Monday Memo, May 15, 2023

A Newsletter for Faculty and Staff of the College of Arts & Sciences

Dear A&S Faculty and Staff,

At this time of year, it's all about our students, as their years of hard work, intellectual growth, and friendships forged in the unique setting of an academic community all came to fruition at Commencement this past weekend. I know that I am not alone in feeling that it has been a privilege to play a part in their success.

We are proud of every single one of our graduates, but special recognition is due to those who have been awarded prestigious national and international scholarships, especially two new ones that distinguish some of the best and brightest of this year's class:

  • Afi Tagnedji (Chemistry, Biochemistry) was awarded the Quad Fellowship, a first-of-its-kind scholarship designed to spur interdisciplinary scientific and technological innovation while building ties among the next generation of STEM leaders, through a joint initiative of the governments of Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S. The inaugural cohort includes 25 exceptional Fellows from each Quad country. Of the 25 American Quad Fellows, only 3—including UofL’s Afi Tagnedji—are current undergraduates.
  • Mery Muluberehan (Political Science) was awarded the Voyager Scholarship, created by the Obama Foundation and Brian Chesky to help shape young leaders who can bridge divides to solve our biggest challenges. This scholarship gives college students financial aid, meaningful travel experiences, and a network of mentors.

Other national and international scholarship recipients are:

Fulbright Awards: 

  • Madison Cicha: Research, Netherlands (Environmental Science, 2023)
  • Eli Cooper: English Teaching Assistantship, Slovak Republic (B.A. Human Rights/Individualized Major, Political Science, 2022), Brown Fellows Program
  • Christie Kremer: English Teaching Assistantship, Spain (B.F.A. Graphic Design/BA Spanish 2023)
  • Rawan Saleh: English Teaching Assistantship, Jordan (B.A. Public Health, B.S. Biology, 2023)
  • Lucas Threlfall: English Teaching Assistantship, Spain (Political Science, 2023)         

Princeton in Asia

  • Jackson Hoffman (Neuroscience) Jones Scholar, first UofL recipient of this award

Boren Scholarship

  • Ryan Apperson: Turkish Flagship Language Initiative, Azerbaijan (Philosophy)
  • Caleb He: Urdu, India- South Asian Flagship Language Initiative (Political Science)
  • Martha Popescu: Polish, Poland (Anthropology) Grawemeyer Scholar

Rotary Global Grant

  • Razija Mehinovic: Master’s of Gastronomy: World Food Cultures and Mobility, U. of Gastronomic Sciences, Italy (Sustainability, 2020)

Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) Jr. Summer Institute: 

  • Ava McAffrey (Nonprofit Leadership, Communication 2024), Brown Fellows Program

English-Speaking Union KY Branch Summer Scholarship

  • Abigail Stanger: Oxford (History, German, 2024) Grawemeyer Scholar

Mary Churchill Humphrey Scholarship

  • Amaiya Crawford (B.A. Studio Art, 2023) Jones Scholar

Congratulations to these students, to the staff who supported them, and to the faculty who taught and mentored them!


Julie Wrinn, Chief of Staff


Double-Major Commencement Speaker Strikes a Balance


By Julie Wrinn

Physics or Engineering? That is the question for many students with a gift for math and abstract thinking who enjoy complex problem solving. Thomas Hulse (2023 Physics and Political Science) gave careful consideration to both majors when entering UofL as a freshman and was prepared to switch to engineering if ever he felt drawn to more applicable science. But Hulse never wavered from his decision to major in physics. “As I continued with the physics major, I really came to appreciate just how beautiful and surprising the natural world is,” he said. “While I still want to use physics to make a practical impact, my interests would never let me completely abandon the pure, theoretical side.”

Hulse was fortunate to find many important mentors along the way in the UofL Department of Physics, especially Dr. Sergio Mendes, whose lab Thomas joined, and Dr. Timothy Dowling, for whom Hulse served as an undergraduate teaching assistant. “I went to these two professors for guidance on deciding a field, picking universities to apply to, and just generally gaining their insights,” Hulse said. “They are both hidden gems at UofL, being deeply passionate about physics and sparking excitement in their students.”

With a glittering undergraduate career behind him, Hulse will begin doctoral studies at Rice University this fall in Applied Physics. “Applied physics is all about striking that balance between lofty theories and actual real-world application, which is the perfect fit for me,” he said. “I hope that I can find that balance to make a real, meaningful difference somewhere.” Read more.


Grad Autumn Magnuson Is a Force


By Janet Cappiello
Like many students, UofL graduating senior Autumn Magnuson changed her major early in her college career. Originally interested in engineering, she was planning to study robotics and minor in biology. She hoped to build robots that would help scientists research undersea life.
“Over time, I realized that biology was really where my passion was,” she said, so she changed her major to biology, specializing in the ecology track. A lifelong love of paleontology translated into an archaeology minor. The change meant more field trips, such as one where she joined her entomology class at Louisville’s Caperton Swap by the Ohio River to collect insect specimens. “That was definitely a bit of an adventure,” Magnuson said, smiling (she is always smiling). 
Magnuson, 21, is a full-time wheelchair user who actively seeks out creative solutions to problems such as how to get a wheelchair through a swamp to find termite specimens. Due to a genetic condition, she has been using a wheelchair since high school. She credits her UofL professors, fellow students and the staff of the Disability Resource Center (DRC) with helping her always find a way to pursue her interests.
She said she toured many colleges but it was at UofL where she knew she could thrive. “Everyone here was very responsive, really eager to help and just the overall community I really like,” she said. “I also liked that it wasn’t super sprawling everywhere. The university itself is fairly compact, which makes things easy.” Read more.


