USM Board of Regents Announces Winners of Faculty Awards

System’s Highest Faculty Honor Recognizes Outstanding Mentoring, Teaching, Public Service, Scholarship or Research, and Creative Activity

Baltimore, Md. (March 27, 2024) – The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents is honoring 20 members of its faculty from universities across the System.

The Regents’ Faculty Awards are the highest faculty honor given by the Board, recognizing excellence in mentoring, teaching, public service, scholarship or research, and creative activity.

A faculty nominating committee at each university makes recommendations to its university president, who forwards candidates to USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman. The Regents Faculty Review Committee makes the final selection.

Chancellor Perman and Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden will recognize the winners as part of the Board meeting on April 19 at Bowie State University.

“More than 40,000 faculty members work at the University System,” said Chancellor Perman. “So winning this award doesn’t just demonstrate excellence; it demonstrates excellence in a field of thousands of colleagues who are, themselves, exceptionally accomplished. It’s a remarkable achievement.”

Each award carries a $2,000 prize provided by the universities and the USM Foundation.

Towson University
Professor and Chair of Communication Studies
Dr. Potter is dedicated to the advancement of her students. As department chair, she established the position of Undergraduate Research Coordinator to nurture student success in research proposals, presentations, and publications. She co-created the Towson University Public Communication Center, a student peer-mentoring program for public speaking, and is a mentoring fellow in the Faculty Academic Center in Teaching.

Dr. Potter has quite literally gone the extra mile—or miles—for her students, once traveling to Southern Maryland during COVID lockdowns to make sure an ailing parent could share in their child’s graduation exercise. And with Dr. Potter’s mentoring, 12 TU students have gone on to become either faculty or staff at Towson University.

Bowie State University
Associate Professor and Chair of Counseling and Psychological Studies
A Bowie State graduate, Dr. Williams is a licensed graduate professional counselor with a lengthy list of awards honoring his service and teaching. He has been especially influential in co-developing African-centered rites of passage for youth.

He founded the African Psychological Students Association, allowing him to easily connect with students, provide prompt academic advisement, monitor students’ progress, and expose them to other aspects of active student-centered learning.

Dr. Williams’s mentoring and advising reach current students, former students, junior faculty, and the broader community. He and a colleague have designed and implemented a community-based model for counseling and mentoring of young African American boys, developing in them a critical understanding of the value of higher education.

Salisbury University
Professor of Economics
Dr. Yao is known for her ability to nurture diversity, excellence, and a sense of community.

Early in each semester, she asks about each student’s plans and aspirations, letting them know they are individually important. After graduation, alumni benefit from her extensive professional network, as she connects graduates with jobs and other career opportunities.

As a female professor in a field that’s still overwhelmingly male, she also understands the importance of mentoring junior and underrepresented faculty. Dr. Yao elevates their accomplishments through the SU Public Relations Office. She supports the professional development of junior faculty, regularly introducing them to valuable resources and service opportunities. And she’s a strong advocate for international faculty, encouraging and supporting their success.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
A gifted and committed instructor, Dr. Zhu helped establish the Mechanical Engineering S-STEM (ME S-STEM) Scholarship Program at UMBC, with support from the National Science Foundation. ME S-STEM supports diverse students in mechanical engineering who are challenged by financial or other stressors.

To date, ME S-STEM has reached 135 students. Participants graduate at a higher rate—and with higher GPAs—than mechanical engineering students not in the program. They also go on to complete advanced degrees at three times the rate of non-program peers.

Dr. Zhu’s mentoring success has been especially powerful for women and for underrepresented groups in mechanical engineering. She’s mentored 30 graduate and 27 undergraduate students in research, and advises 35 undergraduates each year.

Coppin State University
Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning
Dr. Gamble-Lomax is unwaveringly committed to her students. She’s developed a schedule of learning activities that improve instruction and enhance innovation. She promotes engagement by encouraging her students to think for themselves, both creatively and critically. She implements evidence-based teaching and learning that allows time for critical reflection. And she fosters self-discovery and empowerment through student-centered learning.

The winner of CSU’s university-wide award for excellence in teaching, Dr. Gamble-Lomax works to ensure her students’ success in and out of her classroom. To that end, she organized a cross-curricular conference on culturally relevant teaching methods to help Education students sharpen their pedagogical approaches and practices, and make them more inclusive.

University of Maryland, Baltimore
Professor of Law
When discussing what makes Prof. Moon such an effective instructor, students and colleagues point to two things. The first is his meticulously planned lectures and innovative use of role play and hypotheticals. He blends experiential learning techniques with the interactive/interrogative Socratic method to improve retention of key legal concepts, using group collaboration in concert with real-world examples to engage his students, teach them teamwork and leadership, and foster critical problem-solving skills.

The second area of praise involves Prof. Moon’s genuine concern for—and dedication to—the well-being and educational development of his students beyond the classroom. He is an exemplary mentor for his students and creatively integrates academic advisement with mentoring to ensure their intellectual development and well-being.

