore Vitali (physics) joined Fresno State in 2018 and was tasked with establishing a new research program in computational physics. He wasted no time getting started and recruiting a group of talented and motivated students. He oversaw independent study courses and chaired master’s dissertation engagements and put in place plans to develop new courses. In four years, he published eight research articles, three of which with students. Vitali also created a new way of teaching during the pandemic for his IT classes that relied on “live programming” where he coded live while students made suggestions and asked questions in real time, resulting in the class felt more like a research team. Vitali received in 2020 the Provost Award for Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times.

Dr. Varaxy Yi BorromeoDr. Varaxy Yi Borromeo (educational leadership) serves as the graduate program coordinator for the Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration program, training higher education and student affairs professionals. She is deeply committed to equity, inclusion, and social justice and has dedicated her scholarship and professional services to advancing these efforts. Since joining Fresno State in 2018, Yi has published peer-reviewed articles, two book chapters, a policy report, and has other manuscripts under review and/or in progress. She has served as an advisor to the Cambodian Student Association of Fresno State, chairperson of the Education Equity Committee of the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, and chairperson of the Asian Teachers’ Association. and staff. She was recently appointed by Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval to co-chair the Anti-Racism Task Force.


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