A&S Awards


More shout-outs to those recognized on April 25 at the A&S Celebration of Excellence:

A skilled and experienced staff, with subject area expertise and deep institutional memory, is key to the success and stability of any organization. Recipients of A&S Outstanding Performance awards brought their best selves to work every day and made the College a better, more welcoming, and more smoothly functioning environment for faculty, staff, and most importantly, our students. Outstanding Performance winners this year were (above, left to right) Chad White, Lisa Cox, Robin Carroll, Joshua Boydstun, and DJ Biddle; and Outstanding Supervisor went to Daniel Brian.

Those honored for their service or commitment to diversity or community engagement were (below, left to right) Megan Poole, Community Engagement Award; Joshua Boydstun, Diversity Champion, Staff; Melanie Gast, Diversity Champion, Faculty; Mary Carothers, Distinguished Faculty Award in Service, Service to the Community, Kentucky, or Region; Rachel Hopp, Distinguished Faculty Award in Service, Service to the Profession; and Karen Hadley, Distinguished Faculty Award in Service, Service to UofL

UofL staff photographer Ron Harrison's photos can be viewed and downloaded here: In the next edition we'll feature our final batch of honorees.


Hidden Talents


Anyone who encounters Josh Boydstun learns quickly that he possesses many qualities of an exceptional colleague: integrity, meticulousness, generosity with his time, and much more. During a 12-month period when the College was without a Web Developer, September 2021-September 2022, it was Josh who put out the Plone fires and made other crucial updates to maintain an A&S web presence, in addition to his regular responsibilities as Administrative Associate in the Department of Comparative Humanities. It was probably a surprise to no one that Josh was recognized with two A&S awards this year (see above). 

But what are Josh's hidden talents? In his spare time, and for about the past decade, Josh has been delving into family genealogy. "I enjoy the challenge of obsessively searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack," he said. "I've made some really exciting discoveries, including my maternal great-grandparents' birth names (which they changed when they immigrated to the U.S.) and an ancestor who lived in Logan County, Kentucky, in the early 1800s."

Josh also has a book recommendation for us: "I just read Ursula K. Le Guin's classic science fiction novel The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), which is about an ambassador to an alien planet where the inhabitants have only a single biological sex. Despite the imaginary setting, it's essentially a novel about the possibilities of and barriers to cross-cultural dialogue. Even if you don't normally read sci-fi, I'd recommend checking it out!"

Many thanks to Josh for sharing these facets of his life. If you would like to reveal some of your extracurricular side in this newsletter, please get in touch with


Alumni Spotlight: 

Paula Pabón Smith


Above: Paula Pabón Smith (1991 Political Science), Senior Counsel, Governmental Affairs, Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company

We all know someone who is so focused on a single area that they lose sight of the big picture. Paula Pabón Smith isn’t one of those people.

That’s a huge benefit to her work as senior counsel for governmental affairs for the Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company. As a “legislative agent,” Smith primarily interacts with the legislative branch in Kentucky, but she has extensive experience working in all three government branches: judicial, legislative, and executive. 

The cogs and gears of government have fascinated her for decades. “People can be intimidated by the democratic process—how laws are passed, how elections work, for example. But I’ve always been interested in it,” says Smith, who was elected to student council in high school and went on to study political science. 

Smith, who has siblings, was the first in her immediate family to go to college. Her Panamanian father became a tradesman after nine years in the military, and her mother was first and foremost a homemaker but worked retail jobs to help put Smith and her siblings through Catholic high school. Smith earned scholarships to attend the University of Louisville and as an undergrad, she represented the College of Arts & Science in the university’s student senate. During law school, she served as a senate representative.

She began her legal career as a staff attorney with the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1994. “It was a great starting job,” she says, “because it exposed me to the entire judicial process. I screened all appellate motions from the entire state, worked with the judges, and offered advice on appellate processes and procedures.” Read more. 

