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Jan 9, 2012 11:31 PM by MSU NEWS SERVICE

MSU honors top faculty with 2012 awards

BOZEMAN -- Dedicated teachers, dynamic researchers and faculty devoted to the betterment of Montana are among the winners of the top Montana State University 2012 faculty awards announced this week. The annual awards honor achievement in faculty research, teaching, outreach and creative projects. This year the awards will be presented at the MSU Spring Convocation, set for Jan. 10.

The Cox Family Faculty Excellence Award
Neil Cornish, professor of physics, Joanne Erickson, professor of education, and Joseph Shaw, professor of electrical and computer engineering, are the recipients of the 2012 Cox Family Awards for Creative Scholarship and Teaching. Each will receive a $2,000 honorarium from the Winston and Helen Cox Family Endowment, as well as an $800 stipend to buy books dedicated in their honor at MSU's Renne Library.

Cornish is recognized internationally as a leader in the field of gravitational wave astronomy and plays a significant role in developing algorithms for use with gravitational wave observatories. He has shown versatility as a scientist by his creative and substantial contributions to three distinct research areas: early universe cosmology, gravitational dynamics, as well as gravitational wave astronomy. He has a strong record of publishing influential work and regularly gives invited and plenary talks at international conferences. He co-developed and co-teaches the "Origins" honors seminar, which is often cited as the most influential and memorable learning experience while at MSU by students who have taken the class. In 2010 the physics graduate students honored him with the "Outstanding Graduate Level Instructor" award.

Erickson is a recognized scholar, leader and mentor. She is the author of books, monographs and journal publications and is known as an educator who emphasizes hands-on learning and real-world applications. She has won more than $3.6 million in competitive research funds, including more than $2.2 million for the Indian Leadership Education and Development program, which Erickson helped design. Also known as I LEAD, the program has increased the number of American Indian educators in administrative positions in schools with high populations of American Indian students.

Shaw is a leader in the development and application of optical remote sensing systems to study the natural earth environment, including radiometers, polarimeters, and LIDARs, or Light Detection and Ranging systems, as well as the photography and science of optical phenomena in nature. Working in and out of the Optical Remote Sensor Laboratory, Shaw is known for a variety of projects that range from use of LIDARS for applications ranging from measuring clouds in climate science to mapping invasive lake trout for protection of Yellowstone Lake. He has led his group's development of optical aurora detectors to send cell phone text messages alerting people when they can see an aurora. Shaw is a fellow in the Optical Society of America and the International Society of Optics and Photonics, both organizations representing researchers in fields ranging from vision science to fiber optics to lasers and remote sensing.

Wiley Awards for Meritorious Research and Creativity
Richard Block, psychology, Isaac Klapper, math, and Timothy LeCain, history and philosophy, have won this year's Charles and Nora L. Wiley Faculty Awards for Meritorious Research and Creativity. Each will receive $2,000. Sponsored by the MSU Foundation, the prizes are given in honor of the Wileys, who were pioneer ranchers in eastern Montana.

Block is internationally recognized as the pre-eminent scholar of the psychology of time. He is the author of 82 scientific publications and the editor of a book, "Cognitive Models of Psychological Time." His work on the psychology of time was instrumental in changing the way the entire field of cognitive psychology regards temporal processing. He is also recognized for his research into human memory. He is the first MSU psychology professor to be named a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the premiere international organization of experimental psychologists.

Klapper is honored as a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the mathematical modeling and simulation of biofilms. A Harvard graduate and former Fulbright scholar and NSF postdoctoral fellow, Klapper has helped make MSU's Center for Biofilm Engineering a world leader in biofilm research. Besides being named the center's faculty member of the year, he is the principal investigator on four recent NSF grants that total more than $1 million. He has published more than 40 peer-reviewed articles and made more than 50 invited presentations at local, national and international levels since coming to MSU in 1996.
LeCain, who is also an MSU graduate, has garnered national and international fame for his book, "Mass Destruction: The Men and Giant Mines that Wired America and Scarred the Planet," which won the George Perkins Marsh Prize for the best book in environmental history. His work has helped define the field of "envirotech," or the overlap of the fields of environmental and technological history. He was also the editor of envirotech newsletter for three years. LeCain was recently appointed as a Senior Research Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich, where he is on leave working on his next book.
James and Mary Ross Provost's Award for Excellence
Robert Rydell, the Michael P. Malone Professor of History at MSU and a national authority on world fairs, received the 2012 James and Mary Ross Provost's Award for Excellence, which recognizes excellence in teaching and scholarship. Rydell will receive a $2,500 honorarium for the award. Known as an outstanding teacher and world-renowned scholar, he is committed to engaging students and developing their critical thinking and writing skills. Rydell has also authored or co-authored seven books, including his recent "Designing Tomorrow: America's Word's Fairs of the 1930s," produced for an exhibition Rydell guest-curated at the National Building Museum. In addition, he has co-directed four major grants from the U.S. Department of Education to improve the teaching of American history in Montana schools.

