University Affairs

USU Announces 2023 Faculty Awards Honorees

By Tabitha Smiel |

Exceptional faculty across the Utah State University were celebrated at the 2023 Faculty Awards Ceremony on Thursday, March 30, hosted jointly by the Office of Research and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

The 11 awards and recipients are as follows:

The Cazier Professor Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in their academic careers at USU for 20 or more years of employment. This year’s recipient is John Neely, a professor from the Caine College of the Arts in the Art and Design Department.

Professor Neely has been a faculty member at Utah State University since 1984 and is the most senior member of the Department of Art & Design.

As an artist and researcher, Professor Neely has had his work featured in over one hundred domestic group exhibitions and solo and international exhibitions.

Professor Neely is recognized as an expert in clay, glaze, and kiln firing technology. He has published his research and the results of his creative and scientific research in several professional journals, including Ceramics: Art & Perception, Ceramics Monthly, Ceramics Technical, Clay Times, and the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts Journal.

In 2013, Professor Neely was awarded Utah State University’s D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award by the Office of Research. He is the first and only fine artist to receivethis distinction.

The D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award is the premiere research recognition at Utah State University and is awarded each year to a senior faculty member who has produced a significant portion of their research at USU. The 2023 recipient of the award is David Tarboton, Director of the Utah Water Research Laboratory and professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department in the College of Engineering.

Since joining the USU faculty in 1990, Tarboton has made significant research contributions by publishing 196 papers with 15,000+ citations. He is internationally and nationally recognized as a world class top-notch hydrologist with a focus on hydrologic information systems and modeling crossing the disciplinary interface between hydrology and information technology.

Tarboton has also provided leadership for USU and nationally by extending his education contributions beyond the classroom through learning material development and education research projects supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

His work has earned 70 grants, with $24 million going to fund initiatives at Utah State University.

The recipient of the E.G. Peterson Extension Award is Denise Stewardson, a USU Extension associate professor. This award honors an Extension professional who has done a distinguished job keeping USU’s goals in their careers at the university, and is one of the most prestigious awards given out by USU Extension.

Stewardson makes a special effort to engage with USU students by teaching an agricultural literacy course combining service learning and meaningful community engagement with instruction and reflection.

She also assists the USU Student Nutrition Access Center (SNAC) with its sustainability goals, represents Extension on the USU Faculty Senate, serves as a mentor to students through the Aggie First Scholars program, and serves on the Connections faculty committee.

The award recipient of both the Eldon J. Gardner Teacher of the Year Award as well as the Diversity Faculty Award is Beth Buyserie. The Eldon J. Gardner Teacher of the Year Award recognizes USU's most excellent teaching staff, and The Diversity Faculty Award is given to a faculty member who has furthered the principles of affirmative action, equal opportunity and diversity while at USU.

Beth Buyserie is the Director of Composition and Assistant Professor in the department of English in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Equity and diversity are essential to Buyserie’s scholarship, which focuses on writing program administration, the teaching of composition, critical pedagogies, professional learning, and the intersections of language, knowledge, and power through the lenses of queer theory and critical race theory.

As the Director of Composition, Beth mentors approximately 30 Graduate Interns, 20 Lecturers, and 15 Adjunct Instructors of English 1010 and 2010.

She has significantly improved the quality of writing instruction, both in her teaching of English 6820, the graduate composition pedagogy course, and in her institution of monthly professional development sessions for all the composition teachers.

Buyserie has shifted the culture of teaching writing at the University to one that connects research to teaching — and that privileges collaboration, sustained reflection, and vibrant teaching.

The Faculty Researcher of the Year Award recognizes some of USU's most excellent researchers.

Dr. Peter Adler is an ecologist who conducts basic research on patterns of biodiversity and the processes that shape them and applied research on the ecological impacts of climate change. After growing up in Berkeley, California, he attended Harvard College and then earned his Ph.D. at Colorado State University.

He has been a faculty member in the Quinney College of Natural Resources (QCNR) since 2006. Dr. Adler has published over 140 peer-reviewed papers which have been cited almost 20,000 times, and he has been designated a Clarivate Highly Cited Scholar (top 0.1% of world researchers) in the field of Ecology and Evolution each year since 2017.

