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Wilkes University Awards Tenure, Promotion and Emeriti Status to Faculty Members

by Gabrielle D'Amico

Wilkes University has announced the following faculty members who have earned promotion and been awarded tenure:

Sofya Chepushtanova was promoted to associate professor of mathematics in the College of Science and Engineering and was granted tenure. Chepushtanova joined Wilkes in 2015 as a faculty member in the mathematics and computer science department. Since arriving at the University, she has published three articles in peer-reviewed journals and a book chapter. Her various research interests include geometric data analysis, optimization, analysis of high-dimensional data sets, machine learning, hyperspectral imagery and computational topology. She has active collaborations with faculty in physics and computer science, conducting research projects that engage undergraduate students. Chepushtanova was a contributing member of a team of Wilkes faculty members that were awarded a Major Instrumentation Program National Science Foundation Grant of $486,645 for the acquisition of the high-performance computing facility that is located on the first floor of the Mark Engineering Center.  

Nicole Pezzino was promoted to associate professor of pharmacy practice in the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy and was granted tenure. Pezzino joined Wilkes in 2015, with teaching responsibilities in both didactic and experiential courses. She also serves as the director of the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy community-based pharmacy residency program. Pezzino has authored or co-authored three book chapters and three refereed continuing education articles, and has seven refereed abstracts and poster sessions to her credit. She was recognized by the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association as the 2018 Distinguished Young Pharmacist, a testament to her leadership and dedication to the profession. Nationally, Pezzino is involved with several American Pharmacists Association preceptor and diabetes interest groups.

Akira Shimizu was promoted to associate professor of history in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and was granted tenure. Shimizu joined the Wilkes faculty in 2015 and has taught 13 different courses including history 101, a general education requirement; senior capstone; and courses focusing on Japanese and East Asian history. Shimizu has established a strong record of scholarship and professional activity during his time at Wilkes. In 2020, he published the article “Effluvia of the Foreign: Olfactory Experiences in Nagasaki during the Tokugawa Period” in The Journal of Asian Humanities (2020). His book manuscript, Regulating and Deregulating the Market: Specialty Food, Market Culture and Daily Life in the Japanese Capital, 1780-1870 is under contract with Lexington Books.

Heather Sincavage was promoted to associate professor of art in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and was granted tenure. Sincavage earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Washington. Her professional career, spanning from 2002 to 2011, consisted of creating art in the Lehigh Valley. Before coming to Wilkes in 2016, she completed a series of artist residencies throughout Europe. Sincavage is the director of the Sordoni Art Gallery and has made the gallery an extension of her teaching and a prized asset for both the campus and community. Her scholarship focuses on her active pursuit of art, with accomplishments that include performances at the University of Maine Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center and at the Latvian Center for Performance Art (Riga), STAGED AND SCREEN at The Tate Modern Museum in London and a residency in Germany in 2019.

Brent Young was promoted to associate professor of mathematics in the College of Science and Engineering and was granted tenure. Young joined Wilkes in 2015 as a faculty member in the mathematics and computer science department. Computational skills are part of the Wilkes core curriculum and every student is required to take a math class as part of the general education curriculum. Young is an excellent example of a teacher-scholar, developing teaching tools to aid his students in learning math concepts. Young also wrote a textbook, Calculus and Modeling for the Biological, Health, and Earth Sciences, to accompany his course, which is currently under review by CRC Press. He also developed a supplemental software package entitled Bio Math to support student learning and had an article published in J. Math. Physics, entitled “Landau Damping in Relativistic Plasmas.”

Wilkes also recognized long-standing senior faculty members with the title of professor emeritus, an honor bestowed by the University to show respect for a distinguished career:

Carl Charnetski, professor of psychology, will retire this year after 45 years of service to Wilkes. Charnetski has demonstrated his commitment to Wilkes and his field through scholarship, service, teaching and mentorship. During this time, he previously served as chair of the psychology department, acting dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, chair of two Middle States Committees and chair of every major faculty committee at Wilkes, including an ad hoc group on shared governance. He also helped develop the five year B.A./M.B.A. program in psychology. Charnetski has contributed his expertise to the greater Wilkes-Barre community through service on numerous boards, including the Coalition of Autism, the Behavioral Health Research Institute, Behavioral Health Services and the First Hospital of Wyoming Valley. His main service role remains with the Children’s Service Center, where he uses his expertise on applied behavioral analysis to benefit children with autism spectrum disorder.

John Koch, professor of math and computer science, will also retire this year after 45 years of dedicated service.  Koch has been a quality teacher-scholar at Wilkes since his initial appointment in 1976. His doctoral work on the Four-Color Theorem represents a significant contribution to the mathematical area of graph theory. Koch has been a leader in informational technology innovation at Wilkes, serving as webmaster during the developmental period of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s.  Koch created a series of lectures entitled “The Webmaster Speaks” and was one of the early driving forces on the use of the Internet by University faculty in their classes. In particular, he has mentored numerous faculty members during his career in the use of technology within their classrooms and maintained numerous server machines, which students and faculty use today in support of instruction and research.

Zbigniew J. (ZJ) Witczk, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, will retire after more than 21 years at Wilkes. Witczak has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry of natural products and a substantial track record of scholarly activity. He is an author of six patents (four granted) and has published consistently across five decades, with over 100 original works in books and journals. He has contributed to the discipline through his leadership and service to numerous professional organizations, scientific societies, granting agencies and scientific journals. His service to the American Chemical Society, specifically the Division of Carbohydrate Chemistry, had a positive impact on the organization’s mission and vision. Within that division, Witczak has held a variety of leadership positions including executive member, chair and treasurer. Witczak has organized, chaired and/or co-chaired approximately two-dozen national and international symposia. Throughout his career, Witczak has devoted himself to the education of both graduate and pharmacy students. He has used his research interests as a platform to engage students in the classroom and in the laboratory.

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