2017-2018 College Faculty Excellence Award Winners

2017-2018 Faculty Excellence Awards: Excellence in Research Activities:Dr. Darin Jones; Excellence in Teaching: Dr. Rolf Groesbeck; Excellence in Public Service: Rosalie Cheatham
We are pleased to announce the selection of the Faculty Excellence Awards Winners for the College of Arts Letters and Sciences. It gives us great pleasure to honor our colleagues from the Departments of Chemistry, Music, and World Languages:

Dr. Darin Jones
For Excellence in Research Activities

Dr. Darin Jones is currently the graduate coordinator in the Department of Chemistry and is an excellent teacher. In addition, Jones is a gifted scientist whose work in medicinal chemistry and chemical biology is praiseworthy and merits recognition. The general focus of Jones’ research is in stimulating biological processes against diseases using innovatively designed chemicals. His research has resulted in over 40 publications, consisting of 23 peer reviewed articles, three book chapters and 18 patents or patent applications.

Jones has been successful in obtaining external funding, predominantly from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health, to support his research program. He has been PI or co-PI on grant awards totaling over $16,000,000 and is the first researcher at UA Little Rock to receive an R01 grant from the NCI-NIH.

This NCI-NIH R01 research grant supports his research into the DNA repair processes that he believes could create compounds less prone to cause toxic, off-target effects. Jones’ insights on other DNA-based research projects have helped to develop two unique chemotypes with high potencies at nano levels. His work in this area has also resulted in media attention, including a television interview and national media coverage.

One of his early projects at UA Little Rock focused on a chemical found in a common South American shrub. This chemical, sesquiterpene lactone dehydroleucodin (DHL), occurs naturally in the herb. He and collaborators discovered that DHL exhibited anti-leukemic activity. Jones was awarded a grant to design and synthesize analogues of the compound, that have appropriate drug-like properties needed to be viable therapies. This research received considerable attention and was reported across the nation by the Associated press. The work resulted in a series of compounds which exhibit cytotoxicity for various leukemia cells, without as much collateral damage to the stem cells that become red blood cells as other drugs on the market.

He has been praised by his collaborators for his chemical ingenuity and his ability to invent, design, and prepare invaluable chemical tools and inhibitors to advance research projects. As a collaborator, he is innovative, open, engaging, and fun to work with, as well as being technically outstanding. He has made key contributions in many different therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular, oncology, metabolic disorders, and inflammation, as evident from his publication record.

Dr. Rolf Groesbeck
For Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Groesbeck is unique: he has numerous articles published and is a multi-instrumental virtuoso who works in diverse cultural environments. There might not be such a phrase as “altruistic scholar” in academia, but that would describe Dr. Groesbeck: always willing to help upcoming scholars and share his knowledge and time with them.

In the course of developing his doctoral dissertation, Groesbeck embedded himself in the field in Kerala, India, and became an insider in every sense. He not only mastered the art of playing the tayampaka, but also diligently sought a deep understanding of the cultural setting of the music. Groesbeck developed a unique narrative style to describe the music he studied. In his research, Groesbeck respectfully challenged the long-held myth about Indian “classical” music as Hindustani and Karnatic, and proved that Kerala temple music is a third stream that has a separate identity. Dr. Joseph J. Palackal, a Kerala native, writing in support of Groesbeck’s Faculty Excellence application states that, “Ethnomusicologist and Indologists should be grateful to Rolf for removing the centuries-thick cataract in their eyes.”

He is a passionate ethnomusicologist par excellence. As a scholar, teacher, and performer, Groesbeck bridges classic and contemporary modes of musical inquiry better than most ethnomusicologists. His journal articles and contributions to edited volumes have consistently pushed the boundaries of the discipline without abandoning methodological approaches and theoretical issues that have nourished the field since the 1960s. He has published in diverse places like Ethnomusicology, Yearbook for Traditional Music, Asian Music, Kalasamskaram, Oxford University Press, and the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, and given lectures and performances globally as far afield as Harvard, India, and Estonia.

Dr. Groesbeck is a great collaborator at the piano and an absolute joy for other musicians to work with. Having his expertise of symphonic literature on a recent 8-hand 2-piano performance of symphonic works by well-known composers, helped the other artists bring out the various symphonic voices in the piano. His rhythmic and technical accuracy made it easy for his collaborators to focus on the artistic components of their contributions.

Prof. Rosalie Cheatham
For Excellence in Public Service

Prof. Cheatham annually receives the highest ratings for teaching and research within her department, and has taken the role of Professor of French well beyond the scope of most language teachers. Her work has impacted teaching communities at the the local, regional, and national levels consistently over her forty plus years at UA Little Rock.

Cheatham has been a trailblazer for research-based world language pedagogy of the highest caliber across the country. Always studying the most modern practices, demonstrating for teachers across the country what a standards and research-based world language curriculum looks like when put into practice. She applied the National Standards in World Languages from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages to the UA Little Rock French curriculum, and it now aligns all coursework under the rubrics of Communications, Cultures, Comparisons, Communities, and Connections.

She was a founding member of the Arkansas Foreign Language Teachers Association over 35 years ago, and has served the organization in some capacity throughout its life. For years she ran the state’s World Language contest for K-12 students, bringing over 1,000 students to campus. For over ten years, Cheatham and colleagues have offered professional development workshops to local and area teachers, bringing cadres of thirty or so world language teachers to the campus once a month during the nine-month school year. Cheatham served as the principal grant writer for the support of these grants from the ADHE with awards totalling more than $500,000 over the years.

Cheatham’s dedication to service at U Little Rock includes work on a variety of departmental, college, and university-wide committees. Reflecting her belief that faculty service is essential to the university’s continued success and that one’s service to the university should not be limited to one area. Serving on countless committees over the years, she has served her department as Faculty Senator since 2014. Her service to the university makes UA Little Rock a better place for students, faculty, and administrators.


Please join us in acknowledging the excellence of their contributions to develop the intellect of students; to discover and disseminate knowledge; to serve and strengthen society by enhancing awareness in scientific, technical, and cultural arenas; and to promote humane sensitivities and understanding of interdependence.

Posted in: Department of Chemistry, Department of Music, Department of World Languages, Faculty, News, Research

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