Winners announced for the 2013 Presidential Creative Awards

BrookinsCourtney Brookins is in search of evidence of the healing power of music, particularly data to reflect how melodious sounds affect the physically-disabled who suffer from depression.

Brookins, coordinator of undergraduate advisement, has proposed a study to engage Psychology and Music majors in a project to monitor how music therapy will impact the vital signs of clients at a specialty care center in Jackson.

Her proposal is one of 10 selected for the 2013 Presidential Creative Awards for Faculty and Staff. JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers established the awards program to inspire innovative ideas to support and further the mission of the university. The winning proposals will receive $5,000.

“We are proud to have such gifted faculty and staff, who are dedicated to educating students and breaking new ground in research,” Meyers said.

Provost James C. Renick commended the winning proposals for their potential to engage students in research and to help develop students’ critical-thinking skills.

“We are delighted to provide important support for the creative endeavors of our faculty and staff,” Renick said.

Brookins said her interest in the project grew from her observation of other programs involving music therapy. She said the students will work with clients at the Methodist Specialty Care Center who have suffered from stroke or seizures, resulting in paralysis.

Brookins said some students will compose music; others will listen and collect data.

“We’re so excited that we have an opportunity for our students to have firsthand experience with this type of research. We’re also enhancing the lives of the residents at the Methodist Specialty Care Center,” Brookins said.

Proposals were received from all five of the university’s colleges for this year’s awards. A panel of faculty and staff reviewed the proposals and indicated it was difficult to make the final selection. Meyers also read all the abstracts prior to a final decision on the winners.

A major component of the criteria was that the proposals included students as part of the project. Another goal of each project is to secure additional state or federal funding to expand the scope.

The winning projects covered a variety of topics, including research to address student underachievement, a study of Shakespeare’s play, “Timon of Athens,” and an assessment of the academic benefits of using an iPad.

“I feel honored and privileged to have the opportunity to work with our students on such an uncharted phenomenon,” said LaTonya Robinson-Kanonu, whose winning proposal was the iPad Digital Think Tank Project.

Meyers plans to make the awards available on an annual basis.

Here are the other award winners and a description of their proposals:

  • Rhonda CooperRhonda Cooper, clinical assistant professor and pre-law advisor in the Department of Political Science, proposed the Enhanced Law School Readiness Program, which will create a system to engage students from their first year at JSU through timely graduation and successful law school admission.
  • Dr. Rodney WashingtonRodney Washington, Ph.D., chair and associate professor in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education, proposed a study to develop strategies to increase black, male retention rates in higher education.


  • Radford and BlaineNola T. Radford, Ph.D.,professor in the Communicative Disorders Program in the School of Health Sciences and Robert Blaine, Ph.D., interim associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and director of the Global Inquiry Faculty Teaching Seminar, proposed a research project to evaluate the relationship between stereotype threat and student underachievement.


  • LatikerTony Latiker, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education, proposed a pilot study examining whether traditional or web-based approaches to Praxis I preparation is more effective in teacher education programs serving a majority black student population.





  • GriffinJohnnie M. Griffin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology, proposed a study to raise awareness about abandoned cemeteries and to encourage an increase in the interdisciplinary participation of JSU faculty and students in the growing interest of the sociology of burial grounds.





  • TuluriFrancis Tuluri, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Technology, proposed the creation of a cybersystem for education and research that integrates smart devices, such as cell phones, with passive devices capable of collecting data.





  • NeasmanEverett G. Neasman, Ph.D., assistant professor of British Literature in the Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages, proposed a study based on one of William Shakespeare’s plays with the goal of bolstering research skills of Liberal Arts majors.





  • Dr. Nicholas HillNicholas J. Hill, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics in the Department of Economics, proposed research to examine how teacher preparation, classroom practices and self-efficacy of high school economics teachers in urban school settings influence student performance on standardized economics tests.


  • KanonuLaTonya Robinson-Kanonu, coordinator of assessment in Undergraduate Studies, proposed the iPad Digital Think Tank Project to research the academic benefits of using the device in college coursework.






About Jackson State University: Challenging Minds, Changing Lives

Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of Mississippi. Jackson State’s nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research and service. Officially designated as Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation and world through comprehensive economic development, health-care, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in the Jackson metropolitan area, Jackson State is located near downtown, with three satellite campuses throughout the city. For more information, visit or call 601-979-2121.


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