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2017-18 Faculty and Staff Accomplishments

November Kudos

Jim Bever, professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and senior scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey, will lead a new study funded by the National Science Foundation. The $1.7 million award will fund a study focusing on what may be a key factor in maintaining biodiversity: the microscopic organisms in the soil, particularly plant pathogens.

Sarah Deer, professor in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department, was named a top 12 indigenous feminist to know by Bitch Media. Deer, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, has worked for the Justice Department and now works as a lobbyist and advocate for changes to the Violence Against Women Act to help native women.

Michael S. Engel, professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Senior Curator with the KU Biodiversity Institute, has earned the Thomas Say Award presented by the Entomological Society of America. The award recognizes significant and outstanding work in the fields of insect systematics, morphology or evolution.

Nicole Hodges Persley, chair of the Department of Theatre and Co-Director for the School of the Arts, has been named associate dean for DEI in the College. Hodges Persley will work closely with the Office of Diversity & Equity, focused on continuing the College’s role as a leader in campuswide efforts to build a diverse, inclusive and equitable campus.

Rolfe Mandel, distinguished professor in the Depart of Anthropology, has been named the next director of the Kansas Geological Survey. Mandel, who also serves as senior scientist and executive director of the Odyssey Geoarchaeology Research Program at the KGS, most recently served as interim director.

Susan Rendall, costume shop manager in the Department of Theatre, has been named an Employee of the Month for July 2017. In her role, Susan Rendall coordinates the work of the costume shop, which may have two or three different shows under various stages of completion at any one time. In addition to her work for KU Theatre, Rendall frequently designs and builds the costumes for productions of the University Dance Company. Working alone on weekends and evenings, she builds dozens of costumes in a relatively short amount of time.

Mabel Rice, Director of the Child Language Doctoral Program and Fred and Virginia Merrill Distinguished Professor of Advanced Studies, was selected to join the Education Board at the American Health Council. As the nation’s only organization with a constituency representative of all sectors of the healthcare industry, Rice will be providing her knowledge of speech and language development and disorders to the board.

Amy Rossomondo, associate professor in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese and Director of the Spanish Language Program, earned the 2017 Shulenburger Award for Innovation and Advocacy in Scholarly Communication. Rossmondo was given the award for her leadership and development of the open educational resource (OER) and innovative language learning tool, Acceso. Presented annually by KU Libraries, the Shulenburger award recognizes KU staff, faculty, students and academic departments that demonstrate outstanding efforts to facilitate open access by creating a variety of open channels for public communication between scholars and community members across the globe.

Jon Swindell, professor in the Department of Visual art, was awarded the Joseph V. Canzani Alumni Award for Excellence from the Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio. The award is given to a CCAD alumnus who has earned prominence as a result of outstanding professional or artistic achievements in their chosen field.

Kudos from Previous Months

Henry Bial, professor in the Department of Theatre, has earned the Byron Caldwell Smith Book Award for his work “Playing God: The Bible on the Broadway Stage.” The Byron Caldwell Smith Award was established at the bequest of Kate Stephens, a former KU student and one of KU’s first women professors. As an undergraduate, Stephens learned to love the study of Greek language and literature from Professor Byron Caldwell Smith. In his name, she established this award, given biennially to individuals who live or are employed in Kansas and who have written an outstanding book published in the previous two years.

Kristin Bowman-James, distinguished professor in the Department of Chemistry, will serve as the principal investigator on a new project funded by a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The project well help gain a better understanding of how tiny microorganisms, collectively known as microbiomes, influence environmental changes and the resulting economic implications. The work is funded through the NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which builds research and development capacity in states that demonstrate a commitment to research but have thus far lacked the levels of investment seen in other parts of the country.

Brian Boyd, currently an associate professor of Occupational Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was named as the new leader of the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project (JGCP). The JGCP is a KU research center located in Kansas City. Boyd will also join the faculty of the Department of Applied Behavioral Science.

Nyla Branscombe, professor in the Department of Psychology, received the Balfour S. Jeffrey Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences as part of the Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Awards. This is the 36th annual presentation of the awards, established in 1981 by Takeru Higuchi, a distinguished professor at KU from 1967 to 1983, and his wife, Aya. The awards recognize the exceptional long-term research accomplishments of faculty at Kansas Board of Regents universities. Each award includes a citation and a $10,000 award for ongoing research efforts. The money can be used for research materials, summer salaries, fellowship matching funds, hiring research assistants or other support related to research.

J. Christopher Brown, a jointly appointed professor in the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science and the Environmental Studies Program, has been selected to be the new vice provost for Faculty Development. The vice provost for faculty development provides guidance and oversight for faculty recruitment and develops and implements programs that foster professional growth of faculty at all levels of their careers. The vice provost also works with deans, university governance and other vice provosts to review and recommend changes to personnel and evaluation policies. The directors of the Center for Teaching Excellence and KU’s ROTC programs all report to the vice provost.

Evangelia Chrysikou, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, received the Ned N. Fleming Trust Teaching Award. The award, which was presented by Chancellor Douglas A. Girod at the annual KU Teaching Summit, recognizes aspects of excellent instruction, including innovation and quality of teaching, intellectual content, depth and breadth of student understanding, and dedication to students and the profession.

Charlies Greenwod, professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science, is part of a $7.5 million grant for four new research projects from the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences.

Jennifer Hamer, professor in the Department of American Studies, who has also served as the College's Associate Dean for DEI, has been selected to be the new vice provost for Diversity and Equity at KU. She is currently serving as the acting vice provost for the office. The vice provost for Diversity and Equity provides both the strategic and day-to-day institutional leadership on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Hamer will monitor and evaluate progress toward goals and work closely with standing and ad hoc committees that address diversity, equity and inclusion at KU.

