Points of Pride


  • The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology found that Appalachian's Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management (IOHRM) program ranked highly across a variety of different factors: first for overall student satisfaction, first for resources provided to students, second for program culture and third highest-ranked program overall based on student ratings.
  • According to the American Institute of Physics enrollment and degree data published September 2017, the Department of Physics and Astronomy ranked first in N.C. in Physics undergraduate enrollment.
  • According to the American Anthropological Association, the Department of Anthropology is the largest — in terms of tenure-track faculty — undergraduate-only anthropology department in the United States. With nearly 200 declared and intended majors and 13 tenure-track faculty, the department has a student-faculty ratio of 15-to-1. 
  • The Department of Mathematical Sciences actuarial science program is highly ranked among similar programs in the country across a variety of groups. A B.S. in actuarial science from Appalachian ranks 26th on College Choice’s 35 Best Actuarial Science Degrees list for 2017. College Choice gave the university a score of 96.23 out of a possible 100. And Appalachian was ranked 19th on Value Colleges’ 50 Best Value Bachelors of Actuarial Science Programs list for 2018.
  • The Department of Psychology has received Masters and Specialist School of Psychologist Accreditation for seven years.
  • The Department of Computer Science received $178,000 in funding to establish a four year High Achievers in Computer Science Scholarship program.
  • In fall of 2019, six students out of 55 applicants will be admitted into the first college approved professional doctoral degree, Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program.


  • Seven graduate students and five undergraduate students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy worked or interned at national labs and NASA during summer 2018.
  • Quinlin Riggs, an Engineering Physics M.S. student, interned at the Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center, M.S. funded by a Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (NREIP) fellowship.
  • Lucas Smith, senior (Physics and Astronomy) and Robert Lewis, senior (Physics and Astronomy) interned at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in summer 2018 as part of the NASA-funded project led by faculty member Dr. Rachel Smith (Physics and Astronomy and director of the university’s Astronomy and Space Observation Research Laboratory).
  • Jordan Venditelli, senior (Philosophy and Religion) presented a paper at the American Academy of Religion and was awarded a full expense paid trip to Harvard to speak with them about their graduate programs.
  • Callie Koeval, senior (Sociology) received a research scholarship from the Office of Student Research to present her collaborative research with Drs. David Russell and Kelly Thames (Sociology) at the 2019 Southern Sociological Society conference in Atlanta, G.A. 
  • Karoly Majtenyi ’19 (Philosophy and Religion) and Dr. Matthew Ruble (Philosophy and Religion) co-wrote a paper that was accepted in the American Journal of Bioethics.
  • Jewel Parker ’19 (History) was awarded the Graduate Student Outstanding Thesis Award in Arts and Humanities for 2018-19 from the Cratis D. Williams School of Graduate Studies.
  • The Department of Anthropology has three students that will be participating in international internships over the summer of 2019. One in Guiana, studying agriculture; one in London studying immigration and one in France working with the State Department.
  • Emily Fedders ’19 (Geological and Environmental Sciences) won a Student Presentation Award at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C. This meeting of over 26,000 geoscientists is the most prestigious conference in the geoscience field, and Fedders won the award despite competing primarily against graduate students. 


  • Julie Wiggins ’97 (B.S. degree in Sociology, Graduate Program Certificate in Aging, Health, and Society) was hired to serve as the executive director of the High Country Council of Governments (2018).
  • Abigail Rubio ’18 and Evangeline Giaconia ’18 (Anthropology) were awarded a grant from the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) to design and implement a bilingual literacy program in an Ecuadorian community.
  • Breece Robertson ’00 (Geography and Planning) has been named Vice President and Director of Planning and GIS for the Trust for Public Land (2018).
  • Brock Long ’97, ’99, past administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) received Appalachian Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley ’84, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), was recognized with the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award and Carole Wilson ’75, Appalachian Board of Trustee member was recognized with the Outstanding Service Award (2018).
  • Olivia Paschall ’18 and Allison Dombrowski ’20 (Geological and Environmental Sciences) won the "Expedition of the Year" award from the Explorer's Club, Atlanta Chapter, for their research trip to Mongolia (2018). The trip was led by Dr. Sarah Carmichael (Geological and Environmental Sciences).
  • Jesse Destacy ’16 (B.S. History Education) received a special recognition by the W!SE Foundation as a Gold Star Teacher for 2018. He is among only 556 in the nation to earn this recognition.
  • The Department of Psychology has had students accepted with full funding to Ph.D programs at the following institutions: Ohio State University, East Carolina University, Radford University, University of Maryland, University of Alaska and Virginia Consortium.
  • Five students in the Anthropology department received full scholarships to doctoral programs in: Anthropology, Photo Journalism, Ecology, Environmental Science and Library Information Science. 
  • Jordan Meyer ’03 (Computer Science) and two of his peers received a $1,000,000 prize from Zillow for developing a machine learning algorithm that improved house price estimation. 
  • Sarah Stacke '02 (Anthropology) has published a new book on the U.S. South that was featured on NPR.


