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Southern Lights

Celebrating the achievements of the Southern community southern lights masthead

Spring 2018

Maria Diamantis receives award(from left to right: award presenter Robin Moore, CCLM President John Keogh, CCLM Event Coordinator Doreen Mantilia, award winner Maria Diamantis, and Ray Carter)

Maria Diamantis, professor of mathematics and co-director, Center For Excellence in Mathematics and Science, recently received the Betsy Carter Memorial Award for Outstanding Mathematics Leadership, given by the Connecticut Council of Leaders of Mathematics (CCLM). Betsy Carter is regarded to have been one of the most outstanding mathematics educators in Connecticut over the past 50 years. The description of the award says of Carter that "she was a great teacher, a noted author of instructional materials, and Hamden’s mathematics curriculum leader for many years. She is the only person ever to serve as both President of ATOMIC, the leading organization for mathematics teachers in CT, and CCLM, the leading organization for leaders of mathematics education in CT. CCLM established the Betsy Carter Award for Mathematics Leadership immediately following her untimely passing in 2015 to honor an educator who exemplifies the award’s namesake – a passionate and compassionate leader and advocate for excellence in mathematics education across the State who had a great influence on teachers, students, and the mathematics community."
Diamantis says that she met Carter many years ago, while working with her on state committees and organizations. "I learned from her, she was my mentor," Diamantis says. "I was amazed to receive this award, the third such award since its inception." Previous award winners have been mathematics consultants for the state Department of Education. Diamantis' award is the first given to a professor from the state. "I was speechless since I was nominated by a former student of mine (from 1997) whose statements convinced the committee, as they told me!" Diamantis says.
CCLM President John Keogh told Diamantis, "We certainly thank you for all you have done for mathematics education and the teachers and students of Connecticut."


julia irwin, a graduate student, and a child Professor Julia Irwin of the Psychology Department recently received renewed funding for her Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This continuing project, “Neurobiological signatures of perception and imitation of AV speech in children,” will build on previous novel findings in neural measures to examine possible mechanisms for improving speech processing and social communication in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This research has critical implications for the acquisition of language in children with ASD, and promises to inform intervention efforts for both younger children at risk for impaired language development and older children with established impairments. This work is done in collaboration with Haskins Laboratories, affiliated with both the University of Connecticut and Yale University.
The AREA grant, also known as the R15, was established by the NIH in order to stimulate research at educational institutions that have not been major recipients of NIH support. In FY2017, the NIH reviewed over 1,000 AREA applications from institutions nationwide and funded just 15% of them overall. Particularly, NIH AREA grants are asked to demonstrate meaningful undergraduate and graduate student involvement, creating new opportunities for engagement in meritorious research. Speaking of her work with SCSU’s students thus far, Dr. Irwin says “This mechanism is designed to transform the research environment at institutions with a focus on teaching. The AREA award allowed me to develop and build a lab that includes students from Communication Disorders, Psychology and Education, providing experiences for students that would not otherwise be possible.”  
This award of $394,859 will span three years. When the project concludes, Dr. Irwin will have received continuous funding through this mechanism for seven years in total, from 2014 to 2021, making her unique among our researchers at SCSU. She has also been a previous recipient of NIH’s highly-competitive Small Research Grant (R03) and Exploratory/Developmental Research (R21) awards. Work is officially scheduled to begin May 1.

 The American Council on Education has selected Dr. Stephen Hegedus as one of the 45 emerging college and university leaders for the 2018-19 class of the ACE Fellows Program, the longest-running leadership development program in the United States. Emerging from this program, Dr. Hegedus will be bringing back valuable experiences in innovative programming and institutional advancement that can help advance our mission here at SCSU both in the School of Education and across the University. 

Alumna author Xhenet Aliu's new novel, Brass (Penguin), has been released to starred reviews by Kirkus, Publishers' Weekly, and Booklist. Aliu's debut fiction collection, Domesticated Wild Things, also set in Waterbury, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize for Fiction. Aliu’s fiction and non-fiction has appeared or are forthcoming in Glimmer Train, Hobart, The Barcelona Review, Necessary Fiction, American Short Fiction, Lenny, LitHub, Buzzfeed, The New York Times, and elsewhere, and she has received multiple scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, and a fellowship from the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, among other awards, including a special mention in the Pushcart Prize anthology.



Winter 2018

lynn houston
The Mauled Keeper
, a book of poetry by Lynn Houston, MFA '17, was named runner-up in the poetry category of the 2017 New England Book Festival. The Mauled Keeper is the book form of Houston's MFA thesis, which was directed by CSU Professor Vivian Shipley. The grand prize winner of the literary competition was a book published by HarperCollins.

SCSU has been recognized by the EPA for its food recovery efforts. The university was one of 24 organizations across New England, and one of only three in Connecticut, that received certificates recognizing their work reducing food waste as part of EPA's Food Recovery Challenge. The Food Recovery Challenge is part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of all kinds of materials. As part of the Food Recovery Network, Southern works with Chartwells to collect perishable foods on campus — including salads, sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, bagels, and hummus — that have reached their “best by” date. The foods would be thrown away when they reach that date, but they are still safe to eat. So after they are collected, they are donated to Connecticut Food Bank, a private, nonprofit organization that works with corporations, community organizations, and individuals to solicit, transport, warehouse and distribute donated food.





 Please email submissions for future editions of Southern Lights to Patrick Dilger.