2017-2018 Award Winners

SEEDS Announces ‘You Choose’ Leadership Awards for Cultural Transformation

By Marisol Capellan

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. The SEEDS Program has awarded 17 monetary awards to support faculty development, promote diversity and inclusion, and foster a culture of belonging and career satisfaction throughout the University of Miami.

 The awards of up to $2,500, which have no pre-designated use, can be used to fund a variety of activities, including but not limited to professional skills workshops, mentoring programs, seminars, leadership training, grant-writing workshops, and visits by distinguished speakers.

This year’s awards were co-sponsored by the following deans, centers, and individuals, and went to the following recipients.

By College of Arts and Sciences Dean Leonidas Bachas to:

Chantel Acevedo, associate professor, Department of English, with Osamudia James, professor, School of Law

Title:  Common University Book at the University of Miami: Make Your Home Among Strangers

Abstract:  Funding is sought to sponsor the introduction of a “common book” at the University of Miami. Increasingly standard at colleges and universities across the country, common books provide a shared educational experience for new students at an institution. This experience then becomes the springboard for dialogue and exchange, and is particularly useful in creating cohesion and community during times when controversy and political polarization threaten unity at institutions of higher education. By using the novel Make Your Home Among Strangers as the anchor for a common book project with first-generation students at the University of Miami, this proposal is responsive to calls for the University to be HERE: hemispheric in reflecting a Miami experience, excellent in building bridges regarding modes of learning among students, relevant in engaging the experiences of Miami students, and exemplary in fostering respect, diversity, and inclusion for members of our community. Acevedo_Application


Brendan Balcerack-Jackson, assistant professor, Department of Philosophy

Title: Gaduate Student Cognitive Studies Symposium 

Abstract: This SEEDS application requests resources to organize and publicize a day-long cognitive studies symposium for UM graduate students. The symposium will provide a forum for graduate students to present and exchange research on human cognition, perception, language and other topics in the cognitive sciences. The symposium will be organized by faculty volunteers from the newly-formed UM Cognitive Studies Network, a group of researchers from several different departments who share an interest in interdisciplinary research and teaching in cognitive studies. The symposium will help increase graduate student involvement in the Cognitive Studies Network, will help build connections among cognitive studies researchers across departmental boundaries, and will help lay the groundwork for a longer term interdisciplinary cognitive studies program at UM. Balcerak Application


Julia Dallman, associate professor, Department of Biology

Abstract: I am proposing to host a symposium that promotes diversity as a means to improving the academic environment for graduate students, post-docs, and junior faculty. This proposal is motivated by research showing that more diverse teams can come up with more effective solutions than less diverse teams with more expertise in the given problem 1,2. To promote diversity, I will host a symposium centered around two outside speakers, Dr. Gregorio Valdez and Dr. Audra van Wart from the Carilion Institute at Virginia Tech, with complementary expertise in promoting diversity. Dallman Application


Sunxiang Huang, assistant professor, Department of Physics

Abstract:  Condensed Matter and Materials Physics (CMMP) is the science of materials. It has both fundamental and technological importance. The advances of CMMP often lead to numerous revolutionary technologies such as computer, hard drive disk, and light emitting diode (LED). Funding is sought to facilitate the research activities of CMMP at UM. The PI will invite a distinguished materials physicist to visit UM, give a colloquium at the physics department, and have in-depth conversations with our CMMP group members. The integration of computation and experimentation of advanced materials is a crucial component in the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) in which multiple funding agencies have participated and invested. The PI (experimentalist) and Dr. Zang (theorist) at University of New Hampshire will visit each other to promote the collaborations and develop ideas for joint proposals related to MGI. Huang_Application


Yolanda Martinez-San Miguel, professor, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures with Donette Francis, associate professor, Department of English, and Kate Ramsey, associate professor, Department of History


