Think Big Leadership Awards announced

The Office of the Provost is pleased to announce winners of the 2021 Think Big Leadership Awards.

“I am genuinely amazed at the creative, boundary-pushing and community-focused work happening all over our campus, particularly during a year of so much unrest and uncertainty,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Ben Vinson III. “I am so pleased that we can recognize such outstanding members of our community in this way.”

As Case Western Reserve charts the waters of its new reality, the North Star and Pathways of the Think Big strategic plan continue to guide the university. The university’s North Star states: Case Western Reserve is a high-impact research university that aspires to be a community where humanity, science and technology meet to create a just and thriving world. The Think Big Leadership Awards are meant to identify those who are helping to achieve this vision.

In mid-April, Provost Vinson asked the campus to identify teams or individuals who are pushing boundaries along each of four Pathways outlined in the university’s strategic plan. The campus community responded in force with nearly 100 individual and team nominations, representing more than 260 faculty, staff and students.

Winners were chosen by Think Big Pathway Leaders in conjunction with the Office of the Provost. They will be honored with an event at Harcourt House on October 5 hosted by incoming President Eric Kaler and Provost Vinson.

The awardees are listed below.

Pathway 1: Ignite Interdisciplinarity

Transforming Art History: Team Award

Team Members:

Elizabeth Bolman, Ken Singer, Michael Hinczewski, Ina Martin, Lauryn Smith, Sarah Lavin, Sam Schwab, Fang Ji, Michael McMaster, Shishir Adhikari, Marcio O’Dwyer and Gundeep Singh

About:

This interdisciplinary team is transforming art history at CWRU and around the world. The project models the potential of transdisciplinary collaboration among fields that rarely have any intersection: physics, art history and machine learning. The team is combining a longstanding art historical type of problem with bleeding edge machine learning capabilities. The project takes high resolution scans of paintings and asks the machine to identify individual artists’ hands. So far, the results are about 95% accurate. Correctly identifying artists is profoundly important for art historical research, museums, and the billion-dollar global art market. The potential for machines to replicate the work of human “connoisseurs” surely will have worldwide impact.

Supporting Resilient Infrastructure: Xiong (Bill) Yu

Individual Awardee:

Xiong (Bill) Yu

About:

Professor Bill Yu’s research develops interdisciplinary innovations to support resilient infrastructure. An example project is the CRISP Type 2/Collaborative Research funded at $2.5 million. This team includes civil, electrical, computer/data science, sociology and economics, creating a Water Infrastructure Investment Decision Support model that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence. The model allows communities to compare alternatives considering indirect economic and public health implications besides direct costs. Yu’s approach is to collaborate locally while thinking globally. He makes local partnerships with the deliberate goal of extending solved infrastructure problems to deliver global impacts. In addition to his academic, research and administrative achievements, Yu has shown positivity and support to all in his department. 

Pathway 2: Integrate Humanity and Technology

Advancing the Symbiotic Integration of Humans and Technology: Team Award

Team Members:

Dustin Tyler, Emily Graczyk, Michael Fu, Luis Mesias Flores, Xufei Wang and Leah Roldan 

About:

Have you felt a banana in California as you peeled it from Cleveland? This team has! This team has created a system that directly connects the human sense of touch and human movement to robotic systems, advancing the symbiotic integration of humans and technology. The full interdisciplinary team (43 members total) includes collaboration with UCLA, CMU, University of Wyoming and Cleveland State University. In addition to the technology to build the human interface and network platform, the team is working to fully understand, study and advance the technical and human elements of the human-technology relationship. The conversations arising in this mix of disciplines is transformative, highlighting the need for new approaches to both humanities and technology. 

Integrating Humanity and Technology: Ainsley Buckner 

Individual Awardee:

Ainsley Buckner 

About:

Ainsley Buckner, director of prototyping, art and community engagement at Sears think[box], is integrating humanity and technology on many levels. She and her team are engaging anatomy professors along with Cleveland Institute of Art medical illustration professors to 3D print anatomical models that augment the HoloAnatomy course. These models could become a free online library available to schools around the world. She is also working with art history faculty to use 3D scanning to digitize important works of art, a technique that is at the forefront of art conservation. Finally, she is bringing Human-Centered Design to CWRU. This design methodology focuses on the end-user and finding simple but robust solutions for their needs. It can be used to solve almost any problem and is not limited to physical products. Buchner led workshops on this and empowered other university staffers to offer workshops as well.

