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2020 Plumeri Award Winners

Julie R. Agnew ’91

Richard C. Kraemer Term Professor of BusinessJulie R. Agnew ’91

Inspired by her senior honors thesis at William & Mary, Professor Agnew focuses her research on the psychology of investing. Funded by more than $1.6 million in competitive research grants, her work has been featured in top academic journals and highlighted by media outlets. She frequently presents her research at conferences around the world and has testified as an invited expert to the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Grateful for her William & Mary education, Agnew returned to her alma mater in 2001. Over the years, she has employed students as research assistants on grants and is proud to have helped students create the Howard J. Busbee Finance Academy. This organization holds events designed to bridge the gap between academia and practice, including the popular “From DoG Street to Wall Street” event. As the inaugural director of the Boehly Center for Excellence in Finance, she designed many new programs, including a Singapore study abroad program, a risk certificate course and a mentor match program. She also co-founded the Women’s Leadership Summit and Stock Pitch Competition. A Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) Institute Fellow and former Fulbright Scholar to Singapore, Agnew spent 2012 as a Senior Visiting Fellow in Australia. She is a member of the Pension Research Council Advisory Board of The Wharton School and on the board of directors of C&F Bank. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of William & Mary, she earned her doctorate in finance from Boston College in 2001, after working for several years on Wall Street.

David S. Armstrong

Chancellor Professor of PhysicsDavid S. Armstrong

David Armstrong is an experimental nuclear and particle physicist who has been a member of the physics department since 1994. His research is highly collaborative, engaging both undergraduate and graduate students, and focuses on studies of the weak interaction, one of the four fundamental forces in nature. This research involves experiments conducted at major international accelerator labs such as Jefferson Lab, TRIUMF, CERN and MAMI, and has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation since 1997. He has mentored a dozen students who have received their doctorates, with two more in progress.

Armstrong’s classroom teaching has spanned the gamut of physics courses offered at W&M, from freshman seminars and large introductory lecture classes, through undergraduate courses designed for physics majors, to core Ph.D.-level graduate classes and focused-topic graduate-level courses — he has taught 19 distinct courses to date. He is particularly proud of his contribution to the COLL curriculum, the freshman seminar course “Schrodinger’s Cat: Quantum Reality,” which challenges students to wrestle with the philosophical implications of quantum physics. He has published 92 peer-reviewed articles during his time at William & Mary; many of his papers are co-authored with undergraduate and graduate students. His papers have been cited more than 6,700 times in the scientific literature.

Armstrong received an undergraduate degree from McGill University, an M.Sc. degree from Queen’s University (Canada) and a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia; he was named as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2018. He served as president of W&M’s Faculty Assembly in 2020-21.

Brendan Bourdage Ph.D. ’21

Men’s Soccer Associate Head CoachBrendan Bourdage Ph.D. ’21

Coach Bourdage entered his 11th season with the William & Mary men’s soccer program in 2022. A U.S. Army veteran with multiple combat tours, Bourdage uses that experience to drive his recruitment and development of student-athletes who demonstrate loyalty, personal integrity and a strong desire for continuous improvement in all areas of their lives. Bourdage has been instrumental in continuing the Tribe’s success in the CAA and on the national stage since arriving in 2012. In 2013, Tribe soccer defeated two No.1-ranked teams in the space of eight days. In that same year, the Tribe finished the season with a top-15 RPI (rating percentage index) and hosted an NCAA tournament first-round match, one of two NCAA tournament appearances since Bourdage’s arrival. In 2017, the Tribe appeared in its second consecutive CAA title game (third overall since 2013), winning a CAA-best eighth conference championship. During Bourdage’s time at William & Mary, the Tribe has produced a consensus All-American in 2017, dozens of All-CAA selections, two United Soccer Coaches (USC) Scholar All-Americans, and the team has earned the USC Team Academic Award five times. In 2019, Bourdage earned his United States Soccer Federation Senior-A License, the highest amateur coaching certification offered by that organization. Bourdage received his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Santa Clara University, a master of science in kinesiology from Humboldt State University and he completed his doctorate in educational policy, planning and leadership (EPPL) higher education at William & Mary in 2021.

