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Office of the Vice President for Research

Featured Scholars

The Office of the Vice President for Research is proud to recognize the University of South Carolina's diverse and talented faculty whose creativity and innovation are changing the world around us. Featured Scholars is one program through which we do that.

Each month, the Office of the Vice President for Research puts out a call for nominees to be recognized as Featured Scholars. We gather up USC's the best and brightest talent, and feature them here on a regular basis to get the word out about their innovative work, and provide appreciation for the contributions they make to the Carolina community every day.

November 2014 Featured Scholars

Michael Beets

Michael Beets, Arnold School of Public Health

Since arriving at the University of South Carolina as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise Science (EXSC) in 2008, Dr. Michael Beets has had an amazing impact on the Arnold School of Public Health’s (ASPH) research related to physical activity and health.  While his initial research efforts clearly defined him as a rising expert in the important area of promoting physical activity and healthy eating in school age children, he has unmistakably moved past the moniker of “rising” and is now an acknowledged international authority. Evidence is clear, Dr. Beets, now an Associate Professor, has 18-refereed publications in 2014 alone, and is currently, Principal Investigator on three prestigious, NIH-funded R01 research grants. These studies focus on reducing childhood obesity through innovative physical activity and healthy-eating interventions in programs outside regular school days. This work deals directly with existing community organizations that serve youth.  Dr. Beets has quickly established himself as an outstanding faculty member, and an invaluable part of ASPH’s research mission. His novel discoveries will continue to impact the design and implementation of interventions, policies, and practices that lead to improvements in children’s health.

Michael Gavin

Michael Gavin, College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Michael Gavin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is author of The Invention of English Criticism, 1650-1760, which will be published by Cambridge University Press next year. In that book, Gavin tells the story of how literary criticism developed, not within the disciplined halls of the university system, but in the marketplace for books: authors used criticism to jostle for prestige among readers and patrons, and in doing so they invented the contentious discourse that became English criticism. Gavin also works in the field of “digital humanities,” which uses computational methods for the study of literature, history, and philosophy. In his article, “Agent-based Modeling and Historical Simulation” (forthcoming in Digital Humanities Quarterly), Gavin discusses how new techniques for simulating complex systems can be used to answer historical questions, including as examples some of his own simulations of the seventeenth-century London book trade. Most recently, he has begun researching the ways that agent-based modeling can contribute to the field of intellectual history. With a focus on the works of economist and philosopher Adam Smith, Gavin uses models of Smith’s moral and economic systems to show that his theories of norm formation and market behavior are more deeply implicated than Smith acknowledged. This digital humanities research contributes to a new book project examining the ontology and epistemology of fiction and simulation as knowledge-producing genres. Titled Fiction in a Plural World, this project received a humanities research grant from the Provost’s Office during 2014.

Abraham Goldberg

Abraham Goldberg, USC Upstate

Dr. Abraham Goldberg, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at USC Upstate, has leveraged his research program to promote citizenship and livable communities throughout South Carolina.  He recently released the South Carolina Civic Health Index, which analyzes political participation, community involvement, and neighborhood engagement rates across residents with varying levels of educational attainment, race, and age.  The report offers recommendations aimed at enhancing citizenship across the state.  Dr. Goldberg is also regularly invited to speak to community groups about fostering healthy, vibrant neighborhoods.  In serving as the keynote speaker for the Richland County Neighborhood Planning Conference, he presented his research on decisions communities can make to improve residents’ happiness and quality of life.  He also moderated a Community Vibrancy panel for the Ten at the Top Upstate Regional Summit, which included the President of the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce and Mayor of Greenville.  Dr. Goldberg frequently connects his students to his scholarship and community work.

