HSU’s 2020-21 Distinguished Faculty Honored

Since 1964, Humboldt State has honored outstanding faculty and in 1986, the University added the Scholar of the Year Award. Nominations are reviewed by the Faculty Awards Committee. Recommendations for awards recipients are made to the University Senate and forwarded to the President of the University. The President affirms and announces the recipients to the campus community.

(Top row, left to right) Chris Aberson, Professor of Psychology; Lonny Grafman, Instructor of Environmental Resources Engineering; Andrew Kinziger, Professor of Fisheries Biology; Benjamin Marschke, Professor of History; (Bottom row, left to right) Professor of History; Sarah Jaquette Ray, Professor of Environmental Studies; Frank Shaughnessy, Professor of Botany; Michihiro Sugata, Professor of Sociology

Congratulations to this year’s outstanding faculty!

Lonny Grafman, Instructor of Environmental Resources Engineering – Excellence in Teaching – Lecturer Award
Teaching in the Department of Environmental Resources Engineering since 2003, Lonny Grafman is known by students and colleagues for his profound dedication, his deep commitment, his unwavering humanity, and the extremely positive impact that he has had on his students’ lives.

They describe him as a great teacher and mentor who effectively engages students with the personal guidance one looks for in a college professor. Many current and former students state that he is the most influential instructor they had had during their college education.

What sets Grafman apart, even above his superlative in-classroom teaching, is that he draws the boundary of his work wide enough to envelop each student: their life, their well-being, their confidence, their capabilities, their happiness.

“Lonny Grafman is a force when he is teaching. He is passionate about his craft and one of the most innovative and creative people I have met. He does not do things the way he is ‘supposed’ to and never takes the path of least resistance. He has lit a fire in students that don’t see how they fit into engineering and sustainable development and he pushes his students further than they think they can go,” says Eileen Cashman, Environmental Resources Engineering Chair.

Frank Shaughnessy, Professor of Botany – Outstanding Professor Award
A cornerstone of HSU’s Department of Biological Sciences since 1996, Professor Frank Shaughnessy has been instrumental in the development of Klamath River Connection and Rising Tides, two of HSU’s most successful Place-based Learning Communities. By integrating experiential learning and Indigenous perspectives into the scientific process, Shaughnessy has helped establish HSU’s reputation as a leader in innovative and inclusive STEM education. An active marine botany and ecology scientist, Shaughnessy has published 15 peer reviewed articles, two manuscripts, and been the lead or co-presenter in nearly 100 scientific presentations during his time at HSU. He has also served as the primary thesis advisor of 15 graduate students and been awarded 12 extramural grants, totaling $2,487,805. Shaughnessy has research collaborators from departments across the University, including Chemistry, Oceanography, and Wildlife.

Shaughnessy is active in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) which supports first generation students at HSU. “Professor Shaughnessy excels in integrating the experiences of scientists of color, as well as, highlighting the importance of diversity in STEM,” says EOP Director Dan Saveliff.

Michihiro Sugata, Professor of Sociology – Excellence in Teaching Award for Tenure Track Faculty
Sociology Professor Michihiro Clark Sugata is celebrated by students and faculty for facilitating respectful and inclusive conversations on critical topics in the classroom. As the coordinator of HSU’s Criminology & Justice Studies program, Sugata has taught courses on law, migration, policing, race, and gender since joining HSU’s Sociology department in 2016. “As a professor, he connects with students by showing genuine interest and respect,” explains Sociology Professor Joshua Meisel. “He is the kind of colleague that often waits to speak, choosing his words carefully, and then provides impactful contributions that move conversation and action forward in significant ways.”
Sugata believes that continually recalibrating his pedagogical approach in response to world events is essential as an educator. Last year reaffirmed Sugata’s philosophy as his students faced the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social unrest of 2020. These events presented an increased need, and opportunity, for students to bring their individual experiences into collective conversation.
Students and colleagues praise Sugata for his commitment to justice, learning, and the HSU community.


Chris Aberson, Professor of Psychology
A beloved HSU Psychology professor and accomplished scholar, Chris Aberson is a nationally recognized social psychologist and statistical methods researcher.

