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Faculty Tribute 2020

Norman Campus Faculty Tribute Awards








University of Oklahoma Student Government Association Outstanding Faculty Award

Daniela Garofalo, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences

Daniela Garofalo was described by one student as “an excellent professor whose mentorship in the classroom has broadened my research skills and my abilities as a literary scholar.”

She writes: “Her approach to teaching literature is driven by the idea that we should engage fully with the text we are discussing, and she makes the material accessible to her students by continuously turning us back to the text. Outside of the classroom, Dr. Garofalo has become one of my main mentors in academia and English. She is always willing to meet and discuss changes in our field, events and processes in our department like hiring new faculty, and read over drafts of materials so that she can provide input and guidance before I turn them in for publication or review.”

The student noted that she got to know Garofalo when they both served on a hiring committee for a new faculty member in the Department of English.

“During the hiring process, Dr. Garofalo became a friend and mentor and often debriefed with me about all of the nuances in academia,” the student wrote. “After this, Dr. Garofalo became a member of my dissertation committee and put in numerous hours of review and feedback so that I could be successful on my doctoral exams and begin working on my dissertation.”

The student offered high praise to Garofalo for creating and managing a new Center for Literary Studies, which she describes as “a haven for literary scholars and graduate students like myself to go and learn outside of the classroom.” 

She adds, “Daniela has continued to direct and support the Center for Literary Studies, and in doing so has created an oasis of academic thought and literary exchange that is bar none the best in our region (becoming one of the best in the country based on its projected future).”

Daniela Garofalo



Teaching and Mentorship Awards



University Distinguished Teaching Awards

This year we have two recipients of the University Distinguished Teaching Award, previously known as the Good Teaching Award. The purpose of the award is to recognize excellence in teaching performance at the undergraduate level and to provide an incentive to achieve that goal.


Rachel Childers, Peggy and Charles Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Rachel Childers is an assistant professor of practice and chair of undergraduate studies in the Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering.

While serving in the latter role since April 2018, she has played a pivotal role in rolling out a curriculum for the first graduating class of 22 Biomedical Engineering students that walked across the stage at graduation last May.

In less than three years on the school’s faculty, this professor has presented teaching-related research at national conferences and developed from scratch and taught six new laboratory courses with an average teaching rating of 4.8 (with multiple course sections receiving a perfect 5.0).

She has already received several college and university awards, including the university-wide Outstanding Faculty Award selected by the Student Government Association and the Gallogly College of Engineering’s Teaching Scholar Award, the only annual faculty-selected teaching recognition in Engineering.

Rachel Childers

Chung-Hao Lee, School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Since joining the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering in 2016, assistant professor Chung-Hao Lee has established an independent, multidisciplinary research program with a focus on experimental and computational biomechanics that has rapidly grown into one of the largest biomedical research groups within the Gallogly College of Engineering.

In the first three years of his tenure track, Lee has taught a wide variety of AME courses at the undergraduate level and has also developed innovative course materials by integrating his expertise in mechanics and cutting-edge research technology.

Lee has been recognized by his colleagues for his strong passion for student mentoring. Students engaged in undergraduate research projects under his guidance have demonstrated academic excellence through receipt of numerous awards, including the Grand Prize Award at Oklahoma Research Day at the Capitol and the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship.

Chung-Hoa Lee



General Education Teaching Award

The General Education Teaching Award was established to recognize the faculty member whose teaching is considered to have contributed most to the University–wide general education program.

Jenel T. Cavazos, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences

In both her face-to-face and online classrooms, this associate professor of psychology is described as an engaging and dynamic instructor who brings course material to life with varied examples from a wide variety of media.

Again and again in her evaluations, students speak to Jenel Cavazos’s ability to keep lectures interesting and engaging and to make “the big lecture feel smaller and more involved.” Students find her classes to be applicable to a wide variety of majors and to real-life topics, with many mentioning they were able to take the material that they learned in class and use it to better understand their own major.

