Finalists chosen for Distinguished Professor Award


Rut Ortiz and Anthony Adams

Mahootian, Adams and Acioli are candidates who are dedicated to students and are passionate about their individual crafts.

Rut Ortiz, News Editor

Three NEIU professors are finalists for the 12th Annual Bernard J. Brommel Distinguished Professor Award. This award recognizes each professor for their accomplished works in their respective fields of research.

The recognized finalists are Dr. Anthony Adams, NEIU CMT department associate professor and chair; Dr. Paulo Acioli, NEIU Physics department professor and chair; and Dr. Shahrzad Mahootian, NEIU Linguistics department professor, program coordinator and graduate adviser.

The candidates each submitted a bibliography of their research for consideration, along with letters of recommendation from their peers.

“A lot of my research focuses on sex, gender and sexuality,” Adams said. “Interpersonal communication, qualitative communication, how do we come to learn about others and communication theory.”

Adams said of his initial works, “But a lot of my primary research deals with sex-gendered sexuality, specifically around coming out of the closet.”

Adams said that so much of his work also comes researching what he described as “self disclosure” and how people disclose their sexual orientation.

“Specially gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer,” he said.

Two of his focuses hone in on the reactions people may receive after disclosing their sexual orientation to others in addition to the mistakes those same people may make along the way.

He said his current research is on what forgiveness means.

“How do we live with others who have slighted us? I’m studying these concepts within the context of sexuality,” Adams said. “But I hope that they will resonate across context or be applicable to other situations.”

Professor Acioli’s work revolves around reporting a different set of reactions found in the subjects of Chemistry and Physics.

“I have about 43 published papers,” Acioli said about the collection of work that went into his presented bibliography. “I am working currently on two or three more with my collaborators.”

Currently Acioli is working on research that closes in on the border between Chemistry and Physics, which is called Cluster Physics.

“This bibliography covers the area, which is computational chemical physics, which is using computational methods to explain some experiments,” Acioli said. “And to find things that experiments cannot actually achieve.”

He said that this boundary of the two sciences are “molecules of the same atom” and their properties. He gave an example at a microscopic stance where two known metals – manganese and magnesium – don’t behave like metals.

“They don’t bond like metals when they are really tiny. So how is that property evolving from: when you only have two atoms, why do they behave differently?” Acioli said.

Acioli said that he has been nominated for this award before and looks forward to more of his research.

“I really enjoy learning about things,” he said. “I like explaining things we don’t know.”

Dr. Shahrzad Mahootian, the third candidate up for the award, has spent years collecting her research on language.

“I built that bibliography based on the research that I had done from 1994 all the way to a month ago,” Mahootian said.

Her works consist of approximately 28 presentations, three books, seven book chapters and various article publications.

“My specialization is actually three things, two that are related to bilingualism,” she said. “My focus is on what we call ‘language contact.’”

Mahootian said that language comes together, most commonly, through immigration.

“People move from one culture, one nation, to another and they bring with them everything including their language,” she said.

She exemplified language in the instance of starting a new life in a completely different country.

“One of the things that integrates you the best or separates you the most is language,” Mahootian said. “If you’re familiar with different accents, you’re not completely fitting in for a while.”

She told a brief story of her own experience while growing up, moving to the United States and the impact bilingualism had on her.

“You become really aware of language as a child in a bilingual context,” Mahootian said.

Mahootian said her research is also on the structure of languages coming together cohesively, using a phenomenon known as code-switching that is experienced by most, if not all, people who grew up in a primary language and had to learn a secondary one.

“That’s what research does, it allows us to go out, ask questions and seek answers. It means that you as the individual or as a collaborative group are thinking critically about something,” she said. “You’re not just taking everything at surface level.”

The announcement of the distinguished award winner will be revealed during the May 2017 commencement ceremony.

All three candidates said that if they should win the award, any monetary benefits will go back into fulfilling their research.