2021 Distinguished Faculty Award Recipients
Every year, the University honors faculty who bring distinction to the university through their commitment to the areas of service, teaching, and outstanding scholarship, research, and creative activity. Below are the recipients of the 2021 Distinguished Faculty Awards.
Outstanding Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity
Dr. Popa has distinguished himself as a world-class scholar and researcher who, through his extensive funded research and publications, has had a significance impact on research in the area of Robotics, Automation, and Control Systems. As one of the top scholars in the field of Automation and Robotics, Dr. Popa has been able to secure funding support to establish a robotics program at the University of Louisville which is the first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The main objective of this NSF supported $24 M project is to develop new materials for use in 3D printing, embed built-in electronic functions and sensors, including power sources and displays in 3D printed objects, and study human-machine interactions to improve machine learning paradigms. Dr. Dan Popa has been an extremely effective researcher, has achieved national and international recognition in his field of expertise. However, it is his demonstrated desire and insistence in working with colleagues and creating opportunities for others within the university that sets him apart from other researchers.
Hailed for its “astounding range and virtuosity” (CD HotList), Dr. Nelson’s creative work includes world premiere performances and recordings of works by Grawemeyer Awardwinning composers. He maintains an international profile as both performer and pedagogue, with engagements as invited professor on the faculties of the Beyond the Music International Chamber Music Festival, the Conservatorio Superior de Música de Castilla-La Mancha, and the Curso Internacional “Eduardo Ocón” in Spain. He performed recently at prestigious venues in Russia and Mongolia, also presenting master classes at the Rostov State Conservatory in Rostov and at the Mongolian State Conservatory in Ulaanbaatar. He has performed as guest principal clarinet with the Virginia and Utah Symphonies, and his performances throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia include international competitions and premieres. In 2019 his international reputation earned him the distinction of becoming an artist/clinician for Buffet-Crampon, the largest and most historically significant clarinet manufacturer. Dr. Nelson recently released a CD of lesser-known Romantic works for clarinet and piano with Utah Symphony pianist Jason Hardink. Their interpretation of Felix Draeseke’s Sonata garnered rave reviews. The substantial breadth of Dr. Nelson’s creative activity on all levels is exemplary, and illustrates a deep and sustained commitment to the creation of new work throughout his career.
Dr. McClain’s research has focused on alcohol‐associated liver disease/injury, as well as non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD, which is obesity related) and environmental liver disease. He has more than 110 book chapters/editorials and/or non‐peer reviewed articles and over 470 peer‐reviewed articles, some of which have strongly influenced further discoveries and developments; to name a few in liver disease, such as discovering deleterious interactions in the liver between alcohol and acetaminophen, and discovering the flu vaccine can interfere with hepatic drug metabolism, and more. Dr. McClain is highly active at the NIH; he has served on a host of study sections, advisory committees, and organized multiple NIH workshops and symposia. He is Associate Vice President for Translational Research, Associate Vice President for Health Affairs Research, and the Director of the UofL Clinical Trials Unit. Within the various roles, he is responsible for promoting translational research across UofL, allocating research‐space on the health science campus, and clinical trials implementation at the University. Throughout his career at UofL, he has had a broad‐scope vision of the research that takes place and has most definitely been instrumental in making us a productive, interactive, research power‐house.
Dr. McClain is also a very active mentor and has trained over 130 graduate students, post‐docs, medical students, residents, fellows and junior faculty. More importantly, he has mentored more than 30 junior faculty members on training grants such as NIH K‐awards and VA Center Development awards. Dr. Craig McClain is an asset to his department, to the School of Medicine, to the University, and also to his field. His contributions are significant and have demonstrated excellence in research throughout his career, especially here at the University of Louisville.
In light of recent national civil unrest, Dr. McNeal's equity-focused scholarship is especially timely and impactful to communities, especially communities of color. Her groundbreaking scholarship has uniquely positioned her to make meaningful contributions to the national debate on race, law, implicit bias, and constitutional rights as a highly sought-after legal expert on high profile cases, such as the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Trayvon Martin, and other instances of police brutality as a legal analyst on several national networks such as MSNBC, C-Span, CNN and CBS. Dr. McNeal has been invited to present her scholarship at several prestigious institutions such as Harvard Law School and Columbia University. During her academic career, she has contributed more than 70 scholarly articles and presentations to the field of law and education.
Dr. McNeal is a multidisciplinary law and education scholar who is committed to providing innovative solutions to today's societal issues through her numerous scholarly publications and community-engaged research. Her scholarship is impactful, theoretically rich, and requires a depth of knowledge that is unparalleled. Her interdisciplinary work has been published in premier legal journals and her scholarship has been widely cited by others.