Her care for her students’ success can also be seen outside of the classroom. Each semester, she spends several hours leading Action Centers for her students through University College.

Additionally, Cavazos chairs the Provost’s Advisory Committee on General Education Assessment, serves on the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Learning Technologies and the Provost’s Advisory Council on Classrooms and Scheduling, and is an internship liaison for the Student Success Center. She also has served as a President’s Distinguished Faculty Mentorship Program Mentor.

Jenel Cavazos



University College Seminar Outstanding Instructor Award

The University College Seminar Outstanding Instructor Award was established in fall 1997 as the Freshman Seminar Outstanding Instructor Award; it was changed to the University College Seminar Outstanding Instructor award in spring 2014 to recognize an exceptional instructor in UCOL 1022, Freshman Seminar.

Jeffrey Provine, Freshman Programs, University College

Jeffrey Provine, an adjunct instructor in Freshman Programs, is passionate about teaching and skilled at helping his students uncover their potential. His students noted appreciation of his contagious enthusiasm and dedication to helping them learn in new and engaging ways. Their remarks  included:

  • "The class was not only fun and interesting, but I felt excited to come to class every day!"
  • "He encouraged conversations that allowed us to relate different topics to outside things and have discussions with cool people about interesting topics."
  • "Professor Provine is an excellent teacher. He always encouraged discussion and questions and was very enthusiastic. His class would always make my day."
  • "I really enjoyed your class. You are an amazing teacher, wish we could have had a longer class."


Jeffrey Provine



Gateway to College Learning Outstanding Instructor Award 

The Gateway to College Learning Outstanding Instructor Award honors excellence in teaching the freshman course of the same name. Instructors who receive this award are selected for their exceptional teaching and mentoring skills and expertise in helping freshmen make a successful transition from high school to college learning.

Katy Powers, Behavioral Intervention Team, University Counseling Center

Katy Powers, outreach director for the University Counseling Center’s Behavioral Intervention Team, is committed to the learning and success of her students. She uses active learning methods to engage her first-year students in class and has built a community of learners that connect beyond the boundaries of the classroom. Katy's students noted appreciation of her effective teaching methods, dedication to helping them learn in active ways, enthusiasm about the course content, and her demonstrated holistic care for her students. Their remarks included:

  • "Mrs. Powers was the best instructor that I have had this year. She is excellent at creating an environment where students feel comfortable to not only learn, but be vulnerable and themselves."
  • "Katy was very welcoming and helpful inside and outside of class. It is obvious that she cares about her students."
  • "Mrs. Powers provided fun and engaging curriculum. I enjoyed how we did a new lesson in every class. The class was a joy to go to. Assignments were always graded promptly and given back with positive feedback and constructive criticism."
  • "Katy got to know her students personally and was very open to questions at any point. She was always enthusiastic about class and made sure everyone was involved."
  • "Katy was a wonderful professor, who helped all of us in many ways. She was very kind, made us aware of resources at OU that we may need, taught us a lot, and above all made the atmosphere in the classroom welcoming."



Katy Powers



First-Year Student Mentoring Program Outstanding Mentor Award

The First-Year Student Mentoring Program Outstanding Mentor Award recognizes outstanding faculty members for their contributions to students participating in the mentoring program and for promoting mentoring.

Oluwatobi “Tobi” Odeleye, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Arts and Sciences

Oluwatobi “Tobi” Odeleye, a Nigerian native, holds a doctorate in chemistry; her research interest is Chemical Education.

She has been teaching at OU for about two years. Currently, she is teaching first-semester general chemistry, and will teach a graduate course in the fall focusing on pedagogical methods for teaching assistants.

Her passions include playing and watching tennis, generally being active, and reading.

Oluwatobi Odeleye



Nancy L. Mergler Faculty Mentor Award for Undergraduate Research

The Nancy L. Mergler Faculty Mentor Award for Undergraduate Research was established in 2013 to recognize faculty excellence in supporting undergraduate research.

