2020 Distinguished Faculty Scholarship Recipients

April 27, 2020 |

Congratulations to the 2020 Distinguished Faculty Scholarship Recipients from the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences

The College of Social & Behavioral Sciences congratulates Dr. Karla Lassonde, psychology, and Dr. Jose Javier Lopez, geography, on being named 2020 Distinguished Faculty Scholarship Recipients by the Center for Excellence in Scholarship and Research.

Distinguished Faculty Scholars are tenured professors whose body of scholarship and current level of scholarly achievement warrant distinction with the university community. The Center for Excellence in Scholarship and Research (CESR) and the Faculty Research Committee selects up to three Distinguished Faculty Scholars annually.

Karla Lassonde, Ph.D. is a Cognitive Psychologist and has been teaching in the Psychology Department for 12 years. She notes that a   book from her childhood, “Thinking,” had a profound impact on her choice of careers. In her words, “It excites me to read it now with my two young boys and discover how much we have learned about cognition in the thirty years since that book was written.”

Dr. Lassonde teaches Introduction to Psychological Science, Psychology Statistics, and Introduction to Cognition as well as the specialty courses: Human Memory and Advanced Cognition. All of her research has been accomplished with the support of undergraduates with  the intent of advancing their knowledge and helping them establish their own career path and goals. Much of her research focuses on revising psychological misconceptions as well as developing a method for successful student learning called LEARN. She often designs research projects within courses. This serves a dual purpose: (1) students gain valuable  experience  participating  in  research  design within the classroom, and (2), conducting important work in the scholarship of teaching and learning within the classroom to improve teaching while gathering data for scholarly output.

Dr.  Lassonde has 17 published peer-reviewed articles and numerous presentations at national conferences. Her nominator, Dr. Dan Houlihan referred to her as “…the most well-rounded academic I have known.” This is validated by a series of awards and accomplishments: Minnesota State Mankato’s Outstanding Undergraduate Mentor Award, SBS’s Outstanding  Undergraduate Adviser Award, Minnesota State Mankato’s Pedagogical Innovation Award, and the very prestigious Walter D. Mink Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award given out by the Minnesota Psychological Association (2019). Dr. Lassonde also serves as a Consulting Editor for the APA’s flagship teaching journal Teaching of Psychology and along with colleague Dr. Emily Stark, and with a grant from the Association of Psychological Sciences, she has launched the web site Communicating Psychological Sciences, which presents a framework for students and faculty to write and post items that increase knowledge and promote enthusiasm within the field.

Jose Javier Lopez, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of  Geography  active  mainly  as  a  quantitative  geographer  and  spatial analyst. Lopez was born in Puerto Rico, and educated at the main public university of the island later continuing graduate studies in geography at the University of Akron and Indiana State University. Since becoming a faculty member of Minnesota State Mankato’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the late 1990s, Dr. Lopez has researched issues pertinent to the human geography of the United States and Latin America. He has taught many systematic courses, including Spatial Statistics, Spatial Analysis, Geographic Information Science for Crime Analysis, Cultural Geography, Economic Geography, Social Geography, and Rural Development.

Dr. Lopez’s innovative research about the geography of law enforcement malpractice, in conjunction with his colleague, Dr. Pedro Thomas, provided the foundation for the regional analysis of police misconduct patterns in the United States almost 20 years ago. His works about police malpractice were published in peer reviewed academic journals years before these issues became common topics of discussion on mainstream media.

Dr. Lopez has been invited to present his research at numerous institutions in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, and publishes articles that center on the study of the spatial manifestation of criminal acts. Lopez also researched the geography of extreme violence, and was involved in the production of the Atlas of Crime, a project led by the prestigious cartographer Borden D. Dent during the late 1990s.From 2010 to 2019 his studies with Dr.  Thomas have focused on the spatial patterns of sex trafficking in different regions of the U.S. Recently, Dr. Lopez was the Keynote Speaker at an international conference on Social Science in Japan. His speech was about the use of inferential spatial statistics, point pattern analysis, and spatial autocorrelation to fight human trafficking. These recent investigations, have continued a pattern of research and publication  that  have  underscored  Dr.  Lopez’s career.  Dr.  Lopez was nominated by Dr.  Sherrise Truesdale-Moore who stated, “He has brought leadership, vision, and outreach in  the community – locally, regionally, and globally.” Dr. Lopez was the recent recipient of the college of Social and Behavioral Sciences Distinguished Faculty Award.

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