Honors Program Faculty

Lora Becker, Professor of Psychology and Director of General Education

Dr. Lora Becker

Professor of Psychology and Director of General Education

Hyde Hall, Room 217 E

Dr. Lora Becker, associate professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, teaches the Honors course, Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience. In this course, students study the nervous system and how it controls the actions of the human body. In addition to the textbook, students read essays from Robert Sapolsky and Oliver Sacks which present case studies of individuals with neurological impairments or critiques on how neuroscience findings can enlighten understanding of ourselves.|

"After taking this course, I hope that students have a greater understanding of themselves with regards to the functioning of their nervous system," explains Dr. Becker. "There are several tricks and tips a student can learn about how to better manage their concentration, need for sleep and ability to learn college material. Not only do students develop an appreciation for the field of neuroscience, they come away with a better understanding of their own behavior."

Of Honors students, Dr. Becker remarks, "I enjoy teaching UE Honors students because they come to class with a desire to understand. Conversation about the essays is always lively and full of great insight!"

Dr. Becker received her undergraduate dual BS in biology and psychology from Wright State University, as well as a MA in psychobiology and PhD.. in behavioral neuroscience from Binghamton University. Her research expertise is in the field of behavioral neuroscience. She has been published in numerous scholarly journals, including Comparative Clinical Pathology and the Journal of Applied Biological Sciences. Dr. Becker is a member of the Nu Rho Psi Neuroscience Honors Society, Phi Kappa Phi, and The National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She received the Dean of Arts and Sciences Teaching Award in 2007 and the Dean of Students Advisor of the Year Award in 2004.
Diane Brewer, Theatre History and Criticism / Professor

Dr. Diane Brewer, BA, PhD

Theatre History and Criticism / Professor

Hyde Hall, Room 109A

Dr. Diane Brewer, professor of theatre, teaches three Honors courses for theatre majors – Survey and Analysis of Dramatic Literature and Theatre History I and II. In describing the classes, she explains, In Survey and Analysis, we look at plays that fall within the Aristotelian tradition and those that intentionally deviate from those conventions.| As we do so, we engage in intensive discussions and writing assignments that help students learn to identify and understand their personal reactions to plays. In both semesters of Theatre History, we throw ourselves into the gap between past and present, holding ourselves to rigorous standards of research, writing, and critical thinking."

"I want my students to feel challenged and inspired to continue exploring the connection between their own values and the theatre they create," Dr. Brewer notes. "I enjoy teaching UE Honors students because they keep me on my toes. They often ask questions I've never considered and come up with solutions I've never imagined. In that way, they reaffirm why I teach – to keep learning."

Dr. Brewer holds a BA in drama from Tufts University and a PhD in theatre from UCLA. Her areas of expertise include theatre history and dramatic criticism, and she also dramaturgs and directs productions for the UE theatre department. Her articles have been published in The Dramaturgy Protocol, The Dramaturgy Sourcebook (vol. 4), Theatre Topics, PAJ: Performing Arts Journal, and HowlRound at the Center for Theater Commons. She has received such honors as the Dean's Teaching Award, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Evansville and a Certificate of Merit for Dramaturgy from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.
Robert Griffith, Professor/Creative Writing/English

Dr. Robert Griffith

Professor/Creative Writing/English

Olmsted Hall, Room 416B

Robert Griffith, Professor of Creative Writing, has taught several Honors courses, including Irish Literature and Introduction to Creative Writing. In his Honors course, The Simpsons and Postmodern Literature, students used the popular TV show The Simpsons as a lens through which to examine and explore the possibilities of postmodern literature such as Nabokov's Pale Fire, Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, and other novels.|

"After taking one of my courses, I hope students have acquired not only a greater comprehension of the subjects we study, but also a greater love for literature itself," comments Professor Griffith.

About Honors students, Professor Griffith notes, "What I enjoy most about teaching UE Honors students is their willingness to challenge themselves and to more fully explore the topics they encounter. Likewise, I feel they more fully embody the mission of the University in that they engage themselves more completely in academic and creative endeavors which truly are transformative to their lives as students and citizens of the world."

Professor Griffith holds a BA in literature and creative writing from the University of Tennessee and a MFA in poetry from the University of Arkansas. His areas of expertise include creative writing (poetry, fiction, and nonfiction) and editing. Professor Griffith is the author of four books, including The Moon from Every Window (David Robert Books, 2011), which was nominated for the 2013 Poets' Prize and A Matinee in Plato's Cave (Water Press & Media, 2008), winner of the 2008 Best Book of Indiana Award. He has also published poems and articles in journals and magazines such as Poetry, The Oxford American, PN Review, Phi Kappa Phi Forum, The North American Review, and others. Professor Griffith received the Sadelle and Sydney Berger Outstanding Scholar Award in 2011, as well as the University of Evansville Outstanding Professor of the Year Award in 2005.
James MacLeod, Department Chair/History

Dr. James MacLeod

Department Chair/History

Olmsted Hall, Room 346

Dr James MacLeod was educated at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, receiving an MA in 1988 and a PhD in 1993. He taught history and British Studies at Harlaxton from 1994-1999, and since 1999 he has been a member of the History Department at UE, where he teaches courses in European History and the two World Wars. Dr MacLeod is the author of Evansville in World War Two [2015], and The Cartoons of Evansville's Karl Kae Knecht [ 2017]. In 2016 he wrote and co-produced a 2-part documentary on Evansville in World War II for WNIN PBS titled Evansville at War. In 2000, he published a book on 19th-century British religion, The Second Disruption, and has also written over 30 other scholarly publications. He has delivered hundreds of public lectures, has won many awards for his teaching and scholarship, and was UE's Outstanding Teacher in 2009. MacLeod is an active local historian, and serves on the Boards of the Vanderburgh County Historical Society, the Southwestern Indiana Historical Society, and the Evansville Museum of Art, History and Science.
Mari Plikuhn, Associate Professor/Sociology

Dr. Mari Plikuhn

Associate Professor/Sociology

Schroeder School of Business Building, Room 55

Dr. Mari Plikuhn, assistant professor of sociology, teaches the Introduction to Sociology course for Honors students. This course increases students’ knowledge of sociology and its concepts and theories. Students explore the basic social institutions, systems of inequality, and social forces that shape our world, focusing on the intersections of social institutions and how they impact lives.| The Honors course in particular allows students to apply what they learn in writings about concerns in society. This analysis of society hones students’ critical thinking skills and challenges them to see a variety of perspectives.

"I warn students on the first day that, once they take this class, they will never see the world the same way," explains Dr. Plikuhn. "It is impossible to take a sociology class without learning to see the interconnections of society, and how the puzzle of people fits together. Understanding and taking this ‘sociological perspective’ is one of the central concepts in sociology, and it is the most important idea a student takes away from my class."

On teaching Honors students, Dr. Plikuhn notes, "Since this course also serves as a general education requirement, I have Honors students from a wide range of majors. It is easy to expect that these students will be smart, but they are also engaged in their campus and broader community, focused on the pursuit of a broad educational experience, and have a great outlook on society."

Dr. Plikuhn holds a BA in sociology/clinical psychology, a MS in sociology, a MS in marriage and family therapy, and a PhD in sociology with a graduate minor in gerontology. Her research expertise is in family sociology, life course transitions, and demography. Her current research projects include: first-generation college students and the role of family in determining academic outcomes; fertility, infertility, perinatal loss, and childlessness across the life course; and scholarship of teaching and learning. In 2012, Dr. Plikuhn received the University of Evansville Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, as well as the Teaching Innovations and Faculty Development Award from ASA/SAGE.

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Room 238, Koch Center for Engineering Science