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College of Arts and Sciences


The USM College of Arts and Sciences is proud to announce the recipients of its annual awards commemorating alumni, faculty and staff for their recent accomplishments in creative and scholarly research, teaching, advising and mentoring, and service. Please join us in congratulating our 2020 Award recipients.

Dr. Kent Newman

2020 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

Senior Research Physical Scientist at Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory
US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC)
School of Polymer Science and Engineering

Kent Newman

Dr. Kent Newman is an internationally recognized scientist, a senior scientific leader at ERDC, and a strong supporter of Southern Miss. 

Dr. Newman helped to spearhead the ERDC-USM Education Partnership Agreement, which has resulted in a distance M.S. in Polymer Science and Engineering for ERDC scientists. He currently is the ERDC Scientific Lead for collaborative research contracts supporting USM polymer science and engineering and ocean engineering research. Dr. Newman also serves as adjunct graduate faculty for participation on USM polymer science and engineering graduate committees, and regularly participates in alumni events.

Dr. Derek Patton, interim director of the School of Polymer Science and Engineering, commends Dr. Newman's successful career trajectory and his impact in student success through his continuing engagement with Southern Miss.
“Dr. Newman is an internationally recognized scientist, a senior scientific leader at ERDC, and a strong supporter of Southern Miss. He has made an impact in student success, as he has been instrumental in supporting our students for internships, hiring graduates of our chemistry and polymer science and engineering programs at ERDC, and developing collaborative research opportunities with the University,” he said. “He epitomizes the career success and high level of commitment to his alma matter that we would like our students to aspire to.”

Dr. Newman holds two degrees from Southern Miss, the B.S. in Chemistry’81, and the Ph.D. in Polymer Science’93.  He also holds an M.S. in Chemistry’85 from the University of New Mexico. Dr. Newman joined the US Army ERDC in 1993 as a civilian research physical scientist.  He has received over 28 research achievement and recognition awards, the initial award in the first year of employment, and recent awards including the Achievement Medal for Civilian Service for Support of the UROC Reachback Center (2011), USACE Sustainability Award (2011), Department of the Army ERDC Award for Research and Development Achievement Award for Biostabilization of Soils (2009), and the Department of the Army, ERDC Superior Civilian Service Award (2007).  Dr. Newman holds two patents, over 20 refereed journal publications, and over 30 refereed conference proceedings.

Jennifer Torres 

Creative Research Scholar of the Year

School of Performing and Visual Arts

Jennifer TorresJennifer Torres, professor of sculpture and ceramics at Southern Miss, showcased her most recent creative endeavor titled, “Misfit Children: Landscapes and Creatures from the Mind of Jennifer Torres,” at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art. The exhibition intrigued visitors with the stories each piece had to tell using texture, color, and intentional detail. As a central theme her body of work focused on duality—our relationships to each other and around us. It was also inspired as a response from the marginalization of certain populations and landscapes within our community.

“My work aims to discover the place of the “weirdo” in all of this and how the idea of contrast is actually a unifying paradigm in life as well as art,” Torres said. “There is no end, each body of work is just another stop on the pathway to fulfilling my creative voice. Each new piece informs the next, opening doorways and questions to be answered. Never done, always working,” she added.

Jonathan D. Cain, curator of exhibitions and visual arts education at Tennessee Valley Museum of Art commends her artistic abilities: “Torres’ ability to so easily transition from one media to another demonstrates her high level of artistic skill. The techniques required for working in highly finished woodwork, casting bronze or cast iron, and working with foam and fiberglass all demonstrate a wide knowledge and adept handling of the materials,” Cain said.

Dr. Craig Carey

Faculty Advisor and Mentor of the Year

School of Humanities

Craig CareyDr. Craig Carey, associate professor of English, has been the undergraduate studies coordinator in English since 2016. Dr. Carey not only has an impressive scholarly and innovative track record in the classroom and as a researcher, but he has also assumed a leadership role in many different areas—specifically advising and mentoring students at every stage of their path to graduation. In addition to chairing multiple different committees as English coordinator, Dr. Craig has consistently attended students through advisement, mentorship, and supportive paperwork.

