Faculty honored at Distinguished Scholars Program

By Jack Goods, communication specialist in the Office of Marketing and Communication

Twelve faculty members were honored Tuesday at the Distinguished Scholars Program, which recognizes faculty for outstanding achievement in research and scholarship.

Lawrence G. Haggerty Faculty Award for Excellence in Research

Dr. Eugenia Afinoguénova, chair and professor of Spanish

Dr. Eugenia Afinoguénova’s current research brings urgent political and environmental concerns into her work in tourism, visual culture and food studies. At present, she is coediting the collected volume “Gastrocracy,” exploring the intersections of food and governance in Spain. It includes entries illustrating the differentiated promotion of Kosher and Halal food for tourists and immigrants, the practices of food nativism, and other relevant topics.

Afinoguénova’s previous monograph, “The Prado: Spanish Culture and Leisure (1819-1939),” won the 2019 Eleanor Tufts Award from the American Society for Hispanic Art Historical Studies and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. This work brought Afinoguénova to the Milwaukee Art Museum, where she participated in the development of the exhibition “Americans in Spain: Painting and Travel, 1819-1919” that also featured an app and a digital exhibit developed by Marquette students Tim Korolev and Shiyu Tian.

“The Lawrence G. Haggerty Faculty Award for Excellence in Research does not only recognize my studies of Spain’s tourism and museum history, but also raises the profile of the collaborative work at Marquette that brings the humanities together with computer science and opens to faculty the potential of a 3D Visualization Lab at the College of Engineering,” Afinoguénova said. “These collaborations allow me to transform my research into public-facing exhibits that people in Milwaukee and far beyond can enjoy.”

Afinoguénova is also co-editing “The Edinburgh Companion to the Spanish Civil War and Visual Culture.”

Afinoguénova’s forthcoming talks and publications incorporate the idea of the Capitalocene, a distinct epoch during which both nature and culture become the raw material, the byproduct, and the residue of the capitalist production cycle, to better understand the environmental consequences of tourism, visual culture and the food systems in Spain.

Way Klingler Fellowship

Dr. Elizabeth Angeli, associate professor of English

Over the past decade, Dr. Elizabeth Angeli has studied how emergency health care providers harness the power of rhetoric and utilize written communication to manage information, decision-making and patient care in unpredictable workplaces. She has worked directly with and alongside multiple emergency medical services agencies and health care institutions in addition to producing published works.

“Dr. Angeli is a leading, award-winning scholar in health communications and someone whose expertise is in high demand around the nation for developing documentation services used by first responders and training EMTs, CNAs and firefighters to communicate and write accurately and quickly in high-risk situations,” said Dr. Leah Flack, chair of the Department of English.

Angeli’s latest project proposes bringing public-facing humanities education and discernment together by gaining a macro-level view of the PFHE landscape so that we can better understand the micro-level processes required to complete the macro work.

“I have no doubt that this will be a very fulfilling path for Dr. Angeli to take as a trained spiritual director who is passionate about professional formation and who has remarkable expertise in various areas of applied public humanities,” Flack said. “She has been an active participant in college initiatives on professional formation, and we are better for her contributions and expertise.”

Dr. Jodi Melamed, associate professor of English

Dr. Jodi Melamed participates as a social justice-oriented scholar for the Portal Project, a collaborative think tank that brings together scholars, artists and activists to address the urgent questions of racial and social justice. Since September  2021, she has met monthly with her working group to analyze the current moment from the point of view of longstanding struggles, to name the possibilities and dangers facing movements and to think about how to link movement, history, and practice in the service of creating a better world.

“I am grateful for the support for deep collaborative scholarship, which takes time but unleashes tremendous creativity,” Melamed said. “In supporting my work with the Portal Project, MU is supporting new ways of thinking that come from breaking down silos not only between disciplines but between university-produced knowledge and the knowing of social movements, between university-based pedagogies and the liberatory imaginations of artists.”

Alongside her work with the Portal Project, Melamed is co-authoring a book manuscript titled “Operationalizing Racial Capitalism: On Liberalism’s Command Power.” Since arriving at Marquette in 2004, she has been published in the top journals in her multiple disciplines and has given numerous invited lectures, keynotes and seminars.

“Jodi’s current work with the Portal Project Think Tank shows her significant contributions to a national conversation on, in her words, ‘climate justice, racial capitalism/economic democracy, and abolition/re-imagining safety,’” said Dr. Leah Flack, professor and chair of the Department of English. “She is a contributor to the Portal Project alongside names that are known well outside of the academy.”

Dr. Marcus Plested, professor of theology

Dr. Marcus Plested’s current research project involves extended study and reflection on God’s involvement in human history. The belief in the incarnation makes Christianity a uniquely historical religion, the only religion to hold that the causal principle of the universe entered into human history as human – and was born, died and rose again. Plested is tackling these questions through a series of studies and investigations of scripture, historical theology and modern systematic theology.

