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M ay 2015

Teaching Excellence Award winners demonstrate true meaning behind Be The Difference By Clare Peterson

Teaching Excellence Awards are the highest honor bestowed upon Marquette faculty members. Recipients are nominated by colleagues and students for demonstrating excellence as teacher-scholars. Diane Dressler, Dr. Kristen Foster, Dr. Andrew Starsky and Dr. Philip Voglewede are the 2015 Teaching Excellence Award recipients and were honored at the Père Marquette Dinner on April 30.


Clinical assistant professor College of Nursing Diane Dressler, clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing, is described by many as a “master teacher.” An early adopter of simulation technology and after educating future nurses for more than 16 years, Dressler continues to use this innovative teaching strategy to help students gain knowledge and hands-on practice. “I ask questions during the debriefing phase that prompt students to reflect on their performance and to generate a deeper understanding of how the simulation experience can be applied to their practice,” Dressler says. This teaching strategy is highly regarded among her students. “Professor Dressler is a living example of nursing education excellence, and she cares fervently about the holistic development of her students,” a student notes in Dressler’s nomination. Dressler is equally supportive when it comes to mentoring, counseling and guiding new faculty members in the College of Nursing. “All of the faculty she has mentored have stated that Diane is a fantastic teacher and that they have benefitted greatly from her wisdom and guidance,” says Dr. Kerry Kosmoski-Goepfert, RN, associate clinical professor and associate dean for undergraduate programs. In fact, due to the frequency Dressler has received the College of Nursing’s Teaching Excellence Award, a policy had to be established so that no faculty member could be eligible for the award in the year following a win. “I love teaching our nursing students in the classroom, the simulation lab and in clinical settings. It is a privilege to impact the education of students who will help create the future of health care,” says Dressler.

Diane Dressler, clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing

Dr. Kristen Foster, associate professor of history


Photos by Dan Johnson

Dr. Andrew Starsky, clinical associate professor of physical therapy

Dr. Philip Voglewede, associate professor of mechanical engineering

Diane Dressler

Dr. Kristen Foster

Associate professor of History Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Kristen Foster, associate professor of history in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, is said to have cura personalis in her DNA. “I like to think that my father passed along his love of both learning and teaching to me, and that in some small way, I have tried to mirror his tremendous commitment to the well-being and education of anyone who dares to open themselves fully to the process of learning,” Foster says. Foster’s unrelenting commitment to her students is just one reason she is a 2015 Teaching Excellence Award recipient. “I always felt like I was the most important student she needed to see that day,” emphasizes a former student. Foster’s use of film clips, music and literature during her lectures give students a deeper look into the complex web of personalities, realities and intangibles that drive historical events. A former student, commenting on Foster’s teaching style says, “Dr. Foster cultivated a dynamic learning environment, never relying on any one type of teaching strategy, but instead utilized an array of strategies to create an environment that was conducive to spirited historical scholarship.” As a mentor and noted role model, Foster counsels students to discern a path that they may not have previously considered. Her enthusiasm for the subject not only sparks students’ interest on the topic but has inspired many to pursue careers in history. “Whatever students choose to pursue in life, I want them to embrace and fearlessly question the world around them. I want them to remember to ask ‘why,’ and to choose the search for truth and meaning as often as they are able. In this way, their lives will be richer, and the world will be a better place,” says Foster. 

