Tuesday, January 29, 2019 • 5:30 P.M.

Museum of the Rockies Hager Auditorium

Join us to celebrate outstanding teaching, research, and engagement in the College of Education, Health and Human Development.

Presenting six 10 minute presentations by the 2018 award-winning faculty. 


 Mark Nelson Mark Nelson
Professor, Department of Health & Human Development
Outstanding Teaching & Learning
Teaching and Learning

Dr. Mark Nelson is a professor in the school counseling graduate program in the Department of Health and Human Development. He has been at MSU since 1995 and has been a professor, program leader, graduate coordinator, and department head. His interests are concentrated on enriching the well-being of children and adolescents. His teaching and research activities have focused on promoting the academic, career, and personal/social development of school-aged students. Dr. Nelson believes that school counseling is a “craft” that combines both science and art into a profession that is committed to improving the lives and successes of young people.


Sarah Schmitt-Wilson  Sarah Schmitt-Wilson
Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Education
Outstanding Outreach & Engagement
Blue and Gold: A Story of Everyday Service

Dr. Sarah Schmitt-Wilson is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Education where she serves as the program leader for the teacher education program. Her research focuses on the educational and career decision making of adolescents and young adults from rural communities.


Vanessa Simonds  Vanessa Simonds
Assistant Professor, Department of Health & Human Development
Outstanding Scholarship & Discovery
Water protectors: Children Inspiring Change in Their Communities

Vanessa Simonds, ScD, enrolled member of the Crow Tribe and descendant of the Blackfeet Nation, is an assistant professor in Community Health at Montana State University. She earned her graduate degrees from the Harvard School of Public Health with a Master of Science from the Department of Epidemiology, and a Doctor of Science from the Department of Society, Human Development & Health. In 2011, Dr. Simonds finished a postdoctoral fellowship with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at The University of New Mexico. After her postdoctoral training, she joined the faculty at The University of Iowa as an assistant professor. In 2014, she was excited to move back to her home state, Montana, so that she could be closer to family. Dr. Simonds uses community-based participatory research approaches to address health and health literacy issues ranging from chronic disease to environmental health among Native Americans. She is especially committed to designing and evaluating strength-based, community-centered outreach strategies designed in partnership with Native American communities. She is currently funded through MSU’s Center for American Indian and Rural Health Equity to work in partnership with Crow community members implementing an environmental health literacy program for Crow youth and their families.


 Bryce Hughes Bryce Hughes
Assistant Professor, Department of Education
Outstanding Scholarship & Discovery
Search: Turning the Research Lens Back on Higher Education

Bryce Hughes is an assistant professor in Adult and Higher Education at Montana State, and has been at MSU since 2015. He earned his PhD in Higher Education and Organizational Change from UCLA, his master’s in Student Development Administration from Seattle University, and his bachelor’s in General Engineering from Gonzaga University. Dr. Hughes’s research agenda focuses on efforts to improve the campus climate for diversity and equity in higher education. He examines student academic outcomes to identify patterns of inequity, curricular and co-curricular practices that mitigate the effects of campus climate, and the work of campus activists and grassroots leaders to transform campus climate. His work focuses on three specific contexts: the experiences of LGBTQ+ students, STEM education (especially in engineering), and religiously-affiliated colleges and universities. He is co-PI on over $1 million in grant funding from the National Science Foundation, and co-authored a paper that earned the Merritt Williamson Best International Conference Paper from the American Society for Engineering Management. Dr. Hughes has also worked as a student affairs practitioner at two community colleges in Washington state, and founded the LGBT Resource Center at Gonzaga University, one of the first in the nation at a Catholic-affiliated university.


 Dawn Tarabochia Dawn Tarabochia
Associate Professor, Department of Health & Human Development
Outstanding Outreach & Service
Volunteerism - The Places You’ll Go

Dawn S. Tarabochia, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Community Health and Gerontology at Montana State University in the Department of Health & Human Development. She enjoys spending time with family, reading, watching sports, and is a baseball enthusiast. Dr. Tarabochia’s research focuses on the impact of technology on health, the health and well being of older adults and family caregivers, and healthy aging.


Sarah Pennington Sarah Pennington
Assistant Professor, Department of Education
Outstanding Teaching & Learning
Looking at Reading Through Fresh Eyes: Deconstructing What Counts as “Real” Reading

Sarah Pennington is an assistant professor of K8 Language Arts whose passion is supporting people of all ages in becoming engaged literate citizens. Her research focuses on adolescents’ motivation to read and how this motivation is impacted by factors in the classroom and home environments. Her teaching style revolves around hands-on and brains-on activities that push pre-service teachers to apply new knowledge and become critical consumers of educational research and curriculum materials. She also strives to expand pre-service teachers’ definition of what counts as “real reading” in hopes of contributing to a cultural shift in what texts are valued by the adults who often serve as gatekeepers to texts and evaluators of children’s reading habits and skills.