Graduate Education

Teaching Spotlight

The Office of Research and Graduate Education is highlighting faculty within the HSC who are dedicated to excellence in teaching.

Dr. Mark Paternostro

A Teaching Scientist and Professor in Toxicology and Pharmacology, Dr. Paternostro cares about his students and attempts to make the learning experience as personal as possible. Per one student: “He ensures that each assignment or in-class activity is pertinent to the goals and outcomes of the lecture, and provides ample opportunity for constructive student/instructor self-assessment and feedback. As an educator, he is well-prepared, intelligent, and committed to continual self-improvement for the betterment of his students' educational experiences.”

Dr. Bill Stauber

Dr. Bill Stauber is a Professor in Physical Therapy and the department of Physiology, Pharmacology & Toxicology. According to his students, his superb organization makes learning easier, especially in the era of COVID-19. One student comments, “Dr. Stauber is a very good teacher and his lectures are very detailed. His notes are really well written and his lectures are very nicely organized. Outside the classroom, Dr. Stauber is very helpful and helped to make the Prelims examination easy for us in an online setup.”

Dr. Stan Hileman

Dr. Hileman is a Professor in the departments of Neuroscience and Physiology, Pharmacology & Toxicology. The pandemic demanded that educators become creative since students must rely on remote learning. According to former student Nairrita Majumder, Dr. Hileman made this transition an easier one for students. “Stan is an excellent teacher and a great program director. He is always available for help. He is very caring towards the graduate students, and always reached out to us during the lockdown to make sure we were doing fine.”

Dr. Karen Woodfork

Dr. Woodfork is a Teaching Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology, Pharmacology, & Toxicology. Throughout the pandemic, she was an adaptive and compassionate educator: “Karen has been a great help during our Prelims examinations. She helped us to go through the exam online, which was a new thing for all of us. We didn't have to worry about all of that and she took care of everything”, said one grateful student.

Dr. Ruchi Bhandari

An Assistant Professor in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Dr. Bhandari’s interest in her students’ success is known to continue once they leave her classroom. One student says, “Dr. Bhandari really cares about her students. She goes above and beyond to help her students even after they have completed her course. She checks in with us to see how we are doing with our research and is always available to provide advice and guidance to her students. In her courses she thoroughly covers materials and provides additional sources for us. She encourages discussions and debates about topics and is always saying she is learning from her students as well. WVU needs more instructors like her.” Two other students also had comments about Dr. Bhandari's excellent performance. Visakha Turner says, “She is excited and enthusiastic about all of her lectures. I can really say that every day is fun. Dr Bhandari communicates the importance and relevance of epidemiology well and cites lived experience, contemporary examples, and highlights students’ own work within class.” SueAnn Woods adds, “I took two epidemiology courses from Dr. Bhandari. Her hands-on approach to helping students conceptualize difficult topics allowed me to develop a love of secondary data and epidemiology.” We thank Dr. Bhandari for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Dr. Danielle Davidov

An Associate Professor in the School of Public Health’s Social and Behavioral Sciences– Dr. Danielle Davidov goes out of her way to make sure students feel comfortable. One student says, “Dr. Davidov goes above and beyond to help her students. When I first arrived at WVU she was so welcoming and helpful. Since then, she has been my teacher and my mentor. I do not think I could have made it through this spring semester without her.”

Dr. Roger Carpenter

Associate Professor in the School of Nursing. Roger’s enthusiasm encourages students to seek his guidance. One student says, “Dr. Carpenter is a highly energized instructor. He is passionate about nursing science and totally engaged with his students. He understands the pressures that come with being a student and guides me in my journey through his course. He focuses on helping me learn the material that is important for me to succeed. He also directs me to references he knows I will use throughout my scholarly career. He has taught me the value of finding my own mentor by sharing stories of the mentors he has found.”

