Honors Faculty

Mary Valante

Mary Valante (History)

Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University; M.A., Boston College; B.A., Wellesley College

Teaching Experience:
My research on the Middle Ages, especially on the Vikings in Ireland, has led to developing courses I have just loved teaching. There are the obvious, like Medieval Ireland, and the Vikings. Other courses have come from the mixture of disciplines I have studied for my research, especially history, archaeology and languages. Some of these courses would include the Black Death and Digging Up History. Teaching broader courses like World Civilizations to 1500 has not just reflected my research, it's changed the way I treat subjects like the Vikings.

Why I like to teach honors courses:
I'm very much looking forward to working with some of App State's best. I think the different backgrounds and interests of student taking my course will greatly enhance the course. This will be an opportunity for us to learn together to solve some of history's most intriguing puzzles.

Johnny Waters

Johnny Waters (Geology)

Ph.D., M.A., Indiana University; B.S. Auburn University

Teaching Experience:
I came to Appalachian as Chair of the Department of Geology in 2005 after spending 28 years at the University of West Georgia. Trained as a paleontologist, my research centers on Paleozoic echinoderms, Devonian and Carboniferous community structure, and rebounds from mass extinction events. My field areas span the globe giving me an opportunity to work with colleagues from many different cultures. For the past 25 years, I have conducted fieldwork in China with colleagues from Indiana University, the Nanjing Institute, and the Academy of Geological Sciences in Beijing. At West Georgia, I was twice recognized as the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia Distinguished Professor.

Why I like to teach honors courses:
As a paleontologist, my research on evolutionary paleobiology straddles the boundaries between Geology and Biology. My freshman honors courses challenge students to think differently about the world around them, and being talented motivated students they readily accept the challenge. I derive great joy in seeing the intellectual growth in my students in their earliest days as university students.

Mark Zrull

Mark Zrull (Psychology)

Ph.D., University of South Carolina; B.S., Georgia State University

Teaching Experience:
I am trained as a behavioral neuroscientist with an additional specialization in quantitative psychology. My research addresses relationships between the function of neural systems and behavior with a decided focus on environmentally or experience induced neural plasticity. I teach courses that relate brain and behavior such as “Biological Psychology” or “The Brain: A User’s Guide” (a First Year Seminar) as well as things like “Research Methods in Psychology”. I usually have a number of undergraduates working with me in my research lab, where I think students do their very best learning and I do my very best teaching, and have directed 14 Honors theses at Appalachian.

Why I like to teach honors courses:
I really look forward to teaching a HON course with motivated students from various disciplinary backgrounds and with varied interests. I enjoy “Honors Colloquium” in Psychology because it provides a chance for me to learn some specific things about my teaching and ideas from students while all of us get to discuss and learn about various aspects of behavioral neuroscience together.