NMSU honors faculty, staff during fall 2010 convocation

August 17, 2010 by Justin Bannister, NMSU News Center

New Mexico State University celebrated the achievements of faculty and staff members during its fall 2010 convocation ceremony, held this year during the inauguration of NMSU President Barbara Couture.

Ivelisse Torres-Fernandez and Ruinian Jiang were awarded the Patricia Christmore Teaching Award. The award recognizes and rewards superb junior tenure-track faculty members for excellence in teaching.

Torres-Fernandez is an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology. She currently supervises seven students in the implementation of the Strong Kids Curriculum, an innovative program that enriches the social and emotional development of children in schools.

Jiang is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology. Jiang travels to China every year to give public lectures at universities and government agencies. He is currently working with his department on a joint Ph.D. between NMSU and the Northern China University of Technology.

The University Research Council Early Career Award was given to Collin Payne, an assistant professor in marketing. His research interests include consumer field research methodologies and how consumers’ interaction with marketing environments can both help and hurt their health.

The University Research Council Distinguished Career Award was presented to Dennis Hallford, a professor in animal and range sciences, and David Voelz, a professor in electrical and computer engineering.

Hallford’s teaching and research responsibilities are in the areas of animal physiology and reproductive endocrinology. He has authored and co-authored 161 refereed journal articles, 165 proceeding papers and 243 abstracts. He has mentored 57 master’s and doctoral students and received the title of Regents Professor, the most prestigious faculty ranking at NMSU.

Voelz is currently conducting research in the areas of free-space laser communications, spectral and polarization imaging, adaptive optics and laser beam control. He has received awards from the Air Force, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Optical Society of America and the College of Engineering for his technical contributions.

The Outcomes Assessment II award was given to the University Admissions office. The admissions unit was recognized specifically for its assessment efforts regarding out-of-state student recruitment. Their analysis identified several important factors that influence students and parents in the college selection process that will be used to help guide future recruiting efforts of out-of-state students.

Heinz Nakotte, a professor in physics, and Jodie R. Kenney, a program coordinator in the College of Arts and Sciences, were awarded the Excellence in Academic Advising Award.

Nakotte joined the NMSU physics department as the first Los Alamos Neutron Science Center professor. To date, he has supervised more than 10 graduate students in their research projects, and served as adviser to more than 20 engineering physics undergraduate students. Nakotte’s research interests are in the fields of magnetic materials, nanomaterials and materials for energy conversion.

Previous to her arrival at NMSU, Kenney had been advising students for more than 17 years. She is the pre-med/pre-health professions adviser and is a certified online instructor. She most recently developed and taught the pre-med/pre-health orientation online. Kenney is the academic adviser for the UNM/NMSU Cooperative Pharmacy Program and the faculty adviser for the pre-med, pre-dental and pre-pharmacy student organizations on campus.

Convocation is held each January and August at the beginning of each academic semester. It is meant to celebrate university accomplishments and inform staff and faculty about the upcoming semester.

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