May 3, 2021

Board of Governors recognizes faculty scholarly achievements

Five Wayne State University professors who have distinguished themselves with significant scholarly achievements were recently honored with the 2021 WSU Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Awards.

The awards are offered annually to full-time faculty members who make outstanding contributions to scholarship and learning. The work of merit is a single act or event that constituted an outstanding contribution to scholarship and learning. Each recipient receives a citation from the board, an engraved wall plaque and a monetary award.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Natalie Bakopoulos, assistant professor, Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Susan L. Davis, professor (clinical), Department of Pharmacy Practice in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Donovan Hohn, associate professor and coordinator of creative writing, Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Karen Marrero, associate professor, Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Joseph A. Roche, associate professor, Department of Health Care Sciences in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Gov. Shirley Stancato recognized Bakopoulos for the publication of her novel Scorpionfish (Tin House Press, July 2020).  In her second novel, Scorpionfish, Bakopoulos crafts a complex portrait of a burgeoning relationship set against the backdrop of personal and political crises. Exploring how ordinary people grapple with the challenges of their own lives alongside broader political and social challenges in the wider world, Scorpionfish deftly melds the deeply personal with the political to create a book that explores grief, love and identity in the contemporary world.

It has earned warm reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, The New York Review of Books, Bookpage, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, and Adroit Journal and was named one of the Best Books of 2020 by NPR. Not only has her novel met high acclaim, but Bakopoulos works hard to integrate the skills that make her such a talented novelist into her classroom practice. She has translated her experiences of writing pieces such as Scorpionfish into her courses in the creative writing program in the English department to the direct benefit of our students.


Gov. Anil Kumar recognized Davis for her work as an invited member of the National Institutes of Health COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel, which was convened in March 2020 by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The panel was charged with the urgent task of providing up-to-date information to clinicians about the treatment of patients with COVID-19. Because of the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic, the full set of guidelines is a living document that continually incorporates the latest evidence-based treatment options for clinicians on the front line.

One of only six pharmacists selected to serve on the panel, this position is a recognition of her national leadership and expertise in the field of Pharmacy Practice. Her role as a lead author of these important national guidelines has not only contributed to the health and well-being of all Americans but also has changed the way that pharmacists are viewed by health-care providers.


Board Chair Gov. Marilyn Kelly recognized Hohn for his volume of creative nonfiction, The Inner Coast (2020), a reference to the Midwestern “coast” of the Great Lakes region and to inner geographies. The essays explore the interlocking questions of memory and place, moving between interior and exterior landscapes in a reflective, trenchant and eloquent voice.

Combining journalism and its commitment to facts with tools of fiction writing that allow for a greater range of emotional and literary expression, the essays constituting The Inner Coast are grounded in a profound sense of place to ponder the connections of ever-increasing complexity between literature, science, history, and geography. Lyricism and mediation on the natural world in Hohn’s work serves to illuminate what is most enduringly human about the narrator. As a group, Hohn’s essays are engaging, thoughtful and marked by his sparkling wit and boundless curiosity.


Gov. Mark Gaffney recognized Marrero for her book Detroit’s Hidden Channels: The Power of French-Indigenous Families in the Eighteenth Century (Michigan State University Press; University of Manitoba Press). The book offers a meticulous and sophisticated analysis of Detroit’s founding era, a moment when English, French, and Indigenous groups fought, bargained, and ultimately settled side by side as Detroit transformed from a small military station to an increasingly important border city with bustling economic activity and vital military importance.  

Using sources in multiple languages and examining participation of diverse groups in the borderlands of eighteenth-century Detroit, Marrero brings to life the multi-layered, multi-racial networks that built this imperial outpost and places women and Indigenous peoples – often seen as marginal – at the center of Detroit’s early history.  In the process, Marrero reframes our understanding of Detroit’s development as part of an emerging British Empire in the Great Lakes region.


Gov. Michael Busuito recognized Roche for his research work and the publication of four papers, including one directly related to COVID-19 — a completely new research area for him. Dr. Roche is a physical therapist and researcher who typically studies rare forms of muscular dystrophy. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, however, he trained his attention on the coronavirus.

Working with his wife, Dr. Renuka Roche, an assistant professor of occupational therapy at Eastern Michigan University, the two formulated a detailed hypothesis utilizing evidence, which implicated dysregulated bradykinin signaling in COVID-19 complications and suggested that bradykinin inhibitors might improve outcomes.