James A. Keith Excellence in Teaching Award: Raymond Thompson
An alumnus of the Arnold School's Ph.D. in Exercise Science program, Raymond Thompson began teaching courses for his department's B.S. in Exercise Science program after his 2007 graduation. He is a clinical assistant professor and has been both the undergraduate director for exercise science and a faculty scholar with the UofSC Center for Teaching Excellence since 2017. Thompson has taught 20 different exercise science and South Carolina Honors College courses, developing six of these courses himself – often with a focus on human anatomy/physiology and exercise testing. Over the past 15+ years, he has mentored countless undergraduate and graduate students in classroom and through research and thesis projects.
"My teaching philosophy has evolved from the belief the content is the driving matter in a course to belief that the content is the road map by which I teach my students how to learn, apply what they have learned and synthesize ideas from the material so they leave my better prepared for challenges they may face in the future," Thompson says.
Faculty Research Award: Jiajia Zhang
Jiajia Zhang, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, graduated from Memorial University with a Ph.D. in Biostatistics in 2007 and joined the Arnold School that same year. She is currently the chief of her department's biostatistics division, a core faculty member of the South Carolina SmartState Center for Healthcare Quality, and a co-lead investigator for the Electronic Health Records Core of the UofSC Big Data Health Science Center. With funding from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, Zhang has led eight projects as principal investigator and has served as co-investigator on another 31 grants. She has published nearly 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals.
"Being a biostatistician, my academic research focuses on statistical methodology and applied statistics, which provide me a unique opportunity to develop/identify a creative way to understand real-world data," Zhang says. "I will continue to perform current research and expand to the area of big data analysis because these researches can significantly improve the understanding of the risk factors for disease incidence and progression thus enriching the evidence-base practices for disease prevention, control and care."
Faculty Service Award: Melissa Nolan, Sean Norman, Lee Pearson
The Faculty Service Award, which was first presented in 2001, recognizes a faculty member for exceptional service work. Due to the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, three faculty members were selected to receive the 2021 Faculty Service Award, as described by Dean Chandler during the annual Hooding Ceremony:
“This year, we are departing from our norm; we are actually going to recognize three very dedicated individuals for the 2021 Faculty Service Award. These individuals are Dr. Melissa Nolan from epidemiology and biostatistics, Dr. Sean Norman from environmental health sciences and Dr. Lee Pearson from the Dean’s Office and health promotion, education, and behavior.
“Over this past year, the challenges of COVID-19 have altered life for everyone in this room. Our campus community, like campuses across the country, faced unprecedented challenges just to remain open. The need to protect the health, safety and welfare of our faculty, staff and students while also preserving the academic and research missions of the college and of the university became a very complicated challenge for all of us.
It also put public health planning and campus response center stage as never before. Dr. Nolan and Dr. Pearson became a dynamic duo in co-leading the public health team for our university’s COVID-19 response. Melissa’s expertise as an infectious disease epidemiologist was complemented by Lee’s background in public health preparedness and response. That combination made them the go-to resource for our campus leadership and for many others around the state of SC.
Their work was further reinforced by the unique talent and expertise of Dr. Norman. Sean applied molecular sewage surveillance techniques developed in his lab to implement environmental wastewater monitoring for the entire campus. His techniques, which he replicated in cities around the country, provided an early warning system to detect COVID outbreaks and to track emerging SARS-CoV-2 viral strains.
These three individuals, along with colleagues from across our School and campus and along with the hard work of their students, worked tirelessly this year to ensure the safest possible conditions for everyone in the university. And we had one of the very finest responses to the pandemic of any university in the country.
It is with sincere appreciation and with deep respect that I present each of you with this 2021 service award for your outstanding service – not just to the college but to the entire university, the state and indeed the nation during this time of extraordinary crisis.”