March 1, 2022

Business, Ministry and Pharmacy Profs Earn Annual Research Award

Enlightening Minds Research Review 2022

The Excellence in Research & Publication Award for 2022 went to Dr. Mary Kay Copeland, professor of accounting; Dr. Brittany Melton, associate professor of biblical and theological studies; and Dr. Laura Rhodes, assistant professor of pharmacy practice. The annual award honors faculty “who have made significant contributions that advance knowledge, technique, or expression in their professional fields.”

“The research process is the foundation for many outstanding learning opportunities available to our students,” said Associate Provost Dr. Nathan Lane, who presented the recipients with engraved glass crystal plaques. He described Copeland, Melton and Rhodes as role models for new Palm Beach Atlantic faculty to follow.

In the area of ethics and values-based leadership within the accounting field, Copeland likely is the most widely-read researcher in the world. An article of hers in the journal Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting has had some 50,000 readers across 186 countries.

“It’s an area that I just am so passionate about,” Copeland said. In her many years working in accounting, she observed “absolute unethical conduct,” so she takes great satisfaction researching and writing about “something that really does need to change.”

In the Marshall E. Rinker Sr. School of Business, Copeland leads MBA and accounting students through discussion of ethical responsibilities. In addition to her degrees in accounting and finance, she has a Ph.D. in leadership and a seminary degree. She sees ethics as having a justice component and an empathy component. “God’s Word does not condemn wealth,” she said, “but it does condemn injustice, theft, fraud or gaining an unfair advantage through deception.”

Copeland hears from employers who say, “We love PBA students; send me every PBA student you can.” Part of that attractiveness, she said, “is because at Palm Beach Atlantic we place such a high value on ethics and morality.”

Old Testament scholar Melton earned her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. In her latest research, she has the honor of being one of four scholars chosen for the major project updating Old Testament handbooks published by Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The handbooks are considered by many to be the number-one Old Testament resource, used throughout the world. Melton will update the volume “Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms.”

She is to submit her work to the publisher in December 2024. It will cover Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. That’s a daunting task, but Melton has long loved the Old Testament.

“I used to think that research was just going to be a means to an end,” she said, “like maybe I’ll get this article published and that gives me this ‘license’ to teach.” Instead, she found research to be “kind of my lifeblood, of processing my life, with God and with the text.”

And in the classroom, she said, “when you’re actually doing research about what you’re teaching, your students are more excited about the material.” She encourages students in the School of Ministry to view research “as like a generosity of listening, which opens us up to correction, helping us to see outside our own perspective.”

Rhodes, a 2015 graduate of PBA’s Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy, won the Pharmacists Mutual Companies Distinguished Young Pharmacist Award for her efforts with Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Networks (CPESN) and Flip the Pharmacy, two national initiatives that promote innovation for pharmacy services.

Flip the Pharmacy seeks to change the role and image of community-based pharmacies. The traditional pharmacy, often viewed mainly as a place for filling prescriptions, would grow toward providing long-term patient care through hands-on coaching. “A great example of this,” Rhodes said, “is starting a program for patients at risk for diabetes. The patients receive lifestyle coaching as a way to help prevent them from progressing to diabetes.”

Rhodes served as managing network facilitator for CPESN Florida, a network of community pharmacy practices “dedicated to serving our patients with enhanced services and working collaboratively with other members of the healthcare team to improve patient health outcomes.” In addition to screening for diabetes and high blood pressure, the envisioned enhanced services include medication counseling, immunizations and other preventative healthcare.

Professor of Psychology Dr. David Compton, fellow for research in the sciences, organized the Excellence in Research & Publication Award program, now in its second year. An ad hoc committee from the Office of Academic Research reviewed the nominees and selected recipients. (In the photo at the bottom of the home page, Compton is shown with Copeland and Melton after presenting their engraved plaques. Rhodes received her plaque later.)  

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