Adler is a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America, a Fulbright Fellow, and a winner of the QCNR Researcher and Teacher of the Year awards. Much of his research involves integration of mathematical and statistical models with long-term data sets collected at a variety of spatial scales, from maps of individual plants in sagebrush steppe ecosystems to satellite-derived datasets spanning North America. His best days at work involve designing experiments and analyzing data with his graduate students and post-docs.

The Faculty University Service Award recognizes excellence in service for the governing operations of the university. This year's recipient is Melissa Scheaffer, a principal lecturer in the Engineering Education Department in the College of Engineering.

During her nearly 35-year career at USU, Scheaffer has provided service that have impacted students, faculty, and staff at the university, college, and departmental levels.

She has supported preventing sexual misconduct, improving curriculum at the general education level, supporting numerous term faculty seeking promotion, and improving the quality of teaching for faculty.

Most notably, she created the Engineering Writing Center, which has assisted over 6,500 engineering students in developing their technical writing skills.

The Outstanding Graduate Mentor of the Year Award recognizes USU mentors who have done a notable job helping their graduate students prepare for a professional career. This year's recipient is Irina Polejaeva, an associate professor in the Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences Department in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.

Polejaeva fully embraces graduate students into her research program. She has served as a major professor for three students who have graduated (one MS, two PhD), serves five students currently (one MS, four PhD), and has served on 13 other graduate committees.

She has also authored 66 peer-reviewed publications with her mentees (26 manuscripts, 40 abstracts), and her students have contributed to 22 invited oral presentations and guest lectures and 45 conference presentations.

The Undergraduate Faculty Mentor of the Year Award is awarded to USU mentors who have done an outstanding job helping their undergraduate students prepare for a career. The 2023 awardee is Lianne Wappett, a Lecturer and Huntsman Scholar Program Academic Director in the Data Analytics & Information Systems Department in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.

Wappett serves as Academic Director of Huntsman Scholars, mentoring the top 20 percent of Huntsman School of Business students. In 2021, she served as a program mentor for a cohort of 35 to 40 scholars in the program. Now as the Academic Director, she serves over 400 students.

She is also a co-adviser to the Women in Business Association (WIBA). Since joining the WIBA as a faculty adviser, the club has grown from less than10students to an actively engaged community of over 100 students.

Her work with the association has seen her accompany members to participate at the annual Silicon Slopes Summit, and create opportunities for them to network with female leaders in the tech sector, and secure grants to facilitate new initiatives.

The Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year Award specifically recognizes faculty members who have focused on research mentorship and acted as role models in the field of research. Joyce Kinkead, a Distinguished Professor in the English Department in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences is the 2023 recipient.

Kinkead has made undergraduate mentorship a priority, with over 70 undergraduates who have authored research articles, some as co-authors with Kinkead.

She has also created the department’s first quantitative intensive (QI) course, in which students learn research ethics and engage in human subjects research projects that employ quantitative and qualitative evidence.

Kinkead consistently looks for opportunities for students to move their writing to authentic publication and dissemination. Her mentorship provides initial entry into the profession.

The Community Engaged Faculty Award recognizes a faculty member who does an excellent job of incorporating a community-based style into their teaching, or has conducted community-engaged research. This year's awardee is Roslynn McCann and Edwin Stafford.

Roslynn McCann is an associate professor in the Department of Environment and Society and Edwin Stafford is a professor in the Department of Marketing and Strategy.

McCann and Stafford are working to help improve Utah’s air quality via their annual Utah High School Clean Air Marketing Contest. The contest integrates environmental science, art, and astute marketing where teens learn about Utah’s air pollution problems and how to craft persuasive clean air social messages that can resonate with peers and Utah residents.

McCann and Stafford make presentations to dozens of high school art, business, and environmental science classes and club meetings each fall. They teach students not only about Utah’s air pollution and ways to preserve air quality, but they also teach marketing message techniques for teenagers to develop their Public Service Announcements.

Those interested in a complete list of all the USU faculty who were nominated by each college can visit the Faculty Awards Ceremony website.

John Neely

David Tarboton

Denise Stewardson

Beth Buyserie

Peter Alder

Melissa Scheaffer

Irina Polejaeva

Lianne Wappett

Joyce Kinkead

Roslynn McCann and Edwin Stafford


Tabitha Smiel
Communications Assistant
Office of Research


Anna McEntire
Managing Director
Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water, and Air
(435) 881-1323


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