Dr. Angel Smothers

Dr. Angel Smothers is the Associate Dean of Community Engagement and a Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Nursing. Dr. Smothers' students are inspired by her dedication. “Angel Smothers is the most engaged research mentor and instructor I have ever had,” said student Elizabeth Morrissey. “She’s mentored me in community health nursing during my undergraduate studies and challenged me to become involved in community research in the faith community. Without Angel, I would not be the student, nurse, researcher, or person that I am today. She never settles for average and will help anyone and everyone receive access to care regardless of their location or situation.” We thank Dr. Smothers for her excellence in teaching!

Dr. Paul Lockman

Dr. Paul Lockman is a Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Senior Associate Dean for Research and Strategic Initiatives in the WVU School of Pharmacy. Like many of our other outstanding educators, he creatively managed the challenges of the pandemic, continuing to go above and beyond to educate his students. One student says, “He encourages learning even during COVID by providing opportunities through access to seminars or organizing Zoom discussions with scientists from the industry or other labs and universities. He makes sure to check in with us to see if we are doing well even outside of the lab and is always available to provide advice and guidance.”

Dr. Vince Setola

Dr. Vince Setola, is an Associate Professor as well as the PR/Director of the Laboratory of Neuroscience and Genetics of Substance Abuse. Student Lyn Yuen Choo tells our office that Dr. Setola cares deeply about the learning experience of his students, looks after their well-being, and gently pushes them to reach their full potential. She also says, “As an educator, he has very clear expectations for his students and supports their learning goals. He asks questions to facilitate discussion among research group members. Dr. Setola is always available to his students as well. He responds to emails promptly after hours and even on weekends.”

Dr. Caroline Groth

Dr. Caroline Groth is an Assistant Professor, in Biostatistics at the School of Public Health as well as Program Director for the MS in Biostatistics program. Student Brittany Smith tells our office that Dr. Groth’s exceptional approach to teaching was unwavering even through challenges: “Despite being in the midst of a pandemic she went above and beyond to connect with her students. She is always available! Biostatistics and R programming are complex concepts, however, Dr. Groth explains each step and concept clearly to make sure her students understand the foundations.” We thank Dr.Groth for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Dr. Kesheng Wang

Dr. Kesheng Wang is a Professor in the Family/Community Health Department of the School of Nursing. One student told our office, “Dr. Wang is knowledgeable, attentive to students, helpful and kind. He is a great representation of WVU’s excellence in teaching.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves - thank you Dr. Wang!

Dr. Peter Mathers

Dr. Peter Mathers is an Associate Professor in Biochemistry and Neuroscience. One student told our office that Dr. Mathers provides excellent teaching and encourages student engagement. These are two foundational pillars of what makes a teacher great. Thank you, Dr. Mathers!

Nicole Ludwig

Nicole Ludwig is an Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine. Student Julia Hays said, “During a year marked by unprecedented times, Professor Ludwig has offered consistency, stability, and support. As part of a new program in brand new global circumstances, she has proven to be an incredibly dedicated instructor and ally to all students. Not only is she incredibly organized, but she is also adaptable and uses our feedback to help improve our learning. The discipline and care that she puts into our education and into us as individuals is invaluable.” * Please note that at the time of this interview, Nicole was teaching Human Performance.

Michelle Costas

Michelle Costas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology, Anatomy & Laboratory Medicine as well as Director of the Pathologists’ Assistant Program. One student praised both Michelle and her colleague Justin Falcon for helping students through a tough year. “Michelle cares about her students’ well-beings and future careers. She reaches out to us to make us feel connected no matter the circumstances. Holding classes online through the year was not easy, especially with the subjects we were studying. Michelle and Justin Falcon both tried their best to get us what we needed to succeed. Now we are starting our clinical rotations, and Michelle and Justin are still reaching out to us to make us feel confident and ready to practice what they have taught us. They truly care about our futures.”

