Seven Faculty Members Nominated for Idaho State Journal’s “20 Under 40” Award, Vanessa Ballam and Zack Heern take home awards

The College of Arts & Letters is proud to announce that seven faculty members were nominated for the Idaho State Journal’s “20 Under 40” award. Every year the prestigious award is given to members of the community under the age of 40 whose contributions to the community and accomplishments have been a step above the rest. Congratulations to Vanessa Ballam and Zack Heern for receiving the award.

Seven Faculty Members Nominated for Idaho State Journal’s “20 Under 40” Award, Vanessa Ballam and Zack Heern take home awards
Vanessa Ballam and Zack Heern

The College of Arts & Letters is proud to announce that seven faculty members were nominated for the Idaho State Journal’s “20 Under 40” award. Every year the prestigious award is given to members of the community under the age of 40 whose contributions to the community and accomplishments have been a step above the rest. Congratulations to Vanessa Ballam and Zack Heern for receiving the award.

Vanessa Ballam is an associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance. In her five years at ISU, Ballam has directed five main stage productions, including “Guys and Dolls” and “James and the Giant Peach.” She has also directed the premiere production of an original play, and several studio productions. She has brought a number of guest artists to campus and has opened numerous opportunities for ISU students. Ballam holds two bachelors degrees from Utah State University, one in theatre education/political science and another in liberal arts. She has directed 27 different productions across the United States and is the recipient of 11 different awards for her work, including two awards from the National Society for Arts and Letters for drama and musical theater. Ballam has been a featured lecturer in over 800 speaking engagements throughout the state of Utah including: Utah State University, BYU-Idaho, Brigham Young University, Southern Utah University, Utah Valley University, Dixie College and Snow College.

Zack Heern is an assistant professor of history at ISU who, over his two years, has reshaped the community’s conceptions of the Middle East. Heern earned his bachelor’s degree from UCLA in history and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Utah in Middle East studies. He has also studied abroad in Egypt. Heern has written two books on the Middle East including “The Emergence of Modern Shi’ism: Islamic Reform in Iraq and Iran,” which has been featured in The Economist and the Los Angeles Times. Heern is professionally affiliated with the Middle East Studies Association, American Academy of Religion, International Association of Iranian Studies, Clerical Authority in Shi’I Islam Project, Idaho Humanities Council and the Midwest Association for Middle East Studies. He has given talks through ISU’s Liberal Arts High and Humanities Café programs, and has spoken to the Pocatello Rotary Club, Idaho Falls City Club and the Rotary Club of Salt Lake. Heern has published numerous op-ed pieces and appeared in local, regional and international publications and interviews. This past year, he started ISU’s Middle Eastern Culture Association. His mission is to promote education about Middle Eastern culture and build bridges.

Bethany Shultz-Hurst is an assistant professor of English who has been recognized within ISU as a master researcher (2015), a distinguished teacher (2008) and with the university’s outstanding teaching service award (2011). Shultz-Hurst earned her bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University where she graduated with honors. She then earned a MFA in creative writing and poetry from Eastern Washington University. Though she is well educated in all types of writing, Shultz-Hurst’s passion is for poetry. She is the recipient of many awards for her work, including some of the top recognitions possible in the field of poetry. Her work was selected for inclusion in The Best American Poetry (2015), a literary series consisting of poetry anthologies. Her manuscript “Miss Lost Nation” won the national Robert Dana-Anhinga Poetry Prize (2014). With this award comes publication of the book and a series of readings featuring the author. She was a finalist for the Erskine J. Poetry Prize as well as the Kate Tufts Discovery Award (2016). Her poetry is influenced by her lifetime in the American West and her engagement with issues of gender and parenting.

Jon Armstrong is a musician and composer and serves as the director of jazz studies at ISU. Prior to moving to Idaho, Armstrong established a creative and dynamic career in Los Angeles. He founded the modern jazz quartet Slumgum and the electronic psychedelic group Pitch Like Masses. With these groups and others, he has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. He has also written music for film, dance and theater, and he composes contemporary classical music and expansive meditative pieces. Additionally, Armstrong has established himself as a bandleader with two album releases in his name. His debut, “Farewell,” was released in 2013 for a 23-piece large ensemble and in November 2016 he released “Burnt Hibiscus,” a project that combines surrealist poetry with traditional Hindustani music, arranged for a 10-piece chamber jazz ensemble.

Shane Gleason is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and is an advisor for pre-law and the law club. Under Gleason’s leadership, the law club has grown substantially. At only 32 years old, Gleason has extensive academic accomplishments and publications. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Cleveland State University and a Ph.D. in political science from Southern Illinois University with an emphasis in public law and methodology. He has also written and published six peer-reviewed academic publications, and he has a book under consideration at the University of Chicago Press. Gleason joined ISU in 2014 and has been heavily involved in the community as guest speaker for many organizations including Too Great for Hate, New Knowledge Adventures, The Rotary Club, Pocatello Inn of Courts and the Bar Association.

Karen Hartman is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, Media and Persuasion who has been nationally recognized as a leader in sport and public relations. Hartman earned her bachelor’s degree from Furman University in communication studies and her master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in speech communication. Hartman holds a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in rhetoric and public address. Since arriving in Pocatello in 2014, Hartman has made a strong impact on our community. Her professional and civic affiliations are numerous and include the International Association of Sport Communication and the National Communication Association. Hartman was elected Vice-Chair of the Communication and Sport Division for the National Communication Association and was also elected Chair of the International Association for Communication and Sport Board. Hartman is also an active board member of the Idaho State-Civic Symphony. She was the keynote speaker for the Idaho State University’s National Girls and Women in Sport Day in February 2016.

Diantha Smith earned her Ph.D. in English and the teaching of English at ISU. Smith earned her bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University (BYU) in elementary education. She went on to earn her master’s degree in literature and writing from Utah State University. In addition to being a graduate instructor at ISU, Smith is also an online instructor for the BYU Pathways Program. Smith has also taught seated classes and online classes at Utah State University. Her research interests include rhetoric and composition, English language learners, technical and professional communication, online teaching and curriculum design and assessment. She was honored with ISU’s “Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award” in 2016, and was named the “Graduate Instructor of the Year” twice during her time at Utah State University. She holds a “Top Poster Award” for graduate research from ISU and held a fellowship in the English department.

 

Written by Katie Damron, College of Arts and Letter Intern

 

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