By Andy Hirsch
LEWISBURG, Pa. — The work and scholarly accomplishments of five faculty members was recognized during Bucknell University's 162nd Commencement celebration on Sunday, May 20, 2012.
The Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching
Scott Meinke, an associate professor of political science, was honored with the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.
Since joining Bucknell in 2002, Meinke has taught a variety of courses that span the political spectrum — from introductory classes on American politics to more advanced courses on civil liberties. His students praised him for his knowledge and passion, calling him supportive and approachable.
With a primary focus on the U.S. Congress, Meinke researches the effects of American political institutions on elite behavior and representation. He also collaborates on research related to electoral politics and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Class of 1956 Lectureship Award
The Class of 1956 Lectureship for Inspirational Teaching awards was given to Amy Wolaver, associate professor of economics.
Wolaver, who joined Bucknell in 1998, has been praised by her colleagues as a true teacher-scholar whose contributions have had a broad impact on both students and the University.
Her teaching and research interests include health economics and policy and microeconomics. Wolaver's current research explores the impact of public funding of family planning services on sexual activity, contraceptive use and pregnancies. She is credited with using innovative teaching methods such as student portfolios and writing-to-learn strategies to engage students in coursework.
Presidential Awards for Teaching Excellence
Two faculty members were recognized with the Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence.
David Rovnyak, an associate professor of chemistry, received the award for being what colleagues describe as a highly effective teacher and an inspirational mentor to undergraduate researchers.
Rovnyak has been a member of the Bucknell faculty since 2003. He makes a point of including his student researchers in his projects, including a recent breakthrough that made waves in the scientific community. Many students, both chemistry majors and non-majors, call him one of the best professors they have ever had.
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Constance Ziemian was also a recipient of a Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence.
Nominated by several fellow faculty members, Ziemian is known for her innovative teaching methods and for the time, effort and care she puts forth for her students and their learning.
Her students describe her as smart, funny, patient and engaged. Her research focuses on manufacturing process modeling and optimization, processing effects on mechanical and material properties, and materials characterization. Zieman, who joined Bucknell in 1996, will assume the title of full professor in August, a designation that represents the pinnacle of scholarly achievement in academia.
The Boger Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Natural Sciences
Julie Gates, an assistant professor of biology, received the William Pierce Boger Jr., M.D. Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Natural Sciences.
Since coming to Bucknell in 2006, Gates has been praised by colleagues for her creative approaches to teaching and her ability to engage students deeply and critically in the field of biology.
From the introductory to the advanced courses that she teaches, her students say Gates makes the material interesting, absorbing and relevant. A mentor to undergraduate researchers, she often includes her students as co-authors in peer-reviewed scholarly publications.
Burma Bowl Award
Along with the faculty awards, a Bucknell student was recognized with the Burma-Bucknell Bowl Award for Promoting Intercultural and International Understanding. The award is given to a University community member who has made outstanding contributions to intercultural and international understanding.
Honored with the award was Muyambi Muyambi, who graduated Sunday with a five-year, dual-degree in civil engineering and economics.
During his time at Bucknell, Muyambi founded Bicycles Against Poverty, a campus student-run organization that provides bicycles to impoverished communities in his home country of Uganda. Bicycles Against Poverty has received grants from prestigious foundations, including the Clinton Global Initiative, and has distributed hundreds of bikes in villages across northern Uganda.
Addressing poverty through bicycles is far from Muyambi's only global focus. After participating in the Bucknell Brigade to Nicaragua, he collaborated with students to create a documentary about the plight of banana workers affected by chemical pesticides. And by launching the annual Gulu Walk, he helped to educate the campus about the struggles faced by Ugandan children.
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