Dr. F. Heath Damron

Dr. F. Heath Damron is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology, as well as the Director of the Vaccine Development Center at the Health Sciences Center. One student says, “Dr. Damron's teaching of the vaccinology course gives real-world applications and context to the fields of microbiology and immunology in ways that are incredibly important in our new "normal" world. He goes in-depth on the history of important figures in the field, relating everything they did to what we can do now, and what we might do in the future. And the lab portion of the course takes it up a notch further! Best class ever!”

Dr. George Kelley

Dr. George Kelley is a Professor in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Student Joel Steadman says, “Dr. Kelley clearly goes above and beyond for his students. He is incredibly responsive to student questions, involves everyone in the class, and goes out of his way to personalize his teaching to the interests of the students in each specific class.” We thank Dr. Kelley for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Dr. Ronnie Sparks

Dr. Ronnie Sparks is an Assistant Clinical Professor in Orthodontics, and according to student Miranda Fabrega, “The epitome of an excellent dental educator.” She adds: “Not only is he caring towards patients, but he is compassionate about teaching the orthodontic residents. Dr. Sparks drives several hours from Charleston to Morgantown to teach in clinic on a monthly basis. He prepares residents to take written and clinical board exams by organizing study sessions, as well as a mock board examination. He makes himself available to residents via email/phone to help with clinical cases and treatment planning while he is not in clinic. His clinical skill is unparalleled, and is an invaluable asset to the department of orthodontics.”

Dr. Christiaan Abildso

Dr. Christiaan Abildso is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health’s Department of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences. One student says, “Dr. Abildso is one of the few professors that I've experienced who has taken SEI comments each semester and completely reworked what isn't working about a class. He goes out of his way to make sure that students understand the practicality of what they are learning by setting up the class to actively practice the skills being taught. He pushes students to be able to explain and use the text but also to question the text…he understands why students are here-to learn and practice the skills they will need to succeed in life.”

Michelle Witt

Michelle Witt is a Teaching Instructor in Microbiology, Immunology & Cell Biology. Student Kelly Weaver says, “Michelle goes above and beyond to help students both in the classroom and out of the classroom. While she mainly teaches undergraduate students, I would venture to say that many graduate students have looked to her for mentoring in some capacity. Michelle always greets you with a smiling face and positive attitude. She is always willing to offer a helping hand and check in to see how you are doing. Her service to our WVU family most definitely deserves to be recognized.”

Dr. Roberta Leonardi

Roberta Leonardi, Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry. One student praises Dr. Leonardi for being, “Very straightforward and goal oriented.” Through her straightforward and goal-oriented approach, she leaves an enduring impact on her students, preparing them to become future leaders and contributors to the field of biochemistry. We thank Dr. Leonardi for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Dr. Mariette Barbier

Mariette Barbier is an Assistant Professor in Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology. One student says, “She is always looking for student feedback on what we need and ways to improve our program and when she looks for this input, she acts on it. She is someone I know I can go to talk to about any concern or thought and she will support me to her full ability. When she doesn't have an immediate answer or resource, she does her best to find one. She is enthusiastic about her role as a scientist, as an educator, and as a mentor and it is obvious in her attention to detail in every aspect of her work.”

Dr. Tim Nurkiewicz

Professor and Chair, Department Physiology and Pharmacology. Student Sarah Kemp says, “Dr. Nurkiewicz goes above and beyond to make his lectures interesting and exciting. He is extremely knowledgeable on the topic that he teaches and it shows. There is nothing better than having a professor who is passionate about teaching and one you genuinely understand and then enjoy the class as a result.”

Dr. Shelby Alexander

Dr. Shelby Alexander is an Assistant Professor in Restorative Dentistry and the Program Director for Graduate Prosthodontics. Student Nathaniel Chertok says, “Dr. Alexander has been teaching at the WVU School of Dentistry for 6+ years with an unwavering commitment to educating and training dentists and specialists. She stands out as a fantastic instructor in both didactic and clinical situations. Her patience to explain complex ideas and concepts to ensure the students fully grasp the concept is a skill that not many educators have and are able to do well. Her skills in helping in clinical situations and providing immediate feedback to ensure positive patient outcomes are ones that are unmet by other clinical faculty I have encountered. Dr. Alexander deserves the recognition for her hard work and commitment.” We couldn’t agree more. Thank you, Dr. Alexander!

