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CINSAM Award winners pose for a picture with their plaques

The CINSAM Award recognizes NKU faculty and staff who have made extraordinary contributions to CINSAM’s mission, promoting enthusiasm, excellence, and equity in STEM education and scholarship. The spirit of this award is to encourage persistence and innovation in these efforts.

We expect to award four (4) CINSAM Awards per year, each associated with a $500 prize.

2024 nominations are currently being reviewed. Recipients will be announced mid-April.



Nominees must meet the following criteria to be considered for a CINSAM Award:

  • Must be an NKU faculty or staff member (excludes students and CINSAM employees)
  • Must have worked with CINSAM, or on CINSAM-related efforts for at least one (1) year as of January 1st

Other Considerations:

  • Anyone can submit a nomination, and self-nominations are accepted.
  • Groups of people may be considered for one collective contribution to CINSAM’s mission.


The CINSAM Award Committee (comprised of CINSAM employees) will evaluate nominations based on:

NOTE: Direct collaboration with CINSAM is preferred, but not required, as long as the contribution is well-aligned with CINSAM’s strategic plan.

*All nominations will be considered in a single pool; however, many different types of contributions will be considered for recognition. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Discipline-Based Educational Research/Scholarship of Teaching and Learning related to STEM
  • Ongoing administrative support of CINSAM programming
  • Group effort establishing course-based research
  • Successful efforts to advance equity and inclusion in STEM/STEM education at NKU
  • Excellence in advising students pursuing STEM or education
  • Continuous improvement of CINSAM summer camp/academy offered over many years
  • Creative collaboration integrating scholarship across disciplines
Left to right: Dr. Bonita Brown, Dr. Bethany Bowling, Dr. Funda Gonulates, Dr. Mary Schilling, Melanie Hartzel, Dr. Madhura Kulkarni
Dr. Bethany Bowling, 2023 CINSAM Award Recipient

Dr. Bethany Bowling

Senior Associate Dean - College of Arts & Sciences
Professor - Biological Sciences

Dr. Bethany Bowling is well known across campus for all of her contributions to our students, colleagues, and NKU as a whole. With Bethany's collaboration comes high impact for all involved. She has helmed three National Science Foundation (NSF) grants aimed at supporting student success in STEM, and has partnered with CINSAM on institutionalizing the work born from these projects. She regularly partners with us on outreach, recruitment, and retention activities, and has even served as CINSAM's temporary Director of Recruitment and Retention when needs arose. Bethany shows up willingly - over and over again - whether it's in her job description or not.

Dr. Funda Gonulates, 2023 CINSAM Award Recipient

Dr. Funda Gonulates

Associate Professor - College of Education
Faculty Associate - Kentucky Center for Mathematics (KCM)

Dr. Funda Gonulates has collaborated with CINSAM since her arrival on campus in 2016. Funda's involvement with CINSAM is varied and includes: welcoming CINSAM's Outreach Team into her mathematics education classes, serving on CINSAM's internal Advisory Board as a faculty representative, and partnering with us on three grant proposals. Her students say she is a fantastic professor who holds them to a high standard and goes to great lengths to help them reach those standards. Her research and KCM work on mathematics education are very closely aligned with CINSAM's mission of promoting enthusiasm, excellence, and equity in STEM education.

Melanie Hartzel, 2023 CINSAM Award Recipient

Melanie Hartzel

Coordinator - Community Connections

As Program Coordinator for Community Connections, Melanie Hartzel has been partnering with CINSAM for 10+ years. Her collaboration has been crucial to CINSAM's ability to improve and grow P-12 outreach programs. Melanie always brings a positive attitude, and literally shows up to help us with our activities. She's skilled at finding improvement opportunities for registration processes, and voluntarily implements solutions to give our stakeholders a user-friendly experience.

Dr. Zeel Maheshwari, 2023 CINSAM Award Recipient

Dr. Zeel Maheshwari

Assistant Professor - Physics, Geology, and Engineering Technology

Dr. Zeel Maheshwari came to NKU in 2018 and has been a constant collaborator of CINSAM's since her start. She has been a research mentor through CINSAM Grants and UR-STEM, served on the CINSAM Research Grants review committee, and partnered with us on recruitment and outreach events like High School STEM+H Day. Zeel's students and colleagues can attest to her infectious enthusiasm for the work she does. This summer, she is leading CINSAM's Engineering Academy for high school students, the longest-going of all of our summer programs.

Dr. Mary Schilling, 2023 CINSAM Award Recipient

Dr. Mary Schilling

Lecturer - Biological Sciences

As a faculty member in the Biological Sciences department, Dr. Mary Schilling has taken on many of her department's outreach and recruitment activities. In collaboration with Dr. Jay Avenido, Mary developed the department's Cadaver Experience for high school students and teachers, giving our campus visitors a truly unique opportunity that leaves them wowed. Mary and her department welcomed CINSAM's High School STEM+H Day attendees to labs this year, which was the highlight for many students that day. Additionally, Mary’s creativity and attention-to-detail with her department’s social media has really helped our community engage with and see the fun in biology.


Dr. Jay Avenido - Biological Sciences

Dr. PJ Ball - Chemistry & Biochemistry

Dr. Bethany Bowling - College of Arts & Sciences / Biological Sciences

Lynn Crane - Biological Sciences

Dr. Funda Gonulates - College of Education / KCM

Dr. Wei Hao - School of Computing & Analytics

Dr. Patrick Hare - Chemistry & Biochemistry

Melanie Hartzel - Community Connections

Dr. Patty Kappesser - Biological Sciences

Dr. Zeel Maheshwari - Physics, Geology, & Engineering Technology

Dr. Mary Schilling - Biological Sciences

Dr. Kim Yates - College of Education


2022 Award Recipients

2021 Award Recipients