Ayesha K. Hardison, associate professor in the Department of English and the Department of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, earned a Kansas Humanities Council grant for organizing “Black Love: A Symposium.” The Symposium features a series of programs that celebrate the 80th anniversary of Zora Neale Hurston’s novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God".

Daniel Hernandez, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics, was included in the Lathisms calendar. As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, the American Mathematical Society, in partnership with Lathisms, showcases the contributions of 31 Hispanic and Latino/a mathematicians, one each day from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Hernandez was designated Mathematician of the Day on Oct. 14.

John W. Hoopes, professor in the Department of Anthropology, has been named the Richard E. Greenleaf Distinguished Visiting Professor at Tulane University for the Fall 2017 semester.

Kij Johnson, assistant professor in the Department of English, latest novella “The Dream-Quest Vellitt Boe” has been named a finalist for the 2016 Nebula Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the 2017 Hugo Award, to be presented at the 75th World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki in August. Johnson’s novella is a riff on H.P. Lovecraft’s novella “The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath”.

Megan Kaminski, assistant professor in the Department of English, will receive the Byron Caldwell Smith Book Award for her work “Deep City.” The Byron Caldwell Smith Award was established at the bequest of Kate Stephens, a former KU student and one of KU’s first women professors. As an undergraduate, Stephens learned to love the study of Greek language and literature from Professor Byron Caldwell Smith. In his name, she established this award, given biennially to individuals who live or are employed in Kansas and who have written an outstanding book published in the previous two years.

Audrey Lamb, professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, received the K. Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. This award is named after Professor Emeritus of Chemistry K. Barbara Schowen, whose efforts to promote undergraduate research at KU led to the development of the Undergraduate Research Symposium and the Undergraduate Research Awards. Each recipient will receive $1,000.

Andrew McKenzie, assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics, recently won a three-year grant from the Documenting Endangered Languages program of the National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities to fill in a gap on the endangered Kiowa language. McKenzie is completing a book that will go further than ever before in outlining the grammar of Kiowa.

Laura Mielke, associate professor in the Department of English, received the Byron T. Shutz Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award, which was presented by Chancellor Douglas A. Girod at the annual KU Teaching Summit, recognizes aspects of excellent instruction, including innovation and quality of teaching, intellectual content, depth and breadth of student understanding, and dedication to students and the profession.

Matthew W. Mosconi, associate professor in the Clinical Child Psychology Program and associate scientist at KU’s Life Span Institute, was named the director of the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training (K-CART). K-CART has headquarters at the University of Kansas Edwards campus and is allied with the Center for Child Health and Development at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Matthew Mosconi, associate professor in the Clinical Child Psychology Program, received a five-year, $2.3 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health that will fund research to define motor deficits in people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from childhood through adulthood. The goal is to better understand the motor problems experienced by individuals with ASD and to determine their bases in the brain.

Peter Ojiambo, associate professor in the Department of African & African-American Studies, published a new book titled "Kenyan Youth Education in Colonial and Post-Colonial Times: Joeseph Kamiru Gikubu’s Impact". His book appears in the "Historical Studies in Education" series co-edited by AAAS courtesy faculty member John Rury (Educational Leadership and Policy Studies).

Rosemary O'Leary, distinguished professor in the School of Public Affairs & Administration, collected three lifetime achievement awards in public administration this summer. First, she received the Routledge Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Management Research from the International Research Society for Public Management. Next, O’Leary picked up the Frederickson Award for "lifetime achievement and continuous contributions to public management research over an extended career." The award is given by the Public Management Research Association and is named after George Fredrickson, KU SPAA professor emeritus. Finally, the Academy of Management presented her with the Keith C. Provan Award for "outstanding contribution to empirical theory." The award recognizes distinguished contributors to the field of public administration.

Donn W. Parson, professor emeritus in the Department of Communication study, received the Senior Scholar Award at the Alta Conference, hosted by the American Forensic Association and the National Communication Association.

Emily Rauscher, assistant professor in the Sociology Department, was chosen as a 2017 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. The fellowship is administered by the National Academy of Education and are funded by a grant to the academy from the Spencer Foundation. Rauscher’s research will focus on funding’s effect on the racial achievement gap.

Robert C. Rowland, professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Communication Studies, received the Senior Scholar Award at the Alta Conference, hosted by the American Forensic Association and the National Communication Association.

Joan Sereno, Chair of the Department of Linguistics, was awarded the Chancellors Club Teaching Professorship. The award, established by the members of the Chancellors Club of the KU Endowment Association and is awarded to those who have made teaching contributions to the University.

Joanna Slusky, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, received the New Innovator Award from the National Institute of Health. The award, totaling nearly $2.3 million, is designated for advancing unusually innovative research from early career investigators. Slusky’s invention is a protein that will resensitize bacteria to common antibiotics, thereby overcoming drug-resistant superbugs. Her invention could have a global effect on antibiotic resistance and re-establish the efficacy of antibiotics.

Rodolfo Torres, distinguished professor in the Department of Mathematics, was included in the Lathisms calendar. As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, the American Mathematical Society, in partnership with Lathisms, showcases the contributions of 31 Hispanic and Latino/a mathematicians, one each day from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Torres was designated Mathematician of the Day on Oct. 7.

Lorie Vanchena, associate professor in the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures, received the K. Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. This award is named after Professor Emeritus of Chemistry K. Barbara Schowen, whose efforts to promote undergraduate research at KU led to the development of the Undergraduate Research Symposium and the Undergraduate Research Awards. Each recipient will receive $1,000.