2017 Recipients

The John Toups Presidential Medal for Faculty Excellence in Teaching Recipient

Jill Nelson

Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Jill Nelson is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at George Mason University, where she has been a faculty member since 2005. She earned a BS in electrical engineering and a BA in economics from Rice University in 1998. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for graduate study, earning an MS and Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 2001 and 2005, respectively.

Nelson’s teaching interests include signals and systems, communication theory, and statistical signal processing and analysis. She incorporates interactive pedagogical approaches such as group problem solving and reflection in her courses, and she emphasizes the importance of connecting course material with real-world problems. Beyond the classroom, Nelson is a principal investigator for two National Science Foundation STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education research projects focusing on broadening the use of innovative teaching

practices in university science, math, and engineering courses. The aim of these projects is to use small long-term teaching development groups to motivate and support faculty in moving toward more student-centered instruction. In past engineering education research, she has studied how students transfer mathematical knowledge to engineering problems, as well as how students’ conceptual understanding of engineering material relates to their interest in and motivation for the eld.

Nelson’s disciplinary research lies in statistical signal processing, specifically detection and estimation for applications in sonar, target tracking, and physical layer communications. She also studies machine intelligence as it applies to automating active sonar and developing collaborative intelligent radio networks. Nelson’s work on active sonar is funded by the Office of Naval Research, and her cognitive radio research is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). She is a 2010 recipient of the NSF CAREER Award.

Nelson’s teaching accomplishments have been recognized with the 2014 Mac Van Valkenburg Early Career Teaching Award, given by the IEEE Education Society. She also received the George Mason University Teaching Excellence Award in 2014 and the Volgenau School of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award in 2011. Nelson has been an invited participant in the National Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium and the Project Kaleidoscope STEM Leadership Institute. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, the American Society for Engineering Education, and the IEEE Signal Processing, Communications, and Education Societies.


The Beck Family Presidential Medal for Faculty Excellence in Research and Scholarship Recipient

Lance A. Liotta

University Professor, College of Science
Co-director, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine

Lance Liotta is a University Professor in the College of Science. He received his MD and Ph.D. (Bioengineering) from Case Western Reserve University and fulfilled his residency at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he initiated a research program that, to date, has yielded more than 700 publications (Highly Cited Investigator), and more than 100 issued patents. At NIH, Liotta was chief of the Laboratory of Pathology, chief of the Section of Tumor Invasion and Metastasis, and deputy director of NIH under NIH Director Bernadine Healy.

He and Emanuel Petricoin of the FDA set up the first NIH/ FDA Clinical Proteomics Program. In 2005, Mason recruited Liotta and Petricoin, and their distinguished scientist team, to create and serve as co-directors of the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM). The mission of CAPMM is to discover disease mechanisms, invent new technologies, educate the scientists of the future, and translate knowledge to help patients through prevention, early detection, and treatment.

Liotta has invented and patented, along with his laboratory co-inventors, high-impact technologies in the fields of diagnostics: microdissection (Laser Capture Microdissection), and proteomics (reverse phase protein microarrays, biomarker harvesting nanoparticles, preservation chemistries tissue, and protein painting to discover drug targets), that have been used to make broad discoveries. The Laser Capture Microdissection prototype is in the Smithsonian Collection. The CAPMM team applies these technologies too, for example, markers for early-stage disease, accurate diagnosis of Lyme disease (with Alessandra Luchini), individualized therapy for primary and metastatic cancer (with Mariaelena Pierobon and Julia Wulfkuhle), therapy of premalignant breast cancer as a strategy for prevention (with Virginia Espina), and an accredited CAP/CLIA diagnostic lab for patient testing.