Professor Biberman is an expert in Renaissance literature with a substantial publication record comprising two academic monographs, one edited collection, one memoir, nine substantial essays and a range of additional creative non-fiction and fictional works. Dr. Biberman has established a somewhat unique reputation as not only an accomplished and respected scholar, but also a widely admired non-fiction author.
Dr. Smith is a well-respected and busy trauma surgeon, a Professor of Surgery and Physiology, and has served for several years as Division Chief of General Surgery at the University of Louisville. Most recently, he was appointed Chief Medical Officer of UofL Health and the Associate Program Director of the Surgical Critical Care Fellowship. Since Jason joined the University of Louisville as a faculty member in 2008, he served on the ULH Critical Care Task Force, chairing it for 3 out of the 7 years for which he served and the ULH Health Information Management Committee, chairing it for most of his entire 7-year service to that committee. Among other committees he served, were: ULH Infection Control, ULH Disaster Preparedness, ULH Technology Advisory, ULH Bylaws and after several years of already having served, he still serves on the ULH Strategic Planning, Perioperative Medicine and Medical Executive Committees. He served on the University’s Faculty Grievance Committee and currently still serves the Academic Partnership Council on the HSC and the University’s Strategic Planning Committee. He also represents our University in the Louisville Surgical Society, Kentucky Trauma Advisory Council, Kentucky Medical Association, and the Kentucky Chapter of the American College of Surgeons. He was the President of the KY Chapter of American College of Surgeons in 2015, and continues to represent, having also served the positions of vice chair, secretary/treasurer, councilor, and managed to grow ULH into the first American College of Surgeons Center of Excellence for Surgical Quality and Safety in the Country in August of 2019. In addition to representing the University locally and state-wide, Jason is also active in several national organizations.
Dr. Smith was the first person to receive his vaccination in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He developed a Healthcare Provider Vaccination Rollout Program that achieved 85% of UofL Health and clinical UofL Healthcare worker, medical, nursing and dental faculty as well as medical, dental, and nursing Students vaccinated within 7 weeks of the first vaccine shipments to Kentucky. Additionally, he established the first drive through vaccine locations in Louisville (the second site in KY), and partnered with over 50 local churches and faith-based organizations to establish an outreach in Louisville communities that had been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and have poor access to healthcare. He established the largest mass vaccination site in the state of KY at UofL Cardinal Stadium to offer drive through vaccinations to our community and campus and is currently working with JCPS to roll out community vaccines for student and families across Louisville.
He has led from the front lines as a trauma surgeon, all the while going above and beyond the call of duty to keep us all safe. He has stepped up in a time of crisis and selflessly devoted untold hours to make sure we have been as prepared as possible to meet a global pandemic. Since the onset of the pandemic, he has instilled a sense of confidence and competence that has been reassuring to all of us here at UofL, as well as the general public.
Dr. Jones has been a staff pediatrician for UL General Pediatrics for more than 30 years, is a tenured Professor and the first Vice Chair of Inclusive Excellence in the Department of Pediatrics. Additionally, she is currently the Associate Vice President for Health Affairs – Diversity Initiatives and the Interim Senior Associate Vice President for Diversity and Equity for the University. Dr. Jones has been instrumental in facilitating relationships between UofL and both community and national partners. For more than 10 years, she has frequented the honorable “Who’s Who in Black Louisville" and in 2020 received the AAP Job Lewis Smith award, recognizing lifelong outstanding career achievement in community pediatrics. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Family Scholar House here in Louisville, and chairs the family programming committee and the foster care committee which facilitates ongoing educational sessions delivered by pediatricians. Additionally, she has worked with the Family Scholar House to secure three American Academy of Pediatrics grants related to accessing medical needs in at risk families and involvement in care of young adolescents who have aged out of the foster care system. Faye also serves on the board of directors, the health committee, and on the CEO selection committee for Family Health Centers in Louisville. Under her leadership, the HSC developed a strategic plan for the campus to facilitate the four school’s engagement in interprofessional collaborations, which has resulted in multiple sustainable initiatives, including grant‐supported programming and research initiatives.
Dr. Bryant has been a staff pediatric infectious disease specialist for UL Pediatrics for more than 20 years, is a tenured Professor, has been the Director of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program since 2008, and is the Director of Infection Control and Epidemiology for Norton Children’s Hospital. As such, Kristina has built a strong infection prevention program that is integrated into the hospital patient safety program, has reduced healthcare-associated infections, trained and mentored infection preventionists, and regularly serves as a resource to other hospitals in the region that care for neonates and children.
