The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Five assistant professors awarded Jepson Fellowship grant

3 min read
Five University of Mary Washington faculty members from various departments were accepted into the Jepson Fellows program on Nov. 14 and 16.


Five University of Mary Washington faculty members from various departments were accepted into the Jepson Fellows program on Nov. 14 and 16.

The Jepson Fellows program is awarded for a full academic year and reduces the awarded professors’ teaching load by half, allowing time to do research in their respective fields.  Only assistant and associate professors who have worked at the university for three or more years qualify for the fellowship.

UMW alumna, Alice Jepson, and her husband created the program and designed it with the idea that it would help faculty recieve tenure at the university.

Courtney Clayton, assistant professor in the department of curriculum and instruction, is one of the professors awarded the fellowship this year.  She is currently in her fifth year at UMW, and her project proposal is to prepare teachers obtaining their master’s degree to work with students who are English Language Learners (ELL).

Clayton teaches an ELL specialization seminar and was interested in observing the impact her seminar has on her students in preparing them to teach ELL students.

“The students are not going to be ESL teachers; but rather, they will be classroom teachers who will encounter many more English Language Learners in their classrooms than ever before,” said Clayton. “In fact, the surrounding counties of Stafford and Prince William have seen major growth in their ELL population, and that is why I am so committed to preparing our students to work effectively with that specific population,” said Clayton.

Another fellowship recipient was Wei Chen, assistant professor in the college of business, who is working on a project to help with entrepreneurs in their first two years of work.

Assistant Professor in the College of Business, Chris Garcia, also received the award. Garcia has proposed a project that seeks to improve the social media outreach of organizations. The project is designed to help organizations “determine which types of messages and outreach patterns are the most effective,” Garcia said.

Garcia has worked at UMW for three years, and spent the last year planning this project.

“I am super excited and also extremely grateful for this opportunity. This topic is something I am really interested in, and I am very excited to have the opportunity for additional research time to do focused work in this area,” said Garcia. “With so many talented faculty at UMW I feel very honored to be selected for this fellowship.”

Hai Nguyen, an assistant professor of physics, proposed a project involving atomic, molecular and optical physics. The purpose of his project is to study the way atoms interact with other materials.

“We are playing with the way the atoms refract the light. The larger the refractive index of the material, the slower the speed of light in that medium,” said Nguyen.

The final recipient was Assistant Professor in the college of Business Xiaofeng Zhao, who is working on a project that aims to apply the theory of constraints to other factors, such as lean supply chain, supply chain integration and supply chain risk management.

“Supply chain management is a systematic, strategic coordination of the traditional business functions within a particular company and across business within the supply chain for the purpose of improving the long-term performance of the individual companies and the supply chain as a whole,” Zhao said. “As more companies achieve competitive advantages through supply chain management, lean supply chain, supply chain integration and risk management have become important topics for practitioners and academics.”

The Jepson Fellows is a valued tradition at UMW and is not only prestigious, but useful for newer professors.

“Faculty at UMW carry pretty significant teaching loads, and they provide a lot of hands-on attention to students.  This program recognizes faculty, especially early career faculty, who also have strong research programs, and gives them an opportunity to balance their research and teaching through the course of one academic year,” said BOV Provost Jonathan Levin.