Frostburg State University
Professor of Biology
Understanding that students can be intimidated by science, Dr. Puthoff transformed the laboratory part of his biology course to make it non-threatening. He designed and implemented Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURES), which replaces rote experiments with project-based learning experiments that don’t have predetermined outcomes, elevating the lab experience for science and non-science students alike.

Dr. Puthoff involves his students in undergraduate research, which supports their academic and career development. In the past three years, five of his research publications have been co-authored by 40 undergraduate students. Two of the publications center on the full-genome sequence of two new viruses discovered by his FSU students. In addition, Dr. Puthoff’s undergraduates have presented their research at regional and national conferences.

Salisbury University
Professor and Chair of Philosophy
Dr. Stock led the infusion of hands-on learning, active civic engagement, and applied philosophy—or ethics—into SU’s new general education curriculum. He leads an undergraduate degree program that integrates the university’s mission and academic goals with the academy’s foundational aims: promoting students’ personal growth, professional formation, and civic engagement.

Dr. Stock uses his philosophy courses to challenge and support students as they tackle difficult, often complex, philosophical ideas, moral issues, and problems. And Prof. Stock lives his conviction that philosophy improves the human condition, leading a Book Discussion Group at the Eastern Correctional Institution and talking with people incarcerated there about philosophical themes—like love, freedom, and justice.

Dr. Stock was recently honored with Salisbury University’s Most Distinguished Faculty Award.

University of Maryland, Baltimore
Professor of Pediatrics
Dr. Abzug is an academic surgeon who rises to the consuming demands of patient care, research, and education. He’s also the force behind Camp Open Arms, which he started in 2015 as a two-day summer camp for six young patients with limb differences.

Today, Camp Open Arms is a week-long camp with additional activities throughout the year. It’s grown from serving only Maryland children to serving youth across the country, giving them the carefree camp experience that all children deserve. Dr. Abzug has raised awareness of the limb different community throughout the state and the nation, raising more than $500,000 to support the camp and associated research.

He’s been honored with UMB’s Founders Week Public Servant of the Year Award.

Bowie State University
Assistant Professor of Public Administration
Dr. Hyman created BSU’s Philanthropy Initiative and is developing a master’s program in philanthropy and nonprofit management within the College of Business. The program will foster and support rigorous research and scholarly activities in philanthropy studies.

Dr. Hyman also created a fellowship program that gives graduate students hands-on experience and direct immersion in leading philanthropic organizations. In the program’s first year, he placed three students in paid philanthropic positions. The program had eight students in paid positions last year.

Programs like these require substantial funding to be successful. Fortunately, Dr. Hyman has demonstrated his own skill in fundraising and has already secured about $2 million for his work.

Salisbury University
Associate Professor of Secondary and Physical Education and Director of the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement
Dr. Pope is a national leader in curriculum and civic engagement. In directing Salisbury University’s Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE), he played a pivotal role in securing SU’s Carnegie Foundation classification as a Community Engaged Campus.

Under his leadership, PACE has held countless voter registration initiatives, town halls, seminars, and lectures. Last year, the American Democracy Project presented PACE with its Excellence in Innovation “We the People” award.

Dr. Pope is a 2019 recipient of the Elkins Professorship. His faculty colleagues say he proves every day his dedication to the university, to the local community—including collaborations with nearby Parkside High School—and to SU’s leadership in educating students for committed civic engagement and civic responsibility.

University of Maryland Global Campus
Associate Professor of Business Management
Dr. Rajput is committed to global public service, dedicating time each spring to working in international areas beset by conflict, serving displaced people and refugees made homeless and stateless by war, famine, and civil conflict.

Much of her work is in advocating for acceptance, compassion, and practical support for people on the margins, making sure they are seen. Dr. Rajput’s work also focuses on education for these displaced people and refugees.

Dr. Rajput volunteers at the Forage Center for Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Education, where she advocates for vulnerable populations at the local level while training others to respond to humanitarian crises. And she volunteers with the American Council for International Education to educate international stakeholders about displaced communities.

Coppin State University
Associate Professor of Management and Founding Director of the Center for Strategic Entrepreneurship
Dr. Williams organized Coppin State’s Center for Strategic Entrepreneurship with an emphasis on economic empowerment, education, and community and social innovation. He’s developed entrepreneurship programming that improves participants’ socioeconomic trajectory and addresses stakeholders’ quality of life.

Dr. Williams’s programs and research extend well beyond the bounds of Coppin State, contributing significantly to the life of the local community. His work with programs like the Maryland Makerspace Pilot Initiative and his collaborations with local nonprofits have advanced an entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurial initiatives within greater Baltimore and its surrounding communities.

And as principal investigator for the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Learning program, he’s fostering entrepreneurial training for Baltimore youth—work that manifests in economic mobility, social innovation, and community strength.