Christina Bourne, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Arts and Sciences

Several undergraduate research assistants nominated this assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry for this award.

One nominator called Christina Bourne “the most excellent mentor I could ask for,” adding that she “has exemplified such passion and enthusiasm for biochemistry and structural biology that has inspired all of her students.”

Another student, who described her experiences with Bourne as “extremely positive,” wrote that Bourne “has done an outstanding job of creating a favorable environment for learning in the laboratory. In the course of my project, she has given me just the right amount of structure while also allowing me to work independently. Each time that she has given me a task to complete or a question to figure out, she has explained her rationale in a way that was easy for me to understand. She has always been extremely responsive to my questions and very helpful in assisting me with technical details in my experiments.”

Christina Bourne



Provost’s Community Engagement Award for Outstanding Engaged Teaching

The Provost’s Community Engagement Award for Outstanding Engaged Teaching was first presented in 2019. The award recognizes faculty members for their community-engaged teaching for a service-learning class.

Janna Storey Martin, Department of Human Relations, College of Arts and Sciences

Janna Storey Martin is a lecturer in the Department of Human Relations who has been instrumental in the development of the Department’s service-learning curriculum and projects.

Recognizing early on the impact service learning could have on human relations students, as well as the University, community and state, she volunteered to develop service-learning programs and projects that would highlight the community service and social justice ideals of the Department of Human Relations.

During 2019, she, in conjunction and collaboration with human relations students and community partners, created and developed several service-learning projects. These included:

  • "The Buddy Bench" project, created in fall of 2017 as a pilot project, has grown and continued to be taught at Wilson Elementary and Kennedy Elementary schools during the fall of 2019. Its aim is to recognize students who are being ignored and excluded by their classmates. A curriculum was created by the service-learning students which taught "Buddy Scouts" to recognize and act when they detected students being isolated and excluded.
  • "Shadow Project" Days involved partnerships between her student groups and a local high school to target first generation-college students with the intent of introducing high school students to the college setting and making them aware that a college education is not out of their reach.

Other projects involved working with homeless high school students and a healthy and fit program involving local elementary schoolchildren.

Janna Martin



Merrick Foundation Teaching Award

The Merrick Foundation Teaching Award is provided by the Merrick Foundation of Oklahoma City and is presented to a faculty member or members who, through his or her teaching, bring students to a better understanding and appreciation of the economic and political basis of the American free-enterprise system.

Chunbei Wang, Department of Economics, College of Arts and Sciences

Chunbei Wang is an assistant professor of economics who, although she joined the OU faculty only three years ago, has already established herself as an outstanding teacher, an excellent researcher and a valuable asset to the Department of Economics and the University.

Her research focuses on applying free-market theories to analyze important social issues, such as discrimination, immigration, entrepreneurship, labor market decisions and family formation. She is well-established in these fields, with numerous publications in well-respected and internationally noted journals.

Wang’s expertise allows her to offer insightful courses that introduce the application of free market economics in a variety of interesting and exciting ways.

Her greatest strength as a nominee for the Merrick Foundation Teaching Award is her unique insights on how free market economics can be applied to understanding important social issues and her exemplary ability in teaching them.

Chunbei Wang



Research Awards



Provost's Community Engagement Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity

Presented for the second year, the Provost's Community Engagement Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity recognizes faculty members for engaged scholarship, research and creative activity that is conducted in a mutually beneficial community-university partnership addressing critical community needs.

Bonnie L. Pitblado, the Robert E. and Virginia Bell Endowed Professor in Anthropological Archaeology, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences

This year’s recipient focuses her research on the initial peopling of the Americas more than 13,000 years ago, particularly in the high-altitude environments in the Rocky Mountains.

One of Bonnie Pitblado’s passions is connecting with the public through outreach and community-engaged research. She hit the ground running with plans for bringing archaeology to the public and the public to archaeologists when she came to OU in 2012.

