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Award Night Sets Tone for 2018

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University of Denver

Feature  •

On Nov. 29, 2017, Division of Natural Sciences & Mathematics faculty, staff and guests gathered together to celebrate each other and a year of accomplishments. Guest speaker and vice provost of research and graduate education, Corinne Lengsfeld, PhD, drove home the importance of saying "thank you to yourself and to each other for contributing to excellence in this community" in a powerful address. "Start off 2018 remembering and appreciating what you and your colleagues did because you are very special and very important," said Lengsfeld.

Master of ceremonies, Andrei Kutateladze, PhD, Dean of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, echoed the vice provost while announcing the award winners, commenting on the remarkable collective dedication of faculty and staff in natural sciences and mathematics at DU.

Award Winners

Excellence in Research Award
Cedric Asensio, PhD, had an incredibly successful year. In his lab, he oversees three graduate students, a postdoc, a technician and eight undergraduate researchers, all contributing to publications and presentations in 2017. He was awarded two new major grants this past year: one from American Diabetes Association and one five-year NIH grant. This is in addition to two other current grants that he has from the American Heart Association and NIH. In his first three years at DU, Asensio has been awarded over $2.5 million in funding on four distinct projects, all as sole principal investigator. He is positioned to be running a premier lab working on peptide hormone secretion.

Excellence in Teaching Award
Nic Ormes, PhD, associate professor of mathematics, continued to make his classroom an outstanding learning environment for his students. He received consistent, outstanding feedback from students in all his courses. Ormes is a department leader in implementing new teaching methodologies as evidenced by his use of the flipped-classroom method. Unusual for a mathematics course, he implemented writing standards for Honors Calculus III, asking students not only to solve problems but to write and clearly explain their process. In addition, Ormes developed his own textbook for his dynamical systems course.

Outstanding Faculty Service Award
Jennifer Hoffman, PhD, associate professor of physics and astronomy, is dedicated to serving the community of the Division of Natural Science & Mathematics and beyond in creative and dynamic ways. Hoffman is a member of the DU IMPACT 2025 Faculty Talent, Excellence and Diversity Implementation Committee and has also been named to the new Art and Science Working Group. She is the local representative of the American Astronomical Society and serves on several working groups planning future astronomical instrumentation. Hoffman helped to establish DU SciTech, a free week-long summer camp which provides hands-on, inquiry-based STEM experiences to local middle-school girls from underrepresented social and economic backgrounds. Her partners on this project are Shannon Murphy, PhD, and Robin Tinghitella, PhD, from Biological Sciences. "SciTech truly is a team effort, and I share this award with them," said Hoffman of her colleagues upon accepting her award.

Outstanding Junior Faculty Award
John Latham, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is in his third year at DU. He has an impressive record of publications in referenced, high-profile journals such as Journal of Biological Chemistry, demonstrating strong research productivity. In the past year, Latham mentored five undergraduates, two graduate students and a high school student. In August, he was awarded a five-year NIH R01 grant, a strong affirmation of the quality of his research ideas in today's competitive funding environment. Latham has had a significant and positive impact on the quality of chemistry and biochemistry lab curriculum as well as the greater Natural Sciences & Mathematics community since joining the faculty.

Outstanding Staff Service Award
Divisional achievements would not be possible without the hidden heroes in each department: the staff. Chris Stutzman has no easy task dividing her time between the departments of mathematics and chemistry and biochemistry. She handles a wide variety of tasks with aplomb and cheerfully takes on unexpected or unusual tasks. She provided excellent assistance and guidance in planning a memorable Alumni Hockey Night. She is always supportive of and invested in student wellbeing, especially graduate students and office work-study staff. Her recognition as an outstanding staff member is well deserved.