The Catholic University of America

April 27, 2012

Professors Honored for Research and Scholarship

  Research Awards

From left: James Brennan, Rev. Christopher Begg, Lavinia Fici Pasquina, Brendan Rich, and Frederick Bruhweiler.

Four professors were honored April 25 by The Catholic University of America for their high levels of accomplishment. They represented academic backgrounds in physics, theology and religious studies, architecture, and psychology.

Provost James Brennan, who served as the master of ceremonies at a reception in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, noted that the awardees represented “the best of our standards of scholarly achievement” and that he was “impressed with not only the quality of the nominees but also with the consistency and uniformity” of those recommended for the awards by the academic deans.

Receiving awards were:

  • Frederick Bruhweiler, professor of physics and Institute for Astrophysics and Computational Sciences director, who received the awards for Career Achievement in Research
  • Rev. Christopher Begg, Katharine Drexel Chair in Religious Studies, who received the award for Achievement in Research
  • Lavinia Fici Pasquina, associate professor of architecture and planning, who received the award for Scholarly Achievement in the Creative Arts
  • Brendan Rich, assistant professor of psychology, who received the Young Faculty Award for Achievement in Research.

At the event, Brennan presented plaques to the awardees as their colleagues looked on.

Miles and Brennan  
Veryl Miles and Brennan  

In addition, Brennan recognized Veryl Miles, dean of the Columbus School of Law, who will be stepping down after seven years as dean. She will return as a full-time faculty member in the law school. Brennan pointed out her major accomplishments of “building the faculty” and “the strategic positioning of the school and its curricula.”

Brennan will present an award separately to James Zabora, dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service, who was unable to attend the ceremony. Zabora will be stepping down as dean in August after 10 years and will continue as a faculty member at the University.



Career Achievement in Research: Frederick Bruhweiler

  Bruhweiler and Brennan

 Bruhweiler and Brennan

Bruhweiler, a faculty member at Catholic University since 1983, is a respected researcher in the field of astrophysics. Brennan described his “crowning achievement” as the creation of the Institute for Astrophysics and Computational Sciences (IACS) in 1997. IACS now manages more than $6 million a year in government research grants and involves approximately 60 personnel. He recently assisted in creating the Center for Excellence in the Physics of the Heliosphere and the Sun at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

“In many ways, Fred Bruhweiler is IACS,” said Brennan. “He has done everything from being our interface with NASA administration down to the minute details of grant management. And he has been tireless in his pursuit of research opportunities for our students.”

Bruweiler was honored with the award for Career Achievement in Reserach for “his career of productive scientific achievement, outstanding mentorship, and effective outreach,” said Brennan.

“If you really want to succeed, get good people around you,” said Bruhweiler after receiving the award. “Any success when you get to a certain point is a product of everyone and this is no different.”

Achievement in Research: Rev. Christopher Begg

 Father Begg and Brennan  
Father Begg and Brennan

Father Begg is completing his 30th year of service in the School of Theology and Religious Studies. He is an internationally recognized Old Testament scholar and one of the leading authorities on Josephus, a first century Jewish historian who chronicled the life and history of the Jewish people in that century. Father Begg has published three monographs on the historian and is currently working on a fourth.

He has published more than 190 journal articles and has served as the publishing editor of The Catholic Biblical Quarterly since 1983. He also has been the editor of Old Testament Abstracts since 1991.

In addition to his scholarly work, Father Begg has served as a weekend assistant at St. Joseph’s parish on Capitol Hill and as a confessor at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

“Always busy, yet he always has time for the people around him,” added Brennan. “He is, in the view of his colleagues, the perfect example of what it means to be a priest-scholar.”

Father Begg was awarded for Achievement in Research for his role as “an immensely popular teacher, an insightful director of doctoral dissertations, and a congenial colleague known for his hard work and sense of humor,” Brennan said.

When he received his award, Father Begg joked that “guys in my situation would usually thank their wives or girlfriends” but pointed out that there was one person he would like to thank: Josephus. Father Begg described the Jewish historian as “an inexhaustible gold mine” which had kept him busy with research for years.

“I couldn’t be standing up here without you,” he said of Josephus. He also thanked his family and “long-suffering colleagues.”

Scholarly Achievement in the Creative Arts: Lavinia Fici Pasquina

  Fici Pasquina and Brennan

 Fici Pasquina and her daughter with Brennan

From Italy, Fici Pasquina came to Catholic University to earn her master’s in architecture in 1998 before joining the faculty as an assistant professor. She was promoted to associate professor in 2006.

Fici Pasquina directs the digital media concentration for the School of Architecture and Planning and is CEO of Xhabition, a private architectural design and media company. She is an accomplished architect who has designed both commercial and residential spaces. A number of her projects in the Washington, D.C., area have been widely published and awarded, both by design journals and by professional organizations. Her students have been honored for outstanding projects and theses. In addition to her architectural work, she has designed and fabricated personalized clothing and jewelry lines.

“Her creative impact on the School of Architecture and Planning has been considerable,” Brennan added.
Fici Pasquina received the award for Scholarly Achievement in the Creative Arts for “her accomplishments as an architectural designer, artist, and as a teacher,” Brennan said.

“Moving from Italy 16 years ago, I thought I had left my family behind,” said Fici Pasquinia, who brought her five-year-old daughter on stage with her to accept the award. “I never knew I would find a bigger one here.”

She noted that the people at Catholic University “have added their passion to [her] own” and that “as an architect, this institution gave [her] a chance to expand [her] knowledge.” She thanked her daughter and husband, who is in the Army, for their “patience and support” and her parents for their “genetic ingredients.”

Young Faculty Award for Achievement in Research: Brendan Rich

 Rich and Brennan  
 Rich and Brennan

With the help of a National Institute of Mental Health award, Rich is currently conducting research on pediatric bipolar disorder with colleagues at the National Institutes of Health. Brennan noted that he is one of the few researchers to bring the latest imaging technology to the study of the disorder. He also researches group therapy of youths with social and emotional regulation defects. Since joining the faculty in 2008, he has established the Child Cognition, Affect, and Behavior Lab, authored 13 journal articles and two book chapters, and presented 17 papers and posters at professional conferences.

“Dr. Rich reflects great credit upon himself, the Department of Psychology, and The Catholic University of America,” Brennan noted.

Rich received the Young Faculty Award for Achievement in Research for “his accessibility in conveying the excitement of research to students, his impressive accomplishments as a scientist, and his mentorship,” Brennan said.

Rich recalled how excited he was to receive a CUA umbrella during the new faculty luncheon when he first started at CUA. “So you can imagine how excited I am to get this,” he said.

He thanked his colleagues for their support and his students who are “so instrumental to research.” He described his recent pride in a student who was explaining some recent research and had to stop to say just how exciting it was for her. Rich said he shared her enthusiasm and that for him, “it’s all about the process of discovery” and that he’s “very excited to be doing it here.”



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