  • Dr. Baker Perry and Dr. Anton Seimon (Geography and Planning) were part of a multidisciplinary climate research expedition with National Geographic that installed the world’s two highest weather stations (at 8,430 meters and 7,945 meters), examined soil samples and glacial lakes to better understand the range of life surviving on Earth’s highest peaks, and more from Mt. Everest.
  • Dr. Amy Dellinger Page (Sociology) was an interview guest on NPR's 1A Program as an expert on the subject of “Boys to Men: Masculinity and the Next Mass Shooting.” The program aired on February 28, 2018.
  • Roy Carroll Distinguished Professor of British History, Dr. Michael J. Turner (History) will be spending the academic year 2019-20 at the University of Oxford as a Visiting Research Fellow. 
  • Dr. Ellen Cowan (Geological and Environmental Sciences) was named a Fellow by the Geological Society of America in 2018. The society fellowship recognizes geoscientists who have made extraordinary contributions to the field through their research, teaching, leadership, public outreach and other activities. Cowan's long record of mentorship of undergraduate researchers and integration of research into classroom activities were highlighted in her nomination for this prestigious accomplishment.
  • Dr. Clark Maddux (Director of Watauga Residential College) was nominated to serve on the Executive Team for Residential College Society.
  • Dr. German Campos-Munoz (English) was inducted to the Academy of Outstanding Teachers and was awarded Outstanding Teacher of the Year for the College of Arts and Sciences (2018).
  • Dr. Rachel Smith (Physics and Astronomy) associate professor at Appalachian and Head of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Laboratory and Curator of Meteorites at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, was one of the nine scientists featured in a new documentary, "The Most Unknown."
  • Dr. Dana Powell (Anthropology) has received a one-year $50,000 fellowship at Cornell University to be a fellow with the Society for the Humanities on a theme related to energy and sustainability.
  • Dr. Tom Hansell (Appalachian Studies) produced "After Coal" a feature length documentary and published the subsequent book adaption of the film, “After Coal: Stories of Survival in Appalachia and Wales” with West Virginia University Press.
  • The North Carolina School Psychology Association recently renamed their highest honor – the Lifetime Achievement Award – in honor of Dr. Jim Deni (Psychology), a long-time faculty member in the department and of the organization.