Provost's Excellence in Outreach Award
Mary Burrows, plant science/plant pathology, and John Pfister, Extension agent for Musselshell/Golden Valley County, were selected as the 2012 recipients of MSU's Provost's Excellence in Outreach Award. Each will receive a $2,000 honorarium.

Burrows is honored for her comprehensive work addressing the wheat stripe rust epidemic of 2011. Despite the disease impacting spring and winter wheat growers on more than 1.5 million acres, Burrows' Extension outreach increased their income by more than $100 million. She started informing growers about the disease in the fall of 2010. She also detected the first signs that a new race of the rust fungus might be involved and worked with MSU wheat breeders and USDA pathologists to confirm her discovery. In the spring of 2011, she used a multifaceted outreach program to constantly update county agents, wheat producers, agribusinesses and crop consultants.

Pfister is honored for outstanding outreach as the floods of 2011 devastated the two Montana counties under his jurisdiction: Musselshell and Golden Valley. In addition to his normal work as an Extension agent, Pfister chaired twice-daily briefing sessions for government officials, the media, and organizations and agencies that deal with disasters. He developed a system of photographing and mapping that allowed him to document flood conditions in both counties. He conducted public information meetings, distributed water well test kits, helped review school bus routes, worked with the local 4-H Council to relocate the county fair and provided constantly updated information through the Musselshell-Golden Valley Extension website.

Provost's Award for Undergraduate Research/Creativity Mentoring
Sarah Codd, professor of mechanical engineering, won this year's undergraduate research/creativity mentoring award. She will receive a $2,000 honorarium. Codd is a top researcher in the field of magnetic resonance microscopy. Codd's work gives undergraduates the ability to investigate everything from fuel cells to medical catheters to the cleanup of contaminated soil and water. Her lab is known as a place where undergraduates have a real opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research. To give them an added head start, Codd hosts informational sessions for undergraduates to help steer them into activities and classes that will prepare them for graduate programs and grant-funded research.

The Meritorious Technology/Science Award
Barry Jacobsen, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences/Plant Pathology, received MSU's Meritorious Technology/Science Award. It carries a $2,500 honorarium and recognizes an MSU faculty member who has made at least one significant technological or scientific contribution that could be transferred or already has been transferred to the private sector.

Jacobsen has done pioneering work on the induction of plant defense genes by identifying several Bacillus isolates that provide control of fungal, bacterial and viral diseases of plants. These now-patented Bacilli have provided disease control on sugarbeets, potatoes, tomatoes, pepper, pecan, banana, cucumbers and melons. He is a leading expert in the study of biological controls of plant pathogens, particularly integrated pest management, or IPM, and the use of biological controls to combat plant disease and fungal toxins that can threaten food safety and animals. He currently serves as chair of the executive evaluation committee for the U.S. Agency for International Development's IPM Cooperative Support Research Program and recently returned from a Fulbright fellowship to Chile.

President's Excellence in Teaching Award
Professors Michael Reidy, history, Robert Rydell, history, and Leah Schmalzbauer, sociology, were awarded the 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award. Each will receive a $2,500 honorarium.

Called a "one-man student retention machine" because of his passion for learning and his students' enthusiasm for his classes, Reidy ignites an interest in history and science among a diverse array of students by designing challenging courses that help students develop skills, improve their ability to think critically and ask good questions, as well as think deeply about the ways in which their talents and abilities can be used to advance meaningful solutions to real-world problems. He is the architect of the "Science, Environment, Technology and Society" undergraduate option in history as well as one of the architects of MSU's Ph.D. program in history.

