College of Social Science Recognizes Outstanding Faculty, Support Staff, And Graduate Students

May 4, 2020 - Diane Huhn

Each year, the College of Social Science at Michigan State University recognizes outstanding faculty, graduate students, and support staff who have made a real difference to students, MSU and the world. Normally these awards are presented during Social Science week, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the college had to postpone the event this year.

Outstanding Teaching Award

Erica FrantzErica Frantz

The Outstanding Teaching Award is presented for demonstrating superior teaching skills and an excellent ability to connect with students. Nominations are submitted by chairs and directors with input from current students. Dr. Erica Frantz is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Politics in the Department of Political Science. Her research and teaching interests include authoritarian politics, democratization, conflict, and development. She is particularly interested in the security and policy implications of autocratic rule.

Teaching Excellence Award

Seven MattesSeven Mattes

The Teaching Excellence Award honors ISS faculty who demonstrate exceptional performance in the classroom, innovate effectively, inspire learning, and have a lasting impact on the quality of the student experience at MSU. Dr. Seven Mattes is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Integrative Studies in Social Science. Her dissertation work focused on the anthropology of Japan, human-animal studies, and disaster. Locally, she engages in numerous academic and advocacy projects exploring and aiding the multifaceted relationships people have with the animals in their lives.

Teaching Innovation Award (Fixed Term)

Ben MarleyBen Marley

Dr. Ben Marley is a fixed-term Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology. His past research has focused on the origins, development, and crisis of the Midwestern family farm in the world-system. His teaching interests include environmental sociology, climate change, and work. Dr. Marley regularly works with undergraduate students on independent studies to develop their research. His current research examines how different classes of peasants in China experience rural revitalization, particularly as it relates to social and ecological changes in a global context.

Teaching Innovation Award (Tenure)

Christina DeJongChristina DeJong

Dr. Christina DeJong is an Associate Professor in the School of Criminal Justice. Her research interests focus on gender and justice, gender and violence, and Queer Criminology. Dr. DeJong's current work has a strong focus on Queer Criminology, including media representations of and police reporting on transgender homicide victims, the suicidal and delinquent behaviors of LGBT+ youth, and sexual misconduct by professors.

Rising Star Research Award

Katharine ThakkerKatharine Thakker

The Rising Star Research award recognizes junior faculty contributions to the reputation of Michigan State University as a world leader in social science research through externally recognized publications, grants or awards, and/or research supportive centers or infrastructure. Dr. Katharine Thakker is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. Her research aims to understand the biological basis of psychotic disorders, namely schizophrenia. She uses translational methods to examine the basic building blocks of impaired cognition, disrupted social abilities, and core disturbances in the sense of self purported to characterize psychosis. Her research aims to gain a deeper understanding of these symptoms and their mechanisms to facilitate more targeted behavioral and pharmacological treatment options.

Cross-Disciplinary Research Award

Randall SchaetzleRandall Schaetzle

The Cross-Disciplinary Research Award recognizes and encourages significant research achievements on issues of societal relevance, not easily identified with a single discipline or that require collaboration across multiple disciplines. Randall Schaetzle has been a professor in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences since 1987. His research interests span the field of physical geography but focus on soils, geomorphology, and vegetation systems. Much of his recent work has been on the mapping of surficial deposits, such as loess, glacial landforms, paleolakes, and physiographic regions. His work is highly spatial and usually involves GIS data, analyses, applications, and approaches, and many of the resultant research products are new and innovative maps.

Faculty Research Award

Hui LiuHui Liu

Faculty Research Award recognizes Michigan State University faculty who have made important and significant contributions to his or her discipline, department, college, and university regarding research. Dr. Hui (Cathy) Liu is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the Family and Population Health (FPH) Laboratory. Her research is broadly guided by the aging and life course perspective to study social determinants of population health. She has focused on using innovative quantitative methods to develop, test, and promote scientific understanding of marriage and family processes related to population health and well-being over the life course. Her current research interests include marriage links to Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, LGBTQ health at the population level, the sexuality of older couples, and health consequences of racial differences in life course exposure to death.

Graduate Student Research Award

Micayla SpiroMicayla Spiro

Micayla Spiros is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology focusing on forensic anthropology. Her dissertation research examines the ontogeny and population affinity of postcranial macromorphoscopic traits and human variation under the direction of Dr. Joseph Hefner in the MSU Forensic Anthropology Laboratory. In her published article, “Standardization of Postcranial Nonmetric Traits and Their Utility in Ancestry Analysis”, Spiro created a novel data collection technique for estimating ancestry. She has also been recognized for her contribution to forensic human identification, which is available in Forensic Anthropology.

Graduate Student Teaching Award

Rachael Goodman-WilliamsRachael Goodman-Williams

Rachael Goodman-Williams is a doctoral candidate in the Ecological-Community Psychology program. Her research focuses on understanding sexual assault survivors' experiences over time, specifically how survivors are impacted by the people and systems they engage with after an assault. Her teaching practices are rooted in the belief that deep learning takes place when people are intellectually and emotionally connected to the concepts they are learning and the community in which that learning takes place.

Support Staff Award

Matthew HansenMatthew Hansen

Matthew Hansen serves as the administrative assistant for the chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. He provides critical support to graduate program directors, education committee members, and students. Hansen works diligently to plan and execute the logistics for the department’s recruitment, admissions, assistantships, and other pertinent activities. Hansen graduated from Michigan State University in 2015 with a D.M.A. in Horn Performance and enjoys playing in orchestras and chamber groups around the state. He is originally from northern Michigan and spends his free time camping, hiking, and swimming with his wife and son.

Congratulations to all our award winners!