College Honors Three Faculty Members

By Ben Boulden

Melissa Halverson, Pharm.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, received the college’s 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award.

Melissa Halverson

Melissa Halverson

Halverson serves as the department’s director of didactic education. She began teaching in the Physician Assistant program while earning her teaching certificate as part of the pharmacy residency program.

“Her classroom is a safe place where students feel free to openly discuss issues, ask questions and formulate and support arguments,” Marybeth Norcross, UAMS learning specialist, said. “She encourages students to extend their thinking, and because her lectures and activities are so engaging, they are fully engaged in learning the content.”

As the director of the UAMS 12th Street Health & Wellness Center, Halverson extends her advising role to not just Physician Assistant students but also to students of multiple programs in the college as well as students from every college here at UAMS.

“Her ability to adapt to the challenges that students face while at the center, as I have witnessed, is remarkable and a credit to her ability to meet students where they are in their professional development and help them transition to where they must be to be effective health care professionals,” said Edward Williams, MPAS, M.Ed., chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies.

Angel Holland, DPT, Ed.D., an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, received the 2021 Excellence in Service Award, which recognizes an educator whose significant contributions through service are instrumental in achieving the UAMS mission.

Holland joined the college in 2014, and was instrumental in developing the Physical Therapy Program. She has been responsible for the design and implementation of numerous endeavors on the Northwest Campus that advance topics of society and health.

She serves as the associate director of Interprofessional Education (IPE), and was the first to serve in this role to provide collaboration and consistency with the Office of IPE. In this role, she has developed new IPE course offerings unique to the Northwest Campus and academic departments. These offerings including the Emotional Intelligence Competency Workshop and a Competency Workshop held at Crystal Bridges, which has a focus on observational skills and cultural awareness.

Angel Holland

Angel Holland

Holland organized the first student research day on the Northwest Campus in 2018, in collaboration with the UAMS event for the Little Rock campus. These student research days have been successful and have stimulated interest in research among students.

Holland obtained her certification as a Poverty Simulation Facilitator and led the first poverty simulation for the faculty, staff, and students on the Northwest Campus in January 2020.

“Dr. Holland was also responsible for initiating and organizing the first cultural awareness workshop for faculty and students on the Northwest Campus in February 2019,” Cherika Robertson, M.Ed., MLS, said. “This workshop brought Dr. Billy Thomas and Amber Booth–McCoy to the Northwest Campus for three days of training sessions. This project directly led to the development of the Northwest Campus Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.”

Robertson is an assistant professor in the college’s Department of Laboratory Sciences.

Sam Atcherson, Ph.D., professor for the Doctor of Audiology Program in the college’s Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, received the 2021 Excellence in Scholarship Award, which recognizes faculty who make significant scholarly contributions.

Sam Atcherson

Sam Atcherson

Several letters written to the college in support of his nomination cite his recent research into how the use of facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic have affected communication, especially people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

“As an individual with hearing loss who has worn hearing aids and currently wears cochlear implants, Sam brings a wealth of personal knowledge to his scholarly and daily work,” Laura Smith-Olinde, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, stated. “His rare, if not unique, perspective enables him to pose salient questions in different contexts, from rigorous scientific studies to the effects of professionals’ work with individuals who have hearing loss and communication struggles.”

In 2018, Atcherson received the same award, and since then he has had published seven peer-reviewed articles, two book chapters, 10 invited presentations, eight submitted presentations and completed or has ongoing work with 19 students.

Atcherson is a sub-awardee for a National Institute of Health phase 2 grant on the development of a transparent mask and is co-investigator on a grant submitted in March 2021 to the Canadian Institute of Health examining sensory experiences with and without a cochlear implant.