Dr. Dave Goorahoo, plant science professor, was selected for Fresno State’s 2020 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, announced Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Fresno State’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.
The Provost’s Awards also honored the following faculty:
- Helda Pinzón-Perez, professor of public health — Faculty Service Award
- Beth Weinman, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences — Innovation Award
- Kao-Ly Yang, lecturer of linguistics — Outstanding Lecturer Award
- Blain Roberts and Ethan Kytle, professors of history — Research, Scholarship and Creative Accomplishment Award
Six faculty members were selected for the Promising New Faculty category of the Provost’s Awards in recognition of their exemplary achievements in teaching, research, creative activities and/or service among non-tenured, tenure-track faculty. The honorees are:
- Katherine Fobear, assistant professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies
- Vadim Keyser, assistant professor of philosophy
- Zhi Liang, assistant professor of mechanical engineering
- Matin Pirouz, assistant professor of computer science
- Mariya (Masha) Yukhymenko, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction
- Tricia Van Laar, assistant professor of biology
In addition, the Center for Faculty Excellence received a Special Award for Exemplary Service.
The Provost’s Awards were established in 1993 to recognize the outstanding teaching, research and service that is central to the mission of Fresno State.
Honorees provide students with a stimulating environment that fosters learning and affirms the University as an intellectual and cultural leader in the Central Valley.
The awardees will be recognized during a virtual celebration from 4 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 6. For more information about the reception, contact Randy Aoki at 559.278.2636.
Excellence in Teaching Award
Dr. Dave Goorahoo (plant science) came to Fresno State in 2000 as a research soil scientist at the Center for Irrigation Technology and became a full-time assistant professor in 2006. He has taught a number of courses related to crop production, food society and the environment, research methodology and more while integrating field experience and research opportunities for students. In 2010, he co-led a study abroad program to Trinidad and Tobago, where he was born, so students could learn about the culture, agriculture and cuisine. He has also been invited to speak to students and extension groups around the world due to his expertise and experience with agricultural systems in different geographic locations. Goorahoo regularly advises students and supervises research projects. Many of his students have gone on to receive top University awards. His major guiding principle to improve as an educator is that “to be a good teacher, one must first be a better student.”
Faculty Service Award
Dr. Helda Pinzón-Perez (public health) joined the faculty in 1999 and is now director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. She is involved with the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate mentoring program that pairs faculty mentors with Ph.D. students to help them become instructors. She has collaborated with colleagues on translations of “The Silent Garden,” creation of general education courses in the multicultural arena, development programs with Project Rebound for formerly incarcerated students and the Renaissance Program for students who have been in foster care or who are homeless.
Research, Scholarship and Creative Accomplishment
Drs. Blain Roberts and Ethan Kytle (history) joined Fresno State in 2007 and soon began a major research project memorializing the historical memory of slavery in the United States. The 12-year project resulted in more than 30 co-authored publications, including 26 op-eds and similar essays, five peer-reviewed journal articles and the book, “Denmark Vesey’s Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy.” They have developed a reputation as historical experts and are often called on by national media for analysis of present-day situations tied to history.
Dr. Beth Weinman (earth and environmental sciences) joined Fresno State in 2012. Weinman led the development of a first-year learning program called “Building Opportunities of Network and Discovery,” (BOND) for freshmen in the College of Science and Mathematics. The program introduces students to high-impact practices to improve retention, sense of belonging and self-efficacy. She and her colleagues are working to introduce this program to all students. Weinman was also an early advocate of including virtual labs in her courses. Her leadership was recognized by CSU administrators, and she now leads the CSU Faculty Learning Community on Course Re-design with Technology.
Dr. Kao-Ly Yang (linguistics) joined Fresno State in 2004 and has taught French and Hmong courses. She currently serves as the coordinator, academic adviser and club adviser of the Hmong studies minor program. Yang designed most of the Hmong courses and the framework for the program. She has also written and revised 11 textbooks for teaching Hmong and 300 audio files for lab activities. Her passion lies in preserving the Hmong language and culture and helping students, many of whom are Hmong, reconnect with their heritage while reaching their full potential.
Promising New Faculty
Dr. Katherine Fobear (women’s, gender and sexuality studies) joined Fresno State in 2017 and has deepened the expertise and instructional capabilities of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, especially in the LGBTQ area. Her interest in research and activism shows through her work with students to develop community reports about transgender housing, and the Qistory project in which students helped document the lives of elderly LGBTQ people in the Central Valley. She also started the first undergraduate, student-led CSU gender, race and sexuality conference at Fresno State, which did so well that it was institutionalized as a CSU-wide conference.
Dr. Vadim Keyser (philosophy) joined Fresno State in 2017 as a liaison between the arts and science. He built relationships between the College of Arts and Humanities, the Cognitive Science Program and the master of arts biotechnology program. He has transformed his work to focus on Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CUREs) in which students work to solve a contemporary puzzle. Keyser was chair of the college technology committee and played a role in bringing Adobe Creative Cloud to campus. As a researcher, he recently finished a project on Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Zhi Liang (mechanical engineering) joined Fresno State in 2016 with an expertise in thermal-fluid sciences. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses, developed a new graduate course and integrated his research experiences into others. He had 10 publications in journals like the Journal of Chemical Physics and the Journal of Applied Physics, presented at five conferences and was the principal investigator on National Science Foundation research grants on nano-materials. Liang has also served on the departmental banquet committee and college scholarship committee.
Dr. Matin Pirouz (computer science), who was a first-generation female student in computer science, joined the faculty in 2018. She was recently named a Google Faculty in Residence for summer 2020, which will enable her to bring new technology and approaches to the classroom. She has already developed four new undergraduate courses that emphasize real-world applications of computing. Pirouz secured a five-year, $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant in January to train high school science teachers with computational thinking and transdisciplinary problem-solving skills. The goal is to train and support 60 teachers. When not teaching, Pirouz serves on campus committees and task forces.
Dr. Tricia Van Laar (biology) joined Fresno State in 2015 and has taught 17 different courses in biology and natural sciences — from her specialty in microbiology to ornithology and bioinformatics while developing four new courses. In addition to her high teaching load — up to three courses every semester, an online course over winter intersession and up to two courses during the summer — she seeks to increase her online instruction skills by enrolling in DISCOVERe training and Grad Net Initiative Online Pedagogy workshops. Van Laar’s lab is one of the biggest on campus with up to 10 research students.
Dr. Mariya Yukhymenko (curriculum and instruction) came to Fresno State in 2015 and teaches quantitative courses in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She has taught 11 different graduate-level courses, published 21 peer-review articles, given 33 presentations and received more than $1.4 million in grant funding. She has served as a faculty fellow for the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and played an active role in conducting research and writing reports related to the DISCOVERe program. Yukhymenko also serves on a number of University task forces, councils and boards.
Special Award for Exemplary Service
The Center for Faculty Excellence consistently lives up to its motto to “inspire, create, encourage, engage,” and has been a champion to faculty during the transition to virtual instruction. The guidance that the staff at Center for Faculty Excellence provides the faculty was essential to maintaining a sense of cohesion during this time. The collaborative spirit and dedication of the staff manifests an exemplary level of service that epitomizes the principles of the Provost’s Awards for Excellence.