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Three UALR faculty win awards for excellence

by The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | April 3, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK -- Three University of Arkansas at Little Rock faculty members have been named Faculty Excellence Award winners from the Donaghey College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

They are:

• Ronia Kattoum, chemistry instructor, Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching.

• Laura Ruhl-Whittle, associate professor in the earth science department, Faculty Excellence Award in Public Service.

• Nitin Agarwal, Maulden-Entergy professor of information science, Faculty Excellence Award in Research

Kattoum, Ruhl-Whittle and Agarwal will compete for the university-wide Faculty Excellence Awards, which will be announced April 15.

Kattoum teaches in the chemistry department. She also trains graduate teaching assistants and works with chemistry majors who are education minors who are preparing to teach grades seven-12.

Her use of teaching tools in her classes include clicker technology to promote active learning, an online homework platform to enhance learning outside the classroom and tutoring videos to help nontraditional students.

Ruhl-Whittle's public service includes protecting Fourche Creek Watershed in Little Rock. She helped develop a watershed management plan, a guide for resource managers, policymakers and community organizations to restore and protect the quality of lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands.

Ruhl-Whittle is using her research and expertise on the water quality to gather and supply data from Fourche Creek for the Water Management Plan.

Agarwal is a researcher whose work focuses in the social computing discipline. At UALR, he created the Collaboratorium for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies, which was designated as a research center by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education in 2020.

The research center has produced more than two dozen projects, published 10 books and more than 200 publications, and three important tools: Blogtrackers, YouTubeTracker and Focal Structure Analysis. In the past year, the center has assisted the attorney general's office track scams and disinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic that led to the development of the Misinformation Tracker.

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