UM-Dearborn recognizes faculty and students at 36th Annual Honor Scholars and Faculty Awards Ceremony

April 2, 2018

The university honored seven faculty members and nearly 100 students during the March 27 event.

Ya Sha Yi, Susan Baker, Marouane Kessentini, Hyejin Kim, Frank Massey, Brahim Medjahed, and Marilee Benore all stand side by side. They are each holding a Faculty Award plaque.
Recipients of the 2018 Faculty Awards: Ya Sha Yi, Susan Baker, Marouane Kessentini, Hyejin Kim, Frank Massey, Brahim Medjahed, and Marilee Benore.

Seven faculty members were honored at the 36th annual Honor Scholars and Faculty Awards Ceremony for their outstanding teaching, research and service. The occasion also recognized the undergraduate and graduate students who have excelled academically.

Faculty awards included:

  • Distinguished Teaching Award: Hyejin Kim, College of Arts,Sciences,and Letters
  • Distinguished Teaching Award: Brahim Medjahed, College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Distinguished Digital Education Award, Marouane Kessentini, College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Distinguished Research Award: Ya Sha Yi, College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Distinguished Service Award: Frank Massey, College of Arts,Sciences,and Letters
  • Eugene Arden Interdisciplinary Research/Teaching Award: Marilee Benore, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
  • Collegiate Lecturer Award: Susan Baker, College of Business
Hyejin Kim

Distinguished Teaching Awards: Hyejin Kim

What’s one album you'd take with you to a desert island?
My favorite album is December by Georgy Winstern. I’ve been listening to this album since I was 13 years old.

In your alternate universe, if you were not a faculty member, you would have pursued:
I’ve never thought about another job since I was 11 years old. I started playing the piano when I was 4 years old and I thought I wanted to be a pianist. But, by chance, I participated in a math competition [when I was 11] and I thought that math is the most fun thing I could enjoy. After that, I only thought about teaching math to students.

What’s a favorite course you’ve taught and why?
My favorite course is Math 300: Transition to Mathematics, which is an introduction to writing mathematical proofs. In this course, students learn how to read, write and understand mathematical definitions, theorems and proofs. It is great to see the improvement of students’ writing and communication skills gradually through a whole semester.

Three words that best describe my teaching style are:
Commitment, dedication and joy.

I wanted to be an educator because:
I want to share the fun and joy of mathematics with my students. The logical solving process is beautiful and fun.

Excerpt from the awards ceremony:
Dr. Kim "has transformed the undergraduate research environment in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the short span of the three-and-a-half years she has been here. So far, she has mentored more than 30 students on research projects arising in industry, as well as in applied and abstract mathematics. Her commitment to undergraduate research resulted in four prestigious Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grants funded by the Mathematical Association of America... Because of her, 'outstanding level of persistence and dedication in guiding students through research beyond the classroom, semesters and years,' Dr. Kim’s students have published in refereed journals, presented at top mathematics meetings, found a passion for research and gone on to graduate school or other rewarding careers. 

"Besides undergraduate research, Dr. Kim’s lectures are beautifully presented. Echoing a sentiment shared by many students, one student writes of Dr. Kim, 'You are honestly the best teacher I have ever had... I am hoping that I would be able to take all of the classes that you teach. You explain very well, show many examples and also give us problems to do. The fact that you are willing to explain it in many different methods is amazing and there should be more math teachers like you.'”

Brahim Medjahed

Distinguished Teaching Award: Brahim Medjahed

What’s something surprising people don’t know about you?
I like writing storybooks for kids whenever time permits. I authored a few books in Arabic and French. I may consider publishing some in the future, if I get the opportunity.

Who is a major influence on your life and why?
I have always been inspired by my father’s amazing passion for education, generosity of efforts and love for others.  Academically, I am impressed by the scholarship of Andrew Tanenbaum. He is an eminent computer scientist who exemplifies the teacher-scholar model. He authored textbooks in operating systems and computer networks considered as standard texts in computer science. He also authored high-impact research contributions to systems design as illustrated by the numerous awards he received.