The student organization that he oversees as an advisor, Game Studies group, promotes interdisciplinary analysis of the narratives embedded in video games. The group began as an offshoot of his spring 2019 course titled,“Introduction to Video Game Criticism,”and it grew into an exciting and thriving community of students interested in the critical discussion of games. The group has recently founded an online journal called Quest Log, that will feature fiction and non-fiction writings about video games by students and scholars at all levels.

“Dr. Carey sets the bar high for university service, effective teaching, innovative curricular redesign, and use of multidisciplinary methods to reinvigorate the English major,” said Dr. Matthew Casey, interim director, School of Humanities. 

Dr. Jeff Wiggins

Faculty Service Award

School of Polymer Science and Engineering

Jeff WigginsDr. Jeff Wiggins served for 6 years as director of the School of Polymer Science and Engineering—a time during which the School prospered through successful faculty hires, growth in research funding and expenditures, and establishment of an ABET accredited degree in Polymer Science and Engineering. 

Dr. Wiggins has been commended for his willingness to lean into key service roles within the School, College, and University. During the Academic Reorganization starting in the Fall of 2017, Dr. Wiggins served as chair of the Academic Reorganization Steering Committee (ARSC), which eventually transitioned in the Academic Reorganization Implementation Committee (ARIC). Under his guidance and leadership, three committees executed proposal submissions addressing specific charges. Dr. Wiggins guided these efforts with servant leadership qualities that created a culture of trust, valued diverse opinions, and developed and empowered other committee chairs.

“I am proud to have served the University community in the role I was provided, and feel my contributions were primarily focused on the development of faculty and staff inclusive processes designed to enhance communication, awareness, feedback and engagement while minimizing uncertainty,” said Dr. Wiggins. 

As a member of the Committee, Dr. Derek Patton, interim director of the School of Polymer Science and Engineering, experienced first-hand Dr. Wiggins’ leadership: “Dr. Wiggins guided these efforts with servant leadership qualities that created a culture of trust, valued diverse opinions, and developed and empowered other committee chairs,” he said.

Dr. Iliyan Iliev

Junior Faculty Award

School of Social Sciences and Global Studies

Ilian IlievDr. Iliyan Iliev, assistant professor of political science, is recognized for his exemplary achievements and for diligently surpassing expectations in research, teaching, and service. Already in his short career at USM, Dr. Iliev has published 6 peer-reviewed articles; 2 book chapters; has achieved publications in top journals, such as the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Political Science Quarterly, The Social Science Journal, IEEE Access, and Environmetrics; has a host of new research in the works; and has signed a book contract with Taylor & Francis/Chapman & Hall for a book that is due in 2020.

His research focuses on the various expressions of political behavior and the development of novel research methods to study such behavior. Dr. Iliev has conducted research both as a sole-author and in various collaborative teams.

Dr. Iliev’s colleague and a co-author on a piece on terror events in Sudan and South Sudan, Laura N. Bell, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science and assistant dean of undergraduate programs at West Texas A&M University, recognizes his groundbreaking research. 

“In my experience, few junior scholars are able to produce a body of high-quality research similar to Iliev’s work in only three years as an assistant professor. This is evident in the record of conference presentations and invitations to present research that Iliev has received, such as his keynote address to the American Statistical Association Symposium on Risk Analysis,” she said. “Iliev’s ability to transverse the statistics field and engage in advanced analyses, such as Bayesian times series and natural language processing, of a variety of research topics ensures that his research achievements will only grow over time, and I suspect researchers will seek his consultation and collaboration for years to come.”

Dr. Jason Azoulay

Scholarly Researcher of the Year

School of Polymer Science and Engineering

Jason AzoulayDr. Jason Azoulay has an impressive and rapidly growing record of scientific achievements stemming from his pioneering work on infrared optoelectronics using organic material.

During his time at USM, Dr. Azoulay has been enormously successful in implementing a world-class electronic materials research program and building an independent research platform in contemporary areas of polymer science and engineering around his core research interests. His work has led to fundamentally new technologies, overcoming synthetic, electronic, and engineering related issues, and facilitating the implementation into practical applications, while raising substantial funding. In addition, he has initiated collaborative efforts with various world-leading academic and industrial institutions.