Dr. Keith Zullig

Dr. Keith Zullig is a Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. One student says, “Dr. Zullig is fun and genuinely enjoys teaching class. He makes class and grad school enjoyable. He’s also very knowledgeable, doesn’t judge students, and is excellent at reminding students of deadlines if he sees they have yet to complete something.”Dr. Zullig’s attention to detail also helped him to earn the position of Associate Dean for Departmental Affairs. We thank Keith for his efforts to improve education both inside and outside of the classroom.

Dr. Mark Byron

Dr. Mark Byron is the Director of Postdoctoral Programs in the School of Dentistry. Endodontics resident Yasmin Hoffman says, “Dr. Byron's contributions to the teaching mission of the Department of Endodontics and to the school at large are numerous and outstanding. He is an organized educator who builds a bond with his students like a guardian as well as a guide. He has always been so dedicated to developing his teaching skills since he started his career. His ability to connect with the students is superior. His way of educating is exceptional and the techniques he uses in his teaching are highly recommendable. He is knowledgeable, compassionate, and patient.” Thank you, Dr. Byron, for your steadfast commitment to excellent teaching.

Dr. Samuel Dorn

Dr. Samuel Dorn is the Chair of the Department of Endodontics. One resident says, “Dr. Dorn is the epitome of excellence as an educator. His professionalism and commitment to student outcomes is unsurpassed in his field. Dr. Dorn's attention to detail and organization is second to none. He also has many years of experience to relate to his students and staff, giving them a wealth of education every day.” We thank Dr. Dorn for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Dr. Erik Carlton

Dr. Erik Carlton is the Senior Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs and an Associate Professor of Health Policy, Management, and Leadership in the School of Public Health. Student Aaron Hunt says, “Dr. Carlton really goes above and beyond to make sure we are retaining the material he's trying to teach. He does activities with us that really give an insight into what we are learning and helps us self-reflect. I can honestly say I've gotten a lot out of his class and feel like it has made me a better student.” We thank Dr. Carlton for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Dr. Steve Hardy

Dr. Steve Hardy is a Professor in Physiology and Pharmacology. Student Derek Maloney says, “Dr. Hardy consistently goes out of his way to ensure his students understand the material presented. He will even go as far to present the information in a different way in order for a student to achieve a level of understanding - this goes to show how confident he is in what he is teaching.” We thank Dr. Hardy for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Dr. Joan Lakoski

Dr. Joan Lakoski, is the Director of Investigator Development and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Pharmacy. Student Haixia “Tracy” Yang says, “Dr. Lakoski had been my instructor for the past 3 years. She always patiently guided me in the right direction along my research journey for the Master program of Clinical and Translational Science. As my proposal defense committee chair, she spent a lot of time and provided valuable inputs to improve my research work and helped me to succeed.” We thank Dr. Lakoski for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Dr. Erin Winstanley

The Office of Research and Graduate Education is highlighting faculty within the HSC who are dedicated to excellence in teaching. Dr. Erin Winstanley, is an Associate Professor, in Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry. Student Lyn Yuen Choo says, “Dr. Winstanley develops good relationships with people she works with by creating an inclusive learning and working environment. She does not hesitate to take time out of her busy schedule to train her students and help them with their career paths. As a mentor, she is patient with my learning, which makes her approachable when I need to ask for help. She guides me to achieve my goals by providing me with different opportunities for learning.” We thank Dr. Winstanley for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Dr. Robert Gerbo

Dr. Robert Gerbo, is a Director and Associate Professor in Occupational Medicine. One student says, “Dr. Gerbo has been the ideal educator for our introduction to the basics of clinical medicine. His lecture skills, infectious enthusiasm, sense of humor and abundant personal stories have made his courses engaging and exciting.” We thank Dr. Gerbo for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Michael McCawley

