James A. Keith Excellence in Teaching Award: Rachel Davis
An associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Rachel Davis got her start at the University of Michigan, where she earned a Ph.D. in Health Behavior and Health Education, completed a research fellowship in human nutrition and served as a faculty member before joining the Arnold School in 2012. Davis teaches courses for the MPH and Graduate Certificate in Health Communication programs, mentors students at all levels and chairs the department’s Student Engagement Committee. She is the principal investigator on an R01 grant to examine the effectiveness of new nutrition labeling practices and the 2021 recipient of the Distinguished Research Service Award.
“My teaching approach seeks to provide MPH and doctoral students with practical knowledge, hands-on experience, and an understanding of how the things I am teaching will help them to become effective, confident and independent public health practitioners and researchers,” Davis says.
Faculty Research Award: Mark Sarzynski
Mark Sarzynski, an associate professor in the Department of Exercise Science, researches the biological factors associated with the response of lipids and lipoproteins to behavioral and lifestyle interventions (e.g., exercise training) and exercise genomics in the FLEX Lab. He completed his doctoral studies (Kinesiology) at Michigan State University and a postdoctoral fellowship and continued faculty research in Human Genomics at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Since arriving at the Arnold School in 2015, Sarzynski has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers with 11K citations. He has secured more than $6.7 million in competitive funding, including a current R01 grant to study the impact of exercise on HDL particles.
“The goal of my research is to better predict which individuals are most likely to benefit from lifestyle therapies in the management of cardiometabolic risk factors, such as fitness level, and to identify the functions of circulating molecules contributing to the cardioprotective benefits of exercise to move the field closer to personalized exercise medicine,” Sarzynski says.
Faculty Service Award: James Hardin
A three-time alumnus, of Texas A&M University, biostatistics professor James Hardin has been a mainstay of the Arnold School for nearly two decades. Over the years, he has served on various committees and in multiple leadership roles within the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the Arnold School, the university and the broader field of biostatistics. Since 2016, he has led the school as the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Curriculum. For the past two years, he added interim chair for the Department of Health Services Policy and Management to his list of duties, collaborating with statewide healthcare leaders and partners and leading the department’s search for a new chair and faculty members.
“I have had the pleasure of presiding over the discussion of past winners for this award and have been struck by the common chords in that people who heavily contribute to service activities do so through a strong sense of obligation and are compelled into action when confronted by organizational needs,” Hardin says. “Service takes many forms, and the Arnold School has many laudable examples such as staff who stay late to ensure facilities are locked up, faculty who take on additional assignments, and leaders who lead through hard work. As such, I am honored to receive this award and hopeful that I have lived up to my sense of obligation.”