The cornerstone of her community-engaged scholarship is her wide-ranging work as the founder and executive director of the Oklahoma Public Archaeology Network, whose mission is "to bridge communities with a passion for the past through public education and outreach, research and teaching partnerships, and professional development opportunities."

Bonnie Pitbaldo



Henry Daniel Rinsland Memorial Award for Excellence in Educational Research

The Henry Daniel Rinsland Memorial Award for Excellence in Educational Research was established to recognize faculty who either play a central role in the accomplishment of an outstanding educational research project or demonstrate a distinguished record in educational research over time.

Ji Y. Hong, Department of Educational Psychology, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education

This year’s recipient, Ji Hong, has served on the Department of Educational Psychology faculty since 2007.

She has demonstrated excellence in educational research in a single, long-impact project over time. Her research investigates an important area in teacher professional development: teacher identity and development for both in-service teachers and pre­service teachers. In Oklahoma and other areas where there is a high shortage of teachers and a lack of teacher professional development, her research is particularly noteworthy and meaningful.

Along the line of teacher professional development, she has engaged in a systematic program of studies that were built upon one another exploring various issues and constructs, including teacher's motivation, resilience, attrition and identity development over time.

Ji Hong



Vice President for Research and Partnerships Award for Outstanding Research Impact

Up to two awards are given annually to faculty members on the Norman or Tulsa campuses whose research, scholarship and/or works of creative activity and expression have made a notable impact on field(s) of inquiry, individuals, organizations, communities, underrepresented or underserved populations, culture, education or industry.

Samuel Perry, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences 

Samuel Perry, who joined the Department of Sociology faculty in 2015, has already cemented his reputation as one of the top scholars of his generation. The assistant professor is a spectacularly prolific scholar in Sociology and Religious Studies, as he simultaneously makes key contributions in both disciplines and at their intersections.

In addition, he is a public sociologist, continuously making his research understandable, relevant and useful for a larger public outside academe.

He has over 70 peer-reviewed articles in highly regarded journals and is the author of three books – the last, to be published this year, on Christian nationalism. Perry's second book uses both qualitative and quantitative data from several national-level data resources to examine how the growing accessibility and cultural acceptance of pornography use is reshaping conservative Protestantism in this country. This book and related research have captured the national imagination over the last two years, and his work was featured extensively in diverse, popular media outlets, including National Public Radio, Time, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post and Discover Magazine.

In 2018, Perry, who also holds appointments in the Department of Religious Studies and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, was the recipient of the 2018 Irene Rothbaum Outstanding Assistant Professor Award.

Samuel Perry



Vice President for Research and Partnerships Award for Outstanding Research Engagement

Up to two awards are given annually to faculty members on the Norman or Tulsa campuses in recognition of their scholarly research and/or creative activity engagement with collaborators or participants from other disciplines, institutions, OU campuses, private industry or the general public. Important to this award is compelling evidence that the engagement was critical to the success of the work.

Ying Wang, Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences

Ying Wang has served on the Department of Mathematics faculty since 2013.

The interdisciplinary nature of this associate professor of mathematics’ research has led to results and publications in a wide range of areas, ranging from underground oil recovery models, terrestrial carbon dynamics, medical applications, computational linear algebra and image analysis, to HVAC optimization for smart buildings, and modeling social work practice in resettling refugee families.

The prime achievements of these projects are two­fold: to advance the fundamental understanding of the underline industrial, medical, engineering and biological applications, and to address the mathematical modeling, computation and analysis coming from such applications.

One of Wang’s interdisciplinary projects, "Mathematical Analysis and Numerical Methods for the Underground Oil Recovery Models," received a prestigious NSF CAREER Award.

Ying Wang

Robert Terry, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences

Robert Terry is a professor and coordinator of the Quantitative Psychology Ph.D. Program in the Department of Psychology.

