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Arnold School of Public Health

2024 Faculty Award Winners

The Arnold School is proud to announce the recipients of the 2024 Faculty Awards: James A. Keith Excellence in Teaching Award, Faculty Research Award, and Faculty Service Award.

Each year in the Arnold School, faculty are nominated for special recognition of career accomplishments in the core academic areas of teaching, research and service. The competition is intense, and the selection of winners is very difficult because so many of our faculty excel nationally in one or more of these areas.

-Dean Thomas Chandler

James A. Keith Excellence in Teaching Award: Sheri Silfies

Sheri Silfies

Sheri Silfies joined the Department of Exercise Science’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program in 2018. The associate professor teaches one of the program’s most difficult courses (Human Musculoskeletal and Gross Anatomy) with such success that it has captured the attention and admiration of other physical therapy programs. Her summer “jump start” anatomy packet and knowledge of diverse learning styles help her students hit the ground running and earn her their respect and trust. Silfies is known for her ability to make complex concepts both relatable and accessible – cultivating a learning environment that is inclusive and interactive. Her commitment to her students’ academic success extends beyond the classroom to their personal well-being – making her mentorship a key to their progression into the next stage of their careers.

“I have been given the opportunity and responsibility to pass on knowledge and skills to future physical therapists and rehabilitation scientists,” Silfies says. “The shifting health care environment has positioned physical therapists to take on unprecedented levels of responsibility to meet the demand for evidence-based practice and provide research that supports it. This demand, in turn, requires faculty to model, mentor and instill in our graduates the ability to problem-solve, seek and interpret the evidence, and appreciate that life-long learning is part of their professional responsibility.”


Faculty Research Award: Melissa Nolan

Melissa Nolan

An expert on infectious diseases, Melissa Nolan is an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the director of the Vector-borne and Zoonotic Diseases Laboratory. Since arriving at the Arnold School in 2018 for her first tenure-track appointment, Nolan has been awarded more than $15 million in research grants and serves as co-principal investigator on another $35 million in extramural funding. Through her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, clinical partnerships with health care systems, and proactive methods for surveilling and educating the public about threats from new and emerging vector-borne diseases, she has built research collaborations across the state that have had a direct impact on the health and well-being of South Carolinians as well as the protective capacity of the state. Nolan’s publications are at 113 and counting, and she has mentored more than 50 trainees of all levels.

“My proudest accomplishment is the research culture and legacy I am creating,” Nolan says. “I am thankful to be at a school that supports not only a PI’s individual research excellence, but also quality research mentorship. The knowledge that I’m creating infrastructure and opportunities for the next generation makes me happier than any grant, paper or professional accolade.”


Faculty Service Award: Toni Torres-McGehee

Toni Torres-McGehee

On the heels of her selection as the 2024 recipient of the USC Educational Foundation Outstanding Service Award, Toni Torres-McGehee is also the winner of this year’s faculty service award. The exercise science associate professor’s service contributions span two main areas. As an expert in the field of athletic training and the director of the department’s athletic training programs, she makes an impact on the profession and students/future athletic trainers. She also serves as the school’s Associate Dean of Access and Collective Engagement and co-chair for USC’s Council of Academic Diversity Officers, advocating for marginalized individuals and groups in the university community and beyond. Eighteen years into her tenure at USC, Torres-McGehee has mentored countless students and faculty members and held numerous service and leadership roles.

“My favorite quote is by Winston Churchill: We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give,” she says. “Throughout my career, I do my best to pay it forward through mentorship; assistance with health care to communities in need; service to the University and my profession; and most importantly advocacy through diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts throughout USC, our communities we serve, and the profession of athletic training.”


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