Information Sciences and Technology faculty, staff recognized with annual awards

The Westgate Building has been home to the College of Information Sciences and Technology since 2003. Credit: Penn State / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Faculty and staff members in the College of Information Sciences and Technology were recently recognized for their outstanding contributions to the college and the University community as part of the college’s annual faculty and staff awards.

“The circumstances of the past year required the best from our faculty and staff. This year’s awardees ensured our college could continue to exceed the expectations of our community by providing exceptional service, thoughtful collaboration and innovative problem solving,” said Andrew Sears, dean of IST. “I am proud of how these awardees – and all of our faculty and staff – have responded and adapted to these unique times. They make IST a great place to work, learn, and discover, and I am grateful for their exceptional work on behalf of our students, alumni, and colleagues.”

Those recognized include:

  • Laura Adams, assistant director in the Office of Academic Services Operations, received the Dean’s Honor Award for Staff. Adams’ efforts helped colleagues rethink workflows to improve efficiencies and work smarter. Through her investigative and collaborative nature, her intense commitment to service and her perseverance in the face of adversity, Adams has provided leadership that enabled the college to better serve its faculty and students.
  • Steve Babb, assistant director for student engagement in the Office of Undergraduate Recruiting and Student Engagement, received the Public Service and Outreach Award. Babb worked with students to increase the number of student organizations in the college and fill in the gaps where organizations did not previously exist to support IST’s growing list of academic programs. He met regularly with student leaders to provide guidance and offer opportunities for professional development, and he supported students in new ways during the remote learning period.
  • Chris Gamrat, instructional designer in the Office of Learning Design, received the Susan B. Lucas Diversity and Equity Award. Gamrat has worked to promote diversity and equity in the classroom, in the learning design community and across higher education. He has taught with welcoming and inclusive strategies, conducted surveys of students’ experiences, written successful diversity grants, developed models and workshops for thinking media about inclusive teaching, presented best practices to faculty and published about inclusive teaching strategies. His impact extends beyond his own courses, reaching faculty and students across and beyond Penn State.
  • Jessica Hallman, content and social media manager in the Office of Marketing and Communications, received the IST Community Award. Hallman has harnessed the tools of her discipline to foster a sense of community in the College of IST when students, faculty and staff could not physically stay connected during the pandemic. Through her writing, Hallman informed the IST and Penn State community about colleagues’ research, student and alumni interest stories, instructional technologies and many other topics. She is recognized for telling stories that are compelling and appeal to members of the college’s sense of pride in being part of this community.
  • David Hozza, lecturer, received the George J. McMurtry Faculty Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award. Hozza has progressed in teaching excellence, moving from teaching exclusively through Penn State World Campus to embracing residential instruction. He innovates when teaching large sections and collaborated on the development and teaching of a special topics IST 497 course on Bitcoin and other digital currencies. He is recognized for his creativity and desire to embrace and teach existing topics in new ways, or on new topics.
  • Peng Liu, Raymond G. Tronzo, MD Professor of Cybersecurity, received the Dean’s Honor Award for Faculty. Liu has conducted cutting-edge research on security and privacy, and he has published widely in top security conferences such as CCS, Usenix Security and ESORICS. He is an exceptional teacher and has mentored more than 10 doctoral students, several of whom have become faculty members and researchers in top laboratories. Additionally, he remains actively engaged in the college and at Penn State through his service on and chairing of several important committees.
  • Jeannette Macaluso, human resources consultant, received the Rising Star Award. Macaluso goes above and beyond in her work, acting with kindness and professionalism. She is recognized as resourceful, responsive and insightful, helping faculty and staff navigate the challenges of the pandemic with patience and expertise.
  • Frank Ritter, professor, received the Senior Faculty Excellence in Research Award. Ritter, one of the college’s original faculty members when IST opened in 1999, is accomplished in the diversity of his research success including publications, grants and conference hosting. He regularly serves as a reviewer, colleague and mentor, and manages IST’s Applied Cognitive Science Lab. His work includes Adaptive Control of Thought—Rational (ACT-R) cognitive architecture modeling, as well as the development and application of his Declarative to Procedural (D2P) architecture. D2P is used as a tutoring model to enhance user training, such as in training Marine riflemen and for medical professionals in COVID-19 response.
  • Jenna Sieber, administrative support assistant in the Office of Graduate Programs, received the Customer Service Award. Sieber is recognized for her responsiveness and ingenuity to find answers to novel and complex questions. She works within the college and connects with partners across the University to help graduate students, faculty and staff accomplish their goals.
  • Daniel Susser, assistant professor, received the George J. McMurtry Junior Faculty Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award. Susser aims to give students tools that will deepen and enrich their thinking. He helps them clarify their own beliefs and dislodge their presuppositions by demonstrating the value of asking questions and constructing arguments, engaging in conversations and debate, and respecting and learning from others. In doing so, he helps his students become more critical and inquisitive members of their own fields and ethical contributors to shared pursuits.
  • Ting Wang, assistant professor, received the Junior Faculty Excellence in Research Award. Wang conducts research at the intersection of data science and privacy and security. His recent work focuses on making deep learning systems more usable by improving their security assurance and decision-making transparency, and his team has made significant progress in improving the security and interpretability of deep learning systems. His work has led to several highly cited publications in top-tier security forums and won two best paper awards.
  • The Team Award was given to the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. Team members include Dean Croll, Brian Daigle, Fatima Ferguson, Amy Garbrick, Chris Gamrat, Jon Hughes, Sharon Lazarow, Lisa Lenze, Kent Matsueda and Trisha McKee. This team provided critical support for the college and University's instructional pivot during the pandemic. In addition to their regular support, they delivered broader and more in-depth support for IST instructors in many forms, including developing resources, hosting information sessions and tutorials, developing best practices using available technology and providing well-trained assistants across residential instruction. They quickly developed and deployed resources and provided leadership to a variety of University initiatives.

The following individuals were also recognized for their years of service to the college:

20 years of service

  • C. Lee Giles, Davide Reese Professor of Information Sciences and Technology
  • James Wang, professor
  • Steven Haynes, teaching professor

15 years of service

  • Chris Milito, director, Office of Information Technology
  • Audrey Boob, IT consultant, Office of Information Technology
  • Lisa Crownover, facilities and safety coordinator, Office of Facilities
  • Rosalie Ocker, teaching professor
  • Xiaolong Zhang, associate professor

10 Years of Service

  • Nick Giacobe, assistant teaching professor
  • Zoe Meyer, director, Office of Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement

 Five years of service

  • Michelle Corby, assistant dean, Academic Services
  • Desiree Donaldson, administrative support assistant, Office of the Dean
  • Cindy Titsler, systems design specialist, Office of Information Technology
  • Megan Costello, assistant teaching professor
  • Michael Hills, associate teaching professor
  • Xinyu Xing, assistant professor
  • Benjamin Hanrahan, assistant professor


Last Updated April 01, 2021