Liotta has received numerous scientific awards including the Arthur S. Flemming Award, the NIH Award of Merit, the Surgeon General’s Medallion, and the 2015 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. At Mason, Liotta has been a principal investigator on 12 NIH grants, three DOD cancer program awards, a Komen Breast Cancer Foundation award, the Walker Foundation award, the U.S.-Italy bilateral agreement award, and a Virginia Commonwealth award, and has served as a co-principal investigator on more than 16 other grants totaling more than $20 million in funding.

CAPMM (with Amy Adams) founded the Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program and the Galileo Science Café to promote science for the community and to inspire the next generation of scientists. CAPMM inventions licensed by Mason are the basis of two startup biotech companies, Ceres Nanoscience and Theranostics Health. Liotta emphasizes creativity and innovation in research and in education.


The Alcalde Family Presidential Medal for Faculty Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Recipient

Kevin A. Clark

Professor, Learning Technologies
Director, Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity

Kevin Clark is a professor of Learning Technologies and the founding director of the Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity at George Mason University. His research focuses on the role of interactive and digital media in education, broadening participation in STEM, and issues of diversity in children’s media. Clark’s most recent research is a national study examining the Digital Lives of African American Tweens, Teens, and Parents. His research activities have been funded by such organizations as the National Science Foundation, Defense Acquisition University, Dell, Microsoft, the Entertainment Association Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Clark
is raising funds for his current project, ColorClips.gmu.edu, an online clipart gallery that will feature women and underrepresented groups engaged in STEM activities.

Prior to becoming a professor, Clark worked for an educational technology startup company, where he managed the design and development of educational video games targeting elementary children and schools. He also has extensive experience as a children’s media advisor and consultant for organizations such as Public Broadcasting Service, Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Cartoon Network, The Jim Henson Company, DHX Media, Disney Junior, Toca Boca, Hasbro, and Amazon Studios. Clark served as a consultant on the movie adaptation of Ezra Jack Keats’ iconic children’s book, The Snowy Day. Currently, he serves as CPB’s strategic advisor for diversity in Children’s Content Production, where he focuses on issues of diversity and inclusion in children’s television.

Clark has received numerous awards and honors, some of which include: being selected as a fellow for the 26th Annual Television Academy (Emmy) Foundation Faculty Seminar; being recognized by former President Barak Obama as a White House Champion of Change for his work in supporting and accelerating STEM opportunities for diverse students, schools, and communities; and serving as a member of the National Park Service Advisory Board’s Education Committee.

Clark holds both a BS and MS in computer science from North Carolina State University and a Ph.D. in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University.


The Alcalde Family Presidential Medal for Faculty Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Recipient

Wendi Manuel-Scott

Associate Professor, Art and Art History

Wendi Manuel-Scott is director of the African and African American Studies Program and an associate professor of History and Art History. She received her Ph.D. in History from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Her scholarship and teaching explore the diverse processes that shape African American experiences—from Atlantic World slavery and Jim Crow segregation to systems of incarceration and black women’s resistance movements. Critical explorations of freedom and liberation inform her work with students, scholars, teachers, and the public at large.

The Virginia Foundation for Humanities and Public Policy and National Trust for Historic Preservation have supported Manuel-Scott’s more recent research on Antebellum and Jim Crow Virginia. One of her projects produced a long-running exhibit titled “Separate and Unequal in Bucking- ham County: Segregation and Desegregation in Virginia”; another project uncovered and narrated African American civic leadership in Falls Church, Virginia. With ve under-

graduate historians and colleague Benedict Carton, she is currently reconstructing the life stories of the enslaved people who worked on the plantation of George Mason, the 18th-century colonial patriot. Manuel-Scott and her team hope their archival discoveries will open a deeper discussion about our university’s namesake and inspire the creation of a campus memorial representing the humanity of the enslaved children of Gunston Hall, George Mason’s Fairfax home.

Manuel-Scott deeply values the power of historical memory as a tool to promote diversity and inclusion. Her work as a racial justice scholar and public historian is to make the unseen “seen” and the silenced “heard.” She facilitates K-12 teacher training seminars, social justice workshops, feminist leadership initiatives, and community programs for youth of color. Manuel-Scott seeks to harness the powers of collaboration and mentorship to foster transformative learning experiences for all people.


