Lionhearted Leaders

They teach. They mentor. They impact.

And they bring a wealth of experience, engagement (and fun!) to the classroom. Each department picked one faculty member who has been outstanding this past year.

The Lionhearted Leaders Initiative recognizes the hard work and many contributions of members of the Purdue University Northwest faculty, and we will be showcasing the award winners in the year ahead! 

Khair Al Shamaileh, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering

Between developing and teaching 11 courses key to the electric engineering curriculum, mentoring 25+ undergraduate and graduate students, and assisting the ECE Department in receiving ABET accreditation, Professor Al Shamaileh drives high-quality engineering education resulting in developing skills in students that are of national interest that leads to jobs in the industrial market or Ph.D. scholarships.

Meet Professor Shamaileh

Mark Mabrito, Ph.D.

Professor of English | Director of Computer Labs and Computer-Supported Writing

“I particularly enjoy working with students outside of the classroom, watching movies – especially documentaries – and whenever possible, wandering around the Gulf Coast.”

Professor Mabrito created and coordinates the Writing for Interactive Media Online Certificate Program and works diligently to ensure student success in his classes, of which are grounded in his teaching philosophy is centered around making real-world connections to the real world.

Meet Professor Mabrito

Hairong Zhao

Hairong Zhao

Professor of Computer Science

I really like starting my day with a jog and a walk in nature. It gives me more energy and makes the rest of my day much more satisfying.

Professor Zhao is known for high standards, attainable goals and being engaging in the classroom. Outside of it, she is accessible and resourceful, often providing learning opportunities for students.

Her favorite course is algorithms; she loves seeing students using creative approaches to problems or refining existing solutions. On the topic of algorithms, Zhao furthers computer science by conducting research focused on algorithm design in the area of scheduling.

Meet Professor Zhao

Christopher Belous

Chris Belous

Associate Professor | Director, Couple & Family Therapy

We all have a responsibility to be the best versions of ourselves. Sometimes we won’t succeed – and that’s O.K. So enjoy life and radically and unconditionally accept and support yourself… after all, if you don’t, who will?

Chris Belous not only engages in scholarly activity, as evidenced by 12 peer-reviewed journal articles, nine book contributions, five professional handbooks or manuals, and 30 national and 18 state conferences, but oversees the Couple and Family Therapy master’s program. His experience goes outside of the classroom as well – Belous oversees the Center for Couple & Family Therapy that proves invaluable and affordable therapy to the surrounding community.

Meet Professor Belous

Matthew Hanson

Matthew Hanson

Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing

Matt enjoys challenges and the ability to create opportunities. Whether through his students or consulting, he never says it can’t be done. He reminds us we just need to think differently.

Professor Hanson bolsters PNW’s goal of providing experiential learning for students, and he develops relationships with marketing companies to create work opportunities for students. He runs the Digital Marketing Competition & Summit, an international event with teams from five continents that gives undergraduate students a perfect opportunity to develop digital marketing strategies for real life clients.

Meet Professor Hanson

Ezra Mutai

Ezra Mutai

Assistant Professor of Foods and Nutrition

When I am not teaching or doing research, I enjoy spending time with my family. I like to hike the different trails in the region, watch sports and documentaries.

Ezra Mutai inspires his students to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to their daily lives.

Ezra is instrumental in continually improving the quality of research done in the White Lodging School of Tourism and Hospitality Management while pursuing his own research in bioactive food compounds, gut microbes, and dietary interventions for disease prevention. He also has obtained joint grants with colleagues from other schools and is an active participant in the Integrative Physiology and Health Sciences Center.

Meet Professor Mutai

Wubeshet Woldemariam

Wubeshet Woldermariam

Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering

In my free time, I like taking pictures of the natural and built environment. I also like playing piano and reading non-academic books.

Not only is Wubeshet a proven effective teacher who loves to teach transportation engineering courses, but he contributes to his field both through scholarly publications and student extracurriculars. Notably, he established the new Transportation and Project Management (TPM) student club.

Wubeshet is currently researching the condition of U.S. infrastructure at the state level.

Meet Professor Woldemariam

Erin Okamoto Protsman

Erin Okamoto Protsman

Lecturer of Communication and Creative Arts/Basic Course Coordinator

I enjoy the quietness of the early morning. Nothing makes me happier than sitting in stillness, reading the newspaper, and drinking a good cup of coffee before the day begins.

Erin is known for and loves teaching communication courses. From day one, she tells students, “By the end of the semester, you’ll see communication everywhere!” and loves when they share their “aha!” moments with her.

Outside of classes, Erin mentors graduate teaching assistants who help teach COM 114, one of PNW’s most ubiquitous general education courses, and is piloting new tools and platforms to improve the course.

Meet Professor Protsman

Congratulations to Our 2022-23 Honorees!