He is described by colleagues as an accomplished community-engaged researcher, a superb teacher and an outstanding university and professional citizen. Colleagues also refer to him as a kind and compassionate person who has inspired generations of colleagues and students, including many thousands of students who approached math with considerable anxiety until he set them at ease with his down-to-earth approach to complex statistical and data science topics.

He has contributed to over 150 scientific presentations and papers and helped secure more than $10 million in research funding (e.g., NIH, NIMH, NICHD, NSF), with special emphasis on promoting educational successes of diverse learners.

Today, the data-analytic technologies this faculty member has helped create have had a profound impact on higher education practices in Oklahoma and are routinely used for university admissions and retention programs.

Robert Terry



Regents' Awards

The Regents’ Awards are annual University-funded awards that may be given for one of three categories: Teaching, Research and Creative/Scholarly Activity, or Professional and University Service and Public Outreach. As many as nine awards may be awarded annually, with the understanding the majority of the awards will be given for Superior Teaching. Faculty at Norman, OUHSC, and OU-Tulsa campuses are all eligible for these awards.



Regents’ Awards for Superior Teaching

Initiated in 1964, the Regents’ Award for Superior Teaching was created to recognize and reward outstanding teaching. The award was later expanded to honor faculty who excel in research and creative activity, and professional and university service and public outreach. Recipients’ names are inscribed on plaques displayed in the Faculty Senate offices in Jacobson Hall. Three faculty members are receiving a Regents’ Award for Superior Teaching on the Norman campus this year.

Cynthia Leigh Gordon, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences  

Cynthia Leigh Gordon, an associate professor and director of the Human Anatomy Program in the Department of Biology, is described as a master teacher who uses varied strategies to win students’ active involvement.

Her favorite topic to teach is Human Anatomy “because it offers more take-home information for students than any other part of the course.”

Colleagues cite this faculty member for her innovative ways of helping students, noting that she recently extended this help to them before they had even signed up for her course. She created a pre-semester “boot camp” for “at-risk” students with low GPAs in the prerequisite classes in hopes of teaching them effective study techniques and time management skills to prepare them for her class as well as university studies in general.

Cynthia Gordon

Amanda Minks, Honors College

During her 12 years in the Honors College, Amanda Minks has demonstrated a strong commitment to students as well as innovative approaches to pedagogy and extracurricular programming.

Her specialization in Indigenous Studies and Latin American Studies has provided cross-cultural expertise that both complements and goes beyond the initial focus of American Studies in the College. She has developed 10 original courses with variations, often revising the syllabus significantly to follow the interests and needs of new generations of students.

In 2016, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for a teaching/research residency at the Universidad Centroamerica in Managua, Nicaragua. She taught the nine-week seminar course entirely in Spanish, drawing primarily on Latin American authors, titled “Music and Culture: Theories and Ideologies for Ethnographic Research.”

With academic training in ethnomusicology and linguistic anthropology, the associate professor has supported the Honors College mission of providing an interdisciplinary liberal arts education to high-achieving undergraduate students preparing for a range of careers.


Amanda Minks

Nikola P. Petrov, Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences

Professor of Mathematics Nikola P. Petrov is described by colleagues in the Department as “one of the most eclectic researchers and enthusiastic teachers we ever had.”

Prior to joining the OU faculty, he worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Described by colleagues as “very gregarious,” Petrov also is cited for his way of making people feel welcome by chatting to them about all sorts of topics and by sharing funny anecdotes. He takes this conversational style into the classroom. Additionally, he is deeply interested in the many twists and turns in the development of mathematics and physics and in the personalities involved in the creation of new ideas and the paths that led to their ingenious discoveries.

In 2014, he was honored as a Presidential Professor.

Nikola Petrov



Regents’ Award for Superior Research and Creative Activity

Karen Marie Leighly, Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences

Karen Marie Leighly is an astrophysicist who studies active galactic nuclei: galaxies that radiate immense amounts of energy as matter spirals into the supermassive black hole at their core. Sometimes referred to as "quasi-stellar objects" or "quasars," these incandescent maws can be a thousand times as luminous as the entire Milky Way galaxy. They are at the heart of research in general relativity, cosmology and galaxy formation.

