Prof. Alison Mackey receives the President’s Award for Distinguished Scholar-Teachers

Georgetown University
Office of the President


October 1, 2019

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:

It is my honor to announce this year’s recipients of the President’s Awards for Distinguished Scholar-Teachers at Georgetown University.  These awards commend faculty who were nominated by their students and faculty peers for outstanding service to our community and to the Academy as exemplary scholar-teachers, embodying Georgetown’s mission as a student-centered research University.

Alison Mackey, Ph.D.
Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Linguistics
Georgetown College

John R. McNeill, Ph.D.
University Professor
Department of History, Georgetown College
and Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service

Italo Mocchetti, Ph.D.
Department of Neuroscience
Georgetown University Medical Center

Cristina Sanz, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Georgetown College

Our group of nominees this year was truly exceptional.  We are fortunate to have faculty who enrich our community immeasurably with their diverse research interests and commitment to teaching.  This year’s awardees emerged following a rigorous selection process.  A committee of distinguished faculty members and previous scholar-teacher awardees, led by Barbara Bayer, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Neuroscience, narrowed the pool to a small group of finalists.  I wish to offer my deep appreciation to everyone who submitted nominations in the spring.

Please join me in celebrating Drs. Mackey, McNeill, Mocchetti, and Sanz for their outstanding accomplishments and service to our community as scholar-teachers.  Our awardees represent the very best of Georgetown: the blending of academic expertise, innovative research, and impactful pedagogy that draws out the ambitions and abilities of our students and faculty.

We hope you will join us in formally recognizing Drs. Mackey, McNeill, Mocchetti, and Sanz at our Fall Faculty Convocation on Wednesday, October 23, 2019.  

You have my very best wishes.


John J. DeGioia 

2019 Awardees 

Alison Mackey, an internationally renowned scholar in the field of Applied Linguistics, joined our community in 1998. Her research focuses on how second languages are learned, and how they may best be taught. Dr. Mackey’s scholarly output has led to over 16,800 citations, 15 books, and more than 100 book chapters and articles, and she is frequently rated as one of the most highly cited scholars in the world in the field of applied linguistics and second language acquisition. Her co-edited Handbook of Applied Linguistics won the 2013 Kenneth W. Mildenberger Prize from the Modern Language Association. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, a testament to her stature in her field, and under her leadership, the journal rose to rank first out of 181 journals in Linguistics in 2017 Impact Factor. Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Linguistics, she is also an outstanding mentor for her graduate students, providing research and professional development opportunities to graduate students, including the 31 Ph.D. students she has directly supervised, many of whom personally attested to how they have benefited from her steadfast commitment to their growth and inclusion in her research. We are proud to recognize Dr. Mackey’s powerful example of committed scholarship and teaching. She is a model contributing member of our academic community.

John R. McNeill, current President of the American Historical Association, has been teaching at Georgetown since 1985 and was named a University Professor in 2006. He has taught more than 3,000 students in his classes on world history, international relations history, grand strategy, African history, and environmental history. His prolific scholarly contributions include dozens of articles and many co-edited volumes, six sole- and co-authored books that have helped to create and define the academic field of environmental history, the study of the reciprocal relationship between global human history and the natural world. His book, Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the 20th-Century World, published in 2000, was recognized by the London Times as one of the ten best science books ever written, and it won the World History Association’s Book Prize and the Forest History Society’s Weyerhauser Book Prize. He is the recipient of two Fulbright research awards, a Guggenheim, fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the Heineken Prize from the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2017 he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. More recently, Dr. McNeill has been diligently co-authoring papers with geologists, biologists, and chemists on the theme of the Anthropocene, the proposed geological epoch that is distinguished by the magnitude of human impacts on the Earth system. He is known as a generous mentor and professor, having served as an advisor or committee member for countless Ph.D. students in his tenure at Georgetown. We are truly privileged to have in Dr. McNeill a ground-breaking scholar, a thoughtful colleague, an excellent mentor, and a teacher of the highest caliber.

Due to a prior commitment, we look forward to recognizing Dr. McNeill at a separate occasion later this year.

Italo Mocchetti has been a valued member of our Medical Center since 1985. Dr. Mocchetti’s early research contributed several fundamental discoveries on the basic mechanisms of action of common drugs of abuse, identifying specific growth factors which are pivotal in central nervous system development which are also used in repair of the adult brain after damage by contusions and seizures. These early studies laid the foundation for his more recent work studying the impact of HIV on the central nervous system, how HIV causes brain dysfunction, and how to prevent this cognitive decline among HIV-carriers. Through his tireless research, he has helped innumerable people live longer and more rewarding lives. For 30 years, NIH has repeatedly recognized his work by awarding him continuous, competitive grant funding to pursue this cutting edge research. He has also published an impressive 115 original research papers, 18 reviews, and 22 book chapters and has been invited to lead many international symposia. At Georgetown, Dr. Mocchetti’s laboratory and courses have drawn undergraduate, master’s, doctoral students, and post-doctoral fellows from around the world to study with and be mentored by him. It is an honor to recognize his work as a pioneering scientist, selfless mentor, and esteemed teacher.

Cristina Sanz came to Georgetown in 1994 and has been an integral member of the Georgetown community ever since. In her research, Dr. Sanz is internationally famous for her interdisciplinary research on second language development and multilingualism. Her experimental studies demonstrate the complex interplay between learning contexts such as computer-delivered instruction and immersion abroad and the individual differences that learners contribute to the process of acquiring a new language. Dr. Sanz has published over 90 volumes, articles and book chapters in prestigious scholarly venues, and her edited volume Mind and Context in Adult SLA received the 2006 MLA’s Mildenberger Award. Most recently she co-edited the Routledge Handbook of Study Abroad Research and Practice (2018). In addition to her work as Professor and Chair in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Dr. Sanz directs the Intensive Spanish Program, the School of Foreign Service Spanish Program, the Catalan Lectureship, and the Barcelona Summer Program, which has become a model for other linguistic and cultural immersion programs. She is a beloved teacher, receiving the 2014 College Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Teaching, and a wonderful mentor of Ph.D. students who praise her thoughtful guidance. Her presence and work at Georgetown has helped gain the university an international reputation as a global leader in the theory and practice of innovative second language instruction. Dr. Sanz was nominated for this award by a chorus of faculty colleagues and her numerous Ph.D. students who have all been profoundly impacted by her generosity, brilliance, and leadership in her field.