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Three WVU faculty selected as 2020-21 Benedum Distinguished Scholars

Benedum Distinguished Scholars 2021
Pictured left to right. Cari Carpenter, Lisa Holland and Cheryl McNeil.

Three exceptional faculty members at West Virginia University have been named 2020-21 Benedum Distinguished Scholars in recognition of the high caliber of their research and scholarly activity. 

Honorees include: 

  • Cari Carpenter, professor of English in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences 

  • Lisa Holland, professor of analytical chemistry in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

  • Cheryl McNeil, professor of clinical child psychology in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences 

The Benedum Distinguished Scholars awards, funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, are awarded annually to faculty engaged in “creative research” in as many as four categories: behavioral and social sciences, biosciences and health sciences, humanities and the arts, and physical sciences and technology. This year, exceptional scholars were identified in three of the four categories. 

“This year’s Benedum Distinguished Scholars — who happen to all be women — are truly exceptional researchers and scholars in their respective fields,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed. “Through their scholarship and ground-breaking discoveries, they are changing the world and making a positive impact on our society and culture. They serve as an inspiration to their colleagues and students and the entire WVU community.” 

Carpenter is the recipient of the Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award in the Humanities and the Arts. She is recognized for her exemplary contributions to the field of American Indian Studies and women’s literature of the 19th century United States. Carpenter is known for her work keeping Native American women writers at the forefront of our national consciousness, particularly authors who had fallen out of our cultural memory. Since joining the faculty at WVU in 2004, she has published two books on American Indian women authors – a single-author monograph and a co-edited volume – with a third forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press. Throughout her scholarship, Carpenter performs the vital work of recentering the voices of indigenous women writers and, in many cases, recovering their writing from obscurity.    

Holland has been selected as the 2021 Benedum Distinguished Scholar in Physical Science and Technologies. She is recognized for developing many successful cutting-edge innovations in capillary electrophoresis instrumentation, including the use of self-assembled nanomaterials to process and separate complex biomolecules. Holland’s work is also recognized for extending traditional analytical chemistry to broader applications in biomedical and pharmaceutical disciplines and for creating analytical technologies that push the scientific envelope and allow scientists to perform measurements that could not previously be made (e.g., new interfacing for capillary electrophoresis and mass spectrometry). These types of capillary electrophoresis measurements are in demand at pharmaceutical companies as the technique allows more effective monitoring of biological therapeutics to ensure stringent quality standards are met throughout the manufacturing process. Holland was recently recruited by Pfizer to develop and validate a method to enable higher-throughput analyses. Her research is also timely to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. She has created new technologies to improve and ultimately personalize antibody-based therapeutics and inhibitors of the influenza A enzyme, neuraminidase. Holland has received major grants from National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and Pfizer and has produced more than 70 scholarly works, including peer reviewed manuscripts, patents and book chapters. 

McNeil is recognized as a 2021 Benedum Distinguished Scholar in Behavioral and Social Sciences for her significant contributions to the research in and practice of parent-child interaction therapy. During her celebrated career at WVU spanning nearly three decades, McNeil has become widely recognized as a leading expert in the field of child psychology. She is co-author of a foundational book dealing with PCIT and the sole author on three other books on the subject. Through her research and clinical work, McNeil has impacted people throughout West Virginia and is reaching a worldwide audience thanks to the exposure provided by DVDs published by the American Psychological Association. While at WVU, McNeil has tirelessly mentored undergraduate and graduate students who have played key roles in the development of PCIT. As a faculty member, she exemplifies the core Mountaineer values and continues to make long-lasting contributions to the University’s land-grant mission.

Each Benedum Distinguished Scholar will receive a $5,000 professional development honorarium and will be featured in next year’s Benedum Distinguished Scholars Showcase. Details about the event will be shared at a later date in ENEWS.

Read more about these and other awards on the WVU Faculty website.