She has co-authored over 127 publications in the top astronomical journals, with almost 5,000 citations, 474 in the last year alone, and has brought in over $2.5 million in research funding.

However, numbers alone are not the only indication of her qualifications. The work of a superior researcher drives innovation that has impact beyond their own papers. An example of this is SIMBAL, software developed by Leighly and her team to analyze spectra from active galactic nuclei.


Karen Leighly



Distinguished Professorships

Distinguished Professorships honor faculty members who have made exceptional contributions to the mission of a public research university through outstanding instruction, leadership, scholarship and peer recognition.



David L. Boren Professorship

The holders of this professorship should represent the best of the OU spirit, caring for students, advancing the frontiers of knowledge, and making a positive difference in the world.

Kash Barker, School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering 

University professors are often phenomenal teachers, excellent mentors, and outstanding researchers, who present great visibility through their professional service and leadership. Kash Barker is among a very rare group of academicians who combine all these virtues together in a single package – as a great teacher, outstanding researcher, excellent mentor, and an outstanding steward and leader of industrial and systems engineering profession.

He has made great efforts to partner with international institutions, students and researchers and to bring significant visibility and worldwide acclaim to the School, the College and the University of Oklahoma, and his students are placed as faculty members at major institutions across the globe.

In his more than 11 years of service as an OU faculty member, Barker has surpassed the outstanding records of many senior faculty members at highly prestigious universities worldwide. His research program has built strong national and international collaborations that have been recognized with significant funding from both the NSF and federal mission agencies, and these have led to an impressive publication record and the recruitment of outstanding graduate students.

His teaching and mentorship of students have raised the bar regarding expectations of student learning and scholarship, and he has been critical in reshaping the School’s academic programs.

Further evidence of his teaching excellence is his consistently high teaching evaluations. ISE students have honored him with the School’s Outstanding Teaching Award seven years in a row. He also was honored with a Presidential Professorship in 2016.

Kash Barker



David Ross Boyd Professorship

The David Ross Boyd Professorship is one of the University’s highest honors, recognizing faculty who have consistently demonstrated outstanding teaching, guidance, and leadership for students in an academic discipline or in an interdisciplinary program within the University.

Barbara Fast, School of Music, Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts 

Barbara Fast is recognized by her colleagues as a compassionate and devoted teacher of national and international reputation and influence and as someone who has inspired and mentored generations of students in their pursuit of highly successful careers and meaningful contributions to the field of piano pedagogy.

She directs OU’s renowned Piano Pedagogy program – one of the largest, most active and most successful in the country. Through her mentorship and effective modeling, she not only trains outstanding piano pedagogues, but also models and encourages the highest standards of professionalism. Students leave the OU piano pedagogy program well-poised to follow in her footsteps, as evidenced by the many former students who have obtained prominent academic positions in prestigious piano pedagogy programs across the country.

Her students also have won numerous awards and produced significant publications. The OU collegiate chapter of the Music Teachers' National Association won the national Chapter of the Year award in 2017, 2009 and 2007 under her mentorship.

Among her many accomplishments, one that stands out as especially significant and impactful is her co-founding of the National Group Piano and Piano Pedagogy Forum (GP3) in 2000. The biennial national conference is quite influential in establishing standards of teaching in Group Piano classes, which are included in the core curriculum in every music school in the nation.

In recognition of her guidance and mentoring of students, Fast was the recipient of the Oklahoma Music Teacher of the Year award and OU's Irene and Julian Rothbaum Presidential Professor of Excellence in the Arts.

Barbara Fast



George Lynn Cross Research Professorships

The George Lynn Cross Research Professorship is the highest research and creative activity honor given by the University to a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership over a period of years in his or her field of learning or creative activity. Two were awarded to Norman campus faculty this year.