Pathway 3: Achieve Social Impact

Achieving Social Impact in Mixed Income Communities: Team Award

Team Members:

Debbie Wilber, Mark Joseph, Amy Khare, Alexandra Curley, Taryn Gress, Sherise McKinney, Diane Shoemaker, Dawn Ellis, Ata Adeel and Richard Rodems

About: 

This team, which is achieving social impact in mixed-income communities, is actively forging meaningful partnerships and deploying impactful research far beyond campus. The initiative is currently engaged in community partnerships across the City of Cleveland, across the country and in Canada. Locally, in the Buckeye-Woodhill neighborhood, the initiative partnered with numerous community partners—including residents—to lead the application process for $35 million in funding. The redevelopment of the Woodhill Homes, which is less than two miles from CWRU, will bring about significant social and economic impact. In the Slavic Village neighborhood, the team is galvanizing a partnership to design and implement a pioneering community-network building strategy with a racial equity focus.

Modeling Commitment to Social Impact: Caleb Curry

Individual Awardee:

Caleb Curry

About:

Student Caleb Curry has been committed to social impact and the university community during his tenure at CWRU. He has worked to create community standards for student organizations to combat violence and inequality on campus; expand access to the CWRU community card; and has helped prioritize minority business contracts. He also serves as the group coordinator for Amnesty International and spearheaded an LGBT human rights event that attracted nearly 200 people. In addition to the campus community, Curry is dedicated to the Cleveland community and beyond. He is working to eliminate Cleveland’s Food Deserts and performing public health research focusing on health disparities like asthma and their relation to minority stress. Throughout the pandemic, he has been working on a nationwide COVID-19 LGBT+ survey to examine the impact of COVID-19 on many health behaviors of LGBT youth.

Pathway 4: Shape the Agora

Organizing and Educating: Adrianne Fletcher

Individual Awardee:

Adrianne Fletcher

About:

Adrianne Fletcher is the assistant dean of diversity and inclusion in the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and a member of the Minority Affairs Faculty Senate Committee. She has organized university-wide events regarding diversity and discrimination this year, always makes major contributions to the minority affairs committee and researches implicit bias. She is approachable and always willing to help and is the change agent that we all want to be. She educates others on the impact of microaggressions and overt discrimination and finds ways to reduce it on our campus and in the community. 

Making an IMPACT: Lauren Calandruccio

Individual Awardee:

Lauren Calandruccio 

About:

Lauren Calandruccio is an audiologist and associate professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. This past summer, she was awarded a grant from the American Speech-Hearing Association to launch a year-long mentoring program for diverse students. The program, which she calls IMPACT (Innovative Mentoring and Professional Advancement through Cultural Training), supports experiential learning activities, mentorship activities and graduate school preparation support for 10 diverse undergraduate students. In addition, she has been appointed to the Board of Trustees for the ASHFoundation. As the leader of the University Giving Program, she has more than doubled the number of participating universities and has raised more than $500,000. She also was able to recruit all schools in the state of Ohio to participate in the program.

Transforming the School of Law: Bryan Adamson

Individual Awardee:

Bryan Adamson

About:

Professor Bryan Adamson, who joined the law school as associate dean for diversity and inclusion in July 2020, has had a transformative impact on the School of Law during a time when racial injustice is prominent in the news and in minds across the university. In just one short year Adamson has led a series of online teach-ins about the George Floyd killing; facilitated faculty meetings devoted to fostering discussions of race and justice in the classroom; appeared frequently in the national news to discuss cases of excessive use of force by police; and much more. Adamson is a model of how one energetic faculty member can shape the agora and achieve social impact.

Propelling CWRU Forward: Gina Maldonado-Powers 

Individual Awardee:

Gina Maldonado-Powers 

About:

Since joining CWRU and Student Advancement & Academic Resources in June 2018, Gina Maldonado-Powers has not only fully engaged with her students and colleagues, but she also has identified ways to help propel CWRU forward. She has taken steps to innovate by proposing the Dominion Energy pilot program, being a facilitator for the NSBE Career Fair Preparation Workshops, leading the Somos CWRU seed sprint, establishing Lideres Avazando, and completing the 2019-20 Women Staff Leadership Development Institute program as a member of the cohort, just to name a few.  Her leadership and remarkable campus engagement efforts are not only advancing opportunities for students, but these aspects of Maldonado-Powers’ work are making a progressive, university-wide impact at CWRU.