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Teaching Excellence Awards


C o n t i n u e d F r o m Pa g e 1

Dr. Andrew Starsky

 linical associate professor of Physical Therapy C College of Health Sciences If pulling out a guitar and singing a song about “gait analysis” will get the message across to his students, Dr. Andrew Starsky, clinical associate professor of physical therapy, will do so. Starsky educates students across three different degree programs in the Department of Physical Therapy, many of which are the core classes that bring the program its high national reputation. Starsky has a unique academic background. He earned his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, a master’s degree in physical therapy and a doctorate in biomedical engineering — all from Marquette. His academic training combined with his clinical experiences allow him to break down complex ideas for students in ways that make learning highly engaging. Many of Starsky’s students note that he typically knows each of them by name within the first week of classes, even in lectures as large as 60 to 70 students. Starsky fosters student learning through innovative, highimpact practices such as student research opportunities, collaborative student assignments, service learning and capstone projects. “He provides students with a truly memorable educational experience, using a dynamic, engaging, innovative style of teaching to make learning interesting and especially long-lasting,” notes a colleague. “I am a strong believer in the value of a college education. I calculate how much the students are paying per hour of class, and give them a money back guarantee. I promise to make each hour worth it, or I will refund their tuition for that hour. Fifteen years of teaching and no refunds yet,” Starsky adds.


Dr. Philip Voglewede

Associate professor of Mechanical Engineering Opus College of Engineering A consistent theme runs through the nomination of Dr. Philip Voglewede, associate professor of mechanical engineering: an energetic instructor who is passionate about teaching and student learning. “My teaching goal is to create independent thinkers who are able to adapt to the constantly changing technological world in which we live,” Voglewede says. And he works hard to achieve this goal by going the extra mile for his students. He holds daily office hours to ensure all his students have the opportunity to see him outside the classroom, regularly organizes problem-solving sessions and hosts Sunday night study sessions before final exams. Feedback, Voglewede says, is a “two-way street,” which is why he distributes a mid-semester evaluation to seek feedback from his students on his performance. Voglewede’s extraordinarily high course evaluation scores reflect his students’ appreciation of his commitment to teaching excellence. “It’s important to note that he achieves these glowing reviews while teaching some of the most difficult classes we offer,” indicates a colleague. While Voglewede continually pushes his students academically, he remains sensitive to their needs and skill level. “As educators, we need to find what motivates our students to achieve at a level they do not think they can achieve, and lift them to that level,” Voglewede says.

Demerdash’s important work leads to award for research excellence By Joe DiGiovanni

“What is a soul? It’s like electricity — we don’t really know what it is, but it’s a force that can light a room.”

Photo by Dan Johnson

— Ray Charles

Dr. Nabeel Demerdash, professor of electrical and computer engineering

The Genius of Soul didn’t know much about electricity, but thankfully for the rest of us, Dr. Nabeel Demerdash certainly does. Demerdash is this year’s recipient of the Lawrence G. Haggerty Faculty Award for Research Excellence. The professor of electrical and computer engineering is a world-renowned authority and author in the modeling, analysis and design of electric machines and drives. With contributions in the areas of reliability, energy efficiency, modeling, analysis and design, his work has improved the reliability of electric motors that could improve survivability in key moments by preventing power failures. Predicting when a motor is going to fail can be a matter of life and death. For example, Demerdash’s work to improve the prediction of propeller motor failure could mean the difference between life and death for submarine personnel, or during surgery in a hospital in the case of a backup generator failure after a power outage. He also has worked to improve the efficiency of motors, which has helped to cut energy usage in appliances and other devices worldwide. These improvements also are being used in electric hybrid vehicles, allowing them a way to “limp home” if there is an issue. What is the driving force behind the improvements? “Sharper numerical tools that allow us to come up with solutions for more efficient devices,” Demerdash says. One of his main contributions has been work to improve energy efficiency. “If we consider the fact that energy consumed by electric motors comprises

80 percent of the total electric energy consumed, the significance of his work becomes obvious,” says Edwin E. Yaz, chair and professor of electrical and computer engineering. “In addition to his outstanding research performance, Professor Demerdash is also a very dedicated teacher and mentor. His compassion for his students is legendary.” Demerdash is proudest of his work as a professor. He has been one at Marquette since 1994. “Nothing gives me more joy than mentoring people, watching them complete their education and becoming successful, whether it’s in industry or academia,” he says. Demerdash received a bachelor’s degree from Cairo University in 1964, a master’s degree from University of Pittsburgh in 1967 and a doctorate from Pittsburgh in 1971. He was a 1999 IEEE Nikola Tesla Awardee, the highest honor given by IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional society. His career has been so exemplary that there is little or no space left on his office walls for additional plaques. However, the Tesla award is prominently displayed, citing Demerdash “for pioneering contributions to electric machine and drive systems design using coupled finite-element and electrical network models.” Two of his former students (one works at General Motors and the other at General Electric) also have won the award. Over his long career, Demerdash has secured more than $4 million in grants and other funding.


