Montana State University

Eight from MSU's College of Letters and Science will receive awards

April 17, 2007 -- MSU News Service

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Tel: (406) 994-4571
Six faculty members and two employees in the College of Letters and Science at Montana State University will receive awards during a ceremony set for Thursday, April 26.

Paul Grieco, chemistry and biochemistry, and Brett Walker, history and philosophy, will receive the Letters and Science Dean's Award for Meritorious Research. Grieco, who was recently named a Regents' Professor by the Montana Board of Regents, is nationally recognized for his contributions to chemistry in the area of molecular synthesis. Grieco has raised more than $6 million in research funds since he came to MSU in 1997 as the founding director of the Center for Discovery and Synthesis of Bio-Active Compounds.

Walker, who is chair of the history department, has received national and international recognition for his scholarship in Asian history and environmental studies. Walker is the author of two books, "Conquest of Ainu Lands" and "Lost Wolves of Japan." He recently received a $300,000 National Science Foundation grant for a comparative study of copper mines in Japan and Montana.

Maurice Burke and Becky Parker, both from the mathematical sciences department, will receive Letters and Science Outstanding Teaching Awards.

Burke, a professor in mathematics education, specializes in the appropriate use of technology in the classroom. He was co-director of the National Science Foundation-funded Systemic Initiative for Montana Mathematics and Science, which produced a new mathematics curriculum for Montana teachers as well as a new generation of high school mathematics textbooks. He co-directs the Mathematics Education option in the department's Masters of Science program.

Parker has been an adjunct faculty member with the department since 2001, specializing in statistics. She is the course supervisor for statistics 216, the second largest course on campus, with approximately 45 sections offered and 1,800 students enrolled per year.

Sytil Murphy, physics, and Wendy Zirngibl, history and philosophy, will receive student teaching awards.

Joan Macdonald, ecology, and Chris Harmon, chemistry and biochemistry, will be honored with Letters and Science Employee Excellence Awards.

Macdonald, an accounting associate in the ecology department since 1999, manages nearly $3 million in research expenditures annually for approximately 150 different grants and contracts. She is also recognized as an outstanding staff manager, resulting in "an extraordinarily effective office with a wonderful atmosphere of shared respect and good humor."

Harmon is responsible for the administration of the chemistry and biochemistry department, with a research, teaching and professional staff of 150. According to one co-worker, without Harmon, "chemistry would come to a grinding halt."

Sarah Alexander, (406) 994-7791 or