A&S Faculty Honored for Teaching Excellence

the columns
Jordan Yount
News Source: 
College of Arts & Science
Departments: 
Afro-Romance Institute
Anthropology
Biological Sciences
Chemistry
English
German and Russian Studies
Political Science
Romance Languages

Whether you are currently a student, faculty member, or an MU graduate, odds are you can quickly name your favorite professor. That person might be someone who helped you understand a difficult subject, or steered your research in a new direction, or helped you evaluate your career choices. The odds also are pretty good that the 12 faculty members in the College of Arts and Science who received awards for their teaching and research excellence during the 2014–15 academic year are on a lot of lists of favorite professors.

Curators’ Professors

Each year, the chancellor recommends outstanding faculty members to be honored with a Curators’ Professorship. This year one of the three prestigious positions was awarded to Professor of Psychological Sciences Ken Sheldon, who primarily studies goals, motivation, and psychological well-being. He also is active in the positive psychology movement.

The Curators’ Teaching Professorship, also recommended by the chancellor, is awarded to outstanding scholars with established reputations. Mary Jo Muratore, professor of French in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, is a specialist in 17th-century French literature and dramatic theory. Muratore served as the co-founding director of the Afro-Romance Institute and of the Afro-Romance Studies Series (University of Missouri Press, 2000–2008). She also was named a Kemper fellow in 1991 in recognition of outstanding teaching.

Kemper Fellows

The William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence is awarded to MU faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding teaching abilities. Recipients are recognized with a $10,000 award. This year, two A&S faculty members were honored with Kemper Fellowships.  Professor of English Elisa Glick teaches courses on 20th-century literary and artistic culture, the decadent movement, queer literature and culture, and theories of gender and sexuality.  Nicole Monnier, an associate teaching professor of Russian, specializes in mid-19th-century Russian prose and criticism and teaches a range of courses, from elementary Russian to graduate seminars.

President’s Award for Career Excellence

Two A&S faculty members received the President’s Award for Career Excellence. Associate Professor of Physics Gavin King was honored with the Early Career Award, which recognizes faculty who exhibit exceptional promise within their first seven years with the university. King’s research interests include single-molecule biophysics, applications and development of atomic-force microscopy methods in biology, protein structure and dynamics, lipid-protein interactions, and precision instrumentation.  The Sustained Excellence Award recognizes faculty for distinguished career-long, sustained excellence in scholarship, research, or creativity, for a period of 15 or more years. This year, the honor went to James Birchler, Curators’ Professor of Biological Sciences, whose research focuses on chromosome evolution and function in plants and fruit flies.  Birchler also was named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and received the Faculty–Alumni Award from the Mizzou Alumni Association this year.

Byler Distinguished Professor

The William H. Byler Distinguished Professor Award recognizes a faculty member for outstanding abilities, performance, and character, and includes a $3,000 award. This year’s recipient is R. Lee Lyman, professor emeritus of anthropology, who emphasizes on his website the many opportunities for students to work with him. Lyman’s primary research interest concerns the mammalian faunal history of Washington state and adjacent areas such as Oregon and Idaho.

Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity

Brad Prager, a professor of German and of film studies, is one of this year’s recipients of the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity. This award gives special recognition to MU faculty members who are still in the developmental phases of their careers, have made outstanding contributions in research and/or creative activity, and have great promise for achieving wider recognition. Prager’s areas of research include film history and contemporary German cinema, Holocaust studies, and the art and literature of German Romanticism.

Provost’s Award for Leadership in international Education

The Provost’s Award for Leadership in international Education recognizes MU faculty who have provided outstanding leadership in strengthening MU’s international dimension. Awardees are invited to make presentations at the annual International Fellowship Recognition Evening. This year’s recipient is L. Marvin Overby, professor of political science. Overby’s research and teaching interests include a number of topics in American politics as well as some in the area of comparative legislative analysis.

Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award

The Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award recognizes junior faculty who are in the early phases of their careers, for superior research and creative activity on the MU campus. Recipient Gary Baker, an assistant professor of chemistry, says research in his group is highly cross-disciplinary and collaborative in nature. Baker also received the Cottrell Scholar Award in 2015 to perfect an easy-to-produce bacterial cellulose-based material known as “ionogel,” which looks promising for use in diverse chemical tasks. The other recipient of the Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award in 2015 is Associate Professor of Anthropology Rob Walker, whose research focuses on trying to understand the evolution of human biocultural variation.

Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award

Libby Cowgill, an assistant professor of biological anthropology, is this year’s winner of the Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award, which honors junior faculty for superior teaching and advising on the MU campus. Cowgill studies Pleistocene human evolution, human growth and development, human skeletal variation, and functional morphology.

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