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Cathy Key (top), Miriam Martinez and Carola Wenk

Faculty Honors: Cathy Key, Miriam Martinez and Carola Wenk

By Shelley Kilpatrick
Student Writer, College of Liberal and Fine Arts

(May 10, 2007)--Senior lecturer Cathy Key received the President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching Excellence, Non-Tenure Track Faculty at the UTSA Faculty Honors Convocation May 3.

Professor Miriam Martinez received the President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Research Achievement, Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty.

Assistant Professor Carola Wenk also was honored with the President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Research Achievement, Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty.

The convocation honors recipients of teaching, research and service awards and acknowledges recent retirees.

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Cathy Key

Cathy Key is a senior lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and has been a faculty member at UTSA since the fall of 1998.

She teaches beginning-level computer science courses that build a foundation for students pursuing a C.S. degree. Her excellence in teaching is the key to retaining students at a time when most are experiencing their first challenges to achieving their goals.

One nominator said about Key: "Throughout her career, Cathy Key has championed the need for creating an atmosphere of collaborative and innovative programs which serve UTSA students, local high school students and their teachers in a more productive way."

When the C.S. department transitioned from C to Object-Oriented Java in their entry-level courses, Key helped write the new curriculum to include case studies and hands-on class activities.

Additionally, she became the coordinator for the beginning programming course, and her curriculum was the first within the department to utilize WebCT in its entirety, which is now the standard for all beginner courses.

Key is a leader in community outreach because of her background and interest in high school C.S. curriculum. When the number of high school students who wanted to declare C.S. as their major declined, she recognized the need for them to learn more about C.S. degrees and careers. This led to the creation of the C.S. Ambassador Program.

Another nominator said, "Cathy Key is held in very high esteem among the C.S. faculty. She shows tireless commitment to improving curriculum and developing outreach programs that serve both the department and the university."

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Miriam Martinez

Miriam Martinez is a professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, and she has made a name for herself in the area of children's literature and the reading of literary texts.

What separates her work from the pack is the major impact it has made in the field. Her investigations have changed the way teachers and children interact around books and how teachers evaluate and select books for classroom use.

Martinez has been steadfast in her pursuit of critical questions regarding children's literary reading and the construction of meaning. Her studies revealed the power of the talk that surrounds parent-child interactions with picture books and identified the value of repeated readings with young children.

She also researches the ways in which children's engagements with books in the classroom impact their development of literacy and literacy understanding.

Martinez has been a leader in translating her research into useful ways for practitioners at all levels of education to find sound guidance and support. Her body of work includes 42 referenced journal articles, 9 invited journal articles, 17 book chapters and 36 columns for Language Arts, one of the top journals in literacy research for practitioners.

In 2006, the International Reading Association bestowed its prestigious Arbuthnot Award to Martinez for her lifetime achievement and contribution to the teaching of children's literature.

One of her nominators said, "Beyond these clear markers of academic success in publishing her research, what most impresses me about Miriam Martinez is her ability to develop a research agenda that truly speaks to the needs and issues of literacy education today."

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Carola Wenk

Carola Wenk is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science. She received her doctorate from Free University in Berlin, Germany, in 2002 and was an assistant researcher at the University of Arizona for two years before coming to UTSA in 2004.

In 2007, Wenk became the only junior faculty member in the College of Sciences with a current National Science Foundation Career Award. The highly prestigious award guarantees her more than $400,000 in grants over 5 years.

Her research will center on the application and theory of geometric shape handing, and the objective is to help increase speed, quality and productivity of shape handling. Her other research contributions include fundamental advances in computational geometry, algorithms, discrete mathematics and computational biology.

Wenk currently has 13 journal and 12 refereed conference publications in computer science and computational biology venues.

She is a program committee member of the Eighth International Conference on Mobile Data Management, has given many invited talks and has been a reviewer for a large number of conferences and journals. Additionally, She received a NSF award in 2006, a seed grant from the UTSA Computational Biology Initiative in 2006 and a UTSA Faculty Research Award in 2005.

Said one nominator: "In only three years as a tenure-track faculty member here at UTSA, Carola Wenk has made significant research contributions to computer science and computational biology. These achievements have been nationally and internationally recognized. By winning a highly prestigious NSF Career Award, she greatly supports UTSA's mission to reach premier university status."

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