The Earle C. Williams Presidential Medal for Faculty Excellence in Social Impact Recipient

Cynthia Lum

Associate Professor, Department of Criminology, Law and Society

Director, Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy

Cynthia Lum is an associate professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University and director of its Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy. She is a former police of officer and detective. She researches primarily in the area of policing, security, and evidence-based crime policy. Her work in this area has included evaluations of policing interventions and police technology to reduce crime and improve police effectiveness and fairness, understanding the translation and receptivity of research in policing, and assessing security efforts of federal agencies.

With associate professor Christopher Koper, she has developed the Evidence-Based Policing Matrix (with Cody Telep) and the Matrix Demonstration Projects, translation tools designed to help police practitioners incorporate research into their strategic and tactical portfolio. As director of Mason’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, she works on increasing the role and use of research and

Lum has been appointed to the Committee on Proactive Policing for the National Academy of Sciences, is a member of the Standing Committee on Traf c Law Enforcement, Transportation Research Board (National Academies of Sciences), the Research Advisory Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Advisory Committee of the Scottish Institute for Police Research (SIPR), and the Board of Trustees for the Pretrial Justice Institute.

Lum is a Fulbright Specialist in policing and criminology and in 2016 implemented the first International Summer School for Policing Scholarship at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland with colleagues from SIPR. She is the founding editor of Translational Criminology magazine and the Springer Series on Translational Criminology. Her new book (with Christopher Koper) is Evidence-Based Policing: Translating Research into Practice (Oxford).


The Earle C. Williams Presidential Medal for Faculty Excellence in Social Impact Recipient

Michael W. Nickens

Director of Athletic Bands, School of Music

Serving as director of Campus Life Ensembles and Collaborative Arts, and as an associate professor of music, Michael W. Nickens (aka Doc Nix) is most recognized as the leader of the “Green Machine,” which in 2015 was named the #1 pep band in college basketball by the NCAA and commended by the Senate and House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition, Nickens launched Mason’s fife and drum corps and WGI world- champion drumline, and oversees Mason’s winter guard. This collection of performing units, known as the “Green Machine Ensembles,” are internationally known for their thrilling, high-energy performances at Mason ceremonies and basketball games, professional sports games and events (Washington Capitals, Nationals, Wizards, and Redskins), community events (Celebrate Fairfax and the Nike Women’s Half Marathon), and marching competitions, as well as their popular internet videos that have been viewed more than 100 million times.

Nickens was named the 2016 Faculty Member of the Year by the George Mason University Alumni Association. He served as a faculty representative to the Board of Visitors, chair of the faculty of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA), chair of the CVPA

Diversity Committee, and as a member of the School of Music’s Graduate Committee.

Since he joined the faculty of Mason’s School of Music in fall 2006, he has taught courses in sight-singing/ ear training, popular music in America, improvisatory music, brass methods, applied tuba, composition, chamber music, and jazz improvisation, as well as collaborations with Mason’s School of Dance. In addition, he was a co-founder and co-conductor of the Colonial Athletic Association’s “Breakfast with the Bands” intercollegiate pep band showcase.

During summers, he has taught tuba and euphonium, conducting, jazz performance, composition, improvisation, chamber music, large ensemble performance, and theory at the Performing Arts Institute at Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pennsylvania; the Music, Art, and Theatre Camp in Evanston, Wyoming; and the Northern Arizona University Music Camp in Flagstaff, Arizona, and taught at Mason’s Potomac Arts Academy. He has also coached a professional marching ensemble, “Mix It Up,” at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Nickens was born in Washington, D.C., and attended Fairfax County Public Schools in Alexandria, Virginia. He completed his academic degrees at the Manhattan School of Music, Yale University, and the University of Michigan.