Laura Rikard, assistant professor, Department of Theatre

Title: Theatrical Intimacy Education Workshop: Understanding and Respecting Consent within Occupational Physical Touch

Abstract:  This SEEDS application is seeking funding to implement a workshop that will establish guidelines and offer tools for building a safe and trusting environment for participants who work in a profession that requires physical touch and/or discussion of the human body. As theatre directors realize the special attention that should be paid to scenes requiring physical touch, violence, or intimacy, theatrical intimacy choreographers are more employed than ever.  These professionals equip groups of theatre practitioners with the skills to create a body-positive, safe, and consensual environment in a time when building a culture of consent is at its most crucial. These skills are applicable to people in occupations outside of the film and theatre arts (e.g. opera, dance, athletic coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists, the medical field, etc.) This one-day interactive workshop and panel discussion is open to faculty and graduate students seeking to develop awareness of on-stage consent and practical skills for staging intimacy. Rikard_Application


Justin Stoler, assistant professor, Department of Geography and Regional Studies

Title:  Peer Mentoring Series For Pre-Tenure Junior Faculty

Abstract: This proposal aims to establish a community of peer mentoring among pre-tenure junior faculty, i.e. tenure-track faculty in the years leading up to the tenure application, which are typically years 1-5. Although SEEDS has historically sponsored several mentoring-related activities, I am unaware of any that have explicitly focused on pre-tenure faculty. This group often experiences one of the most stressful and politicized work environments in higher education. UM’s informal mentoring program matches new tenure-track hires with senior faculty in their departments, but this arrangement is often inadequate for hires from new subfields, or in rapidly evolving disciplines. Peer mentoring means mentoring of junior faculty by those who are currently moving through, or have recently completed, the tenure application process, and can foster more trusting mentor-mentee relationships when both parties share similar professional landscapes and life stages. There is currently no formal platform for this type of interaction. Worse yet, there have been multiple cases of declined tenure and non-renewal at the midpoint review in the last two years, which seems unusual. While I do not know the specifics of these cases, I cannot help but wonder if better mentoring might have improved these outcomes. Stoler_Application


Diana Ter-Ghazaryan, lecturer, Department of Geography, with John Twichell, lecturer, Department of International Studies

Title:  Career Advancement and Strategies for Success for Non-Tenure Track Full-Time Faculty 

AbstractThe number of non-tenure track faculty at US universities keeps growing, as academic institutions more frequently hire full-time lecturers and research professors to teach both undergraduate and graduate students, and to conduct other essential departmental and university functions. Data suggest that a growing number of full-time lecturers and research professors hold terminal degrees in their disciplines, are engaged in research and related scholarly activities, perform a considerable amount of departmental and university service, and are fully engaged university community members. Based on these trends, this proposal seeks to address the following questions: What is the landscape for career advancement for those who hold non-tenure track positions? What are strategies for success? What are opportunities for leadership and mentorship? How can persons who hold these positions perform their best in a changing academic landscape of universities in the 21st century? TerGhazaryan_Application


Lucina Uddin, associate professor, Department of Psychology

Abstract: This SEEDS application requests resources to invite a prominent cognitive neuroscience researcher to give a colloquium at the University of Miami Coral Gables campus. UM has been committed to growing its research presence in the area of neuroscience. A campus-wide “Understanding the Brain” neuroscience initiative has resulted in the creation of neuroimaging facilities on campus (operational as of July 2013) and of several faculty lines within the Department of Psychology, as well as a cluster hire focusing on “Mind, Brain and Evolution” that involves ongoing faculty searches in the departments of psychology, physics, anthropology, and philosophy. The Department of Psychology has recently launched a graduate training program in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience (http://www.as.miami.edu/cbn/). Building on this momentum, this SEEDS application seeks to invite a very well-known cognitive neuroscientist to UM to present his or her research and engage the neuroscience community in dialogue. This visit will foster cohesion amongst the growing number of faculty and students on campus with interests in this emerging field. The funds will be used to pay for airfare and accommodations to support the visit of a distinguished scientist for this colloquium.Uddin_Application


