College of Sciences 
Academic Achievement Award Winners

Mar. 7, 2018


2016–2017 Distinguished Researcher Award

  • Dr. Elisabeth Hausrath, Associate Professor, Department of Geoscience
    Dr. Hausrath joined the UNLV faculty in 2009 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2015. She is a geochemist whose main focus is to quantify signatures of aqueous alteration and biological interaction during chemical weathering and soil formation on Earth and Mars. Her laboratory has been instrumental in driving publications in top-tier Geoscience journals including Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications, and her research has been covered in numerous news outlets including NBC News and CBS News. In recognition of her standing in her field of research, Dr. Hausrath was recently selected as one of eleven scientists to provide guidance to NASA on sampling and caching samples for return from Mars.
  • Dr. Zhaohuan Zhu, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy
    Dr. Zhu joined the UNLV faculty in 2016 as an assistant professor. He is a theoretical astrophysicist whose research focuses on understanding physics of astrophysical fluids, planet formation, and accretion processes in astrophysical disks around black holes, compact objects, and young stars and planets. Dr. Zhu already has made tremendous contributions to UNLV, as evidenced by being the first UNLV scientist to earn the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship that honors early-career scholars whose achievements mark them as the next generation of scientific leaders, as well as receiving two major research grants, including a prestigious NSF five-year early CAREER award and a three-year NASA Astrophysical Theory (ATP) grant.

2016–2017 Distinguished Teacher Award

  • Dr. Gabriel Judkins, Assistant Professor-in-Residence, Department of Geoscience
    Dr. Judkins joined UNLV in 2009, first as a Visiting Assistant Professor and as an Assistant Faculty-in-Residence since 2013. He has made significant contributions to distance education (DE) teaching of Geoscience Department, leading to increased enrollment in DE courses at the 100-level by approximately 160% during the past five years. Dr. Judkins has taught a wide range of courses from the 100-level to the 700 graduate level with high course and instructor GPA’s in evaluations which are consistently at, or above, the department averages. He has also been a leader in the department’s engagement of new ideas and technology for teaching undergraduates at the 100-level.

2016–2017 Distinguished Service Award

  • Dr. Kaushik Ghosh, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences
    Dr. Ghosh joined the UNLV faculty in 2007 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2012. He has served as the Graduate Coordinator of the Department of Mathematical Sciences since 2015, and has made great contributions to improve the department’s graduate program. The job includes numerous duties such as chairing the Graduate Studies Committee, setting up qualifying exam subcommittees, maintaining student records, making decisions on GA appointments and admissions, helping organize departmental student orientation, chairing the Graduate College Program Review Committee, and attending Graduate Council and Graduate College Executive Committee meetings. His dedication and service is far beyond the normal expectation and will have long term and positive impact on the department’s graduate program.
  • Dr. MaryKay Orgill, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
    Dr. Orgill joined UNLV in 2004, was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2010, and was promoted to full professor in 2016. As a chemistry education researcher, she provides tremendous service to her professional and academic communities, as well as to the UNLV community. In her professional community, Dr. Orgill served as the Chair-Elect (2016) and Chair (2017) of the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Division of Chemical Education, the first professor from UNLV to serve as the chair of a Technical Division of the ACS. In this capacity, she organized meetings of the Division's Executive Committee, led efforts to modify Division bylaws, appointed members of Division Committees, and served on the Board of Trustees of the ACS's Examinations Institute. Academically, Dr. Orgill serves as a member of the editorial boards of three professional journals and was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2017 for the work she has done with the journal Chemistry Education Research and Practice. At UNLV, Dr. Orgill serves on a number of committees within the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the College of Sciences, and the College of Education.

2016–2017 Distinguished Classified Staff Award

  • Mrs. Casey Hall-Wheeler, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
    Mrs. Hall-Wheeler has been a UNLV employee since 2005, serving as Genomics Core Manager in the Science and Engineering Building since 2009 as a Staff Research Associate, III. The Genomics Core houses over a million dollars worth of equipment to support the research activities of the researchers from School of Life Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and other units. Mrs. Hall-Wheeler single handedly runs the day-to-day operations of Genomics Core, maintains the equipment, and ensures a safe and productive environment in the Core at all times. She works collaboratively with students and faculty members, and makes everyone around her a better and more productive scientist.

2016–2017 Distinguished Professional Staff Award

  • Mr. William O’Donnell, Department of Physics and Astronomy
    Mr. O’Donnell has been a UNLV employee since 1996, serving as a Research Associate/Design Engineer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. His duties include designing computer hardware and software, designing analog and digital instruments for researchers, maintaining electronics shops, repairing equipments, teaching electronics classes, and training students. He has tirelessly contributed to the department in many ways, and has maintained the productive research activities in the department.