In your alternate universe, if you were not a faculty member, you would have pursued:
I would have pursued architecture in my alternate universe. During my early undergraduate stages, I was undecided between computer science and architecture. The love of computers tilted the balance toward a career in computing, but I still enjoy admiring and reading about contemporary architecture landmarks.

What’s a favorite course you’ve taught and why?
My favorite course is undoubtedly CIS 150: Computer Science 1. This is the first foundational core course taken by students majoring in the computer and information science department. Many students take this course during their first couple of semesters on campus. Given the fact that nearly half of UM-Dearborn students are the first in their family to attend college, I see this course as a great opportunity to provide a positive first college experience to students and their families. I also like the educational diversity of students in this course. Some students take this course with no prior exposure to computer programming, while others have some level of programming experience. Dealing with such diversity in the classroom is very interesting. Last but not least, the progress made by students throughout the course is easily quantifiable and noticeable. Some students start the course with no idea on how to write even a simple “Hello World” program but end the semester with hundreds of lines of sophisticated programs in their portfolio.

What’s something you do outside the classroom that you are proud of?
I highly value involving undergraduate students in industry-sponsored research projects. In addition to reinforcing and improving their technical knowledge, students develop their communication and entrepreneurial skills through the various interactions they have with industrial partners. I strongly believe that providing opportunities for undergraduates to participate in research and other professional and academic activities helps them feel more a part of the campus community.

Excerpt from the awards ceremony: 
"He highly values student success, which is exemplified by his efforts in implementing effective instructional methods, holding recitation sessions for his students beyond his classes, adopting open door academic advising, coaching student teams in competitions, engaging undergraduate students in research, revitalizing academic programs and developing timely new courses.  

"With regard to his teaching style, one student remarked, “He is engaged with his students and portrays his interest in our success with projects that are involving and challenging and knowledge on the subjects that he teaches that is up to date and cutting edge. He is always adapting his classes to engage students in the subject at hand and explains things in a way that supports questions and has no problem stopping and clarifying anything that has confused students. All in all a great professor and a stand up individual.”

Marouane Kessentini

Distinguished Digital Education Award: Marouane Kessentini

What book is half finished on your nightstand (or half-finished audiobook)?
The professor is In: The Essential Guide to Turning your Ph.D. into a Job by Karen Kelsky.

What’s something surprising people don’t know about you?
I am a big fan of soccer and still wake up every Sunday at 6 a.m.—due to the CET time difference—to watch via live streaming the soccer games of my favorite team (Club Africain, Tunisia).

Who is a major influence your life and why?
Without any doubts, my parents were the biggest influence on my life. They taught me everything from learning to ride a bike to understanding the values of honesty, integrity and sincerity; from cooking foods to realizing the benefits of perseverance and the importance of striving for excellence; and from compassion to critical thinking.

What’s a favorite course you’ve taught and why?
I love teaching the Software Quality Assurance class where (1) I share with my students the latest advances in this field by trying several of our software tools (developed initially in my research lab, then now adopted by industry); (2) I invite guest speakers from industry and academia and enjoy the great discussions around the talks; and (3) I transfer the knowledge that I learned from solving real-world problems related to software maintenance.

What’s something you do outside the classroom that you are proud of?
I am proud of (1) every new thing that my two wonderful kids, Camellia and Lassad, learn from me and my wife during our activities from cooking to writing letters; and (2) our activities to translate our research prototypes into products and get into the market, via an industrial partner, to help people building better software systems.

Excerpt from the awards ceremony:
"One of the most impressive and unique digital education initiatives by Dr. Kessentini was to offer computer programming to a group of blind and visually impaired high school students. He observed that blind students have difficulty integrating into workplaces composed mainly of sighted persons, and was aware that, while specialized technologies and courses designed specifically for blind students are useful, they carry a risk of inadvertently isolating these students if the technologies are not sufficiently similar to those having been used by sighted programmers in the students’ future workplaces. To tackle this challenge, Dr. Kessentini proposed a creative and novel approach using online education tools to instruct blind high school students in a collaborative environment with sighted students who already have programming experience. 

