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WVU faculty honored with 2023 teaching and service awards

Teaching Awards 2023
John Ruppert, Megan Midcap, Cerasela Zoica Dinu and Emily Murphy

Four WVU faculty members — John “Michael” Ruppert, Megan Midcap, Emily Murphy and Cerasela Zoica Dinu — have been recognized for their exceptional teaching and service to the University, students and community.

John “Michael” Ruppert is the recipient of the Caperton Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing, which recognizes a tenured faculty member for excellence in the teaching of writing. 

Established in 2007, the award was made possible by the generosity of former West Virginia Governor and College Board President Gaston Caperton. Caperton’s intent was to “increase awareness of the need for improved writing skills,” identifying writing as a critical issue necessary to maintaining America’s competitive edge in the global market. 

Ruppert is a professor in the WVU School of Medicine Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine and the Jo and Ben Statler Chair of Breast Cancer Research. He is recognized for his lead role in developing and implementing an innovative, systematic, three-part approach to teaching and improving scientific writing for Health Sciences graduate students. Ruppert partners pre-doctoral students and faculty facilitators in a writing group focused on generating successful National Institutes of Health grant applications. As part of his process, he has created a national panel of 20 external reviewers who provide constructive feedback prior to the grant deadlines. 

For an individualized approach, Ruppert provides two to three hours of one-on-one mentoring to help students work through titles, abstracts, introductions and discussions for student dissertations. 

In fall 2022, he co-developed and launched a third approach using formal lectures and active learning sessions to normalize first-year graduate students in the practice of cross-editing one another’s work. 

As the recipient of the 2023 Caperton Award, Ruppert will receive $5,000 in professional development from the Caperton Fund. 

In addition to teaching awards, the Office of the Provost also recognizes service during the spring awards season.

Megan Midcap and Emily Murphy are the recipients of the Ethel and Gerry Heebink Awards for Distinguished State Service, which recognize faculty or staff members who have provided distinguished service to West Virginia over a period of time. These awards were established by David Heebink in 1982 in memory of his parents, Ethel and Gerry Heebink, two former University employees. 

Midcap is honored as the recipient of the 2023 Heebink Award for a service record characterized by significant impacts in a shorter amount of time and the promise of additional significant service contributions. She is a WVU Extension instructor and the Lewis County 4-H agent. 

She is honored for her work on the Department of Justice grant “Strengthening Families and Children of Incarcerated Parents through the 4-H Life Program,” through which she provided weekly workshops for inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution in Hazelton, coordinated supplies with the prison education department and worked with the inmate’s family coordinator to set up family visits. 

Midcap is also recognized for her efforts in acquiring and overseeing the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies’ “Capital Access to Maximizing Participation” grant. This work removed all the barriers to camping participation and ensured that 165 first-time camping youths from West Virginia attended the 4-H statewide Older Members Conference. 

As the 2023 Heebink Beginning Service Award recipient, Midcap will receive a $2,000 professional development honorarium. 

Murphy is honored as the recipient of the 2023 Heebink Award for extended — at least eight years — distinguished service to West Virginia. She is an associate professor of health and well-being in the College of Applied Human Sciences. 

She is honored for her long-term success in acquiring nearly $22 million to support interventional strategies and public health initiatives in the state. This work has centered on physical activity promotion, child obesity prevention, food access, and healthy lifestyles for West Virginia community members, families and children. 

Murphy is also recognized for her success in creating environmental and systems changes that are sustainable for years to come. For example, she helped establish the Healthy Eating Research Nutrition Guidelines at the Mountaineer Food Bank, which guides more than 450 agencies across the state to source and distribute healthier options for the families they serve. 

Her work with the Center for ActiveWV helps to promote a collaborative framework for enhancing physical activity among children and adults statewide and guide state and local policy and practice. Additionally, as co-chair of the Physical Activity Policy Team for the “Our Children, Our Future” campaign, Murphy helped guarantee that West Virginia children are entitled to 30 minutes of physical activity each school day. She also collaborated with WVU Extension to develop 4-H curriculum and camp activities, and to integrate health education material into 4-H clubs, camps and family activities in every county in the state. 

As the 2023 Heebink Extended Service Award recipient, Murphy will receive a $3,000 professional development honorarium. 

In addition to these awards focused specifically on teaching and service, WVU also recognizes faculty who excel across all three areas of teaching, service and research. 

Cerasela Zoica Dinu has been named the 2023 recipient of the James and Karen Caveney Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award, which annually honors faculty who are highly productive in their research, exceptional in their teaching and instruction innovation, and outstanding in their commitment to the people of West Virginia. 

Dr. James Caveney and his wife, Karen, established the award in 2014. They, along with their three children and immediate family, hold 19 degrees from WVU. 

Dinu is a professor of chemical and biomedical engineering in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. Since October 2021, Dinu has also been serving as the associate dean for Student, Faculty and Staff Engagement.

She is honored for her leadership in designing and advancing curriculum development and changes in the biomedical engineering undergraduate and graduate programs, including being the co-director of the NIH-supported Cell and Molecular Biology and Biomedical Engineering Training Program

In addition, Dinu has continuously sustained external funding since her 2009 appointment at WVU, acquiring or contributing to the acquisition of over $6 million dollars from agencies such as the Defense Threat Agency, National Science Foundation and NIH. 

She has had more than 80 publications since joining WVU and has supervised/mentored more than 60 undergraduates performing research, 20 graduate students and three postdoctoral fellows. 

Dinu’s development of new and highly marketable undergraduate and graduate programs, and active work in defining the engagement infrastructure essential to achieving a culture of belonging for students, faculty and staff, helps to grow leaders with a passion for our community. 

She is also recognized for her partnerships with Title 1 schools that have created literacy programs in the Mountain State. 

As the 2022-2023 Caveney Award recipient, Dinu will receive a $6,000 professional development honorarium. 

“This year's recipients of the University’s highest awards in teaching, research and service are exceptional," said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed. “These faculty members represent the very best talent at WVU. Each has demonstrated a steadfast dedication to their profession, and to their students and communities they serve.” 

Award recipients will be recognized by Provost Reed and President Gordon Gee during a faculty and staff awards reception at Blaney House on April 26.

Read more about these and other awards.