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Belmonte Receives George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching

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Four Penn State University faculty members will receive the 2004 George W. Atherton Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The award recipients are Andrew Belmonte, assistant professor of mathematics, University Park campus; Roselyn Costantino, associate professor of Spanish and women’s studies, Altoona campus; Linda P. Miller, professor of English, Abington campus; and Michael D. Weiner, associate professor of mathematics, Altoona campus.

The award, named after Penn State’s seventh president, was established in 1989 as a continuation of the AMOCO Foundation Award. It honors excellence in teaching at the undergraduate level.

Belmonte is honored for his “seemingly unbounded” enthusiasm for teaching and his special talent for stimulating creative thought among his students. His peers have lauded Belmonte for bringing mathematics to life in the minds of students and giving them the chance to see the “expressive power of mathematics as a language for the physical sciences.”

In addition to teaching a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses during his time at Penn State, Belmonte has developed two new courses: Mathematical Modeling for the Physical World and Mathematical Analysis of Fluid Flow. Belmonte also inaugurated the First-Year Seminar in Mathematics and has involved many undergraduate students in his laboratory research and summer undergraduate research programs.

These undergraduate research opportunities have even resulted in publications or national conference presentations for some students. His research guidance also extends to the graduate level, as he currently oversees two master-level students, three doctoral-level students and four postdoctoral researchers.

Belmonte began teaching at Penn State in 1998. He earned his B.A. in 1988 from the University of Chicago and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University, in 1991 and 1994, respectively.

Costantino, a faculty member at Penn State Altoona for 11 years, is recognized for her leadership in shaping the foreign language programs at the Altoona campus and her success in combining teaching, research and service to enhance the educational experiences of her students and colleagues.

Costantino’s expertise in language and culture studies and her desire to enhance students’ education with real-world experiences led her to develop a number of international study opportunities. In that same vein, she has led Altoona’s international studies initiative since 2002. In addition designing numerous programs to introduce English-speaking students to other cultures, she has started a program to help Latino students integrate more fully into the Altoona campus community.

In addition to teaching a variety of courses within her specialties of Latin American literature, theatre and performance, cultural studies, feminist theory, and Spanish language, she has taught integrative arts and English and comparative literature courses. Costantino is noted for her sponsorship of forums on diversity, race, issues of civic participation and social change, and issues affecting women. Her peers laud her for “creating an atmosphere of possibilities for intellectual inquiry, freedom, responsibility, and civic involvement” among her students and peers.

Costantino received her M.A. from Montclair State University in 1988 and her Ph.D. in 1992 from Arizona State University. She is the co-author of “Holy Terrors: Latin American Women Perform” (Duke UP 2003), the author of 19 articles, and she has contributed to more than 25 national and international conferences.

Miller, a professor of English at Penn State Abington, is honored by her peers for “exemplifying excellence in teaching, service and scholarship.” In addition to teaching an impressive range of courses, from first-year seminars to 400-level literature courses, Miller has developed four new courses to support the English major—an accomplishment that prompts her colleagues to dub her “a mainstay of Abington’s English program.”

Miller’s teaching philosophy includes an interdisciplinary approach to learning that she fosters in her students to help them think and write with increased creativity and insight. Her deep respect for her students as capable and creative thinkers is noted by her peers and students.

Miller’s research has focused on American studies — particularly early twentieth-century American literature and art — and innovative approaches to individualize first-year students’ writing. She is the author of more than 40 articles, book chapters or books; has served as a scholarly consult on matters of expatriate American writers; and has lectured nationally and internationally.

In addition to her commitment to the classroom, Miller has distinguished herself by serving on many University committees, including Faculty Senate, the Curricular Affairs Committee, the Faculty Advisory Council, and promotion and tenure committees. She also regularly advises students on a formal and informal basis regarding their academic and career goals.

Miller earned her B.A. from Hope College in 1968, her M.A. from Ohio State University in 1971, and her Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in 1979.

Weiner, an associate professor of mathematics at Penn State Altoona, is lauded for enriching his students’ learning experiences through his “enthusiasm, energy and sense of humor” — characteristics that create a relaxing and enjoyable classroom conducive to learning.

Since arriving at Penn State Altoona in the fall of 1996, Weiner has taught a variety of mathematics courses, including statistics, engineering, business calculus, and team-taught science/technology/society special topics courses. Colleagues have noted that not only are Weiner’s classes clear and well prepared and presented, but he also has a way of engaging students so that virtually all attending his classes become involved willingly and actively in learning. To further affect students’ success, Weiner has taken an active role in the orientation process for students new to the Altoona campus.

Weiner’s philosophy is to get students to visualize mathematics problems while maintaining the traditional emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving. To this end, he has researched new methods of visualization using computer animation and has been an advocate of using computer technology as an educational tool across the mathematics curricula.

In addition to visualization research, Weiner has done work on construction of vertex operator algebras (VOAs) and vertex operator para-algebras (VOPAs) using infinite dimensional Kac-Moody Lie algebras, the importance of which is evidenced by an entire issue of a major journal being dedicated to his research — a rare accomplishment.

In addition to his teaching and research accomplishments, he serves as the program coordinator for Penn State Altoona’s B.S. in science program, two-year science degree and the natural science minor — programs he was instrumental in establishing.

Weiner was also an integral part of instituting bachelor of science programs in mathematics and biology at the Altoona campus. Additionally, he serves in leadership roles in the Altoona College Faculty Senate and as dean’s representative of the Eberly College of Science.

Weiner received his B.S. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1988 and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Binghamton, in 1990 and 1994, respectively.


Karen Zitomer
Department of Public Information
865-7517, kzitomer@psu.edu

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