Jeffrey F. Kelly, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences

Jeffrey F. Kelly is one of OU’s leading innovators, having fostered the birth of “Aeroecology,” the study of how airborne life forms use and interact with other biotic and abiotic components of the lower atmosphere.

His innovative work has continually incorporated and tested new and valuable technologies – from stable isotopes to geotrackers to radar – toward exploring the little understood frontier of the biology of the atmosphere. Moreover, Aeroecology attacks a “wicked problem,” one that 1) arises from incomplete knowledge, 2) involves a variety of constituencies (from meteorologists to conservation biologists and crossing international boundaries), and 3) whose causes and solutions are interconnected with those of other problems (climate change, habitat destruction, conservation, agriculture).

Kelly has earned recognition from two international ornithology societies. He received the Van Tyne Award, was elected a fellow to the American Ornithologists Union, and was awarded an honorary lifetime membership to the Cooper Ornithological Society. At OU, he earned an OU Regents’ Award for Superior Research and Creative Activity in 2015 and a Vice President for Research award for interdisciplinary scholarship in 2016.

In addition, he has maintained a successful funding record, with large grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education, and other sources, helping to generate over $10 million in external funding, as well as working on six active proposals accounting for almost $5 million.

Jeff Kelly

Liesa L. Richter, College of Law

Liesa L. Richter, William J. Alley Professor of Law, has excelled in her capacity as a legal scholar and leader since her arrival at the College of Law in 2001 and has become an important voice in her area of Evidence, contributing to the top scholarly journals, as well to meaningful law reform initiatives.

For almost two decades, Richter has been studying the Federal Rules of Evidence, identifying problems in their content and application, and suggesting innovative reforms to fix those problems to make adjudication in the federal courts as fair and accurate as it can be. Her work has influenced an entire generation of judges and thought leaders, leading to her serving a critical role as the Academic Consultant to the United States Judicial Conference's Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Evidence. Few evidence scholars of her generation have had this type of impact on the administration of justice in our federal courts.

Richter's scholarship routinely appears in top-ranked journals, including the highly ranked Columbia Law Review and, as a result of her outstanding research record, was invited to be a co-author of one of the most widely used Evidence textbooks in the country.

In 2016, she was appointed to serve as the sole Academic Consultant to the United States Judicial Conference's Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Evidence. The Conference is the governing and policymaking body of the federal courts. As Academic Consultant to the Evidence Advisory Committee, she performs research to support the work of the Committee and her efforts and advice have had an impact on the rulemaking process.

Liesa Richter



Presidential Professorships

The Presidential Professorships were established to recognize those faculty members who excel in all of their professional activities and who relate those activities to the students they teach and mentor. The number of professorships awarded annually is based on current availability of funds.

Xiaowei Chen, School of Geosciences, Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, Stubbeman-Drace Presidential Professorship

Xiaowei Chen joined OU in 2015 after receiving her doctorate in geophysics from University of California San Diego and completing a postdoc at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, both focused on earthquake triggering and clusters of seismicity. Her expertise was sorely needed at OU; in 2014 Oklahoma overtook California for the greatest frequency of magnitude >3 earthquakes in the United States. As she established her research group in Norman, she deftly set upon applying her knowledge and skills to study the numerous Oklahoma earthquakes occurring near wastewater injection wells at the time.

Dr. Chen’s research has had a significant impact both on understanding induced seismicity in Oklahoma and on understanding earthquake triggering and fracture mechanisms in areas with high hydrologic and lithostatic stress throughout the lithosphere, including the Salton Sea geothermal field and the Parkfield segment of the San Andreas Fault. Her work helps us understand how fluid pressure, as well as smaller earthquakes can trigger larger main shock events. This is critical for understanding earthquake hazards in tectonically active areas, including southern California and Japan, as well as areas with active fluid injection. Her creative work on understanding human-induced earthquakes in Oklahoma and California will help understand the underlying mechanisms that cause natural destructive earthquakes globally.

