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Natural Awakenings Fairfield County/Housatonic Valley, CT

Western CT State Educators Honored

Dr. Neeta Connally and Dr. Howell Williams of Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) have been recognized by the Board of Regents of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities for their passion for working with students. 

Connally, associate professor of biological and environmental sciences, was recognized with the system-wide research award, as well as a SCSU campus research award. A medical entomologist who teaches and oversees the Tickborne Disease Preventiona Laboratory at WCSU, she is known for her work studying blacklegged ticks, which can carry multiple disease-causing agents including the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Connally’s research is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency. 

For the past 10 years she has spent her summers monitoring tick populations and conducting studies to better understand backyard risk for tick-borne diseases. Connally’s research team includes undergraduate students who learn how to collect and identify ticks, how to properly handle scientific data, and how large-scale research studies work. She and students also collaborate on Lyme disease prevention projects with the Ridgefield Health Department, the Nuvance Health hospital network, Yale Emerging Infections Program, the Connecticut Department of Public Health, and the TickEncounter Resource Center at the University of Rhode Island.

Raines, assistant professor of social sciences, was recognized with the campus teaching award for WCSU. Williams is a political scientist who teaches on a range of topics, including American government, political institutions, political theory, and gender and sexuality politics. His classes often use role-playing games to introduce students to historical events such as the Constitutional Convention and Supreme Court rulings.

The awards — both campus-based and system-wide — recognize faculty for excellence in teaching or research. The awards are given to adjunct faculty members and assistant and associate professors in tenure-track or tenured positions who have distinguished themselves as outstanding teachers, promote instructional improvements for their departments, and are doing exceptional research, scholarly and/or creative work.

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