Dr. Azoulay also manages complex grants, was instrumental in creating the Center for Optoelectronic Materials and Devices at USM, a state-wide center, and founded a startup company.

Dr. Matthew Y. Sfeir, associate professor in the Photonics Initiative and Department of Physics at the City University of New York, who has collaborated with Dr. Azoulay on various joint projects, praises Dr. Azoulay for his career trajectory.

Dr. Sfeir is sure it will earn him international recognition as a pioneer of the development of magnetic (open-shell) macromolecular materials: “Dr. Azoulay has uniquely demonstrated an outstanding ability to predict and synthesize new materials that allow him to tune the emergence of novel electron spin phenomena and magnetism in organic systems. He is well-positioned to play a pioneering role in answering fundamental questions that directly address scientific grand challenges related to quantum materials and quantum phenomena that have been articulated by both the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.”

Emileigh Sones McCardle

Teacher of the Year- Teaching Track

School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Emileigh McCardleEmileigh Sones McCardle, Math Zone Director and instructor, has transformed the courses offered in her short time at USM, including MAT 101 College Algebra face-to-face, MAT 101 L/S College Algebra Support Course face-to-face, and MAT 101L/S College Algebra Support Course online. She has made a direct impact in student success, as the program has seen a decrease in the DFWI rates in College Algebra, even with their fairly new co-requisite mathematics remediation model. McCardle was also one of the first faculty to go through the ACUE Credentialed Educator certification process for active learning, and she has transformed her own teaching style to implement its high-impact practices.

Kalyn R. Lamey, instructor of mathematics, commended McCardle for her care for students and passion for teaching math in her recommendation letter. “Her love of teaching, her passion for her students, and her desire for continual improvement are evident to anyone who interacts with McCardle. Whatever she sets her mind to, she accomplishes. No change is too big. No task is too ambitious if it will benefit our University community,” she said.  

Dr. Kari Kozlowski

Teacher of the Year- Tenure Track

School of Social Science and Global Studies

Karen KozlowskiDr. Kari Kozlowski, assistant professor of sociology, is an ideal teacher-scholar who demonstrates her excellence through her teaching philosophy, this is her research-driven foundation to get students of all socio-economic levels to get the most out of their college education. Dr. Kozlowski’s strong work ethic is reflected through her consistent exemplary student teaching evaluations, her keen drive to hone and perfect her pedagogy through additional training as a teacher, and through the variety of challenging courses she teaches. 

Dr. Kozlowski has been an advisor to McNair scholars, teaches the Luckday introductory course, serves on a doctoral committee, and is mentor for a student completing undergraduate research.  

Dr. Edward Sayre, director and professor of economics praises her teaching philosophy and commitment: “Her commitment to service learning is shown through her connection with this program, and she is keen to make service learning a critical part of her sociology teaching, too. Additionally, two years ago, she was a principal faculty member who proposed, developed, and organized an Interdisciplinary Investigation series entitled Degrees of Inequality,” he said. She is, as one of her student’s comments says, “one of Southern’s gems.”

Jaide Hollingsworth

Staff Service Award

School of Humanities

Jaide HollingsworthJaide Hollingsworth, an asset to the School of Humanities and to the Southern Miss community, is recognized for her unwavering drive to go above and beyond her official job responsibilities, in order to meet the needs of programs and students.

Her nominator wrote that there are many ways in which her service exceeds the usual duties of her job and emphasized that one of her most valuable assets is her keen ability to learn and adapt to new situations, while consistently finding ways to enhance the School’s interactions with all stakeholders throughout the University. 

Hollingsworth is committed to the first-year composition programs, which serves over 1,500 first-year students, and is dedicated to celebrating student success through her promotional efforts in the numerous events meant to celebrate student writers, including book clubs, tutoring sessions, and the Eagles Write! Celebration. In addition, Hollingsworth is currently working diligently to assist with the remodeling of the website, and maintains social media sites, advertising, and external communication.

“Hollingsworth is exceptional and exemplary in her job performance and how she handles one of the busiest and most complex Schools in the College,” said Dr. Luis A. Iglesias, associate professor of English. “She brings a high level of professionalism to her role and is a major contributor to the success of the School of Humanities and all those who work within the School, including the students who take classes,” he added.


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