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Each year, Auburn University recognizes its faculty members’ achievements in teaching, research, creative scholarship and outreach by awarding its prestigious faculty awards. Given to exceptional teachers and scholars, this year’s recipients represent nine of the university’s academic colleges across various disciplines nominated by Auburn faculty, staff, students and alumni.

“The faculty recognized this year represent the level of commitment and service to our institution and dedication to teaching, research, scholarship and outreach that Auburn continually strives to foster,” said Provost Vini Nathan. “Their contributions symbolize what a land-grant institution like ours should be known for – pioneering research and scholarship, innovative pedagogy and impactful engagement with our communities.”

Faculty recipients will be formally honored at the 17th annual Faculty Awards ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 9. A full list of award winners is below.


Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Awards

Damion McIntosh, Professor of Practice, Department of Finance, Harbert College of Business  

A faculty member in the Harbert College of Business since 2012, McIntosh brings more than two decades of experience in the field of finance to his teaching. In addition to teaching various graduate and undergraduate courses, McIntosh develops elective courses that align with the university and college’s student learning outcomes. By offering his students remarkable subject matter expertise and a profound understanding of the field, McIntosh enriches their academic experience and cultivates a spirit of intellectual curiosity that extends beyond the classroom.  


Erin Garcia, Lecturer, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering  

As a lecturer, Garcia consistently exceeds expectations by teaching and supporting students in her undergraduate classes. While her impact in the classroom is resounding, she remains active in service by contributing to several university committees and leading faculty development workshops as a Biggio Center Fellow. As a lecturer, Garcia stands out as an approachable faculty member with a strong commitment to student support. 


Mark Traynor, Associate Professor and Director of Culinary Science, Horst Schulze School of Hospitality Management, College of Human Sciences 

As director of the Culinary Science Program in the Horst Schulze School of Hospitality Management, Traynor creates innovative programs designed to enhance the educational experience for students pursuing hospitality management degrees. With a commitment to fostering self-directed learning, Traynor cultivates interactive, collaborative and inclusive classroom environments. A celebrated teacher, Traynor has received the Innovating High-Impact Course Experiences Initiative grant from the University Senate Teaching Effectiveness Committee and the AUX: Immersive Learning Experiences grant from the Office of Information Technology and the Biggio Center. With a holistic approach, Traynor provides exceptional dedication, innovation and effectiveness in his role, profoundly impacting the education and growth of students. 


Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lectureship

Frank “Skip” Bartol, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and Professor, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine 

A member of Auburn’s faculty for more than 40 years, Bartol’s research focuses on identifying factors affecting and mechanisms regulating the development and function of the female reproductive tract in domestic ungulate species. His research in reproductive and developmental biology, which has implications for both animal and human health, led to proposal of the ‘lactocrine hypothesis’ for maternal programming of postnatal development. The term ‘lactocrine programming’ is now widely accepted by scientists working in developmental and perinatal biology and medicine.


President’s Outstanding Collaborative Units Award

Rural Health Initiative: University Outreach, Harrison College of Pharmacy, College of Nursing, College of Human Sciences and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System 

Jointly led by University Outreach and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System with partnering academic units, including the College of Human Sciences, College of Nursing and Harrison College of Pharmacy, the Rural Health Initiative, or RHI, strengthens Auburn’s capacity to address health care access and improve health outcomes among Alabama’s rural and underserved populations. The collaboration aims to remap the health and wellness landscape to generationally impact the health of rural Alabamians, positioning Auburn as the state leader in rural health care. This unique collaboration provides authentic clinical experiences for Auburn students, preparing them for future careers in health care. 


Provost Award for Faculty Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring

Satyanarayana R. Pondugula, Professor, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine 

With an emphasis on helping undergraduate students with their research and significant creativity in the unique interactions with the students, Pondugula has developed a well-balanced undergraduate research program with more than 34 students that has investigated drug discovery, metabolism and safety. Pondugula’s undergraduate students have published over 19 journal articles and 6 book chapters, reflecting his distinctive mentoring philosophy. 