Known for his commitment to his students, Rydell teaches courses ranging from large introductory survey courses to upper-level undergraduate and advanced graduate courses. He has devoted immeasurable time to designing challenging classes that give students opportunities to learn to think logically and write clearly. Rydell has also taught many classes for the University Honors Program and has played a large role in the design and success of the university's American Studies Program. Students have described Rydell as brilliant, dedicated, stimulating and passionate.

Schmalzbauer's passion and excitement about sociology and teaching stimulates interest and engagement in her students. She has developed five classes at MSU, including courses on the sociology of globalization, gender and Latino migration that have opened the eyes of her students to the struggles of those who are socially and economically marginalized around the world. As a result of her mentoring and teaching, many of her students have continued their work in sociology through graduate programs, research and careers in community organizing and public policy. She also lives what she teaches, demonstrated by her research into Latino communities in Montana, writing, and volunteer work she takes on outside of the classroom.

Excellence in Online Teaching Award
John Graves, adjunct assistant professor, Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) program, has won the Excellence in Online Teaching Award honoring faculty who have provided outstanding teaching, course development, mentoring of students, and service to online education. The prize comes with a $2,000 honorarium. Graves, who has more than 30 years of experience as a science teacher in public schools, is a core instructor in MSU's highly regarded Master of Science in Science Education program. He is known for continually adding new technologies, such as webinars, podcasts and a variety of other web-based resources, to his courses. Colleagues say Graves' approach fosters a high level of student involvement and cultivates rich online dialogue.

Phi Kappa Phi Award
Leah Schmalzbauer, sociology, also won the Anna K. Fridley Distinguished Teaching Award given by the Phi Kappa Phi honorary. She will receive a $1,500 cash award. Schmalzbauer teaches courses in gender, globalization and immigration in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, all with a service-oriented approach. She also teaches interdisciplinary classes, including inspiring classes in women's studies, Letters and Science classes on immigration, Extension community courses on Latino youth, and an Engineering in a Global Context class as part of her duties as co-faculty adviser to Engineers Without Borders. She is also a nationally-recognized researcher, scholar and expert in the area of Latino transnational families.

Betty Coffey Award
Sara Rushing, political science, received the Betty Coffey Award. The award was established in memory of Betty Coffey, an engineering professor from 1977-1984 who was noted for her teaching excellence and her championing of women's equity and minority issues in the curriculum. It comes with a $500 honorarium. Rushing's campus-wide work promoting feminism and equity draw on her training and research in feminist political theory. Her involvement with the Women's Faculty Caucus, the Women's and Gender Studies Minor committee, the President's Commission on the Status of University Women, and the MSU Family Advocate project demonstrate her commitment to improving the institutional conditions for women at Montana State.

Women's Faculty Caucus Distinguished Mentor Award
Sarah Codd, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, also received the 2012 Women's Faculty Caucus Distinguished Mentor Award. It carries a $1,000 honorarium. The award recognizes an MSU faculty member for mentoring junior women faculty members by helping them negotiate the promotion and tenure process, encouraging their research and teaching activities, and providing "whole woman" role models. Codd is called a tireless academic committed to advancing the careers of female faculty and students in the College of Engineering. She has formed an informal forum for female faculty in the college, is the faculty adviser for the MSU chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and brings an infectious passion for science and engineering to all she does.

Phi Kappa Phi Distinguished Membership Achievement Award
The late Christopher Pinet, professor emeritus of French, has posthumously received the Phi Kappa Phi Distinguished Membership Achievement Award. Pinet died in November of brain cancer about a year after he retired from a 30-year career at MSU. Pinet was a former managing editor and editor-in-chief of "The French Review," the leading scholarly journal of French and Francophone studies. In honor of his scholastic contributions, the French government, awarded him "chevalier" status in the French Order of Academic Palms, and in 2010 he was one of just five Americans to receive the title "officier." Shortly before his death, he received the La Renaissance Francaise Gold Medal from the French ambassador. During his career, he also served on the Montana Committee for the Humanities.

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