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Eastern Professor Wins Top Research Award

Published on April 23, 2015

Eastern Professor Wins Top Research Award

Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, associate professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University, was honored with the Connecticut State University System Board of Regents’ (BOR) statewide Faculty Research Award for 2015. Two other Eastern faculty members were named recipients of campus-level awards: Daniel Donaghy, assistant professor of English, won the Eastern campus Teaching Award, and Kevin Donohue, adjunct assistant professor in business information systems, won the Excellence Award for adjunct faculty at Eastern.

Salters-Pedneault was honored for her work in the area of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She is currently involved in a project funded by the Departments of Defense and Veteran Affairs totaling more than $1.5 million that is designed to evaluate treatment techniques for PTSD among returning veterans.

Salters-Pedneault also has an interest in experimental psychopathology, which takes questions of clinical interest and brings them into laboratory settings. “Together, these streams of research further the understanding of human suffering and work to alleviate it by informing effective clinical practice,” wrote James Diller, associate professor of psychology, in his letter nominating Salters-Pedneault for the award.

Widely respected for the impact she has on her students and the 11 research assistants she supervises and mentors, Salters-Pedneault’s research and mentoring have achieved high levels of national visibility. “Her full body of publications has been cited in 397 published works,” said Psychology Professor Wendi Everton. “This is amazing, given the fact that research published recently must usually rest for a few years before it begins to be cited in other published works. This indicates that her work is held in very high regard by her peers in the clinical psychology community.”

Brett Litz, director of the Mental Health Core at the Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiological Research and Information Center, agrees. “Kristi is committed to mentoring the next generation of clinical researchers, and she is exposing her undergraduate students to the rigorous, large-scale studies that are usually found only in Research One universities or academic medical centers. She has worked hard to build strong collaborations that allow this work to happen. This is extremely rare, and is an asset to psychology students at Eastern.”

Donaghy is a practicing poet and scholar in British and American poetry. English professor Christopher Torockio say Donaghy’s work is top tier. “His record of teaching excellence and commitment to Eastern students has been incalculable. He has established himself as one of the top poets in America today.”

Award-winning poet Jim Daniels said Donaghy’s latest book, “Start with the Trouble,” which won the University of Arkansas Press Poetry Series Prize, illustrates that Donaghy “is the real deal.”

Donaghy also was instrumental in creating, developing and implementing the English Department’s first study abroad experience, which totally immersed students in Italian culture as a backdrop to the creative writing process. Students described the experience as “life changing” and “the most amazing and worthwhile experience of their educational life.”

Torockio said Donaghy’s standing “as one of the most acclaimed poets in the country serves as a terrific inspiration to students. He stands as a model of excellence, living proof of what can be accomplished with hard work and dedication. He guides students with a steady hand, and his comments on their work is always honest, kind, thorough and specific.”

“I am very proud of Professors Salters-Pedenault and Donaghy,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “The scholarly work and impassioned teaching they perform each day make them very worthy of these awards. To win the statewide award in research attests to Dr. Salters-Pedenault’s fine work. Both these professor empower their students to think critically and engage in the spirited discourse needed to maintain our democracy, which is the foundation of a liberal arts education.”

Donahue, who teaches part time, is highly regarded for using his deep knowledge and information technology experience to creatively engage students in learning information technology, digital collaboration, business to consumer electronic commerce and business telecommunications.

“Students always rate his teaching and knowledge of the subject matter very highly,” wrote Don Petkov. professor of business information systems. “His teaching is always well structured, understandable and at the same time, mixed with a fresh sense of humor that keeps his evening classes interesting and contributing to the intellectual growth of our students.”

“Kevin shows such enthusiasm and dedication for student learning at Eastern,” said Sukeshini Grandhi, who teaches part time in Business Information Systems. “He makes courses relevant for students in the real world. His passion is transmitted to the classroom, and his interactions with his students are gentle, creative, positive and yet continually viewed with critical reflection.”

Written by Dwight Bachman