College of Health Sciences announces end-of-year faculty, staff awards

The College of Health Sciences distributed end-of-year awards to faculty and staff members during the College’s annual holiday event Dec. 12. Dean Gary Liguori handed out awards for excellence in research, teaching and service, as well as a staff excellence awards. Winners include:

Excellence in Research – Associate Professor Nicole Weiss

Psychology Associate Professor Nicole Weiss’ research focuses on the co-occurrence of posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder, including the intersection of emotion dysregulation, marginalization, and related cultural constructs. She is a productive researcher, mentor and collaborator, having compiled 166 peer-reviewed publications and a citation rate thatwill eclipse 1200 in 2022 alone. Dr. Weiss has NIH funding as co- PI on an R34 and recently funded work on opiate use by COBRE. Three of her students have received NIH F31 dissertation awards under her mentorship, and two have won URI research awards.

“Dr. Weiss’ research productivity, quality of work, and success as a mentor and collaborator is acknowledged with this award,” Dean Liguori said. “Please join me in congratulating Dr. Nicole Weiss as the recipient of the 2022 CHS research excellence award.”

Excellence in Teaching – Lecturer Kimberly Koness

Nutrition and Food Science Lecturer Kimberly Koness teaches senior-level clinical courses to over 150 NFS and College of Pharmacy students per year. Known for her collaboration with other URI faculty members to make her courses more robust and clinically relevant for the students, she initiated and worked with URI’s College of Nursing to incorporate a simulation lab into one of her courses to provide “real life” training, and the simulation labs remain in the course after more than 10 years. Last spring, Koness collaborated with College of Pharmacy faculty members to create and teach case studies to teams of NFS and Pharmacy students in separate courses.

“She is a passionate teacher who continually works to provide application-based assignment to prepare students for a dietetics internship, graduate school, or the work force,” Liguori said.

Excellence in Service – Professor Sarah Larson

Nutrition and Food Science Professor Sarah Larson is instrumental in managing the College’s online offerings. In the 2019-2020 academic year, she was an early adopter and mentor for Brightspace and continuously answered questions from many faculty members across campus. When COVID-19 forced most classes online, Professor Larson collaborated with another NFS faculty member on “Tech Times” seminars over the summer to get faculty members up to speed. In addition to her role in mentoring for Brightspace, she was instrumental in the recent switch from one to two NFS majors, and manages up to 15 NFS undergraduate teaching assistants each year.

“The pivot to online teaching due to COVID-19 proved to be an especially challenging time with the number of faculty who needed support, but Professor Larson continued to be an exceptionally helpful colleague,” Liguori said. “Many faculty relied on her knowledge, willingness to share, and time to help build out stronger, more efficient Brightspace sites that supported students.”

Staff Excellence – Assistant Dean Cindie Cruger

Students who have encountered difficulties in their URI career have a clear understanding of what they need to graduate, and they inevitably feel supported after meeting with Assistant Dean Cindie Cruger, who provides clear guidance in a supportive but firm manner. Her work as co- chair of the CHS curriculum Committee and in initiating and creating the new lending library are widely appreciated across the college. As chair of the Scholastic Standing Committee, Dean Cruger needs to often make difficult decisions on student enrollment status in consultation with faculty. In this role, she always makes informed and fair decisions and acts as a consensus builder.

“Never before have three departments independently nominated the same person for the CHS Staff Excellence Award… until this year,” Liguori said. “This widespread support from faculty speaks to the outstanding job performance from this year’s recipient of the CHS Staff Excellence Award. Dean Cruger’s availability, patience, organizational skills institutional knowledge, and professionalism are greatly appreciated by faculty and students alike.”