front view of Frank Franz Hall on UAH campus

Honors College, Frank Franz Hall.

Michael Mercier | UAH

The Honors College at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of the University of Alabama System, has announced the selection of three new Honors College Faculty Fellows. The 2022 class of Faculty Fellows include Dr. Themis Chronis, a clinical assistant professor of physics and astronomy in the College of Science; Dr. Hamsa Mahafza, a lecturer on curriculum and instruction in the College of Education; and Dr. Susan Friedman, a senior lecturer of English in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHS).

Selecting Honors College Faculty Fellows was first initiated as an idea in the mind of UAH Honors Dean, Dr. William Wilkerson five years ago. The inaugural class of Fellows were first selected in the 2018-19 academic year.

“We’re really excited about our new group of Faculty Fellows,” says Dr. Wilkerson. “It really helps build the Honors College curricula and the program and allows us to have faculty give us a lot of insight into what we are doing. Faculty Fellows programs like this are common in mature Honors Colleges. We designed ours both as recognition of the faculty on campus as teachers and researchers as well as a way to connect faculty with the college. It’s a fair amount of work, both in service and elective teaching. A candidate goes through a university process review to be selected.”

Themistoklis Chronis

Dr. Themistoklis Chronis, clinical assistant professor, physics and astronomy, College of Science.

Michael Mercier | UAH

Dr. Themis Chronis in the Physics department has focused as a Principal Investigator and co-Investigator on a number of funded projects, including Lighting as an Indicator of Climate, Using Scatter Measured Vector Winds to Study High-Impact Weather and Analysis and Interpretation of Satellite and Field Program Datasets to Investigate Hurricane Structure and Intensification Events, all for NASA and the Marshall Space Flight Center. The awards and fellowships Dr. Chronis has received include the Teaching Excellence Award, UAH College of Science, 2020, NASA-GOES-R Group Achievement Award, UAH, 2018 and Individual Investigator Distinguished Research, UAH, 2014.

“Dr. Chronis redesigned the entire physics curriculum, and is legendary among the Honors students,” Dr. Wilkerson notes. “When we hit the pandemic, he was just ready to roll, and is now teaching a course on the physics of video games.”

Hasma Mahafza

Dr. Hamsa Mahafza, lecturer, curriculum and instruction, College of Education.

Michael Mercier | UAH

In her work in the College of Education, Dr. Hamsa Mahafza has emphasized conducting educational research with a focus on foreign/heritage language education. Her research is especially directed toward exploring service-learning in teacher education, primarily in two interrelated areas, Heritage Language (HL) Education and School Choice (Private vs. Public Schools). Her broader research interests include Multicultural Education/Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT), Applied Linguistics to Foreign Language Teaching and Learning and Curriculum Integration-Interdisciplinary Studies. She is the Faculty Advisor for the INCLUDE Club student organization and Perpetua, UAH’s Journal of Undergraduate Research.

“Dr. Mahafsa teaches a course on Multiculturism and Food, a class she will teach in the fall,” says Dr. Wilkerson. “This will be a big help to the Honors students and education. We don’t have many education students in the Honors College, but those we do have done amazing work for honors capstone projects.”

Susan Friedman

Dr. Susan Friedman, senior lecturer, English, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Michael Mercier | UAH

Dr. Susan Friedman has taught a wide variety of courses in the CAHS, including American and British Literature, Business Writing, Honors Writing Seminar, Literature and Culture, Creative Writing and Women’s and Gender Studies. She was the judge for UAH’s Katherine Harris Writing Competition (2016-2019). Her publications include Physician Heal Thyself: Employing Patient-Doctor Communication Practices to Build Bridges in the Women’s and Gender Studies Classroom for CEA Critic and Using First-Person Narratives in the College Classroom to Foster Self-Study, Well-being and Empathy for the CEA Forum. Her conference paper was awarded Best in Section at CEA in 2018, and she garnered the Rose Norman Award for Scholarship in Action (2017-2018).

“Dr. Friedman has been a fixture in the Honors College for years,” says Dr. Wilkerson. “She has taught honors literature courses for years and designed a signature course for us, the Bhagavad Gita, Philosophy and Practice. She’s a certified instructor in yoga, uniquely qualified to do what she does from the perspective of that connection. And she started up a great yoga club.”

Faculty Fellows are appointed for one year and can be reappointed for a second year without having to reapply. “All the Fellows we have had have typically done their full two years,” says Dr. Wilkerson. “They just send me a letter saying they want to do it again. We are looking for an outstanding record, particularly in teaching, with some history of contributions for the Honors College. Sometimes it’s more about what can we build if we have this connection. The Honors Council that consists of some of the current Faculty Fellows assists with the applications, and I make the final decision.”

What tends to set a Faculty Fellow apart are “their contributions and their history in the classroom,” Dr. Wilkerson explains. “A lot have taught honors section courses. Their terms will begin in mid-August. We want them engaged in Week of Welcome events, right before the day the freshmen move in.”

The Faculty Fellows will lead special Honors Seminars in areas related to their research and teaching, as well as teaching sections of Honors 101, which is a research methods course. The award comes with a stipend and can be paid in professional development, salary or some combination thereof.

UAH faculty members interested in becoming an Honors College Faculty Fellow may contact Dr. William Wilkerson at