"Dr. Kessentini has made unique, innovative and socially meaningful contributions to digital engineering education. As Dr. Zhu concluded, Marouane 'is an outstanding teacher with high energy, creativity and devotion.'”

Yasha Alex Yi

Distinguished Research Award: Yasha (Alex) Yi

What’s something surprising people don’t know about you?
My dream was to become a table tennis player when I was in elementary school.

In your alternate universe, if you were not a faculty member, you would have pursued:
Literature. A famous saying is, “Your brain has two parts: left and right. Your left brain has nothing right, your right brain has nothing left…”

When I am not teaching, my research focuses on:
Integrated nano optoelectronic devices and applications, such as energy (photovoltaic cells, solar cells, TPVs), solid state lighting (LEDs), bio optoelectronics, biomedicine, photonic sensors, MEMS and autonomous driving.

I wanted to be an educator because:
I wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives.

What’s something you do outside the classroom that you are proud of?
Being a good father to my kids.

Excerpt from the awards ceremony:
"Since joining the department he has continued to build his research portfolio, establishing himself as a leading national researcher in the field of optoelectronics and nano technology. In his 4.5 years with the department, Professor Yi has published more than 30 journal papers in top ranked journals and has been awarded over $1.4 million in sponsored research grants. 

"It is worth noting that Professor Yi’s passion for research is passed on to students. He chairs our department’s Ph.D. program, with 20 admitted students. He has advised numerous master's and Ph.D. thesis. Professor Yi has also established a unique undergraduate laboratory that allows students to gain hands on experience in fabrication of nano technology. Professor Yi possesses great creativity, tremendous intellect and a relentless work ethic that has resulted in worldwide recognition from his peers as a superlative researcher."

Frank Massey

Distinguished Service Award: Frank Massey

What book is half finished on your nightstand (or half-finished audiobook)?
Never Never by James Patterson and Candice Fox.

What’s something surprising people don’t know about you?
I have spent over half my life at UM-Dearborn.

What’s one album you’d take with you to a desert island?
Great Songs of the Sixties.

Who is a major influence on your life?
My parents.

In your alternate universe, if you were not a faculty member, you would have pursued:

What’s a favorite course you’ve taught and why?
Dynamical systems because the subject contains so many beautiful relationships.

What’s something you do outside the classroom that you are proud of?
Keeping the back yard from becoming a jungle.

Excerpt from the awards ceremony:
"Dr. Massey’s exemplary service contributions have covered all levels— department, college, university and community... Dr. Massey has been very good at identifying a need in the department and volunteers himself without any expectation for recognition. For example, he has been the coach and organizer of the department’s annual Putnam Competition for Math majors for 20 years, including the past 11 years. At the college level, Dr. Massey has served on the college’s Curriculum Committee (CASL CC) for 8 years. CASL CC is one of the most important committees in CASL, the Committee regularly reviews 7 to 12 proposals every other week. Reading and understanding the proposals for new courses or new programs requires a tremendous amount of time and attention from committee members, particularly those outside the member’s expertise. 

"Dr. Massey’s distinguished service records to the department, college, university and students have demonstrated exceptional excellence and dedication."

Eugene Arden Interdisciplinary Research/Teaching Award: Marilee Benore

What book is half finished on your nightstand?
She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey through Poems by Carolyn Kennedy. My research students get a book with poems from me at graduation. The men get Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men on the Words That Move Them. And the women get Poems that Make Grown Women Cry: 100 Women on the Words that Move Them. It’s where famous people talk about their favorite poem. The poem they are talking about is included too. Poetry is inspirational.

What’s something surprising people don’t know about you?
I’m taking bass guitar lessons. Right now I'm learning Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder. To be honest, I’m pretty terrible, but it is really fun.

Who is a major influence on your life?
My mom. When I do things, I still like to think l make her happy even though she passed away a few years ago.

In your alternate universe, if you were not a faculty member, you would have pursued:
Farming. You can be outside—I really like being outside. And have some level of control—I like control too.