Robin Evans Matutina

Robin Evans Matutina, College of Nursing

Dr. Robin Evans Matutina, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing, would like to know why men choose nursing as a career and the barriers they might encounter along the way. It was this curiosity that sparked an interest in her current research. Dr. Matutina is PI on a qualitative descriptive study that explores the perceptions of male nursing students enrolled in a traditional baccalaureate degree nursing program. She and her co-investigators, Dr. Patrick Hickey (Nursing) and Ken Jennings, (Nursing PhD candidate) hope to gain an understanding about the factors that draw men to the program, the challenges they face, and the support they need through the participants’ reflections of their experiences. The study was funded the South Carolina Nurses Foundation and Dr. Matutina hopes that the results of her work will improve recruitment and retention of male nursing students.  

E. J. Mayeaux Jr.

E. J. Mayeaux Jr., School of Medicine

E. J. Mayeaux, Jr., MD, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is a national and international teacher on skin diseases and women’s health issues, particularly HPV diseases.  He became the President of the ASCCP in June of 2014.  He has written or coauthored 7 medical textbooks which have been translated into numerous languages.  Dr. Mayeaux has chaired a number of women’s health courses for the AAFP, ASCCP, and NPI.  He is co-chair of the ASCCP Advanced Courses, and was invited to present at the ISSVD World Congresses in Paris and Tel Aviv and the International Federation of Colposcopy and Pathology of the Cervix (IFCPC) World Congresses in Brazil and London.  He was recently elected to the executive board of the IFCPC.   He was an invited Delegate-at-Large for the ASCCP Consensus Conferences. He was three times awarded the ASCCP’s “Award of Merit” for service in the field of colposcopy and cervical pathology.

Meir Muller

Meir Muller, College of Education

Dr. Meir Muller is an ordained Rabbi and earned his early childhood education doctorate in philosophy. He is a clinical assistant professor within the College of Education as well as overseeing the Columbia, S.C. Cutler Jewish Day School as principal for the past twenty-two years. His expertise is in childhood growth and development, social studies methods, cognitive development and teacher preparation. His research interests include constructivist theory and pedagogy, teacher preparation and development, research comparing early childhood issues in the Israeli and American society, and Israeli education. In 2011, Haifa University's Van Leer institute in Jerusalem convened its International Research Group on Jewish Education in the Early Years. Haifa University chose to examine twelve early childhood researches – six from Israel and six from the United States. Muller's paper on "Kindergarten Children's Conception of Knowledge in Jewish Education" was one of the six chosen from the U.S. Muller is currently working on another research project called "Attitudes Towards Inclusion: A comparison between Israeli and American Educators" for this same organization at Haifa. His recent published works include "Constructivism in Jewish Early Childhood Education" for the Journal of Jewish Education and "Focus on Ethics – Differing Faiths in a Faith Based Program" for NAEYC's Young Children periodical. Muller is currently rewriting South Carolina's Early Learning Standards for the S.C. Department of Social Services. He is an advisor for the National Association for the Education of Young Children, co-president of the National Alliance of Jewish Early Childhood Educators, and member of the S.C.'s Governor's Child Care Council. USC's College of Education presented Muller with the Scholastic Early Childhood Professional of the Year Award and the Early Career Teaching Award.  

Joseph Rackers

Joseph Rackers, School of Music

Praised as an "American virtuoso" (Audiophile Audition), "enormous power and intelligent, instinctive interpretation" (Spoleto Today), and "simply dazzling" (The State), pianist Joseph Rackers has performed for enthusiastic audiences in New York, Chicago, Kiev, Rome, Shanghai and Washington D.C., at venues across Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Ukraine and extensively throughout the United States. His performances around the world include the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series, Shanghai and Sichuan Conservatories of Music and Yantai International Music Festival, Kiev International Music Festival, Banff Centre for the Arts, Moulin d'Andé Arts Festival, Varna International Piano Festival and Society of Composers International Conference, to name a few. Gramophone writes "the results are consistently if Rackers response were primarily to his relationship with the composer as some sort of kindred spirit". Joseph Rackers is an International Steinway Artist and has recorded for the MSR Classics and Beauport Classical labels. He earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree the Eastman School and serves as Associate Professor of Piano and Coordinator of the Piano Area at the University of South Carolina School of Music.