Faculty Earn Awards for Teaching, Research, Advising

Graduate with degree
Composite photos of faculty award winners

May 15, 2021

Susquehanna University announced faculty awards for teaching, research and advising at its 163rd commencement.

Faculty awards were given to Tammy Tobin, department chair and professor of biology, the John C. Horn Award for Distinguished Scholarship and Creative Activity, and Rolfe Peterson, associate professor of political science, the Donald D. Housley Teaching Award.

Each awardee receives an honorarium and will deliver an address to the Susquehanna community during the 2020-21 academic year.

Susquehanna’s final faculty award, the Lawrence A. Lemons Distinguished Advising Award, was given posthumously to Mark Fertig, department chair and professor of art and graphic design. Fertig died in April after an extended illness. Upon being named Susquehanna’s advising awardee, Fertig is the only faculty member to date to receive all three of Susquehanna’s faculty awards.

Tobin’s pioneering work is aimed at discovering new species of bacteria that have adapted and evolved to grow in the high-temperature and high-sulfur environments around the Centralia mine fire in central Pennsylvania. She has taken this research in a new direction, developing expertise in the rapidly evolving field of microbial genomics. Tobin has also been successful in securing grants to support research and student-faculty collaboration, having brought hundreds of thousands of dollars to support her research and teaching over the past years. Tobin is a prolific presenter at conferences, often with her undergraduate collaborators. Additionally, Tobin has been a leader in establishing collaborations with Penn State and Duquesne universities, and Juniata and Lycoming colleges to increase undergraduate access to next-generation sequencing technology.

Tobin earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science from Cornell University and her doctorate in genetics from Texas A&M University. She joined the faculty at Susquehanna in 1993.

Peterson’s nominators described him as “a skilled teacher, who is constantly seeking to improve his courses and his craft and who, above all else, offers the highest level of support for his students. He cares deeply about teaching and supporting each student.”

A student nominator described Peterson as “an outstanding educator, both inside and outside of the classroom. He is one of the most genuine individuals I have ever met; the world needs more educators like him.”

Peterson joined the faculty at Susquehanna in 2016. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Idaho and his master’s degree and doctorate in political science from the University of California, Davis.

Fertig joined the faculty of Susquehanna in 2002 and quickly built one of the most successful programs at the university.

Fertig strongly believed in the duty of faculty members to know the curriculum and to have the understanding and perspective necessary to guide students toward a degree. He was intimately familiar with degree requirements within his department, Susquehanna’s Central Curriculum, and the requirements for other majors that his students declared.

He was described by nominators as an excellent mentor to his students, one who spent long hours informally meeting with his students pushing them to excel. Alumni have shared glowing stories about him, expressing their deep appreciation for his truthfulness and the lengths he went to prepare them to persevere and succeed.

Fertig earned his bachelor’s degree in fine art from Shepherd University in 1994, and his master’s degree in fine art from East Tennessee State University in 1997.

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