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ULM Foundation presents awards of excellence

Published August 20, 2015

Today, University of Louisiana at Monroe faculty and staff gathered to honor excellence in research, teaching, creative/artistic activity, and service at the fifth annual ULM Foundation Awards for Excellence.

Each winner was chosen based on a set of standards determined by a selection committee.

For each category, recipients were awarded unique honors based on the recipients’ overall effectiveness in their field and their contributions to the university.

Six awards were given, with four going to faculty members, and two going to staff.

The award for excellence in research was presented to Dr. Yong-Yu Liu, associate professor of pharmacology.


Liu was recognized for his cancer research, work with graduate students, and his most prestigious achievement—a patent.

Liu has earned over $1.2 million in grant funds for his research from the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the Louisiana Biomedical Research network, and many more.

The award for excellence in creative/artistic activity was presented to Jack Heflin, professor of English.


Heflin was touted for his work within the community and efforts to encourage young writers and poets to share their work with like-minded individuals.

Heflin is the co-founder of the nationally and internationally known anthology, turnrow, and was nominated for Louisiana Poet Laureate in 2002.

The award for excellence in service was presented to Brett Bennett, associate professor and head of radiologic technology.


Bennett’s service memberships have included serving as a member of the Sun Belt Conference Governance Committee; serving as Vice Chairman of the conference FAR group; board member for the Louisiana Radiologic Technology board of examiners, serving on the Board of Directors for Two Penny Missions and serving on the Claiborne Christian School Board.

The award for excellence in teaching was presented to Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharjee, who was called an enthusiastic, interesting, and passionate teacher who enjoys being in the classroom and thrives off the positive energy that he generates among his students.


Bhattacharjee’s “spider web” teaching method places him as a facilitator within the classroom with a network of concepts and knowledge available to his students. He said he views teaching as a social activity that requires him to be physically and emotionally involved in conveying his subject matter.


The award for excellence in service, given to an unclassified staff member, was awarded to Arely Castillo, facilities manager and coordinator of marketing and development for the College of Arts, Education, and Sciences.

Castillo devotes time to various civic organizations, including serving on the board of directors for the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, and as the co-chair of PLAY Festival—a free event focused on the practice of yoga and taking positive steps to improve the health of the community.

She also helped facilitate the move of an entire college to Walker Hall, and was one of the first to begin clean up and organization efforts after severe weather and tornadoes in October 2014.


The award for excellence in service, given to a classified staff member, was presented to Barbara Pugh, administrative assistant for the School of Education.

Pugh has been a ULM employee for over 33 years, and was noted as a reliable, dedicated, and eternally upbeat person who has the ability to communicate with anyone.

Each winner was presented with a personalized plaque and monetary award.