University plaques

University Awards for Excellence

Courtesy Michael Mercier

On April 16, The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of The University of Alabama System, hosted the annual University Awards for Excellence ceremony virtually to recognize the contributions of the university’s faculty, staff members and researchers.

The event honored faculty and staff who have received patent awards and those whom their UAH colleagues identified as being the best among their peers in teaching, research and service to the University and to their respective units. The awards bestowed included the University Distinguished Teaching Award, the University Distinguished Research Award, the College Outstanding Faculty Awards and staff awards.

“We are pleased and excited to recognize these faculty and staff members for their outstanding contributions,” says Dr. Christine Curtis, UAH Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. “The University Awards for Excellence give us an opportunity to acknowledge the staff’s and faculty’s significant achievements with this ceremony. It is an honor and a privilege to highlight their accomplishments and thank them for their roles in helping make UAH a great place to work and a university of which we can be proud and can support.”

The ceremony began with a welcome address by Laurel Long, Associate Vice President for Human Resources, followed by congratulatory remarks from UAH President Dr. Darren Dawson. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 award recipients, recognized last year, were mentioned this year as well during the festivities.

Todd Barré, Vice President for Finance and Administration, presented the 2021 UAH Foundation Staff Award recipients with Facilities, Staff Excellence and Leadership Awards.

Dr. Sean Lane, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and acting Associate Provost for the Graduate School, International Services and Academic Integrity, next presented the 2021 Graduate Advisor, Graduate Mentor and Undergraduate Mentor Awards.

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Christine Curtis, followed Dr. Lane in the ceremony to present the Academic Affairs Awards in recognition of faculty excellence in teaching, research, scholarly contributions and/or creative achievement for each of the individual colleges. Dr. Curtis continued the ceremony by the presentation of the University Distinguished Teaching and Distinguished Research Awards.

The Researcher of the Year Award and Patent Awards were also awarded, and the 2020 and 2021 Tenure and Promotions announced. Lastly, the committees and staff members responsible for administrating and coordinating this year’s University of Excellence Awards were thanked, including the Staff Excellence Award Committee, the Graduate Awards Committee, the Research and Creative Activity Mentor Award Committee, the University Review Board and the University Excellence Faculty and Researcher Awards.

Congratulations to all of the honorees, and for their dedication and service, as well as their outstanding commitment to our students!

Watch the virtual ceremony online!

2021 Facilities Excellence Award

  • Jannette Turner, Custodial Services

The 2020 Facilities Excellence Award winner was Irma Johnson, Custodial Services.

2021 Staff Excellence Awards

  • Laurie Elliff, Mail Services
  • Kristy Olive, Director of Office of Environment and Safety

The 2020 Staff Excellence Award recipients were Maryann Bierer, Staff Assistant, Computer Science, and Jana Savanapridi, Academic Advisor, CAHS.

2021 Staff Leadership Award

  • Amber McPhail, Director of Student Health Services

The 2020 Staff Leadership Award recipient was Michele Kennedy, Academic Affairs.

2021 Graduate Advisor Award

  • Dr. Ann Bianchi, Associate Professor, College of Nursing

The 2020 Graduate Advisor Award was presented to Dr. Sarma Rani, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

2021 Graduate Mentor Award

  • Dr. Lingze Duan, Professor of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Science

The 2020 Graduate Mentor Award was presented to Pam O'Neal, Professor in the College of Nursing.

2021 Undergraduate Mentor Award

  • Dr. Sharifa Love-Rutledge, Assistant Professor, Chemistry Department

The 2020 Mentor Award was presented to Dr. Phillip Ligrani, Eminent Scholar in Propulsion and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

2021 College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Faculty Member

  • Dr. Chad Thomas, Associate Professor of English, Theatre and Director, Women’s and Gender Studies

Dr. Christina Steidl, Assistant Professor of Sociology, was awarded the 2020 Outstanding Faculty Member for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

2021 College of Business Outstanding Faculty Member

  • Dr. Yongchuan (Kevin) Bao, Associate Professor, Marketing Department

Dr. Frank Mullins, Associate Professor of Management, was recognized as the 2020 Outstanding Faculty Member for the College of Business.

2021 College of Education Outstanding Faculty Member

  • Dr. Ryan Conners, Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology

The College of Education recognized Dr. Wolfram Verlaan, Department Chair and Associate Professor, as its 2020 Outstanding Faculty Member.

2021 College of Engineering Outstanding Faculty Member

  • Dr. Jason Cassibry, Associate Professor, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (MAE)

The College of Engineering awarded Dr. Phillip Ligrani as its Outstanding Faculty Member in 2020.

2021 College of Nursing Outstanding Faculty Member

  • Dr. Tracie Morgan, Coordinator and Course Manager in the Family Nurse Practitioner M.S. program

The 2020 College of Nursing Outstanding Faculty Member went to Dr. Lori Lioce, Executive Director of the Learning and Technology Resource Center.

2021 College of Science Outstanding Faculty Member

  • Dr. Terri Johnson, Senior Lecturer and Calculus Coordinator in Mathematical Sciences

The College of Science recognized Dr. James Miller, Department Chair, Physics, and Director, Institute for Science Education, as its 2020 Outstanding Faculty Member.

2021 University Distinguished Teaching Award

  • Dr. Molly Johnson, Associate Professor of History

The 2020 University Distinguished Teaching Award was presented to Dr. Jennifer English, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

2021 University Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement and Scholarly Performance Award

  • Dr. Gary Zank, Eminent Scholar and Distinguished Professor of Space Science and Director of the Center for Space Physics and Aeronomic Research.

The 2020 University Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement and Scholarly Performance Award was presented to Dr. Susan Alexander, Associate Professor of Nursing.



Michele Kennedy

Russ Nelson