Dr. Michael McCawley is a Clinical Associate Professor in Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences. Student McKenzie Kemp says, “He is wonderful when it comes to students and their dreams. He offers the utmost support and is always there when you need help!” We thank Dr. McCawley for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Elizabeth Minchau

Elizabeth Minchau is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing, Adult Health Department. Student Carley Bryant says, “This is my second semester having Elizabeth Minchau and she makes her students feel at ease. She highlights what is important in practice and has creative ways to help in learning complex topics. She has a kind, understanding demeanor that helps to lower the high stress levels of graduate school. She is easy to relate to, which makes learning from her enjoyable!” We thank Elizabeth for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Kendra Barker

Dr. Kendra Barker is a Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, Family/Community Health Department. One student says, “This educator has gone above and beyond for our program and for all of her students. She has spent countless hours talking with multiple students to help guide them on the right path. She is transparent and we can all feel in her heart that she wants the best for her students. As a graduate student in an extremely tough program this type of compassion is just what I needed, as well as other students. She understands that we are all human, but she also pushes us to think outside of the box and to work hard. I truly am thankful for her and all that she has done. She should be an example to all graduate professors and I hope she knows her hard work has not gone unnoticed.” Not only is Kenda well-liked by her students, but she is also the DNP Program Director and FNP Track Coordinator. Dr. Barker, we thank you for demonstrating your hardworking and compassionate nature and are proud to have you teaching our students. Thank you!

Dr. David Smith

Dr. David Smith is a Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine. One student says, “Dr. Smith has always delivered engaging and easily-received lectures. He takes incredibly difficult lectures and finds a way to break them down into the simplest forms for all to understand. His passion behind all forms of knowledge shows, as I have found us discussing lectures and falling down rabbit holes on more obscure topics where his interests and excitement is contagious. He is easily one of the most approachable instructors to discuss lectures or exams.” We thank Dr. Smith for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Breanna Adkins

Breanna Adkins is an Assistant Professor in the Occupational Therapy Department. Student Blair Byrnside says, “This occupational therapy instructor goes above and beyond for the department and the students. She provides resources, outside of class opportunities, and always has her office door open willing to help. I don't know what I would have done without her throughout my time in the occupational therapy program. She is an amazing professor, teacher, and person!” We thank Breanna for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Dr. Marina Galvez-Peralta

Dr. Marina Galvez-Peralta is an Associate Professor in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department. One student says, “Dr. Galvez goes above and beyond for her students. She is an excellent educator and passionate about teaching students. Additionally, she makes herself available after hours to talk to students about any obstacles in their learning or research endeavors. She genuinely cares about students' well-being and education.” We thank Dr. Galvez-Peralta for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Kayleigh Nolan

The Office of Research and Graduate Education is highlighting faculty within the HSC who are dedicated to excellence in teaching. Kayleigh Nolan is an Assistant Professor in the Occupational Therapy Department. Student Austin Marcum says, “Professor Nolan never fails to check on her students as well as always knows the right thing to say if her students are having a bad day. She never fails to expand her students’ education by guiding them through the world of Occupational Therapy.” We thank Kayleigh for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Dr. Travis Knuckles

Dr. Travis Knuckles is an Associate Professor in both the departments of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences and in Physiology, Pharmacology, & Toxicology. One student says, “Dr. Knuckles is a great professor with cool lectures, and he is very helpful in and out of class.” We thank Dr. Knuckles for continuing to provide excellence in teaching!

Dr. Edwin Wan

Dr. Edwin Wan is an Assistant Professor in Neuroscience and an Associate Professor in Microbiology, Immunology & Cell Biology. Student Mercy Ojetunde says, “Dr. Edwin Wan is currently teaching me Cellular Immunology, and I love his teaching style. His teaching style has helped me to study well before the next class. He is also ever ready to explain concepts in detail for easy understanding. He is a great teacher!” We thank Dr. Wan for continuing to provide excellence in teaching.