Creative Research and Scholarship Awards

Eric Marcus, Professor, Department of Philosophy, College of Liberal Arts 

Category: fine arts, liberal arts, architecture & design, business, social and human sciences 

A member of Auburn’s faculty for 23 years, Marcus has received widespread acclaim for two groundbreaking books in the philosophical fields of human rationality, self-consciousness and inference. His most recent book, "Belief, Inference, and the Self-Conscious Mind," published in 2021, has been described as “transformative” and “the new gold standard” in its field. His previous book, "Rational Causation," was published by Harvard University Press and is likewise considered highly influential. The American Society of Aesthetics awarded Marcus its Arthur Danto Prize for the Best Paper in Aesthetics in 2020. 


Daowei Zhang, Associate Dean of Research, Alumni and George W. Peake Professor, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment 

Category: sciences, biomedical sciences, engineering and agriculture 

Zhang is recognized for his 29 years of high-profile forest economics research at Auburn University. The author of more than 130 publications, including eight books, Zhang is internationally known for his innovative contributions to planted forest development at the global level. He has received more than $4.7 million in extramural research grants, and his 2021 book, "From Backwoods to Boardrooms: The Rise of Institutional Investment in Timberland," received the 2022 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation. A Society of American Foresters fellow, Zhang has lectured worldwide and mentored 24 forest economics and policy graduate students, including 16 doctoral students. 


Auburn University Award for Excellence in Faculty Outreach

Adrienne Duke-Marks, Associate Professor and Extension Faculty, Department of Human Development and Family Science, College of Human Sciences 

Duke-Marks’ record of distinguished outreach exemplifies the highest qualities and purposes of community engagement through her outreach to the youth and families in Alabama. Duke-Marks facilitates and trains agents, staff and school-based personnel to promote bullying education programs affecting more than 8,000 youth annually. With the support of regional extension agents, Duke-Marks’ work with the vaping prevention program Escape Vapes has affected more than 7,000 youth and adult participants. With a commitment to outreach that impacts, Duke-Marks has helped youth and their families address these critical issues through systematic outreach efforts that result in school and community programs, educational publications, blog posts, public forums and news. 


Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Awards for Excellence in Teaching

Sheri Thornburg-Brock, Associate Professor, School of Kinesiology, College of Education 

Thornburg-Brock’s scholarship explores school-age students’ social interactions during physical education group work and promotes participation, positive experiences, and equitable practices through effective instruction. A recipient of the College of Education Leischuck Outstanding Undergraduate Faculty Teaching Award and the Auburn Alumni Association Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award, Thornburg-Brock’s student evaluations consistently rank amongst the highest in the School of Kinesiology. Her outreach efforts include providing physical education programming to school-age students, collaboration with the EAGLES program and professional development workshops and instructional units to local teachers while liaising with professional organizations to supply physical education equipment to local teachers. 


Steven P. Brown, Morris Savage Endowed Chair and director of the Law and Justice Program, Department of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts 

As the director of the Law and Justice major, Brown is a foremost authority on the U.S. Supreme Court, emphasizing constitutional law. With a teaching philosophy focused on preparing students for careers in law and politics, Brown’s students have received several notable accolades, including the prestigious Rhodes, Gates-Cambridge, Fulbright and Truman Scholarships. Preparing his students for admission into the nation’s top law programs, Brown’s commitment to student learning is evidenced through his many accolades, including the recipient of the prestigious Sydney Sullivan Award, the Daniel J. Nelson Most Outstanding Political Science Professor (seven times), an Outstanding Teaching in Political Science Certificate (four times) and a National Society of Collegiate Scholars Faculty of the Year Award winner, among others. 


More information about the awards, including a list of prior winners, is available on the Faculty Awards website.

Faculty Awards Website