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Three Middle East Studies Professors  Recognized at Annual Convocation for Outstanding Faculty

At the annual College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Awards Ceremony on December 6, 2018, Dean Theresa Lee, associate deans, and directors recognized faculty from across the college for their teaching, research, creative activity, advising, and leadership in diversity efforts, as well as name the College Marshal, the highest honor for the college.
This year, three of our MEST program faculty were selected for their outstanding contributions in research, teaching, and service – Matt Buehler, Manuela Ceballos, and Erin Darby. Congratulations to our outstanding MEST faculty award winners!

Matt BuehlerMatt Buehler, assistant professor of political science, received an Early Career Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Award.

In his five years in the Department of Political Science, Professor Buehler has put together a distinguished resume. He came to UT after a prestigious post-doc and hit the ground running. He has published seven articles, many in top journals in his field. In addition, he has published three chapters in edited volumes. His crowning achievement, to this point, is a book manuscript at a top university press in the field. His success and increasing visibility in the discipline has resulted in other recognitions. He was invited to become a Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, in the Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, as part of the Middle East Initiative.
“He is an excellent and gifted teacher,” Associate Dean for Research and Facilities Christine Boake said. “In a department that prides itself on strong teaching, he is one of the best. He has been successful in attracting grants for his research and his teaching.”

Manuela CeballosManuela Ceballos, assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies, received the Junior Excellence in Teaching Award.

“Her selection should come as no surprise to her students, who, as her nominator wrote, used the word ‘amazing’ in her evaluations too many times to count,” Associate Dean for Academic Programs Chuck Collins said.
This achievement comes while teaching challenging topics (e.g. The Qur’an and the Literature of Islam). She makes this happen through a combination of content expertise in engaging in difficult texts, and a desire to connect to the students by building classroom communities in which vulnerability is not punished, but rather encouraged. Ceballos is making an amazing impact in and out of her classroom.

Ever since she stepped foot on campus in 2011, Erin Darby, associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, has engaged in outreach with members of the community, both in East Tennessee and around the world, and received the Academic Outreach Service Award.

Erin Darby“For years, Dr. Darby has introduced archaeology and the Middle East to our students and our community through several events, including the highly-successful Arab Fest,” Lee said. “Her deep engagement with outreach integrates her research expertise in archaeology with local and international communities in ways that improve the lives of people in our region as well as in Jordan.”

Darby’s largest project, ‘Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project, expands her research in Jordan into numerous outreach and service learning programs that benefit undergraduate students at UT and the University of Missouri at Columbia, the East Tennessee community, and the government and people of Jordan. Her study abroad program, Dig Jordan, is the only faculty-led study abroad program to the Middle East in the entire UT system. Her outreach has impacted scores of UT students as well as large audiences in East Tennessee and significant international communities.

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