Montana State University

MSU honors top faculty members

May 4, 2007 -- MSU News Service

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Top faculty members at Montana State University received a variety of awards this spring. Those awards and recipients are:

The Cox Family Faculty Excellence Award

Susan Cohen, assistant professor of religious studies; Yves Idzerda, physics professor, and Dan Moshavi, associate professor of business, received the 2007 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.

Cohen is recognized for her remarkable blend of excellence in teaching and scholarship. Since arriving at MSU with a doctorate from Harvard University in Syro-Palestinian Archaeology and Hebrew Bible, she has managed two major archaeological sites in Israel. She involves students in those digs and has produced several articles, reports and conference presentations about her excavations. Cohen helped create a well-rounded religious studies curriculum at MSU.

Idzerda is seen as the clear leader of the next generation of condensed matter physicists at MSU. He is recognized for his outstanding publication record and his campus leadership in multidisciplinary efforts involving nanoscience. In a department known for its innovative teachers, Idzerda is considered a top-notch teacher. He embraces MSU's focus on students.

Moshavi has taught in the College of Business since 2000 and is now an associate professor of management. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, where he concentrated on organizational behavior and human resource management. Moshavi has received numerous awards for teaching excellence and consistently receives high scores on student evaluations. His scholarly work focuses on professional services management and social power in the classroom.

Wiley Awards for Meritorious Research

Joan Broderick, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and John Christopher, professor of clinical psychology, 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.

Broderick has distinguished herself nationally and internationally in the field of metallobiochemistry. Her major accomplishments have been in the area of iron sulfur proteins. She is a high-impact, high-visibility scientist who has created a niche for herself and is held in highest esteem by her peers. She attracts a large number of graduate students and significant levels of research funding from federal funding agencies.

Christopher is respected internationally for his rich, significant and innovative work integrating clinical and theoretical psychology and philosophy. Since receiving the Sigmund Koch Award in 2003, he has published or had in press 20 articles.

The James and Mary Ross Provost's Award for Excellence

Mary Murphy, history professor, and Kevin O'Neill, professor in land resources and environmental science, received the James and Mary Ross Provost's Award for Excellence. Each will receive a $2,500 honorarium for the award that recognizes excellence in teaching and scholarship.

Murphy, the Michael P. Malone Professor of History at MSU, is known as an outstanding teacher and scholar . She has written four books and dozens of articles and book chapters. She is recognized regionally and nationally as an outstanding scholar of the American West. At the same time, she remains committed to undergraduate students. She has developed several new core courses and teaches them regularly and often.

O'Neill is an entomologist with an impressive record as a scholar, but he has also worked tirelessly to improve undergraduate education. Even though he spent most of his MSU career in a department that had no undergraduate majors, he is committed to undergraduate education and developing MSU's core curriculum. O'Neill has created bridges between the College of Letters & Science and the College of Agriculture.

President's Excellence in Teaching Award

Scott Creel, ecology professor; Eric Funk, adjunct professor in music, honors and the College of Letters & Science; and Agnieszka Bielinska-Kwapisz, visiting assistant professor of accounting, won the 2007 Excellence in Teaching Award.

Creel is not only recognized as a world-class researcher, but as an excellent teacher. He adjusts his methods to his students, but his goal is developing their critical thinking, synthesis and problem- solving abilities. He emphasizes content and personal accountability. Creel has developed and taught seven courses during the past decade at MSU. He credits his 10 years at the Selous Game Reserve and Serengeti National Park in Africa for making him a better teacher.

An accomplished musical performer and composer of 104 musical works and two musicals, Funk is equally adept as an academic teacher and mentor. A member of the MSU Department of Music's adjunct faculty since 2002, Funk teaches musical composition, analysis and orchestration, jazz literature and the history of American popular music, one of the department's most popular courses. He is said to have the natural ability of a teacher to connect with students of all backgrounds, opening their minds to creativity and innovative thought processes.

