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Gregg Cantrell, Sarah Hill and Sarah Quebec Fuentes
Gregg Cantrell, Sarah Hill and Sarah Quebec Fuentes

Provost Teresa Abi-Nader Dahlberg announced the three honorees of the 2021 Deans’ Awards for Research and Creativity, one of the highest university-wide honors. Congratulations to Gregg Cantrell, Ph.D., Sarah Hill, Ph.D., and Sarah Quebec Fuentes, Ed.D.

It is my honor to work among our highly ranked and respected faculty members, who teach our students and lead the way in their fields through their research and creative activity,” Provost Dahlberg said. “These professors are honored for their dedication and excellence, in the classroom and beyond. And ‘beyond’ took on a whole new meaning as we adjusted our TCU educational experience to the pandemic and the challenges and changes it presented.”

The Dean’s Award for Research and Creativity honors faculty who produced the highest quality research as a creative activity. 

Each TCU college and school nominates one faculty member, while AddRan College of Liberal Arts nominates one from each of its divisions — Humanities and Social Sciences — for a total of eight finalists. Nominees must be full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty members at TCU for at least five years, and their research or creative activity recognized nationally or internationally. All deans meet to discuss the nominees and vote on the three winners, each of whom receives $2,500.

Gregg Cantrell, Ph.D.
Professor of History, Erma and Ralph Lowe Chair in Texas History and Director of Graduate Studies
AddRan College of Liberal Arts 

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized in this way by TCU’s deans,” Cantrell said. “Faculty members often feel that they labor in obscurity, and it means so much be reminded that what we do really does matter.”

With 14 book awards and four best-article prizes, Cantrell has established his reputation as a nationally prominent American historian. In recent years, he accelerated his already distinguished research activity when he turned his focus to the highly relevant topic of populism in American history, publishing four scholarly articles in refereed journals including the prestigious Journal of American History, and culminating with his authoritative book, The People’s Revolt: Texas Populists and the Roots of American Liberalism, published by Yale University Press in 2020.

This first full-length scholarly study of Texas Populism presents a comprehensive history of one of America’s most important third-party movements as well as a sweeping reinterpretation of the roots of American liberalism. Scholars have been effusive in their praise for The People’s Revolt, which earned the Kate Broockes Bates Award for Historical Research — the top award given by the Texas State Historical Association. Cantrell is now the established national authority on the Populist movement of the 1890s.

As director of Graduate Studies and an anchor in the history Ph.D. program, Cantrell routinely incorporates lessons about methodology, historiography, archival research and professional networking through his graduate research seminars. While teaching the capstone course for history majors in the fall, he mentored undergraduates in the process of researching, writing and publishing their own scholarship. Each of his students researched and wrote biographies of prominent individuals in Texas history, which were published in the Handbook of Texas Online, the authoritative reference work on Texas history.

When asked about his career as a Texas historian, Cantrell points to American novelist William Faulkner, who said: “I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.”

Cantrell explained: “Whenever I might worry that writing about Texas might somehow brand me as narrow or provincial, I reflect on what Faulkner said about his native Mississippi, and I am reminded that the study of Texas has offered a lifetime of compelling material that teaches lessons and reveals truths about American history, and history in general. I’ve made it my mission to instill this same belief in my own students.”

Sarah Hill, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
College of Science & Engineering

“I am so grateful to TCU, the College of Science and Engineering, and the Department of Psychology for nurturing my research career and recognizing me in this way,” Hill said.

An internationally recognized expert in the area of evolutionary social psychology, Hill is known for her highly innovative, interdisciplinary research. Since 2001, she has published 68 papers, and another five are under active review. Her current work resides at the intersection of evolution, health psychology, decision-making and consumer behavior. Its scientific quality is validated by multiple publications in top journals across a range of disciplines and repeat funding from the National Science Foundation. 

Hill’s work continues to attract media attention due to the high societal relevance of her research topics, such as the behavioral and health effects of early life poverty and the behavioral effects of hormonal contraceptives, an important and previously neglected issue in women’s health. Widely praised by researchers, the popular press and the general public, Hill’s book This is Your Brain on Birth Control has been published in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, the United Kingdom and Spain/Latin America.

Over the past six years, Hill’s lab has been working diligently to integrate physiological measures into its research. After cross-training in neuroscience and developing new techniques to advance their own research, she and her team founded Eos BioAnalytics at TCU, a business operating within TCU’s psychology department offering fee-based biological assay services to scientists. The goal is to promote creative, interdisciplinary research and make the world of biological measures more accessible to social scientists who do not have formal training in biology. 

Additionally, Hill has been an outstanding mentor to large numbers of undergraduate and graduate students who have conducted research in her lab. 

“Every day, I am grateful that I have the opportunity to get paid to do what I love,” she said. “To be recognized in this way is such an honor.”

Sarah Quebec Fuentes, Ed.D.
Professor of Mathematics Education
College of Education

“I truly appreciate the award honoring my work at the intersection of teacher preparation and development and research, reflecting the teacher-scholar model endorsed by TCU,” she said.

Quebec Fuentes spent 10 years as a middle and secondary mathematics teacher before joining the faculty at TCU, where she serves in the College of Education and is associated with the Andrews Institute of Mathematics and Science Education. Her work reflects her roles as mathematics teacher educator, mathematics education researcher and former K-12 teacher.

Drawing from her earlier research, Quebec Fuentes created a two-phase process through which teachers can progress to improve small-group, student-to-student discussions in their mathematics classes. She conducted a long-term professional development program guided by this process with high school mathematics teachers. That led to last summer’s publication of her book S3D: Fostering and Improving Small-Group, Student-to-Student Discourse (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics), which presents the refined process to an audience of mathematics teachers, coaches, department chairs and teacher educators. 

Her collaboration with Associate Professor Jo Beth Jimerson, Ph.D., on a case study to introduce school leaders to research-based instructional practices in mathematics grew into the edited book Instructional Leadership in the Content Areas: Case Studies for Leading Curriculum and Instruction, an invited encyclopedia entry, research articles, practitioner articles and a distinguished paper award from the American Educational Research Association Supervision & Instructional Leadership SIG.

Quebec Fuentes helped design and implement an instructional model to scaffold student reasoning about fraction comparisons for students with learning disabilities, collaborating with two educators. Her team developed a framework for evaluating student reasoning around fraction magnitude, a model that can be used as a tool by classroom teachers to formatively assess student reasoning.

Additionally, as a member of a 10-person research group of mathematics teacher educators from universities across Texas, Quebec Fuentes helped develop an instrument to measure self-efficacy for teaching and learning algebra for in-service teachers.

“In my work, I strive to bridge the research and practice communities and collaborate across fields to contribute to the teaching and learning of mathematics,” she said.

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