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Profs Earn the First of New Research Awards

In a new University honor, three outstanding faculty have earned the Excellence in Research & Publication Award for their significant contributions advancing knowledge, technique or expression in their professional fields. The 2021 recipients are Dr. Elias Chahine, professor of pharmacy practice; Dr. David Smith, professor of management; and Dr. Chris Hickey, assistant professor of biology.

Professor Dr. David Compton, fellow for research in the sciences, organized the awards, and an ad hoc committee from the Office of Academic Research reviewed the nominees and selected recipients. Provost Dr. E. Randolph Richards and Associate Provost Dr. Nathan Lane presented the recipients with engraved glass crystal plaques. Future recipients will be recognized at Honors Day and the provost’s welcome speech for the fall semester.

Scholarly research is considered an integral part of the mission of the University, said Lane. The University’s commitment to exceptional teaching includes fostering an excitement for the process of discovery, he added.

“Regardless of their academic discipline and spheres of interests, these individuals have something essential in common — they love their jobs and do their best to serve the academic community,” Lane said. “Through the research process, each has sought to contribute to the advancement of society. Thus, these fine members of our academic community are truly the role models for those who follow.”

ChahineChahine, who also serves as a clinical pharmacy specialist at Wellington Regional Medical Center, has had more than 90 articles published on topics such as infectious diseases, antimicrobial stewardship, immunizations, geriatrics, pharmacy education, global pharmacy and medical missions. He has written seven book chapters on infectious diseases and immunizations.

Chahine received several teaching, practice and service awards including: ASCP Armon Neel Senior Care Pharmacist Award, ACCP Education Award, Parata Systems/Pharmacy Times Next-Generation Health-System Pharmacist of the Year Award and ACCP Infectious Diseases Practice and Research Network Clinical Practice Award.

Chahine’s current research from the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy involves the areas of infectious diseases, “cultural competency when dealing with patient care” and faculty self-advocacy. His work in infectious diseases includes HIV and also antimicrobial stewardship. This includes “taking care of antibiotics so we can preserve their efficacy,” he said.

Pharmacy students often turn to the literature in the field for help in providing patient care, but Chahine encourages them to become directly involved in research. “It adds another layer: a rewarding experience to create the evidence and contribute to the literature so others can read your articles and benefit from them,” he said. The most important skills needed, Chahine said, are critical thinking and a sense of curiosity.

SmithSmith’s specialty is international management and marketing, and his research portfolio is regularly used in undergraduate and graduate courses. Of the 18 published journal articles across the Rinker School of Business’ entire faculty, Smith authored or co-authored nearly a third, said Dr. G. Lane Cohee, associate dean of the Rinker School. Smith’s publications reflect clarity, managerial relevance and precision, Cohee wrote in his nomination.

The “hot topic” in business is computer modeling using algorithms, Smith said. He researches this process in the area of marketing contributions across multiple countries.

While some people have the misconception that students go into business fields “because they can’t do math,” in reality business is very quantitative and very analytical, Smith said. And in the current environment, mature organizations are aggressively “mining” the robust data available and predicting consumer buying behaviors. “It’s very exciting, and incredibly accurate with its predictive capabilities,” he said.  

In 2020 PBA was recognized by Microsoft as an Academic Success Story for the strength and innovation of the Rinker School’s Enterprise Systems & Data Analytics Certificate program. Now Smith is eagerly anticipating a roll-out this fall of a new major in business analytics.

HickeyHickey is a cancer molecular biologist specializing in leukemia experimental therapeutics with a sub-specialty in breast cancer experimental therapeutics. He has an active cancer research laboratory and teaches PBA undergraduate students during his investigations into anti-cancer properties associated with bioactive molecules in oregano. 

Three of those undergrad students will present at a national conference in April, after working with Hickey and Dr. Cidya Grant, associate professor of chemistry. That collaboration across disciplines, Hickey said, is key to a good team. The two professors and three students “all have our cognitive and talent strengths,” he said, “and when they all coalesce into one project here at PBA, it’s amazing what can happen.”

Hickey also is involved in clinical cancer research with Dr. Dipnarine Maharaj at the Maharaj Institute of Immune Regenerative Medicine. He established a PBA student internship program with the Maharaj Institute, allowing PBA students the opportunity to gain experience while working in a clinical setting. He and a PBA undergraduate student who served as an intern at the Maharaj Institute co-authored a scientific publication that appeared in the peer-reviewed Journal of Personalized Medicine.

Hickey loves to watch his students “shine” in conferences and scientific publications – experiences “they’re never going to forget,” he said.