By Miller School Dean Edward Abraham to:


Lillian Abbo, associate professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, with Rose Maria Van Zuilen, associate professor, Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine

Title: Women in Academic Medicine Professional Development 

Abstract: Recruitment, promotion, and retention of women in academic medicine and how to support women faculty requires a greater focus in ensuring the advancement of women’s careers. The National Institute of Health is focusing on nationwide programs that assist women in medicine with overcoming career advancement barriers by creating a supportive community for female faculty to ensure full participation in their field and career success. The AAMC reports that women in academic medicine are often reluctant to pursue professional goals, due to challenges in obtaining career-advancing mentoring, which contributes to a lack of social capital and essential information, this isolation often results in reducing their capacity for risk taking.1 By supporting and promoting the careers of women in medicine we can prevent those in the workforce from leaving and encourage those who aspire to hold leadership positions during their career. Women in medicine programs play a critical role in supporting women’s careers and can improve recruitment and retention of women by providing opportunities for networking, sponsorship, mentorship, and career development. WIAM’s focus on organizing initiatives in women faculty leadership development and mentoring would provide guidance to mid-career and junior faculty members in a larger forum. Additionally, WIAM seeks to learn from other institutions who have robust programs to support women scientists and clinicians. Having their leaders come to share their experiences and strategies will help advance the goals of WIAM. These lecturers listed below would serve as key note speaker for faculty, residents and fellows on the importance recruitment, retention and promotion of women faculty. The presentation will include information on local and national leadership opportunities, promotion, mentoring, and networking. This program will be open to all faculty, residents and fellows. Abbo_Application


Sheila A. Conway, associate professor, Division of Orthopedic Oncology

Abstract:  The field of Orthopaedic Surgery in the United States demonstrates the lowest female representation of all the surgical specialties, with less than 10 percent of orthopaedic residents being female. The reasons for this underrepresentation is multifactorial, however, a lack of female leaders and mentors has been identified as one major obstacle. As such, strategies to increase interest and matriculation into this field must increase student exposure to these female orthopaedic leaders. I propose a seminar including panel discussion and a reception to facilitate these necessary mentorship relationships. Conway_Application


By Roni Avissar, dean of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, to:


Amy Clement, professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, with Lisa Beal, professor, Department of Ocean Sciences

Title: Mentoring Relationships as a model for transforming Culture

Abstract: One of the most important leadership roles for faculty at RSMAS is as good mentors to our graduate students. Mentoring is especially important to female and other minority students who lack role models and value psychosocial support (e.g. Johnson, 2007). It is also central to the culture of our institution. We propose a mentoring workshop designed to identify common issues from the perspective of both graduate students and faculty and then provide powerful strategies for improving mentor-mentee relationships. The workshop will also focus on how building robust mentoring relationships will advance the culture of the school. We have developed the goals and content of the workshop in collaboration with Merlin Walberg, a professional consultant in coaching and leadership training (Pheonix Consultancy). A skilled facilitator is crucial to the success of an event like this, where we have only a day to make a difference, yet it is a significant commitment for busy faculty. Clement_Application


Cassandra Gaston, assistant professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences

Title:  Learning to Speak the Same Language: A workshop to discuss the future of ocean/atmosphere interactions and methods to improve interdisciplinary research efforts

Abstract:  The air-sea exchange of toxins, organic material, and nutrients are critically important for climate, ocean health, and human health. However, research conducted in this area suffers from a singular discipline approach (e.g., research only uses methods from one discipline) and a lack of communication between the different disciplines, which has hindered progress in this field. I propose to invite two speakers/researchers to discuss the common methods used by different fields to solve common research problems at the air-sea interface. This workshop is of relevance to a diverse group of researchers from all three campuses who conduct research linked to the ocean-atmosphere interface. Addressing the shortcomings of single-discipline approaches and devising new ways for different disciplines to work together will help researchers better utilize existing resources at UM and help place UM at the forefront of this important research field. Gaston_Application


