[ skip to content ]


Two professors of physics and a lecturer in psychology won top faculty honors at the College of Sciences 2005 awards ceremony Saturday.

Lawrence Weinstein of Virginia Beach, a member of the physics department faculty, won the faculty excellence award, which is the college's highest honor. Another physics faculty member, Gary Copeland of Norfolk, won the distinguished teaching faculty award and Jennifer Younkin of Chesapeake, a psychology faculty member, won the distinguished teaching lecturer award.

Thirty student and faculty winners of awards and scholarships were announced at the ceremony in the auditorium of the Mills Godwin Building. The audience included more than 100 family members and friends of award winners.

Other top awards included: Charles Sukenik of Norfolk, associate professor of physics, outstanding undergraduate advisor; and Jennifer Ambler of Virginia Beach, a graduate student in ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences, outstanding laboratory instructor.

The top awards were announced by Dean Richard Gregory, Associate Dean Joseph Rule and Assistant Dean Terri Mathews.

Provost Thomas Isenhour, who is a chemist and former dean of the College of Sciences, gave an introductory address, in which he challenged faculty and students to promote science as "the golden road out of poverty and backwardness."

He offered a quote from the late Carl Sagan, "Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don't practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us…."

Gregory said Weinstein excelled as a teacher and was accomplished as a research professional, and he also noted that the professor has "provided fundamental insights into the structure of the atomic nucleus."

Weinstein is a member of his department's experimental nuclear physics group and he does most of his experiments at the Jefferson Lab continuous beam electron accelerator facility (CEBAF) in Newport News, where he chairs the multi-university collaboration group directing the use of the CEBAF Large Acceptance Spectrometer (CLAS). His research emphasis is on the way protons and neutrons-collectively, nucleons-interact to form nuclei. He was elected earlier this year as a fellow by the American Physical Society, which cited his "original contributions to the study of nucleon-nucleon correlations in nuclei."

Copeland is a member of the atomic and plasma physics (experimental and theoretical) group and his research interests are in atomic, molecular and optical physics. Major applications in these areas are in space physics, environmental monitoring, medical physics and astrophysics. He has authored articles together with a former student, the astrophysicist Phillip Stancil, who is on the faculty at the University of Georgia. Another former student, Hugh "Trey" Thurman, is on the physics and astronomy faculty at Hampden-Sydney College.

Younkin, who received her master's degree from ODU in 1998, has taught introduction to psychology, psychology of women, psychology and law, developmental psychology and introductory honors courses.

Sukenik, who won the Hirschfeld Faculty Excellence Award for 2004, is a member of the atomic and plasma physics group. He also oversees the Sukenik Group, which includes several of his students and involves collaborators throughout the world. That group does research in the area of ultracold atomic and molecular physics. He is also known for a generous devotion of time to undergraduates. He is a guiding force for ODU's Physics Learning Center, where volunteer faculty members and graduate students are available on weekdays to help students with physics homework.

Ambler is a master's program student in biological oceanography. Her nomination praised her written summaries of laboratories, her updating of a lab manual and her organization of a field trip on the ODU oceanography vessel, R/V Fay Slover.

Like all student winners of 2005 College of Sciences awards and scholarships, Ambler was given the opportunity to cite a teacher or advisor who was an inspiration to her. Her choice was Ronald Johnson, associate professor of ocean, earth, and atmospheric sciences. (These mentors were acknowledged at the awards ceremony; in the following list, names in parentheses are the ODU mentors cited by the award winners.)

Biological Sciences
- Jennifer Lear of Norfolk, outstanding graduate teaching assistant (Nancy Wade, Kneeland Nesius, mentors)
- Deboki Chaudhuri of Hampton, outstanding undergraduate (Ralph Stevens, mentor)
- Rachael Watterton of Norfolk, outstanding undergraduate in service (Nancy Wade, mentor)

Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Michelle Akigami of Virginia Beach, outstanding graduating senior in biochemistry (Nancy Xu and Craig Bayse, mentors)
- Michelle Woods of Portsmouth, outstanding graduating senior in chemistry (Mark Elliott, mentor)

Computer Science
- Ankit Kothari of Richmond, outstanding undergraduate December 2004 (Jay Morris, mentor)
- Zeal Patel of Norfolk, outstanding undergraduate May 2005 (Janet Brunelle, mentor)
- Yang Zhao of Norfolk, outstanding research assistant (Mohammad Zubair, mentor)
- Frank McCown of Searcy, Ark., outstanding graduate assistant (Michael Nelson, mentor)
- Mohammed Moharrum of Norfolk, outstanding teaching assistant (Hussien Abdel-Wahab, Stephen Olariu and Ravi Mukkamala, mentors)

Mathematics and Statistics
- Jason Messersmith of Hampton, applied math track outstanding student (Gordon Melrose, mentor)
- Melissa Futrell of Virginia Beach, teacher prep track outstanding student (Przemyslaw Bogacki, mentor)
- Tony Slaba of Zuni, Va., Philip R. Wohl Scholarship, (Gordon Melrose, mentor)

Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
- Michelle Watson of Norfolk, S. Zaneveld Endowed Scholarship (Margaret Mulholland, mentor)
- Peter Morton of Norfolk, Hampton Roads Maritime Scholarship (John Donat, mentor)
- Paula Zimmerman of Norfolk, Neil and Kelly Scholarship (Dennis Darby, mentor)
- Gregory Coogan of Norfolk, outstanding graduate student in geology (Jens Bischof, mentor)

- Mark Shaw of Virginia Beach, Adams Scholarship (Desmond Cook, mentor)
- Hovhannes Baghdasaryan of Norfolk, SURA Fellowship and outstanding score on qualifying exam (Lawrence Weinstein, mentor)
- Giovanni Chirilli of Norfolk, outstanding score on qualifying exam (Ian Balitski and Anatoly Radyushkin, mentors)

- Jennifer Duenas of Virginia Beach, Elizabeth C. Guy Outstanding Service Award (Thomas Cash, mentor)
- Christen Wooten of Virginia Beach, Elizabeth C. Guy Outstanding Academic Award December 2004
- Jennifer Piver of Chesapeake, Alan L. Chaikin Honors Thesis Award and Elizabeth C. Guy Outstanding Academic Award May 2005 (Bryan Porter, mentor)

This article was posted on: April 26, 2005

Old Dominion University
Office of University Relations

Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.