“This fellowship will support a major research project on the theology of history,” Plested said. “I am enormously grateful for this tangible sign of Marquette’s support of the humanities in general and theology in particular.”

Plested, who has been at Marquette since 2013, has written two books that have become standard works on their respective topics.

“Not only have his books garnered reviews in the top-tier journals of theology, but they have also achieved well over 70 citations each, in a field where success is typically measured by engagement in the high single digits,” said Dr. Conor Kelly, chair of the Department of Theology. “His second book has effectively set the parameters of the debate about the legacy of Thomas Aquinas in Orthodox theology, providing what one reviewer called ‘an earthquake’ for the study of Aquinas’s reception and interpretation in the Eastern Christian traditions.”

Dr. Elaine Spiller, associate professor of mathematical and statistical sciences

Dr. Elaine Spiller uses data and computational models to solve problems while reflecting the inherent uncertainties of the process, also known as uncertainty quantification. Her latest research project aims to develop methodologies to assess post-fire debris flow hazards that can combine state-of-the-art physical and data-driven modeling while quantifying attendant uncertainties.

“I’m quite humbled to be awarded the Way Klingler Science Fellowship,” Spiller said. “I appreciate the Committee on Research’s recognition of my interdisciplinary and collaborative scholarship. The fellowship will allow me to devote time to a new project on probabilistic hazard assessment and forecasting of debris flows subsequent to forest fires.”

Spiller, who has been at Marquette since 2008, has two primary objectives for her latest project: improve the development of near real-time and easily adaptable downstream hazard debris flow forecasts during and after wildfires; and improve the development of post-fire dynamic hazard assessments and forecasts that reflect soil and vegetation recovery, changes in sediment availability and changes in the intensity or duration of anticipated rainstorms.

“Her research requires close collaboration with the domain scientists in order to understand the problem, model the data and interpret the output of the mathematical models,” said Dr. Anne Clough, chair of the Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. “Elaine excels at creating, fostering and expanding collaborative research networks.”

Dr. Chae Yi, professor of chemistry

Dr. Chae Yi’s research aims to develop a series of new green catalytic coupling methods via carbon-hydrogen and carbon-carbon activation which are applicable to the synthesis of pharmaceutically active organic products in an energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable manner.

“If successful, these methods will enable the synthesis of a variety of biologically active carbazole and indole derivatives, which are relevant pharmaceutically, without forming any toxic byproducts or requiring multistep synthetic manipulations,” said Dr. Scott Reid, chair of the Department of Chemistry.

Over the past four years, Yi’s group has secured $750,000 in external funding and published 21 papers in high impact journals, including several articles in “Journal of the American Chemical Society,” and one article in the prestigious journal “Science.”

“I am very grateful for receiving this award, and I believe that curiosity and perseverance are the key ingredients for successful research work,” Yi said.

Way Klingler Early Career

Dr. Joseph Clark, assistant professor of chemistry

Dr. Joseph Clark’s work is focused on developing new chemical reactions to address longstanding problems in organic synthesis that are highly relevant to modern drug discovery. Clark aims to decrease barriers for the development of deuterated drug candidates. The selective incorporation of deuterium, the naturally occurring isotope of hydrogen, into drug candidates to alter absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion properties can dramatically improve the safety profile of a drug without compromising drug potency and effectiveness.

“I am delighted to be receiving the Way Klingler Early Career Award and am very grateful to Helen Way Klingler for establishing such a prestigious accolade for junior faculty,” Clark said. “This award feels more special than I could have anticipated because it shows how resilient my research group of incredibly talented students has been during the past two years. This achievement is more a reflection of them, and I am very fortunate to be surrounded by people that share my passion for pushing the frontiers of organic chemistry each and every day.”

Clark, who has been at Marquette since 2018, has produced several high-profile publications in the past year while leading a team of six graduate students and several undergraduates.

“Joe has been very aggressive in grant-seeking, and I was delighted to see his first award come through this year, a grant from the Petroleum Research Foundation,” said Dr. Scott Reid, chair and professor in the Department of Chemistry. “Having served on the advisory board of the PRF, I know that these starter grants are hard to obtain. In my view, this will be the first of several grants Joe is poised to receive, and this will be greatly impacted by a Way Klingler award.”

Dr. Jacklynn Fitzgerald, assistant professor of psychology

Dr. Jacklynn Fitzgerald studies brain-related changes during the generation of emotion. Her focus for the past five years has been on understanding the development of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in trauma survivors.

“The work that I am able to do here at Marquette is made possible because of a talented group of students, as well as my collaborators within Milwaukee and the Midwest,” Fitzgerald said. “I feel very fortunate to be a part of this team. This award helps me and this small community continue to see merit in what we do and to keep making progress on our larger research initiative.”

Fitzgerald’s work is centered on creating research that leads to the development of more personalized, effective and efficient treatments for PTSD. The disorder currently affects over 7.5 million individuals, and there is no known cure.

