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Spring 2011 - Faculty Scholarship

Dear Providence College Parents:

Providence College takes great pride in the academic environment and standards we set for our students, and in the quality of our faculty members. Their scholarship is reflected in the courses they teach and the mentoring they provide, as well as through their research activities, particularly those that engage students outside of the classroom.

The faculty members highlighted in this letter – as well as many other exceptional colleagues – bring their expertise and passion to their undergraduate teaching every day.

Dr. Charles R. Toth, associate professor of biology, recently completed a sabbatical at Pfizer, Inc., the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company. Based on this experience, Pfizer is providing two human-induced pluripotent adult stem cell lines to Dr. Toth’s laboratory at the College. This exceptional materials exchange agreement between the College and Pfizer will provide PC undergraduates in several courses with a unique opportunity in adult stem cell research that is not widely available at liberal arts undergraduate institutions.

E. C. Osondu, assistant professor of English, was profiled last month in The Times of London.  A Nigerian-born writer and teacher, his debut collection of short stories, Voice of America (HarperCollins, 2010), was spotlighted in The New York Times and named one of the top 100 books of 2010 by the Kansas City Star. He was chosen by an international panel of judges for the 2009 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story “Waiting,” which is included in the collection.

Dr. Thomas F. Strasser, associate professor of art history, led an international team of archeologists and geologists that discovered early stone tools on the Greek island of Crete. The team included three PC students who recorded and illustrated the artifacts they found and verified citations for a peer-reviewed article in Hesperia, the journal of The American School of Classical Studies in Athens. The team’s findings also were featured in the New York Times, The Times of London, National Geographic, and other print and online media worldwide. Archeology magazine recently named this discovery one of the top 10 of 2010 because it has implications for understanding the colonization of Europe and beyond by pre-Homo sapiens.

Dr. Margaret M. Manchester, assistant professor of history and a recent U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Hungary, will return to Hungary as well Germany and Poland this spring, leading a new “Maymester” program inspired by her research interest. She and Dr. Darra D. Mulderry, assistant professor of history, will accompany 12 PC students for travel and study abroad focusing on the U.S. and the Cold War in Eastern Europe.

Dr. Stephen J. Mecca, professor of physics, has engaged PC students in the development of a micro-flush valve public sanitation system that is economically and environmentally sustainable and feasible for use even in isolated communities in undeveloped countries. Its first application is planned for Ghana, Africa. Dr. Mecca is a finalist for a prestigious global foundation grant that could fund the prototype; winners will be announced this spring.

Dr. Nuria Alonso Garcia, associate professor of Spanish and winner of the College’s 2010 Joseph R. Accinno Faculty Teaching Award, was named the Rhode Island 2010 Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. The award recognizes the nation’s best undergraduate teachers – “those who excel as educators and influence the lives and careers of their students.” Dr. Alonso Garcia is the second Providence College faculty member so honored in the last three years.

I trust this snapshot of recent faculty scholarship and accomplishments affirms your confidence in your student’s academic experience. To learn about other PC faculty who inspire and challenge our students, please visit the Teaching that Transforms faculty profile pages of the PC Web site.

I urge you to encourage your student to take every opportunity to connect with the many Providence College faculty members who exemplify an outstanding commitment to undergraduate teaching and scholarship.

Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P.

Catholic and Dominican

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