Photos by Dan Johnson


Dr. Serdar Bozdag, assistant professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science

Dr. Jeremy Fyke, assistant professor of communication studies and corporate communication

Promising work leads to Way Klingler Young Scholar Awards By Joe DiGiovanni

Way Klingler Young Scholar Awards support promising young scholars in critical stages of their careers with awards of up to $32,000. They are intended to fund $2,000 in operating costs and to cover up to 50 percent of salary to afford the recipient a one-semester sabbatical. The 2014–15 Way Klingler Young Scholar Award recipients are Drs. Serdar Bozdag, Jeremy Fyke, Melissa Ganz and Lisa Petrella. Serdar Bozdag, assistant professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science, is doing research that could help us understand the genetic basis of diseases. The semester sabbatical will give him the time to develop a computational tool for a whole genome. “This tool will allow biologists and clinicians to identify therapeutic targets and drivers of diseases,” he says. Bozdag wants to develop computational tools to integrate biological data to reverse engineer gene regulatory networks (GRNs). A GRN represents interactions between genes and protein byproducts of some other genes. This activity governs the biological processes in a cell. He will use his results as preliminary data to apply for a National Institutes of Health grant, where he will propose to integrate other types of biological data to increase the accuracy of reverse engineering even further. He will publish his results in a bioinformatics journal. Jeremy Fyke, assistant professor of communication studies and corporate communication, will work on several projects during his sabbatical. “My immediate plan is to continue, topically, the line of research I have established, and push forth on the projects I have in progress,” he says. Fyke currently has three articles under review at various journals, and is preparing a piece with Dr. Scott D’Urso for The SAGE Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication. He hopes to write a paper within the next year on the unintended consequences of using metaphors in leadership training. Fyke also plans to work with Diederich College of Communication colleagues on additional projects, one of which will examine the role of internships in college students’ socialization into careers.

Dr. Melissa J. Ganz, assistant professor of English

Melissa J. Ganz, assistant professor of English, will complete revisions to her first book, Public Vows: Fictions of Marriage in the English Enlightenment, and begin a new study, The Outlaw and the Magistrate: Imagining Justice in the British Enlightenment. She specializes in 18th-century British literature and culture, law and literature, and the history of the novel. She began doctoral work in literature after receiving a J.D. and publishing in legal and cultural history. “My research is driven by a desire to understand the ways in which literature and law have shaped each other in the past and continue to speak to each other today,” she says. Ganz is also completing a series of essays that explore questions of criminal responsibility in 19th-century fiction. “My work is fueled by the conviction that literature offers not only aesthetically powerful insights into the human condition but also uniquely valuable contributions to pressing legal and ethical concerns,” Ganz says. Lisa Petrella, assistant professor of biological sciences, is studying the effects of changing temperatures on germ cells. “Temperature has special environmental interest because, despite perhaps being in the range of only a few degrees, the temperature increases due to global warming have significant and direct consequences on how animals develop,” says K. Dale Noel, chair the Department of ­Biological Sciences. “In addition, there are many connections of her work to human biology, including loss of male fertility at high temperature,” he says. Petrella will continue to study the temperature effects of cells during her sabbatical. “Understanding what goes wrong in these cells has implications not only in human and livestock fertility, but also in potentially catastrophic loss of certain types of invertebrate populations with an increase in global temperatures,” she says.

Dr. Lisa Petrella, assistant professor of biological sciences


Photo by Jesse Lee


Excellence in University Service Award winners for 2015 are (left to right) Dr. Kim Halula, Stacy Mitz, Thomas Wirtz and Annette Wolak.