By Isaac Prilleltensky, dean of the School of Education and Human Development, to:

Miriam Lispsky, lecturer, Department of Teaching and Learning

Abstract: The reasons why people work are varied. Whether motivation is intrinsic or extrinsic, and goals are noble or practical, we all have reasons that we come to UM each day to do our jobs. We are striving to create a Culture of Belonging at UM, where all employees feel valued and have the opportunity to add value. And yet, there are times when some people do not feel valued or feel they are not able to add value. Staff members have expressed that they sometimes feel “less important” than faculty. Junior faculty, and faculty in clinical and research lines, express feeling less valued than tenured faculty, and women sometimes feel less valued than men. This workshop for faculty, staff, and graduate students will provide a forum for women to exchange ideas and identify the commonalities among women who are employed by the University of Miami by exploring the question ‘Why We Work’. We will use a discussion of participants’ motivations for working to lead into a dialogue between faculty and staff to share ideas about what makes each group feel valued, and how they add value in their roles at UM. Graduate students will be included in this workshop as a development opportunity as they prepare for their future careers. This workshop will culminate in a visual project that can be displayed on campus and included in digital media outlets. Lipsky_Application

By Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the College of Engineering, to:

Ramin Moghaddass, assistant professor, Department of Industrial Engineering

Title: University of Miami Data Science Symposium

Abstract:  This SEEDS application is seeking funding to implement a day-long symposium on data science that can bring together data science researchers, faculty members, and students across various University of Miami’s departments and build interdisciplinary relationships and collaborations, encourage undergraduate students to pursue graduate studies on data science, and help graduate students interested in the theory and application of data science develop more diverse data science methods to research questions in engineering, medicine, social sciences, and business. The main activities include data science faculty presentations (8), two keynote talks by two data science leaders, and two networking sessions. The symposium will consist of 8 presentations from faculties from College of Engineering (2), School of Business (2), Department of Computer Science (2), Department of Medicine (1), and Department of Public Health Sciences (1). The PI will also invite two highly recognized external researchers in the field of data science to give a keynote speech at the symposium on the recent advancement of data science and its applications. Specific group of industry leaders will also be invited to attend the symposium. The symposium is expected to engage many disciplines across all three of University of Miami campuses. Moghaddass_Application

By Nick Tsinoremas, director of the University of Miami Center for Computational Science, to:

Athina Hadjixenofontos, director of engagements, Center for Computational Science

Title:  (not very) Odd Pairings - A symposium on interdisciplinary, computational research

Abstract:  The proposed symposium for University of Miami (UM) graduate and undergraduate students is designed as a deep dive into interdisciplinary pairings between a number of disciplines and computational science. The symposium will begin with an invited speaker seminar by an artist who creates artwork by writing computer code. As a (not very) odd pairing between art and computer science, this will frame interdisciplinarity as something closely intertwined with creativity, and challenge assumptions about who can learn programming. The invited speaker seminar will be followed by a panel of UM faculty representing additional, diverse examples of interdisciplinary pairings. The symposium will conclude with break-out mentoring sessions for students to connect with each of the panelists and the invited speaker. Hadjixenofontos_Application

By SEEDS to:

Osamudia James, professor, School of Law

Title:  Race, Class, and Power: University Course on the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

Abstract:  Funding is sought to sponsor the development and implementation of a University Course that explores the current struggle for racial justice in the United States, reflected at the micro-level through events like the Charlottesville demonstrations and the phenomenon of athlete protests, and at the macro-level through the#BlackLivesMatter movement. As an interdisciplinary endeavor, this course will encourage dialogue and cohesion among faculty and students across the University in a manner responsive to calls for the University to more affirmatively engage racial justice through our teaching, research, and service mission. James_Application