University of Maryland, College Park
Professor of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics
Dr. Feijó is a distinguished scholar in the field of plant developmental biology. He leads a research team that constructs comprehensive models focusing on the pollen tube as a representative biological system and delving into machine learning to predict plant behavior. Dr. Feijó’s approach is unique because he always makes sure his results are validated by structural observations.

A prolific researcher, his work has been cited nearly 11,700 times. In 2022, he was on the Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers list, the domain of fewer than one in 1,000 scientists worldwide. Since his arrival at College Park, he’s won more than $5 million from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and he’s supervised more than 20 PhD candidates.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Professor of Information Systems and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development
As director of iHARP—the Institute for Harnessing Data and Model Revolution in the Polar Regions—Dr. Janeja leads a team numbering more than 80—faculty, scientists, postdoctoral researchers, and students from several universities, private companies, and government agencies—to address the most pressing challenges in the polar region. The National Science Foundation (NSF) chose her work as an exemplar highlighting the scientific impact of using innovative data methods in earth sciences.

Dr. Janeja is exceptionally successful in bridging information technology and social sciences in a way that makes big societal impacts. She’s recently secured follow-on supplemental funding from NSF for iHARP, and is working with Amazon collaborators and iHARP researchers to develop AI solutions addressing the most consequential problems of climate change.

Bowie State University
Professor of Biology
Dr. Osano studies plant metabolomics, aquaponics/hydroponics, and food security. Her work is especially critical given that emerging technologies can simultaneously improve food production and help humanity moderate potential climate challenges.

Her lab has worked on key questions related to the use of plant metabolomics in human nutrition and health, and she and her team have made significant contributions in sustainable food production using aquaponics.

Dr. Osano's research has yielded more than 80 scholarly publications. She’s secured more than $3 million in grants while at Bowie State, and has established several international collaborations. Through one of those collaborations, her students travel to Kenya to conduct plant and food security research. Dr. Osano inspires the next generation of scientists to become globally engaged citizens.

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy
Dr. Zhang’s highly cited research in sustainability and nutrient management helps environmental scientists examine agricultural, energy, and food systems as key factors in our ability to respond to climate change, create water security, and improve nutrient management.

The key goal of Dr. Zhang’s research is to unravel the complex dynamics between human and natural systems, guiding policies and actions toward sustainability using data-driven and transdisciplinary approaches. She combines natural science and social science to influence policy and behavior in a way that mitigates nutrient pollution while meeting global food and biofuel demands.

Since 2020, Dr. Zhang has secured more than $11 million in research funding, published 36 peer-reviewed articles, and initiated two transdisciplinary—and transnational—research networks.

Bowie State University
Associate Professor of Fine and Performing Arts
Prof. Kawecki produces creative works as a form of scholarship in theatrical design. She’s built set designs for such plays as “A Song for Coretta,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” and “Medea.” In 2023, she received the National Award for Outstanding Set for “Pipeline” at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

As a theater artist and educator, Prof. Kawecki prides herself on “bringing the stage into the classroom and her classes to the stage.” She uses storytelling to build relationships with students and is dedicated to mentoring them and smoothing their career paths.

Her former students are now teachers, freelance theatre professionals, and full-time staff across Washington DC’s well-respected theater companies and government agencies.

Coppin State University
Associate Professor of Visual and Performing Arts
Prof. Klima believes in the power of art to transform lives, and his production of scholarly and artistic works has advanced Coppin State’s performing arts initiatives and expanded the university’s reach.

Prof. Klima has served as a designer on 13 productions over the past three years, including “The Glass Menagerie” and “The Colored Museum” at CSU, the opera “La Scala Di Seta” at Johns Hopkins University, and the musical “Grease” at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Over his career, he’s designed lighting for more than 150 productions with 40 theater companies across 13 states. His teaching and theatre productions provide CSU students opportunities not only for acting but for understanding theatre and stage production and how innovative design elevates the art.

Bowie State University
Associate Professor of Theatre and Production
One of the few bilingual directors in the region, Prof. Velasco is a role model inspiring Latinx artists. Her productions are centered on holistic wellness, equity, and diversity, and have been described as “innovative devices to teach and challenge audiences and change and improve society.”

In the 2022–23 season, Prof. Velasco directed and choreographed five productions, including “In the Heights,” “Alma,” and “Arco Iris.” All five productions expanded representation through the stories staged and voices amplified, all highlighting artists of color and migrant communities.

Prof. Velasco also stages bilingual work at GALA Hispanic, Washington DC’s premier Spanish-language theatre, where she creates new stage shows for the young, diverse population, and crafts thought-provoking social justice theatre experiences.


The USM comprises 12 institutions: Bowie State University; Coppin State University; Frostburg State University; Salisbury University; Towson University; the University of Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; and the University of Maryland Global Campus. The USM also includes three regional centers—the Universities at Shady Grove, the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, and the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland—at which USM universities offer upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses.

USM universities and programs are among the nation’s best in quality and value according to several national rankings. Learn more about the University System of Maryland and our strategic plan, Vision 2030: From Excellence to Preeminence. 


Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719