Dr. Bryant has long been the individual venerated in difficult situations and when a hospital full of educated and experienced physicians did not know where to turn when the pandemic came crashing down onto our lives, both her peers and leadership alike turned to her for answers and direction. Thrust to the forefront, she rarely slept the first 90 days as she was constantly called about PPE, isolation measures, testing advice and treatment recommendations on nearly every pediatric patient with Coronavirus. Kristina answered every call and reviewed every chart for thoughtful recommendations to her colleagues at the hospital and throughout the state. Despite the significant increased workload, she immersed herself in multidisciplinary workgroups that developed guidelines to treat children with acute SARS-CoV-2. Dr. Bryant developed prevention policies and procedures for children and pregnant women. Her cell number was provided to internal and external providers so that she could serve a s a resource for everyone, 24/7. She delivered a Nursing Grand Rounds and more than a dozen continuing medical education sessions to keep providers informed in a time when information was fluid. From March through October 2020, she reviewed every COVID test performed on children hospitalized at Norton Children’s Hospital and Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital, reviewing clinical issues with providers and making recommendation about isolation. Additionally, she served as a resource to several community organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House and Home of the Innocents, and educated us all through approximately 40 interviews with local, regional, and national media.
Dr. Fallat is a well-respected, highly regarded pediatric surgeon. She is Professor of Surgery and has served for many years as Division Chief of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Louisville, Surgeon-in-Chief of Norton Children's hospital, and Program Director of the AC GM-accredited Pediatric Surgery Fellowship. All of these achievements are indeed extraordinarily impressive, yet it is Dr. Fallat's national and international interests and service that she has provided across disciplines for so many years (surgery, trauma, emergency medicine, pediatrics, emergency medical services) that has allowed her to make multidisciplinary contributions to education, research, administration, and patient care. Dr. Fallat is also a prolific researcher. Although she has innumerable publications, she has more than 50 peer-reviewed publications since 2016, many of which are original research in translational (e.g., Serum Mullerian-inhibiting substance levels in adolescent girls with normal menstrual cycles or with polycystic ovary syndrome), if not basic science (Mullerian inhibiting substance inhibits cytrochrome P450 aromatase activity in human granulosa lutein cell culture). She has written or participated in many review articles, practice guidelines, and position statements. Dr. Fallat is a scholar, transcribing her clinical experience into the permanent literature and generating new knowledge, all the while teaching trainees how it is done.
Throughout her community engagements and service, Professor Nicholson has selected projects appealing to her interest in social justice, inclusion, and equity. She participates to give voices to issues facing the voiceless, underrepresented segments of our society. Her goal is to change negative behaviors that affect underrepresented populations, or at least to raise awareness of those behaviors' effect on others. To Professor Nicholson, the purpose of law schools is to teach not only what the law is, but also to teach what the law can be, and how law school graduates can play a substantial role in helping the law to evolve and improve. Over the past five years, Professor Nicholson’s service to the community has included the following private and public organizations; Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC), Office of Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods (OSHN), Legal Aid Society (LAS), Louisville Metro Housing Authority (LMHA), Legal Observer (LO) with National Lawyers Guild-KY, and Election Poll Monitor with Kentucky Civic Engagement Table (KCET).
Distinguished Teaching Professor
Dr. Acklin is a widely sought-after educator, clinician, and conductor whose engaging teaching style and musical excellence have brought her recognition at the local, regional, and national levels. She has served in numerous leadership roles at the national and state levels, and currently serves as the National Band Association's State Chair for KY and the Kentucky Music Educators Association College/University Chair. Dr. Acklin has received over 70 guest conducting invitations and has appeared as a conductor and clinician both nationally and internationally. The extraordinary volume and variety of her professional conducting invitations bear witness to her reputation for pedagogical and musical excellence.
Dr. Acklin exemplifies excellence in teaching. In 2015, she was featured in Louisville's Today's Woman Now magazine for her impact as a teacher with the UofL Cardinal Marching Band. She has also been selected numerous times as a UofL Faculty Favorite. Students appreciate her energy, motivation, and positivity. She consistently receives high remarks in her student evaluations that speak to the positive difference she has made in the lives of the students. The 2020-21 academic year has brought unique challenges in university education, but Dr. Acklin has responded with creativity, wisdom, and vision. She developed COVID protocols for the Cardinal Marching Band and worked with UofL Health to create drive-through testing sites prior to Band Camp. Despite not being able to march the CMB this fall due to COVID restrictions, she reimagined the curriculum for the CMB, forming smaller "mini-bands" within the group, and created a community-focused purpose for the semester that was engaging for the students. Her enthusiasm, creativity, and skill have built a strong reputation of excellence among her students, her colleagues, and the field at large.
Professor Ashlock’s breadth and depth of teaching accomplishments, innovative teaching methods, and impact on students across the university are truly exceptional. She has taught 21 different classes at UofL from the 100-level to 600-level, including large Cardinal Core classes. She has taught for UofL in Ghana and in Panama. In Spring 2021, she created a new 600-level class in Communication, Communication Pedagogy during Covid. As evidenced by her extremely high course evaluations, she is an effective teacher across all these levels. Regarding currency, or the effective modeling of pedagogy and effective use of technology, Dr. Ashlock again stands out. She was an early adopter of I-Clickers, on-line teaching, and the use of Panopto Recordings. She worked with the UofL Digital Media Suite to incorporate digital media assignments in her ECPY class as early as 2018, and was a Pilot Program instructor for Adobe Suite in her Comm 201 Cardinal Core class.