  • Dr. Ed Folts (Sociology) again received over $405,239 in grants to support the High Country Foster Grandparent Program in which senior citizens age 55 and above provide support services to infants and youths up to the teenage years who have particular emotional, social or educational needs (2018).
  • A cross-disciplinary team of faculty in the college was awarded a $1,000,000 NSF S-STEM Grant awarded to assist with the nation’s shortage in STEM graduates and workers.
  • Dr. Xiaofei Tu and Dr. Wendy Xie (Languages, Literatures and Cultures) received $89,815 from STARTALK — a project funded by the National Security Agency and administered by the National Foreign Language Center — to host a Chinese immersion program on Appalachian’s campus for high school students the second year in a row.
  • Alumna Caroline Noel ’13  (Anthropology) has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program to continue her doctorate studies of socio-cultural anthropology at the University of Virginia (UVA), where she plans to research how the Ainu of Japan are using digital media spaces to assert identity and counter dominant narratives of Japanese history.
  • The Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies provided their first international travel grants to five Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies minor students for a study abroad opportunity to Israel. The students studied at Yad Vashem, the Central Zionist Archives, the Ghetto Fighters' House Museum and Archives and Hebrew University.
  • Dr. Jessica Mitchell (Geography and Planning) has received a Macrosystems Biology Early Career Award of $288,851 in funding, through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Macrosystems Biology Program to complete biodiversity mapping in the eastern United States. 
  • Dr. William Armstrong (Geological and Environmental Sciences) received more than $250,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to complete a three-year research project titled “A Half Century of Changing Glacier Dynamics at Athabasca Glacier.”
  • Dr. Brooke Christian (Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences) and Dr. Gary Pielak (UNC Chapel Hill), received $70,865 in grant funding from the University of North Carolina System Office for their study on new drug storage and delivery methods, titled “Exploiting Tardigrade Stress Resistance to Develop Novel Therapeutic Delivery Strategies."
  • The Department of Biology received National Science Foundation (NSF) grant funds for their research on ecological diversification of sponges in the Caribbean. 
  • The Department of Physics and Astronomy received a $300,000 grant for increasing their number of graduate students in Appalachian's Physics Education program.
  • UNCG led an NSF LSAMP $5,000,000 grant that provides scholarship funding and several enrichment opportunities to minority students in the STEM disciplines. Appalachian is one of the six collaborating universities on this partnership project. 
  • Dr. Cameron Gokee (Anthropology) has received a two-year $106,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for archaeological work in Senegal. 
  • Dr. J.P. Jameson and Dr. Kurt Michael (Psychology) received a school safety grant from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to address the problem of youth suicide in western N.C. school districts for $100,000
  • Dr. Jonathan Sugg (Geography and Planning) received a $10,234 award from Protect Our Winters for site suitability analysis by identifying voting districts from specific states that had marginal election outcomes in the 2016 and 2012 national elections, which also contain specific population characteristics of interest, including outdoor communities, universities and varying population sizes.
  • Dr. Patricia Johann (Computer Science) received a $510,823 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a project titled "SHF: Small: RUI: Semantic Complexity of Advanced Data Types."


  • Professor emeritus, Dr. Harvard G. Ayers (Anthropology) placed in the Top 100 Best Independently Published Books of 2018 in Shelf Unbound, for his book "Train Wreck Earth."
  • Dr. Joseph J. Gonzalez (Interdisciplinary Studies) was one of 17 faculty to receive the prestigious 2018 University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.
  • Director of First Year Seminar in Appalachian’s University College, Dr. Martha McCaughey (Sociology) was selected as the 2019 Harvey R. Durham Freshman Advocate Award recipient for her contributions to improving the first-year experience.
  • Dr. Debbie Crocker and Dr. Katie Mawhinney (Mathematical Sciences) received the NCCTM North Carolina Collaborative for Mathematics Learning 2018 Innovator Award. Both were recognized for their research excellence and professional mathematics education instruction.
  • Dr. Cameron Gokee (Anthropology) was awarded the 2016-18 Book Prize from the Committee of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA) for “Assembling the Village in Medieval Bambuk: An Archaeology of Interaction at Diouboye,” Senegal (Equinox Publishing). 
  • “Religion in Life,” a television show hosted by Dr. Ozzie Ostwalt (Philosophy and Religion), has been awarded the 2019 Religion Communicators Council Wilbur Award in the category of Television and Cable Interview for his episode interviewing the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr.
  • Judkin Browning (History) was one of 10 faculty selected in the recent GRAM Award Competition of 2019-21 for "Reverberations of Battle: How the Battle of Gettysburg Affected Soldiers, Families, and Communities."
  • Jordan Carter, senior (Chemistry) was selected as the 2018 recipient of the Excellence in Scholastic Achievement Award from the local Carolina-Piedmont section of the American Chemical Society. 
  • Jason Hauser '12 (M.A. History) was the winner of the 2018 C. Vann Woodward Dissertation Prize for "By Degree: A History of Heat in the Subtropical American South," written in fulfillment of his Ph.D. in History at Mississippi State University. 
  • Amy (Boger) Lowder '03 (M.A./S.S.P.) Lead School Psychologist in Cabarrus County Schools, received the 2018 Innovative Practice Award and Jennifer Reilly '09 (M.A./S.S.P.), a school psychologist with Guilford Country Schools, received the 2018 Practitioner of the Year Award from The North Carolina School Psychology Association (NCSPA).
  • Dr. Lynn Getz (History) has won the prestigious Barbara “Penny” Kanner Prize from the Western Association of Women Historians.