What’s a favorite course you’ve taught and why?
My biochemistry lab. I get to interact with students and get involved with their experiments. It’s when you get to the really fun stuff.

Three words that best describe my teaching style:
Interactive, relevant, student-centered.

What’s something you do outside the classroom that you are proud of?
My research students working in the lab; you get to see them mature in their capacity as a scientist and “get it.”

Excerpt from the awards ceremony:
"The contributions that Professor Benore has made through her research and teaching span the disciplines of biochemistry, biology, women and gender studies, and education reform. Her service work is dedicated to creating intersections in these areas to drive and support change. All her work—from developing the behavioral and biological sciences major, acting as the faculty adviser to The Society of Women Engineers and Women in Science, to leading national reform in education—has motivated her students, and resulted in transformative experiences and opportunities for the campus community, students and colleagues. 

"Professor Benore’s work is synergistic and interdisciplinary, and is only accomplished because of her excellent strategic planning, creative ideas and sincere interest in each of several areas—scientific research, development of new academic and co-curricular programs, advancement of women and girls in STEM through experiential change, and student learning through service and outreach endeavors. This work encompasses deeper understanding of the communication barriers and identification of common ground in foundational thinking among different fields."

Susan Baker

Collegiate Lecturer Award: Susan Baker

What's one album you'd take with you to a desert island?
The Big Chill soundtrack.

What’s something surprising people don’t know about you?
I proposed and helped launch a University Chorale in 2007, in which both students and faculty performed.

Who was a major influence in your life?
My mother. She left her career in teaching to raise her family and became my Girl Scout leader. She set a great example through her community involvement, both service and leadership, and later went back into teaching by working with an underserved population.

When I'm having a rough day, I think of:
A recent alumnus who was born in a refugee camp, emigrated to the U.S. when he was five years old and now has a promising career at a Big Four public accounting firm. It reminds me that what we do as educators matters for the future generations.

What’s something you do outside the classroom that you are proud of?
My mentorship with our future leaders, through the Beta Alpha Psi honor society, and mentoring young girls as a Girl Scout leader to become confident leaders in the future.

Excerpt from the awards ceremony:
"Ms. Baker is dedicated to excellence in the classroom, as supported by her significantly high student evaluations. She has been consistently ranked as a top teacher in the COB over the past 15 years. Ms. Baker’s student evaluations reflect her ability to reach students and bring out their critical thinking skills. She is distinguished from other instructors in the college by her ability to successfully motivate students of all learning styles.

"Outside the classroom, Ms. Baker has been the faculty advisor to Beta Alpha Psi. BAP is the international honor society for accounting, finance & information technology professionals. The university’s chapter has consistently won multiple national awards and recognition each year. Ms. Baker is also the Site Champion for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program through the Accounting Aid Society. The purpose of the VITA program is to offer low- income individuals free tax preparation through student volunteers."

Honor Scholars

College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters

Heather M. Murphy

Applied Statistics
Zachary R. Smith

Art History
Con A. Lustig

Behavioral and Biological Sciences
Lena Rammouni

Behavioral Sciences
Chelsea M. Burke

Muhammad A. Osto

Biological Sciences
Kelly L. Parker

Business Studies
Stephanie R. Barna

Chemistry (ACS Certified)
Sami Abdulhadi

Brianna Patrick

Criminology and Criminal Justice
Madou A. Bazzi

Brock A. Rowberry

Samira A. Nahshal

Environmental Science
Brian J. Giroux

Environmental Studies
Laura M. Walker

French Studies
Cortney Armstrong

General Studies
Nikki Hollandsworth

Hispanic Studies
Raana Ali

Hannah R. Ryniak

Madeleine G. Burkhart

International Studies
Belle Sobolewski

Journalism and Screen Studies
Con A. Lustig

Liberal Studies
Leticia Rangel

Ravikumar Ramasami

Gabriella M. Oudsema

Political Science
Monica M. De Roche

Madison M. Kuzma

Zahraa Saab

Urban and Regional Studies
Teiana L. McGahey

Women’s and Gender Studies
Rebecca Richardson

Graduate Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics
Lourdes (Gizelle) Guerra