Randolph M. Chambers

Professor of Biology, Director of W.M. Keck Environmental Field LaboratoryRandolph M. Chambers

Professor Chambers was hired in 2001 with a joint appointment from William & Mary and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He teaches field-based courses that incorporate the campus in the undergraduate curriculum, with field trips into the College Woods, onto Lake Matoaka and through local wetlands and streams. He was a key player in the creation and expansion of W&M’s Environmental Science & Policy program. Under his direction, the Keck Environmental Lab provides instruction and research support for projects conducted by faculty and students at W&M and VIMS. A wetlands ecologist by training, he collaborates with colleagues at VIMS and elsewhere on a diversity of research projects including: mechanisms and possible control of an invasive wetland plant species; impacts and mitigation of bycatch in the commercial blue crab fishery; effects of water management and sea-level rise on soil nutrient cycling in the Florida coastal Everglades; use of biopolymers to reduce nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and contributions of local aquatic environments to greenhouse gas emissions. He has published more than 50 research papers while at William & Mary, the majority of which are co-authored with W&M undergraduate and graduate students. Keen on environmental sustainability, he works with university facilities personnel on the campus stormwater management plan and is a strong proponent of incorporating solar power into the campus energy portfolio. Chambers received a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Gettysburg College, a Master of Science in zoology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a doctorate in environmental sciences from the University of Virginia.

Christopher A. Del Negro

Professor of Applied Science and NeuroscienceChristopher A. Del Negro

A neuroscientist eager to understand how the brain generates human behaviors, Professor Del Negro investigates relatively straightforward ones: breathing and locomotion. We breathe no matter what and we have to move around, so these are important behaviors to understand at the level of genes, cells and ion channels: the brain’s building blocks. Del Negro’s team of W&M students has discovered the genetic class of brain cells at the core of breathing rhythm generation as well as the class of ion channels that animates their function to pump air in and out of the lungs. Del Negro’s most recent branch of work seeks to explain — also at genetic, cellular and ion channel levels — how brain circuits initiate movements such as walking and running. This work will help unravel how the human brain controls normal movements and what goes wrong in neurodegenerative disorders that affect motor control, such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. Del Negro has 58 peer-reviewed publications in journals including Nature Reviews Neuroscience, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and PLOS Biology. His work has been continuously supported for 16 years by seven grants from the National Institutes of Health. As a member of Applied Science and the Neuroscience Program, Del Negro has a passion for education and research training at doctoral and undergraduate levels. His students have gone on to successful careers in academic and industrial biomedical research. Del Negro received his Bachelor of Arts from Occidental College and his doctorate in physiological science from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Eric J. Hilton

Professor of Fisheries Science, Curator of the Nunnally Ichthyology CollectionEric J. Hilton

Professor Hilton maintains an active, vibrant research program that is at the forefront of the biology of fishes. He uses a transdisciplinary approach, drawing on methods and data from comparative anatomy, developmental biology, biogeography, histology, paleontology, genetics and phylogenetic systematics to investigate the diversity and evolution of fishes worldwide. He also is involved with a wide array of projects on local fishes, including the biology of anadromous fishes in the Chesapeake Bay, such as American shad, river herring and Atlantic sturgeon, and the ecology of larval fishes of the bay. This part of his research program supports the management of species, and Hilton serves on technical committees for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. He has published nearly 100 peer-reviewed papers, including several book-length monographs, frequently with students as co-authors. He also leads extensive field experiences for students. Since coming to William & Mary and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in 2007, Hilton has been integral in revitalizing the Nunnally Ichthyology Collection, an internationally recognized resource used by scientists around the world. In addition to a broad portfolio of research grants, he has helped to secure nearly $1 million in support for the collection from the National Science Foundation, as well as additional support from private foundations. Hilton received an undergraduate degree in wildlife ecology and a doctorate in evolutionary biology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and he conducted postdoctoral research at the Field Museum in Chicago and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Shantá D. Hinton

McLeod Tyler Associate Professor and Associate Chair of BiologyShantá D. Hinton
Biology Faculty Advisor for the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Student Chapter