“Since joining the department in August 2019, she has made valuable contributions through scholarship, teaching and service,” said Dr. Stephen Saunders, chair and professor of the Department of Psychology.  “In particular, she has been a highly productive researcher.”

Dr. Nate Lemoine, assistant professor of biological sciences

Dr. Nate Lemoine’s research program combines experimental, observational, meta-analytical and theoretical techniques to assess how global change impacts ecosystem function. To assess this issue, the program follows two main themes: ecophysiology of plant-herbivore interactions in response to global change and emergent effects of global change on ecosystem function. His program blends field ecology, physiology, statistics, microbiology, and even some biochemistry to understand how global change will alter natural communities around the world, from Wisconsin to South Africa.

“He uses a variety of techniques in his research from experimental, observational and theoretical approaches,” said Dr. Michelle Mynlieff, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. “This gives him an edge over ecologists who may work solely in the field and thus are limited by the weather and seasons. He spends much of the summer in the field studying both plants and animals, but can also come back to the lab on bad weather days or off-season to do experiments in the laboratory.”

Since arriving at Marquette in 2019, Lemoine has published 10 peer-reviewed manuscripts, has given three invited talks and has been recognized by researchers in his field with the “Early Career Fellow” award from the Ecological Society of America, Scholarship/Research, International in March 2021.

“This award will be invaluable to establishing an internationally recognized research program and advancing my career,” Lemoine said.

Dr. Walter McDonald, assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering

Dr. Walter McDonald’s research group works to develop novel methods to monitor, model and manage urban stormwater, a leading source of river, lake and shoreline impairments and a growing threat to human and ecological health. The team’s ultimate goal is to translate its knowledge into improved management, prevention and mitigation efforts that can combat environmental pollution.

“I am extremely grateful to receive the Way Klingler Early Career Award,” McDonald said. “This award will provide me with the opportunity to learn and apply machine learning methods to my research projects and courses, which I otherwise would not have the time or resources to do.”

McDonald has received awards from the National Science Foundation I/UCRC Water Equipment and Policy Center, Fund for Lake Michigan, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and National Science Foundation. He was also involved in Marquette’s recent $3.8 million grant award from the Army Corps’ Engineer Research and Development Center.

“Dr. McDonald is integral to the department’s educational mission in the water resources engineering area,” said Dr. Daniel Zitomer, professor and chair of the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. “Dr. McDonald is one of the most effective teachers in the Opus College of Engineering as indicated by the excellent evaluations he receives from students.”

Dr. Lee Za Ong, assistant professor of counselor education and counseling psychology

Dr. Lee Za Ong’s scholarly work focuses on multicultural counseling, disability issues, and mental health promotion among underserved and underrepresented individuals. Her research is centered on three main areas: community-based mental health care promotion of underserved communities, interdisciplinary mental health research to facilitate community empowerment and equity of counselor education among underrepresented groups.

“Dr. Ong has advanced these lines of research by building strong collaborations with other departments to address the mental health needs of Muslim mothers caring for children with disabilities or explore integrative health care for children and adults,” said Dr. Alan Burkard, chair of the Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology. “Furthermore, she is also working with the athletic and computer science departments on an NCAA research grant and AHPRC grant to address the mental health needs of college athletes.”

Since arriving at Marquette in 2018, Ong has produced six journal publications and has been awarded three significant grant awards, including the counselor preparation grants from the Department of Education and Health Resources and Services Administration.

“I am grateful for the support from my colleagues, research participants, collaborators in the community, family and friends,” Ong said. “With this award, I will be able to explore different community-based mental health promotion methods, including developing culturally inclusive mental health peer support training and mobile application to communities that experience mental health services disparity.”

Participating Faculty Research Award

Dr. Michael Olson, visiting assistant professor of philosophy

Dr. Michael Olson’s research focuses on the interconnectivity of three major concepts in 18th-century German philosophy and science — embryogenesis, scientific conceptions of race and justifications of European colonial expansion — in framing the scientific, philosophical and political legacies of the Enlightenment human sciences.

“It is of course an honor to be recognized by one’s colleagues,” Olson said. “My research focuses on issues that sometimes border on the antiquarian even as it is always oriented by contemporary problems and concerns, so it is also gratifying to see the university underscore its recognition of both the academic and social value of bookish scholarship. I try to mirror Catholic higher education’s commitment to tradition as the foundation of our engagement with the world in my own approach to the history of philosophical and scientific ideas, in both the classroom and the library.”

Since arriving at Marquette in fall 2018, Olson has published six peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has a co-authored book manuscript under contract with an academic press. He has also presented at numerous conferences and has successfully applied for three research grants.

“This degree of productivity would be highly commendable for a tenured faculty member; it is doubly so for a visiting assistant professor with a teaching load of four courses per semester,” said Dr. Jessica Wolfendale, chair and professor of philosophy.