Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA Gala to honor outstanding faculty members

December 2, 2014 - University Marketing Communications
Dr. Matthew McBroom, left, and Dr. Kefa Onchoke, right
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Two outstanding Stephen F. Austin State University faculty members will be honored during the 26th annual SFA Gala on Saturday, Dec. 13, in the Grand Ballroom of the Baker Pattillo Student Center.

The faculty awards presented during the Gala recognize innovation and excellence in teaching and research. Dr. Matthew McBroom, associate professor of forest hydrology in the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, is the recipient of the 2014 Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching. Dr. Kefa Onchoke, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, has earned the Faculty Achievement Award for Research.

Dr. Matthew McBroom

McBroom has been part of the SFA faculty for more than seven years, teaching a variety of courses including forest hydrology, environmental hydrology, water resources management, wood science, and harvesting and processing. He has taught more than 700 SFA students during his tenure and developed several courses for the college, including a new online course. He received the Kenneth G. Watterston Teaching Excellence Award from the College of Forestry and Agriculture in 2014.

A certified forester, McBroom is a member of the Texas Forestry Association and the Society of American Foresters, earning the latter's national Young Forester Leadership Award in 2010. In addition, he received the Texas Forestry Association's Research, Development and Innovation Award in 2013. He earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in forestry from SFA, completing his doctorate in 2005 after working as a geographic information systems forester for Temple-Inland Forest Products Corporation.

"As a teacher, the most rewarding times are when the 'ah-ha' moment occurs, and a student's eyes light up with excitement of learning," he said. "The next most rewarding time is when former students come back and tell me how they are applying concepts learned in class to problem solving in the workplace or in their graduate studies.

"Finally, it is extremely fulfilling to watch students transition from student to peer in their knowledge and ability to solve real-world problems. To facilitate students in becoming self-learners is part of what sustains my passion for teaching and learning."

Dr. Steven Bullard, dean of the College of Forestry and Agriculture, called McBroom's teaching style "exuberant," adding the professor can often be found wading in chest-high water while informing his students about sedimentation, dissolved oxygen, pollution, water flow and related topics.

"Dr. McBroom never wavers in his pursuit of excellence in teaching across both our forestry and environmental science disciplines," Bullard said. "He has the demeanor and the keen mind to align the fabric of our curriculum with the many needs of a society-ready forester, integrating climate change, endangered species, marketing, population change and communication skills into both his writing and lecturing styles."


Dr. Kefa Onchoke

Onchoke has been at SFA since 2006 and teaches multiple courses in instrumental analysis as well as general, environmental, organic, analytical and introductory chemistry. His research emphases include plant bioremediation studies, metal speciation in composted wastewater sludges, computational chemistry of various molecules of biological interest, carcinogenicity of particulates and electronic structure calculations.

Onchoke said he is proud of the fact that the bulk of his SFA research has been conducted alongside student researchers.

"I have involved nine undergraduate students in research, and I am currently directing one undergraduate and three master's students," he said. "Of the 11 papers I have authored, these students are co-authors in five peer-reviewed journal papers and in many poster and oral presentations. We continue to showcase the research findings every year in local and regional meetings and conferences as opportunity arises."

Onchoke earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Nairobi in Kenya and a Master of Science in chemistry from Hampton University. He completed his doctorate in analytical chemistry at Ohio State University in 2006.

A member of the American Chemical Society, Onchoke has made significant contributions to the field of computational and spectroscopic analysis of polycyclic aromatic compounds and their effect on the environment. His publications have been cited by other researchers around the world.

According to Dr. Michael Janusa, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Onchoke "combines excellence in research with complete loyalty, dedication and love for SFA."

"Not only is Dr. Onchoke conducting quality research but he also is instilling in his students the passion for lifelong learning and discovery," he said. "Usually professors are dedicated to either teaching or research, but Dr. Onchoke finds a way to do both effectively to complete the education of our majors through teaching students how to conduct quality research."

The Gala cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by a candlelight dinner at 7 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by In10City, featuring eight of Dallas' most accomplished musicians. Known for its versatile repertoire, the group performs everything from dance music to rock, jazz, country and hip-hop.

Tickets are $175 for orchestra seating and $125 for ballroom seating. Proceeds from the Gala help build a permanent endowment created by the SFASU Foundation to honor faculty achievement. For more information or to purchase tickets, call April Smith at (936) 468-5406.