Four staff members recognized for service above and beyond job descriptions By Jesse Lee


in University Service Awards

recognize staff members who have contributed to the essential work of Marquette at the highest levels of excellence. Recipients were nominated based on service that is above and beyond the duties normally assigned to their positions. They will be honored at the Excellence in University Service Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, June 3.

Dr. Kim Halula, Associate Dean, College


Health Sciences

Dr. Kim Halula has served Marquette in a number of roles for more than 30 years, from director of the Dental Hygiene program to interim chair for the Physician Assistant Studies and Speech Pathology and Audiology programs. Those who nominated her note that she is always willing to tackle any job and work on any committee — an attribute Halula credits to the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis. “It takes the contributions of so many at all levels to achieve the success of the whole, and no one person is more important than another when working to accomplish a task,” Halula says. “Marquette provides an opportunity for all of us to work together to make a difference in the lives of our students, in the community and in the world. “So often, we get caught up in our destination in life and we forget to appreciate the journey along the way, especially the goodness of the people we meet and work with,” she says. “My hope is that everyone I come in contact with at Marquette — whether it be the students, alumni, faculty or staff — realize that I genuinely appreciate who they are and what they do.”

Stacy Mitz, Assistant Vice President, Engagement, University Advancement While words like “generous,” “leader,” “inspirational” and “passionate” echoed throughout the nominations for Stacy Mitz, one of her colleagues summed it up well:

“Stacy lifts up her team like no one else. It’s not about her accolades and ego — it’s about Marquette.” In her time here, Mitz has developed a number of alumni engagement programs, most notably CIRCLES, a business networking program. Under Mitz’s leadership, the CIRCLES program expanded to 13 regions and 16 cities across the country, and has been recognized with awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Jesuit Advancement Administrators. For Mitz, one of the most rewarding outcomes of this expansion is meeting alumni across the country. “I realize that being part of the Marquette community is special,” Mitz says. “I’ve had the opportunity on a regular basis to experience people living the mission of Marquette. This inspiration drives me to think of my work as not just a ‘job,’ but as part of my identity. “It’s a true honor to be recognized by my colleagues, and it’s a privilege to work at Marquette.”

Thomas Wirtz, Director, Dental Informatics, School



As director of dental informatics, it’s no surprise that Thomas Wirtz is passionate about technology. However, his colleagues say Wirtz is more than just passionate — he’s innovative. “I like trying to find new ways to use ­technology to make a person’s work easier or more productive,” Wirtz says. “It’s rewarding and encouraging to help people learn a new skill.” One example of his innovation is the development of an after-hours call system. Accessing patient information after hours without violating federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations was a major problem for the School of Dentistry. Wirtz developed a system that allowed residents to securely and easily identify after-hours callers as patients of record.

Wirtz also helps out colleagues with technology issues, and according to those who nominated him, he does it with a smile and without judgment, whether it’s providing technology strategy or simply helping to embed a video into a presentation. They cite his positivity and helpful demeanor as two of many reasons Wirtz is deserving of the Excellence in University Service Award. “I feel honored,” Wirtz says. “I know there are many other faculty and staff who, when they look in the mirror, should see themselves as winners of this award every day. I’m touched that my colleagues considered my efforts worthy.”

Annette Wolak, Office Associate, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Opus College  of Engineering Nominations for Annette Wolak called her “the heart and soul of the Mechanical Engineering Department” and recognized her outstanding work ethic. For Wolak, the drive behind that ethic is simply stated: “Put on a positive attitude, find something to smile about and try to make someone’s day,” she says. “I find that life is so much more rewarding when you can smile and be helpful. Often it’s the smallest thing that you do that will alleviate someone else’s stress and make their day a little better.” Wolak covers many responsibilities in her role as office associate, from day-to-day operations to supporting faculty and staff through grant administration, organizing conferences, proctoring exams, coordinating schedules, budgeting, and much more. She credits her colleagues with making her work exciting and interesting. “When you have a good team, teamwork is easy,” Wolak says. “I work for the greatest team at Marquette. We’re like a well-oiled machine, and that makes it enjoyable and rewarding to come to work.”

May 2015 Marquette Matters  
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