From left: Dale Kapla, assistant provost; Charles Mesloh, interim dean, Health Sciences and Professional Studies; Susy Ziegler, associate dean of Arts and Sciences and department head for Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences; Brian Kakas of Art and Design, Excellence in Teaching Award; NMU President Fritz Erickson; Neil Cumberlidge and Kurt Galbreath of Biology, Excellence in Scholarship; Dwight Brady of Communication and Performance Studies, Academic Service Learning Award; and Rob Winn, interim dean of Arts and Sciences. Not pictured are award recipients Christi Edge and Mounia Ziat.
Six Northern Michigan University faculty members were recognized at the annual Celebration of Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship. Recipients and their awards were: Christi Edge of Education and Brian Kakas of Art and Design, Excellence in Teaching; Neil Cumberlidge and Kurt Galbreath, both of Biology, Excellence in Scholarship; Mounia Ziat of Psychology, Technology Innovation; and Dwight Brady of Communication and Performance Studies, Academic Service Learning.
Edge has designed and facilitated field experiences for 25 course sections, guided four directed studies, coordinated three graduate reading programs and developed a new field-based course. She has also secured eight internal grants totaling $28,400 to conduct and disseminate scholarship of teaching. Edge served as the co-lead investigator for an external Department of Education grant for $50,000 on effective educator development. A student evaluation stated that Edge “exudes a desire to teach and help others learn, knowledge of current practice and theory, deep understanding of content and teacher needs, and an attitude that inspires others to become engaged in the learning process and work at hand.”
Kakas teaches ceramics. His work has been featured in more than 50 solo and group exhibitions and is part of permanent collections at museums in China, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Romania and the United States. Kakas was awarded the Silver Prize at the 5th Korean World Ceramic Biennale and a Demonstrator at the 45th National Council of Education on the Ceramic Arts Conference. He updated the NMU ceramics curriculum and overhauled the studio, increasing efficiency and interaction. He has implemented teaching methodologies that help students develop sustainable studio practices for art production. Most recently, he and a group of students constructed the first soda kiln in Indonesia.
Cumberlidge has directed master’s and doctoral research in Europe, Asia and Africa. His research focuses on the systematics, evolution and conservation of African freshwater crabs and he is recognized as a world expert in this field. He founded and chairs the IUCN Freshwater Crustacean Specialist Group and led the IUCN Red List extinction risk assessment of the world’s freshwater crabs. Cumberlidge has described 42 new species and eight new genera of freshwater crabs. He will be awarded a Higher Doctorate (DSc) from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom.
Galbreath has used funding from the National Science Foundation and from NMU to support his research investigating interactions between small mammals and parasites. His overall goal is to understand how climate fluctuations affect the evolution of both hosts and parasites. Galbreath has made two trips to Canada and two trips to Mongolia to collect specimens for his research. He included NMU undergraduate and graduate students on all of these trips. He has also done extensive specimen collection in the Upper Peninsula.
Ziat has published more than 30 papers and given numerous conference presentations and demonstrations in her research area. She studies how humans interact with computers and machines and how the brain processes touch information. Ziat has received professional recognition for her work, including NMU’s Excellence in Scholarship Award and a fellowship to conduct research at the University of Tampere in Finland.
Brady has incorporated academic service learning projects in his classes for most of his 20-year career at NMU. This past year, he and students in his advanced multimedia journalism class produced a documentary titled “Boxed In.” The film addressed the “dark store” issue in Michigan and featured interviews with local officials, state lawmakers. lobbyists from both sides of the issue and the current Chief Judge of the Michigan Tax Tribunal. The documentary has played to standing room-only crowds, aired on WNMU-TV and made its way through the halls of the Capitol in Lansing.