Dr. Ashlock is an inspirational teacher, thinking “outside of the box” when teaching both small and very large classes. Finally, Dr. Ashlock has notable accomplishments in mentoring. She has worked with UofL athletes to teach them college-level expectations and help them succeed academically. She regularly teaches communication and presentation sessions to cross-disciplinary graduate students through the PLAN program in the Graduate School. She has worked with graduate students on MA projects, including co-chairing one MA, and serves as a mentor to a new faculty member.
Dr. Holthouser has been a faculty member for 14 years and holds an integral role in our School of Medicine Department of Undergraduate Medical Education. Already the recipient of numerous teaching awards, this year her medical students again bestowed the Golden Apple Teaching Award to her, given to one faculty member who has made the greatest impact with their teaching. She is one of our star educators, always a student favorite, and consistently stands out as one of UofL’s finest professors.
She is extraordinarily passionate in her teaching, remembering what it was like when she herself was in her student’s shoes, and uses those past experiences to embrace the critical importance of educating our students. She helps them believe in themselves when they want to give up and offers encouragement to recognize their own growth, pushing her trainees to perform at their absolute best – often beyond what they believed they could achieve. She has an intense passion for mentorship. She offers inspiration, providing incredible oversight to seemingly long and complex subject matter, a safe place to vent, stability and security, and the reassurance that they belong; for her, their failure is not an option. She considers their successes and their failures her own. Her contributions this past spring and summer were essential as clinical rotations became impossible at the onset of the current pandemic. With medical students needing credit hours to stay on track for graduation, Dr. Holthouser led efforts to develop new virtual courses to continue clinical education despite the absence of clinical site training at that time. As a talented and caring clinician, superb communicator, and educator, Dr. Holthouser shows her students that it is possible to attain excellence in all areas of modern medicine and exemplifies work-life balance. She is the ideal embodiment of the type of physicians we strive to train at UofL.
In over two decades at the law school, Professor Powell has been a skilled and inspirational teacher, a supportive mentor, and a professional role model for a new generation of engaged lawyers. He is an expert teacher and eloquent communicator who is well versed in the complexities of his subject areas. He teaches courses that are at the core of the law school's public law curriculum, meaning that his teaching load is usually one of the heaviest in the law school with high student enrollments. His standards of excellence are uniformly consistent, and he not only teaches students how to critically assess the law and all of its applications, but he inspires them to be truly skilled professionals, competent in their craft, and dedicated to the public good through service. This is the highest calling of a lawyer, and Professor Powell exemplifies this professional ethos to his students. He also has twice received the highest honor bestowed by students to their professors-the honor of hooding them at the law school convocation in 2011 and 2015.
Professor Powell's classroom is characterized by openness, rigor, and engagement as students work to understand the Blackletter law, its underlying concepts and themes, and far-reaching policy implications. Professor Powell challenges his students to do their best work. He gives several writing assignments during the semester and provides extensive written feedback because he believes that lawyers must communicate effectively. Professor Powell tells his students that they must be committed to high quality work, not simply as a source of professional pride, but in the service of their clients in a learned profession. He tells his students that they should be committed to "upper margin work," which is a term (from his days as a young associate in private practice) used to define the highest level of quality for a lawyer's work-thoroughly researched; analytically sound; and well-written and reasoned.
You see Carl has a way of setting our students at ease. For years Carl has taught Social Welfare Institutional Policy, which is a bear of a class for students. But his style is so unassuming the students often come back and say in telling a story I now get what the root of this policy is and why it is so important. He has the ability to connect with students from all walks of life that in the end of a semester truly adore him.
Mr. Enoch effectively demonstrates the currency of his teaching through the pedagogical orientations he adopts in every class. He uses a variety of teaching techniques from individual work to group activities that encourage student-centered learning. Online units include the variety of learning opportunities included in SoftChalk. Similarly, classroom learning uses a variety of tools to engage learners and enhance their ability to remember and practice the knowledge gained, which is done through assignments such as legislative bill tracking, policy analysis, advocacy planning, in-class practice and videos of practice counseling sessions and use of prepared and student-developed case studies. He brings over 25 years of expertise related to local government, social service supervision, and leadership into Kent School classrooms. His professional career has ranged from front-line practice to supervision and management, and these practical experiences make Mr. Enoch well suited to teach in these areas of social work. Carl Enoch has repeatedly shown his currency, breadth and variety, flexibility and inspiration, and mentorship for students. These characteristics ensure quality instruction of our students at the University of Louisville.