Aurora University

Faculty Accolades

AU Awarded National Science Foundation Grant to Expand STEM Education Programs

Aurora University is a recipient of the 2020–2021 National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program Capacity Building grant to establish infrastructure for subsequent Noyce Scholarship and Stipends programs.

The $74,910 award will help AU increase the recruitment of high school and transfer students to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It will also be used to recruit existing AU students into STEM education majors. The goal is to create a pipeline for new math and science teachers to work at elementary and secondary schools in Illinois serving Hispanic students.

The AU faculty team of Chetna Patel, Smith distinguished chair in science and mathematics, chair of physical sciences, and professor of chemistry; Alma Estrada Rodriguez, associate professor of biology; Aubrey Southall, chair of secondary education and ESL/bilingual education and assistant professor of education; and Sebastian Wyman, associate professor of mathematics, was instrumental in securing the grant. Matthew Kneller, chair and director of general education and associate professor of communication, will serve as the internal evaluator for the project.



Jaqueline Babb, director of graduate studies and assistant professor of digital marketing, was a guest instructor for the HubSpot Academy social media strategy certification program.

Karol Dean, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, was elected a fellow through the American Psychological Association. Fellow status is awarded, in part, on the basis of evaluated evidence of outstanding contributions in the field of psychology.

David Dial, chair and associate professor of criminal justice, had two articles, “A Police Witness to Protests: Conflict Persists Between Tension, Duty” and “In a Word, Dishonor,” published in the Daily Herald.

Marissa Happ, associate professor of social work and coordinator of the Master of Social Work health care track, worked with AU students to provide support for those working in the health care field during the pandemic.

Denise Hatcher, chair of foreign languages and professor of Spanish, wrote a teacher’s resource guide for the Teacher’s Discovery reader “Cinco Pesos.”

Kris Johnson, associate professor of therapeutic recreation and chair of therapeutic recreation and autism studies, was invited to present the keynote speech at the Illinois Park and Recreation Association’s Therapeutic Recreation Leadership Summit 2020 held virtually in October.

Dawn Livorsi, assistant professor of social work, is working with the Aurora Police Department and Family Service Association of Greater Elgin to evaluate their newly launched Crisis Intervention Team Enhanced Program, a co-response policing model in which law enforcement brings a mental health professional on calls to assess, intervene, and make necessary community referrals.

John McCormack, assistant professor of religion, “gamified” his Latin American History course, asking students to play roles in games that illustrated course content. The games offered students an alternative to the traditional format of lecture and discussion, and prompted them to become more engaged in critical thinking and oral communication.

Austin Pickup, assistant professor of education, authored “Embodied Phronesis: Conceptualizing Materially Engaged Practical Wisdom in Teaching, Teacher Education, and Research” in the Journal of Thought. He also contributed the chapter “Endless Babbling and the Contradictory Nature of Truth in the Rise of Trump” to the new book “On the Question of Truth in the Era of Trump,” edited by Faith Agostinone-Wilson, professor of education.

Aubrey Southall, chair of secondary education and ESL/bilingual education and assistant professor of education, is scheduled to copresent three sessions at the virtual National Council for the Social Studies: College and University Faculty Assembly in December.

Stephanie Whitus, professor of criminal justice, reviewed grant proposals and constructed assessment measures for research and evaluation applications submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice for its solicitations for the Upholding the Rule of Law and Preventing Wrongful Convictions Program and Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative.

Scott Zinzer, assistant professor of mathematics, presented at the Mathematical Association of America’s Mathematical Education of Teachers as an Application of Undergraduate Math webinar in May. Zinzer’s Math for Elementary Teachers course was also highlighted in the American Mathematical Society’s “Living Proof” blog.