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Citadel News Service
7 Dec 2015

Faculty honored for excellence, innovation and service


Nine Citadel faculty members have been honored for their contributions to scholarship, teaching and service. The fourth annual event recognizing The Citadel’s Faculty Excellence Awards and Spotlight Awards highlights the accomplishments of The Citadel’s dedicated faculty.

A committee of Citadel faculty annually chooses recipients who showcase innovative teaching in the graduate and undergraduate colleges, creative scholarship and research projects, and dedicated service to The Citadel community. The recipients of the Excellence Awards will receive $2,000 and the recipients of the Spotlight Awards will receive $500 thanks to The Citadel Foundation.

2014-15 Excellence Award Recipients

Dr. Randy Blanton, professor of chemistry

Excellence in Teaching and Service

Dr. Randy Blanton has introduced innovation into his general and organic chemistry classes by the use of many multimedia modules, including animated slideshows, practice blantonproblems and self-tests, to encourage individual learning and comprehension of concepts. He has shifted the focus of the organic coursework towards conceptual understanding and problem solving, and away from memorization of reactions. Students acknowledge his skill in the classroom through consistently high evaluations.

Active in carrying out research with undergraduate students, Blanton has mentored three senior thesis projects, and published one paper in a peer-reviewed journal with a student co-author. He also presented his work at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Demonstrating a commitment to service, Blanton has distinguished himself by serving on five chemistry department subcommittees, chairing two of them. Most impressive is the personal commitment he makes to maintain the nuclear magnetic resonance instrument, which requires regular fills of liquid nitrogen and helium to continue the superconductivity of the magnet. Blanton was in the lab Dec. 23-25 dealing with the aftermath of a campus-wide power outage and because of his dedication, the Department of Chemistry can continue to enjoy the use of the instrument.

Dr. Robert Clark, assistant professor of physics

Excellence in Teaching and Scholarshipclark

Dr. Robert Clark has developed a number of ways to generate enthusiasm for science across a wide range of student interests. To illustrate principles of waves, Clark provides demonstrations with musical instruments in his physics classes.

Recently, Clark’s students successfully constructed a coil-gun, a timed music box, an audio amplifier, an automatic temperature control circuit, and a laser diode driver. Clark regularly opens his research laboratory for visitors and offers undergraduate research opportunities.

Clark has published a sole-author paper describing a new form of ion trap in Applied Physics B. He has presented his work across the country, including at the American Physical Society meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, and at the International Conference on Laser Spectroscopy in Berkeley, California. He has also applied for multiple external grants, and was recently granted the competitive Cottrell College Science Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement for the first time in Citadel history. Apart from his work at The Citadel, Clark is also a visiting research professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, where he conducts cutting-edge research on ion traps.

Dr. Timothy Mays, professor of civil and environmental engineering

Excellence in Servicemays

Dr. Timothy Mays’ accomplishments extend well beyond the borders of The Citadel campus. In 2013, Mays was awarded two research projects – the Wave Dissipation System and the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute’s pile cap study – externally funded projects totaling approximately $75,000. Mays was also recently awarded $18,000 for the Drilled Pier Design Guide research project. Results of the wave study will generate recommendations to state government on policies to conserve South Carolina’s beaches, and the pile cap study is expected to demonstrate a novel way to synthesize high-strength piling with traditional pile cap detailing, an improvement in a popular industrial process that will save millions of construction dollars annually.

Mays served as co-chair of the planning committee for the 2014 American Society of Civil Engineers Carolinas Conference – performing funds allocation and raising, site and event planning, and judge enlistment for a week of technical presentations and regional competitions. Mays also served as Chair of the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations’ publications committee and co-authored many of the United States’ current structural codes and standards.

Mays authored the first-ever college textbook on tilt-up construction, a form of concrete construction that is quickly growing in popularity across the United States. The book, titled Engineering Tilt-Up, was presented at Purdue University during a full-day seminar devoted to its content.

Dr. Donald Sparks, professor of business

Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service

Dr. Donald Sparks demonstrates a commitment to increasing the global exposure and reach of The Citadel through teaching, scholarship and service.

Sparks developed a new business course called The Developing World in which a required component of the course was a service-learning trip to Uganda. Sparks has presented his work on the economics of Africa at two meetings hosted in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Department of State. He also teaches graduate-level courses in the International Business and Law Program at the Management Center in Innsbruck, Austria.

As Director of the Office of Fellowships at The Citadel, Sparks assisted students in applying to prestigious awards, including the Truman, Fulbright, Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. He is a life member of the Fulbright Association, and evaluates senior specialists in economics who are being considered for the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Spotlight Award Recipients

Dr. Danny Gustafson, professor of biology

Dr. James Hutchisson, professor of English

Dr. Iordanis Karagiannidis, assistant professor of business

Dr. Amanda Mushal, associate professor of history

Dr. John Zardus, professor of biology

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