SRU honoring Chen and Mistretta with 2022 President’s Awards for Scholarly and Creative Achievement


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Slippery Rock University is awarding the 2022 President’s Awards for Scholarly and Creative Achievement at the April 5 Celebration of Achievement ceremony. The award recognizes works from the SRU community that were published, presented, developed or performed in the last three years.

April 1, 2022

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Professors do more than just teach students. There are service and scholarship components to the contributions they make to their professions that sometimes go unnoticed. That's one of the many reasons why Slippery Rock University recognizes faculty with the President's Awards for Scholarly and Creative Achievement. The annual award recognizes works from the SRU community that were published, presented, developed or performed in the last three years.



"It's easy for people outside, or even inside, the University to assume that all we do is teach in a classroom," said Molly Mistretta, assistant professor of counseling and development. "I think this award highlights that extra piece of the responsibilities which is to be engaged in the scholarly work in the field in which we teach, staying on top of what's new and relevant in terms of the knowledge, and that informs what we do in the classroom."

Mistretta is one of two recipients of the 2022 award, joining Qi Chen, associate professor of chemistry. New for this year, the selection committee decided to award a recipient for being the author of a book and another for being the author of a research article, recognizing the variances between different disciplines that emphasize and professionalize these types of scholarly activities.

Mistretta was recognized for the book she co-authored, titled "Overcoming Burnout and Compassion Fatigue in Schools: A Guide for Counselors, Administrators and Educators," which was published in late 2019 and turned out to be a timely topic for education professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mistretta's co-author was Alison DuBois, the director of the Graduate School and associate professor of education at Westminster College.

Chen was honored for the article she co-wrote with an SRU student, titled "L-like 3-deazaneplanocin analogues: Synthesis and antiviral properties," which likewise was published in late 2019 and also proved to be timely in advance of the increased interest from the scientific community in the study of compounds that have antiviral effects, whether that's SARS, Ebola, or, since the paper was published, COVID-19. Chen's co-author was Alexander Smith, a 2020 SRU graduate with a degree in chemistry, who was Chen's research assistant as an SRU student.



Mistretta and Chen both reflected on the pandemic which put their work into greater perspective.

"Everyone's attention was drawn to our topic during the pandemic as more and more people in education became exhausted and burned out, they started reaching out to (my coauthor) and me to do Zoom presentations at different school districts and college and university groups," Mistretta said. "It's really hitting home with some folks, and two years after the book has come out, we're finding that it's still gaining momentum in terms of the level of interest and feedback."

"It was quite exciting to design our compound and find some interesting antiviral activity because before the COVID-19 pandemic, the antiviral studies with medicinal chemistry did not get the same attention as those that study cancer, but now it's a different story," Chen said. "But still, not too many large research labs or pharmaceutical companies are going to risk the time and money to invest in the type of compound that we designed. Even though it's a longshot that this compound leads to making an antiviral drug, all compounds start off this way and we are excited to be able to prove the concept in our study and expand on it in future research."

Further explanations of Mistretta's and Chen's work are available on the SRU website. They will both be recognized for their awards at SRU's Celebration of Achievement, 5-7 p.m., April 5, in the Smith Student Center, Ballroom A, along with other President's Award recipients in other categories, including those for excellence in teaching, advising and civic engagement.

"I'm absolutely excited and thrilled to receive this award," Chen said. "Teaching is a priority at the undergraduate level and doing research is tough, juggling your time and finding resources to support it, but it does make a difference in your field and in inspiring students."

"I was floored to receive this award because I know there's tons of great scholarship that's being done across the University," Mistretta said. "To be considered for this is an amazing honor."

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