Biographies of IDEA Center Scholars

Timothy Henkel, Scholar in Residence

Tim received his Bachelor of Science from Rutgers University in New Jersey.  He completed his graduate studies (both MS and PhD) at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he studied a species-specific association between a brittlestar and host sponge. Tim is a marine ecologist interested in relationships, primarily how interactions like competition, predation, and facilitation structure marine communities. Current work is focused on assessing populations of echinoderms living in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, and associations between benthic invertebrates and reef fishes.

Tim is also interested in understanding how we learn, and the relationship between teaching and learning at the university level. As a postdoctoral fellow at Murray State University in Kentucky, Tim participated in the FIRST IV program, a mentoring network that provides professional development in teaching and learning.  This program funded by the National Science Foundation was designed to prepare the next generation of biology educators. Through this program, he was introduced to methods that elicit critical thinking, promote student learning by using in-class problem solving exercises and student-oriented activities in both large and small classroom settings. Tim also worked with colleagues to assess the efficacy of the FIRST IV professional development model used and impacts on university science education. Recent work has focused on new ways to engage students with material, including work supported by the IDEA Center on reflective learning and grants from Affordable Learning Georgia to implement open-source materials in introductory biology courses.

Li-Mei Chen

Li-Mei received her Ph.D. from Ohio State University in second and foreign language education, with specialization of applied linguistics, minors in language testing and research methods. Before joining VSU, she taught English and a variety of college writing courses in several institutions in the United States and overseas.

She is a certified online course reviewer by Quality Matters, a leader in quality assurance for online education. Since she joined VSU, she has taught a variety of online courses. Even if she teaches in the physical classroom, she always incorporates different technologies into her classes to motivate and engage students. Due to a high demand for offering courses via distance learning technologies at VSU, she has developed numerous entirely online courses for her department's undergraduate programs and for the ESOL endorsement program She has also developed courses for her department's new online M.A. program in English Studies.

Li-Mei's research interest, greatly influenced by her teaching, are focused on how to work with international student writers and how to integrate technologies to enhance teaching and learning, with a focus on language education. She has published many research articles in refereed journals in these areas and has shared her research results at different educational technology and English teaching conferences. She received the VSU's Presidential Award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in 2016. Moreover, she has been awarded many grants to support her professional development. One of them is a development grant for online course enhancement and development. She keeps updating her knowledge by continuously attending workshops and training programs to learn online course design and pedagogy. The workshops, along with training programs she has taken, have provided her with a solid foundation in understanding online educational issues and expanded her knowledge in teaching online courses.

Li-Mei has enthusiasm to help colleagues in using technologies to enhance their teaching. She has constantly shared her successful examples with colleagues at VSU. She demonstrates to them how to develop learning modules and deal with challenges when teaching online. She also keeps sharing her experiences with colleagues outside the VSU community when meeting them at professional venues. She has found sharing her experiences with colleagues, in turn, helps her further develop pedagogically relevant and responsible skills of harnessing the available tools to improve her own practice and help her students learn effectively.

Maren Clegg-Hyer

Maren received her BA and MA from Brigham Young University, and her PhD from the University of Toronto in English, the latter with a medieval studies emphasis. Before she came to VSU, she taught literature, writing, and linguistics at Woodbury University and California State University at Los Angeles. She’s been at VSU since 2008 and has taught courses in writing, research, critical thinking, early British literature, early British drama, Old English, and medieval literature to both undergraduates and graduate students. She frequently mentors students in their research projects and loves teaching.

She is an active researcher, with three edited collections in press, as well as a dedicated member of the VSU community with six years on Faculty Senate and seven years of service on a variety of department and university committees. She received the VSU College of Arts and Sciences’ Excellence in Teaching Award and VSU’s Excellence in Teaching Award for 2014-15.

This last year and last, she mentored PhD candidates in their dissertation writing for the IDEA Center and prized both the experience and the interactions with wonderful students. She looks forward to more IDEA Center initiatives in the coming year.

Darrell Fike

Darrell Fike is a writing specialist in the Department of English. A graduate of the Writing Program at Florida State university, Darrell teaches undergraduate writing classes and graduate pedagogy/theory classes. His own writing and publications include academic, creative, and journalism. In addition to his Ph.D. from Florida State, he has a master's in professional writing and a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from the University of Memphis. He has served as a faculty member at VSU for fifteen years.

"It was my pleasure to participate in an IDEA Center teaching circle last year. I very much enjoyed sharing experiences and ideas with faculty across the campus. Like many of us, I spend most of my time wearing a rut in the hallway between my office and the classrooms in which I teach, so it was a refreshing change to meet in the charming Center house and engage in lively conversations with other teachers. Not only did I pick up some good ideas and new techniques, I was reminded that teaching can be inspirational and fun, and that one of the best sources of information about best practices is other teachers."

Chunlei Liu

Chunlei received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Computational Mathematics from Wuhan University in China. He received his Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science from Ohio State University, with a major in computer networks and two minors in Scientific Computing and Computer Graphics.

