By tackling issues that hit close to home, like water quality, to those that extend as far as Mars, four UNLV scholars are making a difference on and off our campus. They were recently selected for the Barrick Scholar Awards, which recognize UNLV faculty members who have produced a significant amount of high-quality, interdisciplinary research or creative output recognized by scholars and journals within and outside their primary disciplines.
Funded through an endowment from the late Marjorie Barrick since 1981 and conferred by the Executive Vice President and Provost’s Office, the Barrick Scholar Awards help support their important work.
This year, Seyhmus Baloglu (Hotel College) and Dennis Bazylinski (Sciences) received Barrick Distinguished Scholar Awards, which provides $5,000 apiece in recognition of their lengthy service in academia after receiving their terminal degrees. Julia Lee (English) and Daniel Gerrity (Engineering) won Barrick Scholar Awards, which acknowledge the achievements they’ve made in their briefer academic careers and carries a stipend of $2,500 apiece.
Here’s more about them and their research.
Seyhmus Baloglu, professor and Harrah Distinguished Chair in the William F. Harrah College Hotel Administration, holds an MBA from Hawaii Pacific University and a Ph.D. in hospitality marketing from Virginia Tech University. He has been with UNLV since 1996.
A John Wiley & Sons Lifetime Research Achievement Award winner for his outstanding leadership and significant contributions to his field through his research, Baloglu is also one of the college's most frequently cited authors, with more than 10,000 citations under his belt to date. Baloglu studies consumer behavior in hospitality and tourism as well as the role marketing plays with respect to the strategies hospitality and tourism companies employ, with more specific focuses on branding and image development in destination choice modeling, casino customer loyalty, technology applications, and sustainable practices in the hospitality industry.
“I have known [Baloglu] personally for the past eight years,” said fellow Harrah Hotel College professor Tony Henthorne, who recommended Baloglu for the award. “I had known him by his research and reputation for years prior to that. Actually, one of the driving factors in my finally deciding to join UNLV was the opportunity to work with this scholar.” Henthorne added that little was known about consumers’ perceptions of hotel brands or customer loyalty prior to the late 1990s, but because of Baloglu’s research, the field has “new insight into consumer decision-making that can be extended to contexts well outside of travel and tourism.”
Dennis Bazylinski, professor of microbiology in the School of Life Sciences, holds a B.S. and M.S. in biology from Northeastern University and a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of New Hampshire. He joined UNLV in 2006.
An elected fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology, Bazylinski researches magnetotactic bacteria (MTB), a type of bacteria that orient themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field and have been tied to the debate regarding life on Mars. Only one lab was studying the organisms at the beginning of Bazylinski’s career—that of Richard P. Blakemore, who originally discovered MTB. Bazylinski joined Blakemore’s lab and has since expanded upon the work, which spans disciplines including microbiology, geology, geochemistry, chemistry, material science, and physics. His accomplishments include 181 publications, 143 published abstracts and proceedings articles, and 129 invited seminars.
“[Bazylinski’s] research topic is necessarily interdisciplinary, and Dennis was highly interdisciplinary and collaborative long before it was considered the norm in science,” said fellow School of Life Sciences professor Brian Hedlund, who recommended Bazylinski for the award. “I think it's one of the reasons [Bazylinski’s] science has been so influential. [His] contributions have been recognized internationally and have spanned several traditional research and educational boundaries. [Bazylinski] has greatly increased the visibility of the School of Life Sciences and UNLV as a whole.”
Julia Lee, professor of English in the UNLV College of Liberal Arts, holds a bachelor’s in English and a certificate in European Cultural Studies from Princeton as well as an M.A. in English and American Language and Literature and Ph.D. in English and American Language and Literature from Harvard. She joined UNLV in 2013.
A Diverse: Issues in Higher Education Magazine Emerging Scholar, Lee studies the intersection of African-American, Caribbean, and British literature and culture, which has extended into an exploration of film history, media and performance studies, African-American history, critical race theory and cultural studies, and childhood studies. She was a founding member of UNLV’s Mentoring Circle, which supports first-generation students and students of color in their educational journey, and has won several UNLV awards, including a Faculty Diversity Award and a Faculty Opportunity Award. In addition to her scholarly publications, Lee publishes commentary in popular venues such as The Atlantic and The Huffington Post, and she is currently collaborating with acclaimed novelist Jamaica Kincaid on two projects.
“[Lee’s] research agenda is robust and ongoing and includes an impressive mix of peer-reviewed books and articles, essays, and interviews in important public venues [as well as] presentations at national conferences,” said Department of English chair and fellow professor Gary Totten, who recommended Lee for the award. “She has received awards … and has been featured in the national and international media for her groundbreaking research in race and cultural studies. Her work is bringing much positive attention to UNLV.”
Daniel Gerrity, professor of engineering in the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, holds a B.S.E. in civil engineering, an M.S.E. in civil and environmental engineering, and a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Arizona State University. He joined UNLV in 2012.
A former postdoctoral researcher for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, Gerrity studies water reuse; the rise of antibiotics resistance; water quality; the social and environmental implications of homelessness; and innovations at the nexus of food, energy, and water systems. He’s produced 30 peer-reviewed journal articles with 858 citations and counting. His work has opened the door to numerous interdisciplinary collaborations with peers on campus, those at other institutions, as well as in the private sector in the areas of engineering, life sciences, nursing, film, education, and sociology.
“[Gerrity’s] multidisciplinary approach, his proven abilities as an experimental researcher, and [his] amazing publication record speak to his contributions to the environmental engineering field,” said fellow Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering professor Jacimaria Ramos Batista, who recommended Gerrity for the award. Batista also noted the impact of Gerrity’s research on the Southern Nevada community in particular. “[Gerrity’s] work on the presence of pharmaceutics in treated wastewater that is discharged to Lake Mead brought international attention to this issue and spurred several other research groups to look into this.”