Graduate Program in Environmental Science
Rose Mankiewicz

Graduate Program in Psychology
Chazlyn Miller

Graduate Program in Public Administration
Jeffrey D. Watkins 

College of Business

Kevin Landwehr

Digital Marketing
Benjamin Villa

William Allen

General Business
Rachel Witherspoon

Human Resource Management
Rabeha Sofyan

Information Technology Management
Zunaira Tufail

Amal Al Zadjali

Munirah Alzeer

Supply Chain Management
Hien Phan

Graduate Program in Accounting
Sonia Swaid Mackie

Graduate Program in Business Administration
Allison Annette Fifer

Graduate Program in Business Administration and Master of Science in Industrial & Systems
Abigail Dodson

Graduate Program in Business Analytics
Raymond Louis Champoux

Graduate Program in Finance
Daniel K. Hamalainen

Graduate Program in Information Systems
Richa A. Mehra

Graduate Program in Supply Chain Management
Ran Yan

College of Education, Health, and Human Services

Community Health Education
Maaref A. Fadel

Graduate Program in Health Information Technology
Shilpa Gangasani

Bachelor of Arts in Education (Special Education)
Sara C. Agne

Bachelor of General Studies 
Turkessa S. Joo

Bachelor of Arts in Instructional Technology
Kimberly M. Williams

Master of Arts in Early Childhood Administration and Leadership
Lisa M. Alawie

Mater of Arts in Education
Cynthia M. McAuliffe

Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
Jennifer T. Fryzel

Master of Arts in Educational Technology
Lori J. DeVries

Master of Arts in Teaching
Latifa K. Charara

Master of Education in Special Education
Erin E. Connors

Master of Science in Science Education
Robert J. Voss

Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.)
Christina T. Kozlowski

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)
Ghada M. Ahmad

Health Policy Studies
Linda Bazzi

Public Health
Emma M. Watters

Bachelor of Arts in Child Life
Paige I. Tapp

Bachelor of Arts in Education (Early Childhood)
Megan L. Swick

Bachelor of Arts in Education (Integrated Science)
Molly E. Binek

Bachelor of Arts in Education (Language Arts)
Natelege M. Sims

Bachelor of Arts in Education (Mathematics Studies)
Rachel L. Imes

Bachelor of Arts in Education (Reading)
Rosalind A. Grayson

Bachelor of Arts in Education (Social Studies)
Jenna L. Cook

College of Engineering and Computer Science

Zachary D. Bustamante

Computer Engineering
Keith R. Stokely

Computer and Information Science
Sean M. Croskey

Cybersecurity & Information Assurance
Natasha M. Young

Data Science
Robert M. Ervin

Electrical Engineering
Leonard Dziubinschi

Industrial and Systems Engineering
Erica Magnuson

Manufacturing Engineering
Amy Stefanovski

Mechanical Engineering
Breana R. Cappuccilli

Robotics Engineering

Ammar Jamal Eddin

Software Engineering
Dominic A. Retli

Graduate Program in Automotive Systems Engineering
Siva V. Vayugundla

Graduate Program in Bioengineering
Tania M. Ismail

Graduate Program in Computer Engineering
Vladyslav A. Slyusar

Graduate Program in Computer and Information Science
Alfred R. Kishek

Graduate Program in Electrical Engineering
Caitlin M. Bateson

Graduate Program in Energy Systems Engineering
David A. Huffman

Graduate Program in Engineering Management
Edgard Martinez

Graduate Program in Industrial and Systems Engineering
Xiaole Liu

Graduate Program in Information Systems and Technology
Jeffrey Szuma

Graduate Program in Manufacturing Systems Engineering
Akash Telkur

Graduate Program in Mechanical Engineering 
Nicholas R. Kalweit

Graduate Program in Program and Project Management
Sonam Chauhan

Graduate Program in Software Engineering
Rashmi Manjunath

Ph.D. Program in Computer and Information Science
Hanzhang Wang