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2020-2022 Honors EXCEL Program Affiliates

The Honors College is excited to introduce eight Honors Experiential and Community Engaged Learning (EXCEL) Program Affiliates for the 2020-2022 academic years.

Program affiliates guide Honors EXCEL students through the development and implementation of their long-term experiential learning projects. By teaching the required Project Development and Summative Experience courses for the program, affiliates support and encourage students throughout the entire Honors EXCEL experience.

The 2020-2022 Program Affiliates are:

Gerald Angle


Gerald Angle headshot

Dr. Gerald Angle is a teaching assistant professor in the Fundamentals of Engineering program in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. While earning his PhD in Aerospace Engineering from WVU in 2008, Dr. Angle received five U.S. patents and got his start in teaching. He learned about the Honors EXCEL program as a member of the Honors College Advisory Board, and he is excited to support students in experiential learning, which he believes is one of the most effective learning methods. He also hopes to provide technology development support for Honors EXCEL students through his role with the WVU Launch Lab. Outside the classroom, Dr. Angle enjoys spending time with his family and supporting his local sports community. He is currently the president of the Fayette County Youth Soccer Club, where he helps plan programs for around 400 players ranging from 4-19 years of age each season.

Nancy Caronia


Nancy Caronia headshot

Dr. Nancy Caronia, teaching assistant professor of English, approaches the Honors EXCEL program with the goal of supporting students through their first experiences of independent scholarship. A first-generation college graduate, Dr. Caronia hopes to be the mentor that she did not have in college, helping students access the wide variety of opportunities available to them. In her own research, Dr. Caronia studies how the American dime novel genre spread discriminatory ideas about Italian immigrants and indigenous, black and Chinese communities. She has been selected as the WVU Libraries 2020-21 Faculty/Staff Exhibit Awardee to display the connection between dime novels and discriminatory policies such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, Indian Removal acts and early Jim Crow practices. Dr. Caronia also says that she’s been practicing Tai Chi Ch’uan for longer than most Honors EXCEL students have been alive! She even taught the martial art in New York City, but has not had the opportunity to teach it at WVU.

Elizabeth Claydon


Elizabeth Claydon headshot

As an assistant professor of social and behavioral health in the School of Public Health, Dr. Elizabeth Claydon’s recent research focuses on eating disorders and pregnancy, seeking to prevent intergenerational transmission of eating disorders and obesity by helping women during pregnancy. She attributes her success to the professors who believed in and took time for her, and she is excited to be an Honors EXCEL program affiliate because she wants to do the same for her students. Although she never played any team sports, Dr. Claydon fenced throughout high school and college.

Annie Cui


Annie Cui

Associate Professor and Kmart Chair of Marketing in the College of Business and Economics Dr. Annie Cui’s research focuses on firms’ marketing capabilities and branding, pricing and international strategies. She views her role as a marketing researcher to be a bridge connecting academic findings with business practices. Therefore, she strives to work on leading-edge research that directly addresses and solves business problems. Dr. Cui truly enjoys teaching undergraduate students, helping them realize their full potential and reach their career goals. She believes that the Honors EXCEL program is a well-designed program that offers students great opportunities to challenge themselves and combine their passions with their academic program of study. Dr. Cui is happy to provide guidance and assist students in this fascinating learning journey. In her free time, she also loves to travel and has been to over 30 countries.

Lupe Davidson


Lupe Davidson headshot

Dr. Lupe Davidson is the Woodburn Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and director and academic coordinator for Social Justice Affairs in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. Her scholarship and teaching interests include black feminist theory, rhetorical theory and criticism, theories of the body, Africana feminism, and grassroots women’s organizations and peace building in Northern Uganda. WVU Press has recently announced that Dr. Davidson will be co-editing a new book series entitled “Borderless” about coalitional politics, interdisciplinarity, community building, participatory research and disruptive thought. With the Honors EXCEL program, she looks forward to engaging with students from across the University. When she was a teenager, Dr. Davidson directed a local television show.

Shan Jiang


Shan Jiang headshot.

Dr. Shan Jiang, assistant professor of landscape architecture, studies evidence-based design and the relationship between design and people’s health and well-being. She is especially interested in landscape design and human health, including the use of biophilic design principles to create therapeutic environments and the design of natural playgrounds for child development. Using immersive virtual environment techniques, she conducts experiments to understand how people respond physiologically to designed spaces. Dr. Jiang hopes to help students in the Honors EXCEL program solve problems through design thinking and establish long-term, multidisciplinary, collaborative relationships among students. Dr. Jiang reports that the funniest parts of her life come from raising her preschooler and her senior dog.

Kristen Matak


Kristen Matak headshot.

In her food science lab, Dr. Kristen Matak, professor of animal and nutritional sciences, explores the benefits and limitations of alternative methods of food processing and preservation. She focuses especially on the use of microbial reduction to increase the safety and shelf-life of foods, using methods including shelf-life studies, sensory tests, consumer studies and texture analysis. Dr. Matak believes that the Honors EXCEL program will give students a competitive edge in applying for graduate programs, and she looks forward to helping guide students in their research interests. In her spare time, Dr. Matak enjoys exploring and mapping caves, and she is the faculty advisor for WVU Student Grotto.

Louis Slimak


Louis Slimak headshot.

In his role as assistant provost for curriculum and assessment at WVU, Dr. Louis Slimak focuses on assessment of policies, processes and practices related to student learning and how they relate to the University’s effectiveness. He applies a range of research methods to complex real-life problems and is excited to work with Honors EXCEL students who are beginning to connect their disciplinary training to real-world problems. As Dr. Slimak says, “Action research like this is transformative for everyone involved in the process: the researcher, the communities involved, and the interested research community.” Dr. Slimak has broken over 30 bones throughout his life, so he enjoys yoga as a way to maintain his fitness without breaking any more bones.