10 June 2024 • Faculty Professors Honored with Annual Prizes

Hobart and William Smith faculty recognize their own with prizes for service, research, teaching, and diversity and inclusion.

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Kristen Brubaker, Associate Professor of Biology Brad Cosentino, Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing Laurence Erussard and Associate Professor of Educational Studies Mary Kelly were awarded the 2024 Faculty Prizes. Based on the recommendations of fellow HWS faculty members, the Committee on Faculty Research and Honors selected Brubaker, Cosentino, Erussard and Kelly for their respective contributions to service, research, teaching, and diversity and inclusion.

“Professors Brubaker, Erussard, Cosentino and Kelly are exemplary teachers, scholars, mentors and colleagues. Their passion and dedication is a shining example for our academic community, and this well-deserved recognition is a testament to their outstanding work,” says Provost and Dean of Faculty Sarah Kirk.

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Kristen Brubaker

Brubaker, who joined the faculty in 2012, is a scholar exploring the intersection of forestry, landscape ecology, and critical zone science. She uses spatial data to better understand ecosystems and potential human impacts to them. Her primary area of focus has been utilizing lidar (light detection and ranging) data, a type of remote sensing data to explore the relationship between forests and landforms/geology, carbon sequestration, and land use legacy. Supporting students and colleagues alike, Brubaker has served on the Academic Task Force, the First-Year Impact Committee, the Academic Planning Committee and the Committee on the Academic First-Year Experience, which she chaired. She has supported campus sustainability and fostered a sense of place and civic responsibility among students, working tirelessly to maintain certifications like Bee Campus USA and Tree Campus USA, integrating the campus and surrounding environment into teaching and research. She holds a Ph.D. from Penn State University, an M.S. from Mississippi State University and a B.S. from Penn State.

As her colleagues noted in her citation, Brubaker’s “leadership is marked not only by her service roles but by her extraordinary generosity and relationship-focused approach to service.… Through intersecting service-research-teaching activities, she models and encourages place-based relationships that promote reciprocal interactions of human and non-human members of our community. Even in the most demanding circumstances, she has consistently participated in Days of Service, engaging students and building significant community connections. Her dedication underscores her profound commitment to our community and her belief in the transformative power of service. Her commitment and engagement is truly inspiring and speaks volumes about her character.”

Associate Professor of Biology Brad Cosentino

Cosentino has published more than three dozen articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Biological ConservationMolecular Ecology and Animal Behavior. Exploring the ecological and evolutionary responses of wildlife to environmental change, his research has a particular interest in understanding how human land use affects population dynamics and trait evolution. An expert in conservation biology and wildlife ecology and evolution, Cosentino is the recipient of grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His recent projects, often supported by student researchers, have focused on the effects of urbanization on the evolution of coat color in gray squirrels; the legacy effects of agriculture on wildlife in forest ecosystems; biodiversity responses to grassland restoration in the Chihuahuan Desert; and ecosystem impacts of invasive mammal eradications on islands. Cosentino holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and a B.A. from Augustana College. A member of the faculty since 2012, he serves as chair of both the Biology Department and the Environmental Science Program.

In his award citation, Cosentino’s colleagues cited his productivity as a scientist, including his “breadth of knowledge, creativity, critical analysis and insights, countless hours of field [and] laboratory work, and mentorship.… Professor Cosentino is an incredible scholar who clearly raises the reputation of our institution through his active and impressive research programs. The number, quality, and originality of his peer-reviewed, and other, publications are quite remarkable, particularly given Professor Cosentino’s continued dedication to high-quality teaching, undergraduate research, and service to the Biology Department and the Colleges.”

Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing Laurence Erussard

Erussard, who joined the faculty in 2004, has taught a range of courses in the English and Creative Writing Department, from Medieval romance and drama to the Arthurian legend, Chaucer and the history of the English language. Chair of the European Studies Program, she has also taught in the departments of French, Francophone and Italian Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice. A scholar of medieval literature, her work has appeared in journals such as The Book of Nature and Humanity in the Middle Ages and Mediaevalia among other publications. Erussard earned her Ph.D. University of Murcia and M.A. and B.A. from SUNY New Paltz.

Recognized for her “energy, knowledge, and enthusiasm,” Erussard was cited for her ability to “make students laugh by making them see the strangeness and humor” of Viking literature while distilling “an entire career’s worth of knowledge into easily digestible, funny, energetic lectures.… [S]he is a dedicated teacher who stops at nothing to help her students succeed. Her enthusiasm, knowledge, dedication, wit, humor—it all works together to reel students in.”

Associate Professor of Educational Studies Mary Kelly

Kelly, an expert in education and students with disabilities, is an advocate for diversity and inclusion through her scholarship, teaching and work with the HWS and Geneva communities. Her work on the Disability and the Arts Festival has earned grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation. Her courses span K-12 education for students with disabilities, including topics such as technology, assessment, self-determination in special education, and life after high school. Among the local partnerships she has helped cultivate is the Arc Ontario College Experience, which enables post-secondary education for individuals with disabilities and other challenges; Kelly teaches inclusive classes and supports College Experience students as they progress toward their certificates. A member of the faculty since 2007, Kelly holds a Ph.D. from Indiana University, an M.P.H. from the University of Hawaii and a B.A. from the University of Illinois.

“Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion takes time, effort, and uncommon sensitivity,” as Kelly’s colleagues noted. Through her work “making our campus and the Geneva community fairer and more equitable…[Kelly has been] a stellar teacher who meets students where they are and creates transformative learning environments.… If any student is struggling with any issue, ever, Mary will work relentlessly to craft a solution that works. Even in the most challenging circumstances, Mary will prevail, and the student will succeed, no matter the obstacle.”