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High five: University to honor top profs with annual faculty awards

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will recognize five Eminent Faculty during ceremonies April 12.

The UL Lafayette Foundation sponsors the annual awards. They are the highest recognition the University confers on faculty, said Dr. Julie Bolton Falgout, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “This year’s five award recipients are thoughtful scholars who are dedicated to their students, our community and to the core mission of the University,” she said.

Dr. James Albert and Dr. Xiaoduan Sun are the Distinguished Professor Award honorees. Established in 1965, the award recognizes educators for their research, teaching effectiveness, and contributions to their professions and campus life.

Albert is a biology professor. Sun is a civil engineering professor.

This year’s recipients of the Dr. Ray P. Authement Excellence in Teaching award are Dr. Jennifer Lemoine, an assistant nursing professor, and Dr. Febee Louka, an associate chemistry professor. The award is named for the University’s fifth president. It has recognized faculty commitment to teaching and innovation since 1992. 

The Leadership in Service Award will be presented to Dr. Terrence Chambers, a mechanical engineering professor. It honors a faculty member who combines service learning with classroom instruction to forge skills and knowledge that students can apply to community leadership opportunities. The Foundation first presented the award in 2016.

The five award recipients are nominated by their peers. A committee of faculty members from each academic discipline selects the finalists.

The UL Lafayette Foundation presents the awards based on the committee’s recommendations. Each recipient receives a $5,000 stipend.

The awards will be presented during an April 12 banquet at Le Pavillon in Parc Lafayette, 1913 Kaliste Saloom Road. A cocktail social begins at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 per student and $50 per person for other guests.

Purchase tickets here, or by calling (337) 482-0747.

Profiles of the recipients follow.

Distinguished Professor Award

Dr. James Albert holds the Lafayette Parish Medical Society Professorship in Biology.

He has documented tropical freshwater fishes for 28 years. Among his 112 peer-reviewed publications are descriptions of more than 50 species and six genera previously unknown to science.

Albert has led National Science Foundation projects to research aquatic biodiversity in South America and Central America. He has co-authored several books about the diversity and evolution of Amazonian fishes.

“To the scientific community, Professor Albert is almost a synonym with neotropical (fish) diversity,” wrote Dr. Alexandre Antonelli in a letter supporting Albert’s award nomination. Antonelli is director of Sweden’s Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre, an international research consortium.

“Despite the fact that I have held an interest in the topic for many years, I feel like talking with him for an hour gives more than reading an entire book.”

Dr. Xiaoduan Sun holds the John E. and Joretta A. Chance Professorship in Civil Engineering. She is also the Marine Survival Training Center Professor in Safety Engineering.

She is an international leader in highway safety research.

It’s a critical issue in Louisiana, which consistently ranks among the U.S. states with the highest rates of traffic fatalities.

The Louisiana Transportation Research Center estimated that Sun’s recommendation to restripe segments of urban, undivided highways resulted in a 25 percent reduction in accidents and a savings of $3.6 million.

“Her multifaceted contributions are not just within academic circles, but directly impacting Louisiana citizens as they take to the road to travel,” wrote Dr. Mark E. Zappi, dean of the College of Engineering. “For an engineer, there is no better proof of the value of one’s work than when this work is used and success is noted.”

Dr. Ray P. Authement
Excellence in Teaching Award

Dr. Jennifer Lemoine holds the Shelia Ardoin Walsh Memorial Professorship in Nursing. She is coordinator of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program in the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions.

Lemoine joined the University’s faculty in 2007 as an instructor while also working as a neonatal nurse practitioner.

Neonatology remains her primary field of research. She and two nursing colleagues have completed a recent study on safe sleep practices for newborns. 

In addition, Lemoine is an expert in state and national public health policies, and how both affect patients’ access to quality care.

In a letter supporting Lemoine’s nomination, former student Carla Vidrine characterized the professor as “an educator comparable to no other.”

“She made me feel as though I was not simply a student, but a future nurse with the potential to change lives,” Vidrine wrote.

Dr. Feebe Louka holds the Marvin and Warren Boudreaux Professorship in Chemistry.

She researches environmental pollution caused by chlorinated hydrocarbons, which are used to manufacture insecticides and synthetic rubber.

The Royal Society of Chemistry in the United Kingdom has recognized her work, as have numerous other international and national organizations. 

Louka’s teaching has received high marks as well. Peers in the Department of Chemistry rated her classroom instruction the department’s best for three consecutive years.

Her students rank Louka highly, too.

“While she cared for the chemistry work being done, she cared even more about the individual doing it,” wrote Mark Spell, a former chemistry student, in a letter supporting Louka’s award nomination. “She would always take the time to make sure you were doing well in your other courses and in your everyday life.”

Leadership in Service Award

Dr. Terrence Chambers holds the Donald and Janice Mosing Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in Mechanical Engineering.

Chambers sees engineering as a giving profession. His courses require students to volunteer as a way to engage different communities and learn their needs.

Chambers wants students to see their intended profession as a “joyful avocation,” wrote Dr. Sally Anne McInerny, head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Volunteering serves to “develop good citizens” and “teaches engineering students some of what is meant by engineering professionalism,” she said. “Terry truly enjoys outreach and working with young people.”

In addition, Chambers has been a driving force in the University’s research of solar and renewable energies. His partnerships with business led to the creation of the Cleco Alternative Energy Center in Crowley, La., and the Photovoltaic Applied Research and Testing Lab, a solar farm in University Research Park in Lafayette.


Photo caption: Eminent Faculty Award honorees are, top row, from left, Dr. Febee Louka, an associate chemistry professor; Dr. Jennifer Lemoine, an assistant nursing professor; and Dr. Terrence Chambers, a mechanical engineering professor. Bottom row, from left, are recipients Dr. James Albert, a biology professor; and Dr. Xiaoduan Sun, a civil engineering professor.