We are proud to announce several award recipients and nominees this year for the College of Education (COE). Three professors were recognized as Research Award winners at the college and university level, and five were nominated as college representatives for the University Teaching Awards.
Research Award winners
Steve Mertens–Outstanding College Researcher Award
Dr. Steve Mertens, a professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, is the recipient of the Outstanding College Researcher Award, which recognizes outstanding researchers in each college at Illinois State University and makes him eligible for the Outstanding University Researcher Award.
He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1994, and he has been with Illinois State since 2008. In 2019, he was the recipient of the Vincent A. Anfara Jr. Outstanding Research Award from the American Educational Research Association Middle Level Special Interest Group (AERA SIG). His research in middle-level education has resulted in 45 publications and 63 conference presentations to date. His research has been cited over 2,000 times, according to Google Scholar. Mertens has co-directed many national and international research projects, and he has served as a mentor, consultant, and co-author for many scholarly endeavors within the College of Education. In addition, he is sought out by many doctoral students who wish to complete their dissertations in the area of middle-level education because of his vast knowledge and expertise.
Mertens was also recently awarded the John H. Lounsbury Award for Distinguished Achievement in Middle Level Education. This is the highest award given by the Association of Middle Level Education, and was awarded to Martens for his scholarship, service, leadership, and contributions to the theory and practice of the middle level education ideal. Congratulations to Steve for this well-deserved award.
Courtney Hattan–Research Initiative Award
Dr. Courtney Hattan, an assistant professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, was selected as the COE nominee for the Research Initiative Award and was recently named as one of the eight recipients of the award at the university level. This award recognizes faculty members who have initiated a promising research agenda early in their academic careers.
Hattan earned her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 2018, and she began her career at Illinois State University that same year. Her research focus includes the intersection of background knowledge and text comprehension, and the identification and creation of effective techniques that promote learning. Her research strands fill gaps in educational research that would not have otherwise been filled. In 2019 she was the recipient of the International Literacy Association Timothy and Cynthia Shanahan Outstanding Dissertation Award. Since joining Illinois State University, Hattan has been active in the area of scholarship, resulting in seven peer reviewed publications, two book chapters, four regional conference presentations, nine national or international conference presentations, and three workshops. It is evident that her impact on the field of literacy education is only just beginning.
Lara Handsfield–Outstanding University Researcher Award
Dr. Lara Handsfield, a professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, was selected as the COE nominee for the Outstanding University Researcher Award and was recently named as one of two recipients of the award at the university level. This award recognizes faculty members who are acknowledged for their research nationally or internationally, their quality of scholarly work, and their contribution to their profession/discipline.
She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and she has been with Illinois State University since 2005. She was awarded the Outstanding College Researcher Award in the College of Education in 2018. Her primary research areas focus on multilingualism and multimodal literacy practices; discourse and positioning in literacy instruction; and theoretical and methodological issues in language and literacy research. Her research strands have resulted in 22 peer reviewed journal articles and 20 conferences. Handsfield’s work in the area of theoretical and methodological issues in language and literacy has made a tremendous impact in her field of study and with the students she teaches.
University Teaching awards
Five COE nominees for University Teaching awards were recommended by the Teaching and Learning Committee to represent the college across four categories. All of the recommended faculty had tremendous applications that exemplify the university’s commitment to teaching excellence and to student learning.
COE Nominees will be in contention for the university awards, which will be announced in January by the University Teaching Committee (UTC), an advisory body to the provost comprised of former teaching award winners and other campus representatives. Selected candidates display a persistent, focused and purposeful dedication to striving for excellence over time.
The COE nominees include:
Terry Husband – Outstanding University Teacher Award, Tenure Track
Jamillah Gilbert – Outstanding University Teacher Award, Non-Tenure Track
Krystal Lewis-Pratl – Outstanding University Teacher Award, A/P or CS
Benjamin Wellenreiter – Teaching Initiative Award
Mindy Ely – Teaching Initiative Award