HHS 2023-24 Faculty and Staff Awards

Posted on May 08, 2024

Faculty Staff Awards 2024

The school of Health and Human Sciences recognized its 2023-24 faculty and staff award winners in April. View a full explanation of each award

Congratulations to all the 2023-24 winners! 

HHS/UNCG Teaching Excellence Award 

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Dr. Eric Drollette, Department of Kinesiology

Dr. Eric Drollette believes education should involve critical engagement learning, adaptive teaching methods and mutual respect and inclusivity. His classroom is designed to prepare his students to be well-rounded individuals professionally and personally, and his interactive, high-energy teaching style includes “flipping the classroom,” so students are actively engaged in class.

This student-centered approach allows students to be better at problem solving and develop real-world applications of knowledge. It’s also apparent Dr. Drollette genuinely cares about his students’ growth and success in and out of the classroom. He has an inclusiveness and deep caring for learning. 

Jerry and Joan Morrison Tolley-Gail M. Hennis Graduate Teaching Award 

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Dr. Tamar Goldenberg, Department of Public Health Education

Dr. Tamar Goldenberg focuses on her student well-being first and foremost. In her classes, she shows care and applies equity, rigor, and innovation in her teaching daily, while ensuring there is open communication.

Her mentoring approach and guidance is tailored to each student to help them develop real-world experience, while encouraging her students to take leadership roles.

She also ensures the multiple diverse and challenging materials she curates for class are relevant, topical, and as timely as the class year. 

Mary Frances Stone Teaching Excellence Award 

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Professor Jennifer Jones, Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Professor Jennifer Jones focuses on student-centered classrooms and understands most of her students are adult learners and supports them. She offers a welcoming and supportive environment and encourages her students to learn the reasons behind the facts.

She provides her own real-world examples from working with young children to make things more relevant to students. Her enthusiasm for the subject also carries over to the students. 

(Dr. Dena Swanson accepted award for Professor Jennifer Jones.)

Contributions to Diversity and Inclusion Award 

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Dr. Adam Berg, Department of Kinesiology

Dr. Adam Berg clearly incorporates equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) into his teaching and the work he does with the Department of Kinesiology. In addition, he’s served on multiple graduate thesis and dissertation committees where students investigate matters related to social identity, race, and health and wellness.

He’s been a member of his department’s EDI Committee since 2020 and was key in getting the International Association of the Philosophy of Sport to form its own Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, serving as co-chair for a year. Dr. Berg provides a path toward advocacy in sport and how to correct inequalities in the field. 

Community Engaged Scholar Award 

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Dr. Marcia Hale, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies

Dr. Marcia Hale has several lines of community-engaged research occurring simultaneously, most of which are connected to her teaching and the impact of global climate change on people’s well-being. Her research record demonstrates integrated efforts, and looks at social and environmental conflict, particularly through climate justice and sustainability.

Because of her work and partnership with communities on some projects, Dr. Hale gets invited to participate in other research, as well. Dr. Hale has received support from the Mellon Foundation and the National Science Foundation for her work. 

Senior Research Excellence Award 

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Dr. Diane Gill, Department of Kinesiology

Dr. Diane Gill has had a sustained impact on the field of sport and exercise psychology for three decades. During that time, she’s written four books, 45 chapters, and had 165 peer-reviewed articles. She’s been a tireless advocate for physical activity and improving the quality of life. Dr. Gill’s remained focused on self-efficacy and motivation with an emphasis on competitive orientation.

Her research has also adapted over time to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into the larger field of sport and exercise psychology. Dr. Gill has been recognized by the International Society for Sport Psychology, the American Psychological Association and the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports during her career. 

HHS Graduate Mentoring Award 

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Dr. Eric Drollette, Department of Kinesiology

Dr. Eric Drollette incorporates mentoring into his everyday teaching. He has a history of serving on doctoral dissertation committees, masters thesis committees and supervising non-thesis students.

His classes aim to nurture his students, and he conducts weekly “training with Dr. D” virtual sessions which are recorded to enhance students’ research skills, as well as hosting regular lab meetings.

He also has one-on-one weekly sessions with graduate students, and his beliefs in inclusivity and diversity are essential to promoting lifelong learning. 

Outstanding Staff Award 

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Suzanne Ingram, Dean’s Office

Suzanne Ingram’s dedication to faculty, staff, and students is a rare asset. She assists with literally anything that is asked of her, regardless of it being in her job description. This includes scheduling conference rooms and candidate interviews, accepting student membership dues, or volunteering to work at every commencement.

She always responds to crisis moments with a pleasant demeanor, and has the uncanny knack for remaining on task. Suzanne is consistent and trustworthy, and a wonderful, thoughtful coworker. 

Junior Research Excellence Award (co-recipient) 

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Dr. Lucia Mendez, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Dr. Lucia Mendez’s research designs literacy and early science tools and technology for Latino Head Start preschoolers. She’s developed a bilingual vocabulary assessment app, as well as an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional collaboration with early science education, technology, and early childhood teacher professional development to create Bilingualtek. This is a multi-media supported, bilingual, science-learning instructional for preschoolers that addresses gaps in science and language learning for Latino preschoolers.

Dr. Mendez’s research can enhance school readiness for a large minority segment of our nation’s children who could enter STEM careers and help support kindergarten preparedness. 

Since joining UNCG in 2019, she’s received more than $2.9 million in federal research grants. 

Junior Research Excellence Award (co-recipient)

Jessica McNeil

Dr. Jessica McNeil, Department of Kinesiology

Dr. Jessica McNeil’s research focuses on the study of modifiable lifestyle factors, such as exercise or sleep, which impact eating behaviors and energy balance. She maintains research in this area as it applies to cancer survivors, as well as how the factors contribute to significant health disparities. Since joining UNCG in 2021, she has authored 21 publications and been invited to present at the Southeast American College of Sports and Medicine (ACSM). The following year she was invited to chair a session there. Dr. McNeil was also invited to serve as a content expert for the NSF/s SBIR/STTR Program in December 2023. She has also served as a mentor to several graduate and undergraduate students during her three years here who have assisted with data collection and working in her research lab. 

Since joining UNCG, she’s received more than $4.1 million in funded projects, including receiving an NIH grant in 2023 to examine sleep in Black emerging adults.