Kwapisz has taught as an adjunct instructor in the College of Business since 2004 and is now a visiting assistant professor of accounting. Administrators and students describe her as a fun, adaptive, caring and innovative instructor with a "contagious enthusiasm for everything she does."She is dedicated to her students' success and known for her thoughtful presentation of difficult material.

Provost's Excellence in Outreach Award

Steve Holland, director of the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center at MSU, and Kim Obbink, director of MSU's Extended University, have been selected as the 2007 recipients of MSU's Provost's Excellence in Outreach Award. Each will receive a $2,000 honorarium.

Since Holland's appointment in 2000, the MMEC has helped create 262 new manufacturing jobs in Montana and retain another 349 during a period of national decline in manufacturing. The MMEC is recognized as one of the top performers of the 59 centers in the national Manufacturing Extension Partnership system. Over the past two years, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has awarded MMEC eight consecutive perfect scores on impact measures. Under Holland's direction, MMEC continues to rank as one of the highest in the nation for customer satisfaction.

Obbink oversees MSU's distance learning and continuing education efforts. She helped create MSU's Burns Technology Center and is co-director of the National Teachers Enhancement Network. Since 1983, this online program has offered graduate-level MSU courses to 10,000 science teachers in Montana and throughout the world. Obbink and her staff helped bring broadband Internet access to Stone Child College and the Rocky Boy's Reservation. Obbink was part of the team that helped the Northern Cheyenne, Crow, Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy's reservations create digital files of sacred songs, native languages and historical artifacts.

Provost's Award for Undergraduate Research/Creativity mentoring

Beth Quinn, associate professor of sociology, and Richard Smith, physics professor, won this year's undergraduate research/creativity mentoring award.

A practiced and experienced mentor, Quinn directs senior students' qualitative research projects in the sociology capstone course. Her work has inspired several students to pursue graduate degrees and careers in sociology and academia. In addition, Quinn, a law and society scholar, has received National Science Foundation grants to support her own research into the legal decision-making of human resources personnel.

Smith has mentored more than 50 undergraduate researchers in the past 25 years. Besides MSU students, they included more than a dozen visiting students who have worked in his ion beam laboratory through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer programs. Many of those students have subsequently chosen to do their graduate work at MSU as a result. Many students have become co-authors on papers and talks. Smith has also mentored a number of exchange students from European universities.

The Meritorious Technology/Science Award

Steve Shaw, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, 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.

Since coming to MSU in 2000, Shaw's work on fuel cells has brought him roughly $2 million in research funding. In 2002, he was selected as one of the world's top 100 young innovators in a list compiled by Technology Review, a magazine from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2003, the National Academy of Engineering named him one of the top young engineers in the country. In 2006, he won a $400,000 National Science Foundation Career award, one of the most prestigious individual awards the NSF bestows. Shaw developed two technologies that are being patented by MSU and are in the process of being transferred to the private sector.

Betty Coffey Award

Christiana Stoddard, assistant professor in agricultural economics/economics, won the 2007 Betty Coffey Award. She is recognized for incorporating women's perspectives into the curriculum and broader public policy debates. By her research, teaching and role-modeling, she has helped increase the focus on women's issues at MSU. Among other things, she helped develop two new courses that address issues of importance to women: Women in the Economy, and The Economics of Life.

Phi Kappa Phi Award

Christie Johnson, associate professor of accounting, won the Anna K. Fridley Distinguished Teaching Award given by Phi Kapa Phi honorary. Johnson has been a member of the faculty at the College of Business since 1980. Her primary teaching assignments are in intermediate and advanced financial accounting. Her scholarly work focuses on issues pertaining to joint ventures and unconsolidated entities. Johnson also holds a permit to practice as a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Montana.

A multimedia feature highlighting some of the award winners and narrated by Vice Provost for Undergraduate Research Greg Young is available here:

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or