Three members of the College of Science are among the 24 Texas A&M University faculty and staff being honored this year by the university and The Association of Former Students with 2021 Distinguished Achievement Awards.
The awards, unveiled Wednesday (Mar. 24) by the Texas A&M Office of the Provost, and their respective recipients from Texas A&M Science are as follows:
Teaching (10 given university-wide)
- Dr. Joanna Goodey-Pellois, Instructional Associate Professor, Chemistry
- Dr. Rupak Mahapatra, Professor, Physics and Astronomy
- Dr. Andrew Tag ’03, Instructional Assistant Professor, Biology
For more than six decades, Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students have recognized the most deserving faculty and staff members with university-level Distinguished Achievement Awards. First presented in 1955, they have since been awarded to 1,136 professionals (including this year’s recipients) who have exhibited the highest standards of excellence at Texas A&M in the categories of teaching, research, student relations, graduate mentoring, administration, staff, and extension/outreach/continuing education/professional development.
Recipients are chosen via a rigorous selection process by a campus-wide committee composed of faculty, staff, students, and former students. The award serves as tangible testimony to the esteem in which colleagues hold each recipient.
In recognition of their achievements, honorees will receive a cash gift, an engraved watch and a commemorative plaque. They will be honored at a 2021 Distinguished Achievement Awards ceremony, currently planned to be held virtually in late May.
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Brief biographies on each recipient in relation to the honor appear below:
Dr. Joanna Goodey-Pellois earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and a doctoral degree from the University of Houston. She joined the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry 14 years ago, where is an instructional associate professor. She has taught general chemistry to roughly 8,000 freshman scientists and engineers, designed professional development and training exercises for approximately 400 chemistry graduate students and taught a communications seminar to 250 senior undergraduate chemistry majors. Goodey-Pellois’ focus on helping students build solid foundations can be seen through her efforts as a general chemistry lab coordinator, an associate graduate advisor in the Department of Chemistry from 2010-2018 and the director of the First Year Program. She previously received the 2020 Association of Former Students College-Level Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching and was named a 2019 Texas A&M 21st Century Classroom Building Fellow. She also received a 2019 Texas A&M Honoring Excellence Award. In addition to Goodey-Pellois’ individual accomplishments, her work has shown up in team efforts throughout the university. She co-created and designed materials and activities for a university-wide community of faculty fellows who are interested in implementing inclusive teaching practices in large gateway STEM courses. She also co-created and designed materials for faculty moving into the new active learning classroom facility. The fall 2020 semester called upon Goodey-Pellois to totally redesign her General Chemistry for Engineers course for 800 freshmen in a hybrid classroom environment, resulting in an interactive, flipped-format course in which students are performing better on assessments than they have in past versions of the course.
Dr. Rupak Mahapatra earned a bachelor’s degree from the India Institute of Technology and a doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota. He joined the Texas A&M Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2008, where he is a full professor and member of the who has been a member of the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy. He recently reconstituted a vital course, the first introductory physics course for engineers under the new title Physics 206, taken by thousands of students each year. Mahapatra served as course coordinator of the initial version before it had to be restructured again during the COVID-19 pandemic — a task that called upon his 12 years of experience at Texas A&M. Mahapatra is a leading researcher in experimental high-energy physics with a research program in dark matter and neutrino physics. He was recognized with the Department of Energy (DOE) Early Career Award in 2010. His research group consists of both undergraduate and graduate students who work on cutting-edge detector technology in a semiconductor detector fabrication and characterization lab. Mahapatra’s research and development facility is also assisting five national labs (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory) and many collaborating institutions to develop their own research programs. Mahapatra was named a Texas A&M Presidential Impact Fellow Award in 2019 based on his research contributions in experimental high energy physics and for the role he plays in working with the DOE in reviewing national labs and reviewing programs in high energy physics. This research framework filters down to both undergraduate and graduate students, showing up in research opportunities that are readily available, not only for Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy students but also those in other science- and engineering-based departments across the Texas A&M campus.
Andrew Tag ’03
Dr. Andrew Tag ’03 earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southeast Missouri State University and a doctoral degree from Texas A&M University. He joined the Texas A&M Department of Biology 2003, where he is an instructional assistant professor and director of the Introductory Biology Program. Tag’s roles in strengthening the learning foundation for introductory students include acting as the lead investigator revising and developing new lab curricula for multiple biology courses. His efforts as a course developer on the junior/senior level and his curriculum revisions for gateway introductory biology courses serve more than 5,000 students annually. When presented with a smaller time window to complete a task, Tag has responded with a targeted response. In spring 2020, he conducted workshops for the entire faculty on best practices for Zoom lectures and administering online exams. Tag also led the introductory biology staff’s collective effort to prepare video-based lab activities. Those two projects were completed during spring break to ensure that students and faculty could forge ahead quickly during the transition period. Following those introductory phases, Tag has continued to refine both best practices and lab videos to maintain a high-quality education experience in introductory courses before students take on upper-level courses. In addition to being named to the inaugural cohort of Provost Academic Professional Track (APT) Faculty Teaching Excellence Award recipients in 2020, he received the 2020 Dr. Karl J. Aufderheide Excellence in Teaching Award. Previously in 2018, Tag was selected as a National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences.
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About Texas A&M University: Texas A&M University is a community of scholars dedicated to solving diverse, real-world problems through determination and innovation. Texas A&M opened its doors in 1876 as the state’s first public institution of higher education and is today a tier-one research institution holding the elite triple land-, sea- and space-grant designations. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $1 billion in fiscal year 2020. Texas A&M’s 71,000 students and half a million former students are known for their commitment to service, as well as dedication to the university’s core values and rich traditions.
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