Colleagues and students describe Aberson as a dedicated mentor and educator who has positively impacted the lives of countless students.

“Professor Aberson’s work examines barriers for people of color and sexual minorities, which is a major attraction for many of our students who come from diverse backgrounds,” says former student and colleague Professor Amber Gaffney. “His intent is to build his students’ careers, while making academia equitable and inclusive.”

The Department of Psychology’s graduate coordinator for 18 of his 20 years at HSU, Aberson has chaired five tenure track searches and two University Faculty Personnel Committees. In professional psychology associations, he holds two editorial roles, serves on three additional editorial boards and the National Science Foundation Social Psychology grant panel, and he is the Statistics Workshop Coordinator for the Western Psychological Association. In the course of his academic career, Aberson’s published work has received over 2,700 citations.

Sarah Jaquette Ray, Professor of Environmental Studies
Working at the crosshairs of climate change research, psychology, and environmental justice, Environmental Studies Professor Sarah Jaquette Ray has risen to prominence as an international voice in the interdisciplinary climate justice movement. Faculty peers say that Ray is emblematic of HSU’s scholarly reputation, working at the intersection of sustainability and social justice. Since heading up HSU’s Environmental Studies program in 2013, Ray has authored two influential books, co-edited three landmark collections, and published nine journal articles and book chapters. After winning a large grant from the University of California Carbon Neutrality Initiative in 2019, Ray led a network of UC and CSU faculty to launch NXTerra, a resource for educators that showcases California’s leadership in climate education.

In 2020, Ray published “A Field Guide for Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet,” which she calls “an existential toolkit for the climate generation.” The book addresses the important issue of climate grief that young people face today; Ray has become a primary source on the topic for national media.

Andrew Kinziger, Professor of Fisheries Biology
Fisheries Biology Professor Andrew Kinziger has been teaching at HSU since 2003, and had an exceptional year for research last year. Kinziger co-authored a ground-breaking paper published in Science (the premier academic journal for STEM fields) which reported revolutionary findings on the genetic control of life history traits in Chinook salmon, among three others in the last year. Through his career at HSU, he has published 44 papers in scholarly journals.

Kinziger consistently incorporates both undergraduate and graduate students in research and publications. He serves as a research mentor and nearly all of his recent papers—including his recent paper in Science—include at least one of his graduate students as a co-author.

Kinziger is successful at obtaining external funding, bringing millions in dollars of external funding for student salaries, department equipment, tuition and research expenses. He launched four new grant-funded projects in 2020 alone, and regularly collaborates with NOAA, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Caltrans, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and local Native American Tribes.

Kinziger is aware of the importance of combining Traditional Ecological Knowledge with STEM knowledge in the biological sciences, and continues to support students at all levels. “His personal accomplishments in research have a critical role in creating opportunities for students and identifying good research questions for them to work on. Many of those students have gone on to make important research contributions and build careers in science,” says Bret Harvey, Fisheries Research Biologist with the USDA Forest Service.

Benjamin Marschke, Professor of History
Professor Benjamin Marschke has been a pillar of scholarly activity in HSU’s Department of History since 2006. With a prolific publication record, Marschke’s reputation as a leading expert in early modern German history is well established in academic circles worldwide. Marschke was named a McCrone Promising Young Scholar in 2008 and won HSU’s Faculty Research Award in 2015. During his tenure at HSU he has published 18 articles, essays, or book chapters, published five books as co-author or co-editor, received thirteen extramural grants or fellowships, and presented his work at more than 50 scholarly conferences.
“Ben is one of the most important historians of early modern Germany working today,” says Jared Poley, a colleague and Professor of History at Georgia State University. Calling him a “trans-Atlantic bridge-builder,” Poley emphasizes that Marschke is known for his collaboration, mentorship, and service among students and colleagues in the United States and the European Union. Marschke’s work is published in both English and German.

Marschke connects his historical research to the politics, society, and culture of today, and he is known to colleagues and students alike as an invaluable educator at HSU.