Before joining VSU in 2005, he worked as a System Architect in Lucent Technology Bell Labs for three years, where he participated in the design and development of the Super Distributed Home Location Register for the 3G Mobile Communications System and various voice and data networks. He also taught mathematics and computer science in Wuhan University and information systems in the Sorrell College of Business at Troy University. Currently he teaches various computer science courses, including programming, algorithms, engineering computing, computer organization, operating systems, UNIX, database, and e-commerce.  Chunlei is a certified Quality Matters online course peer reviewer. He developed several online computer courses and offers them frequently.

Chunlei’s research interest is on computer networks, scientific computing and computer science education. He studies the communication protocols and looks for ways to enhance the efficiency, reliability and stability of communication through wireless networks. He also wrote papers on how to improve teaching and learning. He guided students to publish papers in undergraduate research symposium.

Chunlei is the ABET Accreditation Coordinator for VSU’s Computer Science program and led the program’s preparation for the accreditation from 2010 to 2015. Starting from scratch, he designed the assessment plan and procedure for ABET accreditation and developed various time-saving programs and tools for CS faculty to collect course data and to complete course assessment. He mentored other CS faculty to complete the tremendous tasks of course assessment and self-study. The ABET evaluation team visited VSU campus in September 2015 and concluded that our Computer Science program had no deficiencies, no weaknesses, no concerns, and excelled the criteria for accreditation. Therefore, we expect to be accredited for six years starting in August 2016.

Kathleen S. Lowney

Kathe earned her undergraduate double majors in Comparative Religions and Sociology (with honors) at the University of Washington in 1981. She took the summer off from college and went directly to a PhD program at Drew University, earning her M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in Religion and Society. She came to Valdosta State in 1987, to join her husband, Frank Flaherty, who already was on the faculty.

New to teaching, she had some rough moments as she tried to develop her own teaching style. Teaching came easier though, than publishing did. Getting publishing was hard; it wasn't until she found a mentor during her 1992 NEH Summer Seminar on Social Problems: The Constructionist Stance that she learned some of the "tricks" about getting published. Since then, she has written two books, over thirty research articles and book chapters, and co-edited several syllabi collections with some of her VSU sociology colleagues for the American Sociological Association.

Since 1989, she has been active in scholarship of teaching and learning activities in sociology and in particular, in the Midwest Sociological Society and the American Sociological Association. In 2009, she applied to become editor of the American Sociological Association's sole pedagogical journal, Teaching Sociology, and she has been editor since January 2010. Her tenure as editor ended in December 2014. The journal receives almost two hundred manuscripts (original and revisions) a year.

In 2011 she received the VSU College of Arts and Sciences' Excellence in Teaching award and also became the winner of VSU's Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2012, she won the Felton Jenkins, Jr. Hall of Fame Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in the University System of Georgia. In 2014, she won the American Sociological Association's Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award. This is the ASA's highest pedagogical award. In 2015, she won the American Sociological Association's Section on Teaching and Learning's Hans O. Mauksch award for distinguished teaching. In 2016, she will be awarded the Georgia Sociological Association's Sociologist of the Year award.

Starting a writing project is very difficult for her; while she has tried to write every day, that just doesn't fit her teaching schedule and her life, though every January 1, she makes a resolution to try it again! In 2013, the IDEA Center writing groups helped her to focus and commit to writing three times a week. This helped - she finished her 3rd book in 2015! But once she can clear a block of time, find the right music, and can get into the flow of writing, something almost magical happens!

Victoria Russell

Victoria is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Foreign Language Education in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages (MCL). In the area of Foreign Language Education, she teachers Curriculum and Instruction of Foreign Languages (Secondary Methods), the Professional Development Seminar, and she is a university supervisor of foreign language student teachers. Victoria also teaches lower division Spanish in the traditional and online formats and she teaches Second Language Acquisition Theory and Practice (at the undergraduate and graduate levels) online as part of the online certificate in TESOL that is offered by MCL. She also serves as Coordinator of Online Programs for her department and she is program director of the VSU sponsored summer study abroad program in Cádiz, Spain.

Victoria is passionate about designing, developing, and delivering high quality online instruction. In 2016, she received the President’s Award for Excellence in Online Teaching and she was also the recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Online Teaching award. In order to keep up with the latest technologies and best practices in distance education, she attends professional conferences and numerous training workshops each year.

She is an active researcher; her research interests include online language teaching and learning, pragmatics and intercultural communication, and foreign language teacher preparation. Victoria has published her work in journals such as The Internet and Higher EducationForeign Language Annals, The Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching (eFLT), Dimension, and the International Association of Language Learning Technologies (IALLT) Journal. She has also presented more than 45 papers focusing on best practices in online language teaching and computer-assisted language learning at professional conferences.

Victoria has won a number of grants at VSU including: a Pedagogical Innovation Grant from the IDEA Center in 2015 ($4,500), a Quality Enhancement Plan Grant from the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research ($39,163), an External Funding Grant from the IDEA Center in 2013 ($3,000), a Faculty Research SEED Grant from the Office of Sponsored Programs ($5,000), and an eLearning Development Grant in 2011 ($5,000).

Serving the profession, the university, and our students is a priority for Victoria. She serves as the Chair and Newsletter Editor of the Distance Learning Special Interest Group for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). With the support of ACTFL, Victoria is currently spearheading a national mentoring program for secondary and tertiary language teachers who are new to the online teaching environment.