Article by Frederick Jerant, courtesy of Hispanic Executivemagazine, where this piece was originally published on February 14, 2022


Research Agenda


Congratulations to (above, left to right) graduate students David Grimm, Charles Elder, and Peter Armstrong for presenting their research at the 27th Regional Innovation Showcase at Vanderbilt University on April 27, 2023. Their presentations were:

  • Peter Armstrong (Chemistry): Large Area Depostion of Low Temperature Processed SnO2 as an ETL in Inverted Perovskite Solar Cell on Flexible ITO-PET Based Substrates
  • Charles A. Elder (Biology): Advancements in Red Blood Cell Lyophilization
  • David Grimm (Biology): Ultrasound-mediated loading of trehalose for cryopreservation of mammalian cells




One of the College's most visible and accomplished alumni, news anchor Dawne Gee (1986 B.A. Biology, 1993 B.A. Communication) turned 60 on April 30, 2023, and it was no ordinary big birthday. Mayor Greenberg declared that day to be "Dawn Gee Day" in recognition of Gee's many accomplishments and contributions to the Louisville community. In addition to over 30 years in broadcast journalism and radio, Gee has advocated for many nonprofits in Kentucky and southern Indiana. She founded the nonprofit A Recipe to End Hunger in 2015, which focuses to support other nonprofits in the city in working to end food insecurity. Gee has been recognized with many awards, including the Lyman T. Johnson Distinguished Leadership Award in 2009, being named LEO Magazine’s Louisvillian of the Year in 2010, and the Chestnut Street YMCA Black Achievers Program honored her as the Adult Achiever of the Year in 2019. Read more.


Kudos to Cheri Levinson, Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, for being quoted in a WDRB report on insufficient treatment options for people with eating disorders in the Louisville region. Kentucky does not currently have a residential program for eating disorder patients, and many patients must travel out of state for the life-saving treatment they need. Levinson is founder and director of the Louisville Center for Eating Disorders, the only partial hospital program and intensive outpatient program in the state. Levinson said that while virtual options for care have been added since the onset of the pandemic, there are still limited resources in Kentucky, especially for those who live in rural areas. Read more.


"Book History in the Making," has just been published in the peer-reviewed essay collection, Teaching the History of the Book, (University of Massachusetts Press, 2023). This essay is a collaborative effort by Mark Alan Mattes, Assistant Professor of English; Rachel Singel, Associate Professor of Art and Design; and Delinda Buie, Professor of Archives and Special Collections and Curator, Rare Books. Drawing on eight years of classroom collaborations since 2014, the essay explores how students can use artistic practices such as bookbinding, letterpress printing, and papermaking to draw interpretive connections between literary craft and the history of text technology. See book cover below.


Congratulations to Associate Professor Brandon McCormack for being one of eight participants selected for a summer writing workshop at the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. The workshop is for authors of scholarly work in religion and theology who wish to share their knowledge or personal experience in a more creative way with a wider audience.


Human Resources


Workday: The ULASSA Professional Development Committee appreciates the fifty faculty and staff members who completed the Workday Training Survey.  The results and comments are being review by the Committee to prioritize training requests. Meanwhile, the WorkdayHR project team is holding office hours every Wednesday from 1 – 2 pm, beginning May 17 and will run every Wednesday until further notice.  You must register to attend the training. Register for the May 17 office hours by completing the  Microsoft form. After May 17, please look for additional WorkdayHR office hours posted in UofL Today.

Timesheet Submission and Approval Reminder: Hourly employees, we strongly encourage you to set reminders to submit your time before you are locked out.  Managers, we strongly encourage you to review and approve timesheets before Monday Noon deadlines . Payroll is currently reviewing reports to determine who is not submitted and/or approving timesheets.  It is anticipated that an end date for mass submissions will be determined.

Also, as we approach the summer season, if you are a manager and have a planned vacation, please be sure to delegate this responsibility to someone in your department.  To review the steps for setting up delegation, please refer to the Quick Reference Guide (QRG) on the Workday Training page: (type in delegation in the search box and select Categories in the drop-down menu; select the “Set Up Delegation” QRG). 

Summer Remote Work Agreements: The Summer Remote Work timeframe is May 14 through August 12.  Please submit approved, completed Agreements to:


Upcoming Events


The National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) will hold a National Speech and Debate competition on the UofL campus all day on Saturday, May 27. Expect to see hundreds of high-achieving high school students in business attire circulating throughout campus on those days. Like the debate competition held on campus last summer, this event promises to be a fruitful recruiting opportunity, showcasing our beautiful campus and facilities. Karen Blake is coordinating the event and needs volunteers to assist with all sorts of logistic support on May 27th. We need volunteers to help direct student and families around campus and to their competition rooms, unlock doors, hand out boxed lunches, answer questions, and most importantly show our southern hospitality to these visiting students and their families. To volunteer, please email and cc:

30th Anniversary of the UofL African American Theatre Program: Black Light Awards Gala, “Changing the World One Performance at a Time." We will produce a dynamic large-scale event to highlight the African American Theatre Program alumni who have built lifelong careers in the theatre and film industry and have made a significant impact both locally, nationally, and internationally. The gala is a black-tie affair and will feature a keynote speaker anticipated to be a celebrity and/or nationally recognized theatre artist. Our vision is to host an evening full of powerful celebration and honor for the three decades of groundbreaking accomplishments which have led to this special 30th anniversary. In so doing, this gala presents an invaluable opportunity to serve as a fundraiser to continue fortifying this legacy and ensuring the expansive growth of the program. Saturday, September 30, 2023, 6:0010:00pm, Louisville Central Community Center, 1300 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd, Louisville, KY 40203. For more information contact LaShondra Hood at RSVP by August 31. Tickets