UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright honored three women faculty today with the university’s Women of Distinction Award. This year, the awardees were honored via Zoom and were given $1,000 in professional development funding.

Applicants were asked their impact through the innovative ways they have engaged their students.

The 2020 winners are:

Cheryl Briggs, School of Visual Arts and Design

Briggs has been at UCF for more than a decade and practiced innovative teaching styles long before the pandemic. Since 2014, she has $1 million in UCF IT tech fees to improve hardware, software and facilities for her character-animation students.

In March, when the entire campus switched to remote instruction, Briggs spearheaded several efforts to keep students connected and motivated online. She also worked with IT so students could gain access to the programs they needed to do their animation work remotely.

Briggs organized a series of virtual talks featuring UCF alumni, a virtual character-animation meet and greet for incoming students, and she took the SVAD annual animated film premiere and moved it to a livestream on YouTube. She also keeps a Zoom room open for MFA students to work together, and hosts a weekly coffee and conversations on Zoom to help her students get to know her outside of the classroom.

Briggs’ efforts have helped her students achieve jobs at EA, Pixar, Disney and other major animation studios.

Analia Castiglioni, internal medicine and medical education

Castiglioni is a founding faculty member of the UCF College of Medicine. She is also the medical director of the Clinical Skills and Simulator Center, which is where students learn the foundational “doctoring” skills — such as patient-centered communication and interpersonal skills, physical-exam skills, critical thinking and clinical reasoning — through interactions with simulated patients.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the inability to conduct face-to-face sessions disrupted all clinical-skills instruction and assessment at the College of Medicine and across the country.

Castiglioni recognized the extended nature of the pandemic early and led her team through an accelerated yet complex transition to online experiential clinical skills instruction that continued to include standardized patients. This involved adopting a new integrated video-conferencing platform to deliver online clinical-skills instruction that allowed for synchronous interactions of students and simulated patients, small-group activities and assessments.

Conversion of required performance-based assessments in the MD program to an online platform required significant redesign and development. This achievement was recognized nationally when Castiglioni was invited to share the development and implementation of this new format in a peer-reviewed online forum put on by Directors of Clinical Skills, a part of the American Association of Medical Colleges.

Castiglioni led a team of faculty members in the development of new content that trained the students in the MD program to be prepared to evaluate patients in an online environment. As a result of her efforts, UCF medical students are now trained and prepared to engage in telemedicine.

Laurie A. Pinkert, writing and rhetoric

Pinkert has accomplished many things in her five years at UCF. As her department’s undergraduate program director, she revamped the required e-portfolio. After conducting virtual interviews with writing-related hiring managers throughout Central Florida, she better aligned portfolio requirements with employers’ expectations.

Students now receive formative faculty feedback and readily use their e-portfolios as they search for jobs. They also practice describing the value and applications of their writing and rhetoric expertise during mock interviews in their capstone course. Pinkert turned these graduation requirements into post-graduation tools.

Pinkert also developed a fellowship-writing program in partnership with the McNair Scholars program and College of Graduate Studies. She provides weekly virtual instruction in writing proposals and applications to graduate and undergraduate students across the university.

Pinkert’s efforts have not only helped writing and rhetoric students get jobs after graduation, but have supported students across the university in acceptances to graduate schools such as Oxford, Yale, Brown, Cornell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Vanderbilt, and in receiving more than $1 million in fellowship funding from organizations such as the National Science Foundation.