A professor and researcher who challenges traditional scientific notions, and the first minority tenured faculty member in the sciences at William & Mary, Professor Hinton is an international leader in the study of gene “duds,” dedicating her career to determining the puzzling question of how these “duds” — which exist throughout evolution — keep life going. Her work focuses on proteins called pseudophosphatases and has led to groundbreaking discoveries demonstrating their role in nerve cell formation and stress responses. Her research has brought nearly $2 million to William & Mary. Hinton’s undergraduate research students present among international scientists at national and international conferences, and they have helped change the initial understanding of pseudophosphatases as duds to their recognition as essential signaling molecules. Students participate in her research globally by presenting at international scientific conferences in Paris, or continuing their research at the world-renowned Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Sinai Health System in Toronto. She has published in peer-reviewed journals with more than 26 undergraduates. Her research efforts flawlessly integrate into her courses at W&M. Students are immersed in scientific inquiry, and they have an opportunity to travel to the world-renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where many Nobel laureate scientists speak. Her accomplishments have been acknowledged by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She has been an intricate part of the William & Mary Scholars Undergraduate Research Experience (WMSURE). Hinton received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a doctorate from Howard University, which recognized her as the most promising scientist produced by the biology department.

Lindy L. Johnson

Associate Professor of English EducationLindy L. Johnson
Co-director, Center for Innovation in Learning Design

Professor Johnson is a national expert in researching how digital technologies are transforming the way young people read, write and participate in contemporary society. In 2015, she established the Center for Innovation in Learning Design, where she has served as co-director for the past seven years. The center’s work focuses on research-practice partnerships with local school divisions to address systemic inequities in K-12 education. As co-director, Professor Johnson leads a team of graduate and undergraduate students in examining how digital technologies can support student learning and engagement across disciplines. Since arriving at William & Mary in 2014, she has published more than 30 articles and book chapters, many with her graduate students. She has served as a principal investigator, co-principal investigator or senior collaborator on numerous grants. Her research has been supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and the U.S. Department of Education. Her research examining how adolescents use digital media to engage in social activism was recognized by the Steve Cahir Early Career Award for Research on Writing and Literacies from the American Educational Research Association. In 2018, she was awarded a fellowship by the Teaching Systems Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she joined an interdisciplinary research collaborative focused on designing, implementing and researching games and simulations as tools for learning. She received her doctorate in language and literacy education from the University of Georgia.

Daniel Parker

Associate Professor of English and LinguisticsDaniel Parker

Professor Parker is a linguist who combines multiple perspectives to uncover how we use and understand language. His research is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on experimental, computational and theoretical methods to advance language science. Parker is co-director of the Computational & Experimental Linguistics Laboratory (CELL), where he engages students across the arts and sciences in state-of-the-art behavioral and computational research on human language. His scholarship has won accolades in linguistics and computational cognitive science, including the prestigious Jerrold J. Katz Young Scholar award and the “Best Paper” prize at the International Conference on Cognitive Modeling. He has secured two grants from the National Science Foundation to expand research on language science at William & Mary, totaling almost $250,000. Parker regularly co-authors with his students and has integrated more than 30 undergraduates into his research since arriving at William & Mary in 2014. He works to improve research opportunities for first-generation and underrepresented minority students as a William & Mary Scholars Undergraduate Research Experience (WMSURE) Faculty Fellow, to promote interdisciplinary education as a W. Taylor Reveley III Interdisciplinary Faculty Fellow and to elevate undergraduate research in linguistics as a founder of the Virginia Area Undergraduate Linguistics Conference. Parker received his doctorate in linguistics from the University of Maryland.

Patricia Vahle

Professor of PhysicsPatricia Vahle

Professor Vahle is an experimental particle physicist, specializing in the study of neutrinos, the most abundant fundamental particles of matter. In particular, she works to understand the nature and implications of neutrino mass, through a quantum mechanical effect called neutrino oscillations. Oscillations may offer clues to the longstanding existential mystery of what caused the matter-antimatter asymmetry of the universe. In physics terms, her main research goal is to determine the ordering of the masses of the three neutrinos, called the mass hierarchy, and whether a fundamental symmetry, called charge-parity (CP), is violated by neutrinos. Vahle currently serves as co-spokesperson of the NOvA neutrino oscillation experiment, leading an international collaboration of scientists based at Fermilab, a particle physics lab outside of Chicago. By studying beams of neutrinos and antineutrinos in two massive detectors separated by more than 500 miles, NOvA has rich physics potential, but the experiment also provides an excellent training ground for young scientists at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels. Vahle is the author of more than 60 papers published in refereed journals, two of which are considered renowned publications, tallying more than 500 citations each. Vahle received her Bachelor of Science in physics from New Mexico State University and her doctorate from the University of Texas. Since arriving at William & Mary in 2008, she has received the Alumni Teaching Award and held the Mansfield Professorship from 2015 to 2019.