Faculty, staff recognized by SUNY chancellor

Faculty, staff recognized by SUNY chancellor

04/30/2024 

Three SUNY Cortland faculty, professional staff and classified service members will receive the prestigious State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.

The Chancellor’s Awards provide systemwide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and encourage the pursuit of excellence at all 64 SUNY campuses. Each campus president submits nominations, which are reviewed by the SUNY Committee on Awards.

The 2024 honorees are:

  • Moataz Emam, professor, Physics Department — Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities
  • Dan Harms, associate librarian, Memorial Library — Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Librarianship
  • Barbara Drake, administrative assistant I, Biological Sciences Department — Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service

 This year’s award winners are profiled below.

Moataz Emam

Emam, who earned SUNY Cortland's 21st Chancellor's Award in this category, is an internationally respected scholar in the supergravity realm of superstring theory, which seeks a theoretical explanation unifying all observed phenomena in the universe under one set of principles. Despite the complexity of this highly mathematical branch of physics, Emam has achieved an impressive publication track record and a global reputation.

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Moataz Emam

In exploring a “theory of everything” for more than two decades, Emam’s sustained scholarship has resulted in 18 peer-reviewed articles, most of them in world-respected journals such as the American Journal of Physics, Classical and Quantum Gravity and Physical Review D. He is credited by colleagues for finding solutions to challenging problems and “going viral in the field” for prompting discussion among string theorists and physicists in general.

His publication record includes two books, including a 2021 textbook published by Oxford University Press titled Covariant Physics: from Classical Mechanics to General Relativity and Beyond. He called this work the highlight of his scholarly career so far, one that grew out of a deep interest in teaching advanced research topics to students.

Emam’s engagement with a global audience is equally impressive. A native of Egypt, he has offered more than 40 scholarly presentations at regional, national and international levels, from Mount Holyoke College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to many universities in Egypt. Emam’s outreach embraces technology to promote diversity in the scientific community. His YouTube channel, blog and professional social media accounts inspire thousands of Arabic-speaking scientists. He also is a frequent voice for interviews on complex concepts related to physics.

Emam earned a B.S. in civil engineering, a B.S. in physics and an M.S. in physics at Cairo University in Egypt. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

He taught as a visiting faculty member at Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Clark University before joining SUNY Cortland in 2008 as an assistant professor of physics.

Dan Harms

Harms, SUNY Cortland's seventh librarian to earn this honor, makes extraordinary contributions through his skills demonstrated in Memorial Library, to the librarian profession across SUNY, to his unique scholarship, and his tireless service as a union advocate.

Harms joined the SUNY Cortland faculty in 2005 and currently holds the rank of associate librarian. As an instructional services librarian, he is a key resource for campus community members on topics such as information literacy, online database work and primary source research. He is a trusted liaison to academic departments including Economics, English, Psychology and Sociology/Anthropology, and his efforts often prove interesting and innovative. For instance, a vampire game he created with a colleague to teach students about evaluating sources spurred a conference presentation and was adopted by three other SUNY libraries. This example speaks to his creativity, a diverse skillset and the example he sets for colleagues.

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Dan Harms

With regards to his continued scholarship, Harms has authored or co-authored more than 70 publications spanning books, journal articles and book reviews. He has delivered 20 conference presentations on various topics, from library-related research to fascinating academic interests such as magic studies and the occult. This impressive research is matched by his tireless service, with which his name is synonymous at SUNY Cortland. Harms has made immense contributions to United University Professions, at both the campus and statewide levels, as well as SUNY Cortland Faculty Senate and at least 20 campus committees.

A past president of the SUNY Librarians Association, Harms has earned lifetime membership as well as a prestigious 2023 Friend of the SUNYLA Award.

Harms earned a B.A. in anthropology and English from Vanderbilt University; an M.A. in anthropology from the University at Buffalo; and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh.

Barbara Drake

An administrative assistant 1 in the Biological Sciences Department since 2019, Drake has earned a reputation as the department’s “backbone.”

Whether it is a question related to academic advising or classroom technology or a campus process, her colleagues report that Drake always is a wonderful resource for students, faculty and staff alike.

Her knowledge and preparation often have a ripple effect. She is a trusted mentor to other administrative assistants in the sciences and continuously uses her intuition to help the world around her, from classroom wayfinding for new students to curriculum improvements based on student feedback.

“Barbara Drake is a shining example of the commitment and exceptional customer service on our campus,” said SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum.

Drake joined SUNY Cortland in 2016, following a nearly four-decade career at the Cortland Regional Medical Center.

She currently helps to manage more than 150 courses listed under five academic major prefixes — one of the largest course scheduling responsibilities on Cortland’s campus — in addition to faculty meetings and room availability in Bowers Hall, the university’s home to the sciences.

“Barbara’s greatest contributions come in her willingness to go beyond her job description,” said nominator Professor Steven Broyles, a past department chair and SUNY distinguished teaching professor.

Drake always is quick to volunteer at any SUNY Cortland event celebrating the achievement of the department’s students, from Honors Convocation to Commencement.

“She is the type of person who arrives to work 30 minutes early and often leaves late because she is helping others,” Broyles wrote. “She is a well-known and friendly face to the department’s 300-plus majors, always providing various small treats, stress relievers and notes of encouragement, especially during exam weeks.”

She is the university's 16th honoree for classified service.

 


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