Top scholars recognized for impact, teaching and excellence

[FIU News] Top scholars recognized for impact, teaching and excellence

Panther faculty are constantly moving the needle forward, bringing innovative teaching methods to the classroom and conducting acclaimed research.

Each year, FIU recognizes the outstanding, valuable contributions faculty make to the university and academic communities. The award honors full-time faculty and administrators whose work demonstrates impact in the areas of research, creative activities, teaching and mentorship. This year, 34 outstanding faculty members were selected for the award.

“We are incredibly grateful for all that our faculty do every single day to ensure that our students succeed,” President-Designate Kenneth A. Jessell said. “The commitment and hard work of our faculty is instrumental to the success of our students and our university. It is because of faculty like our Top Scholars that FIU is leading in higher education at the state and national levels.”

The scholars span areas and departments across the entire university. From producing cutting-edge research to leading impactful community outreach, these faculty are shining a light on all that FIU has to offer. They were recently recognized during a breakfast reception.

“You are a world-class, dedicated faculty who focus on teaching, research and professional practice, and you make up the very backbone of FIU,” Interim Provost, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth M. Béjar told the scholars at the reception. “You all are the examples our students learn from. You are their role models, and I know that our students are in great hands.”

“I was very humbled to receive the award from FIU,” said Gregory Fabiano, professor of psychology. “The award is a mile marker that my colleagues and I are all doing good work together and good work as we moved forward.”

Fabiano and a team at the FIU Center for Children and Families are conducting research to uncover successful evidence-based interventions that can help improve behavior in children with ADHD. The team is working with a summer treatment program in South Florida and New York for their study.

Bianca Premo, interim chair and professor at the Department of History was recognized for earning a prestigious John S. Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. She is one of six faculty from the department who earned an FIU Top Scholar award this year — a fact she is especially proud of.

“I can’t say enough about the faculty in my department,” she says. “We do it all, everything from individual research to bringing in important grants impacting the community to paying close attention to our students. Personally, I’m really gratified to receive this award. And as interim chair, I am beyond proud of being a member of the department.”

For Maria “Cristy” Charters, associate teaching professor of computer science, the award recognizes her work on a passion project she’s been committed to since 2014.

Previously a high school programming teacher at Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Charters saw firsthand the need for elementary students to be exposed early on to computer science.

For years, Charters teamed up with Steve Luis, currently the executive director for technology at the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences, to organize an annual event in which children engaged with computing during a fun contest. Later, Charters brought in computer science students who could teach and mentor children throughout an entire semester.

What began as a small program matching children at two local schools with FIU students — through a collaboration with the Women in Computer Science student organization — has now become a full-fledged program working with an average of 16 schools per semester. The program is now part of the community outreach conducted by Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE),  FIU’s largest student tech organization.

In 2021, Charters began teaching a free, no-credit course in which she trains students on effective ways to teach the children.

“It’s a way to spread computer science to the little ones,” Charters said. “I feel honored [about receiving this award]. The recognition isn’t just mine. It’s been a collaborative effort. I want to say thank you to everyone.”

Source: FIU News