Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Lycoming Faculty receive teaching awards at Honors Convocation

Lycoming Faculty receive teaching awards at Honors Convocation

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Lycoming College presented two faculty members with teaching awards during an outdoor, socially-distanced Honors Convocation ceremony on April 25. A recording of the event can be viewed at:

Plankenhorn Alumni Award for Faculty Excellence

The 2021 Plankenhorn Alumni Award for Faculty Excellence was awarded to Jeff Newman, Ph.D., professor of biology. Newman has played a major role in bringing 21st-century technology into the biology curriculum at Lycoming. In the classroom, cutting-edge technologies such as NextGen DNA sequencing, bioinformatics, and microbial identification technologies have been incorporated into the Introductory Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry and Genome Analysis courses.

In the research lab, Newman has mentored investigative projects by a large number of students, and has taken many to present their research at American Society for Microbiology annual meetings (students have presented in New Orleans & Boston), and an international conference in Pune, India, as well as undergraduate research conferences.

Past research has focused on a purine biosynthetic enzyme that is a potential target for developing new antibiotics. More recently, his lab has been studying new species of bacteria that have been discovered by Lycoming College students in the nearby Loyalsock Creek, a major tributary of the Susquehanna River. This work has been advanced by a $328,000 Major Research Instrumentation Grant from the National Science Foundation to purchase equipment to support this research. During a 2018 sabbatical, Newman was a Fulbright Scholar and taught Microbiology to undergraduates, a graduate level course in microbial genomics, and conducted research on novel bacterial species at University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

“Dr. Newman brings many facets of science to our biology and pre-med curriculum. Our Lycoming College students benefit so much from his service,” said Dr. Phil Sprunger, provost and dean of the College.

Junior Faculty Teaching Award

Erin McCutcheon, Ph.D., assistant professor of art history, was awarded the 2021 Junior Faculty Teaching Award. McCutcheon is an art historian of modern and contemporary art whose research and writing focus on the histories of Latin American art and feminist artistic practices. She received her M.A. in art history from the University of Leeds in 2010 under the supervision of feminist art historian Griselda Pollock, and her Ph.D. in art history and Latin American studies from Tulane University in 2021.

She joined Lycoming College in 2019 after holding previous teaching positions at Millsaps College and Tufts University, as well as positions in curatorial departments at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Henry Moore Institute. Her research has appeared in H-ART, Nierika, Artelogie, ERRATA, The Journal of Curatorial Studies, and the catalogue for Si tiene dudas… pregunte: una exposición retrocolectiva de Mónica Mayer (Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, 2016), for which she served as a curatorial research assistant. In addition to teaching survey courses from ancient to contemporary art, she offers students more focused special topics courses with a particular emphasis on art and activism, art from Latin America, and the study of art through the critical lenses of gender, race, and sexuality.

McCutcheon recently won a $9,000 grant from the College Art Association of America (CAA) as part of the CAA’s new Art History Fund for Travel to Special Exhibitions, and will allow McCutcheon to take her Art & Politics in Latin America students to San Francisco to see works of art in-person after studying them in her class. She also mentored a small team of students in this course in researching and writing biographies of Mexican women artists that will be published by the international archive AWARE: Archives of Women Artists, Research, and Exhibitions later this year (

“I am impressed with Dr. McCutcheon’s teaching and the innovation that she brings to our curriculum,” said Sprunger. “As a professor, Erin has energetically embraced her position, and she connects well with students, who rave about her teaching.”

Lycoming College is proud of its talented and committed professors, who continue to add to the culture of student learning while advancing the College’s goal of offering a 21st-century liberal arts education.