Through her teaching, research and service efforts, Chen has developed into a stellar faculty member who continues to positively impact the Department and is poised to continue her research leadership on an international stage.

Xiaowei Chen

Emily D. Johnson, Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, College of Arts and Sciences, Brian and Sandra O’Brien Presidential Professorship

As one of the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics’ most outstanding professors, Emily D. Johnson is one of the department’s most involved in service and student mentorship and is also recognized as an outstanding teacher and program builder for the undergraduate Russian program.

As a scholar, Johnson explores a broad range of topics in an interdisciplinary way. Her peer letters of support recognized her energy, attention to detail, and the breadth and the quality of her scholarship. Her publishing venues for her book and edited volume projects are also recognized as top-notch for her field.

Johnson is known for having a tenacious dedication to her students and to the Russian program. A colleague in the history department wrote, “When [Dr. Johnson] joined the faculty in 1999, we had only four majors in Russian. … Nonetheless, OU now typically boasts some 30 Russian majors, making it one of the largest and most vigorous Russian programs in the entire country. Most of the credit for these remarkable enrollments goes to Emily Johnson.”

Her research has won multiple awards from regional, national and international organizations, including the 2018 American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages Prize for Best Scholarly Translation, and her peers describe her work as transformative for the field.

At OU, Johnson has won the Vice President for Research Award for Outstanding Research Engagement, the College of Arts and Sciences’ Irene Rothbaum Award, the Dean’s Outstanding Academic Advising Award, and the Woods Award (MLLL’s teaching award).

Emily Johnson

Alberto M. Marino, Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences, Ted. S. Webb Presidential Professorship

During his seven years at OU, Alberto M. Marino has built an internationally recognized, externally funded research program in the field of experimental quantum optics, with emphasis on its applications to quantum information science and quantum metrology.

In 2014, he received his first external research funding, when the W.M. Keck Foundation awarded $1 million over four years for the development of quantum enhanced plasmonic sensors. In 2018, the team demonstrated the first implementation of a sensor with sensitivities considered state-of-the-art and showed that quantum-enhanced sensing can find its way into real-life applications. The team’s experiments were recognized as one of the main achievements in Optics and Photonics News in 2018 (December issue), the monthly news magazine for The Optical Society.

In addition, Marino was awarded a highly competitive Air Force Office of Scientific Research grant for $322,000 in 2015 and a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development Program) Award for $500,000 (for five years) in 2018. As part of the CAREER award, Alberto’s research group is studying new possibilities for the use of the spatial degree of freedom in applications ranging from long-distance quantum communications to quantum imaging. Moreover, the CAREER award is supporting Alberto’s outreach program, which brings state-of-the-art optics experiments to local high schools and provides training for high school teachers.

Marino’s research group at OU has co-authored 14 peer-review publications in highly regarded physics journals. These include five publications with graduate students as first author and two publications with an undergraduate as a co-author.

Marino is an outstanding teacher, who inspires undergraduate and graduate students alike. He has been cited for his initiative and leadership, especially for someone at his career stage, which culminated in the creation of the OU Center for Quantum Research and Technology, for which he now serves as interim director.

Alberto Marino

Amy McGovern, School of Computer Science, Gallogly College of Engineering, Lloyd G. and Joyce Austin Presidential Professorship

Amy McGovern joined the OU faculty in 2005 in the School of Computer Science and became an adjunct faculty member of the School of Meteorology in 2006.

She consistently excels in teaching, service and interdisciplinary research, primarily between Computer Science and Meteorology and was the 2019 recipient of the Vice President for Research Award for Interdisciplinary Scholarship.

McGovern has been PI or Co-PI on over $11.5 million of external funding since arriving at OU.

McGovern’s research focuses on developing machine learning and data science techniques that enable scientists to fundamentally transform their understanding and prediction of complex phenomena. Most of her research focuses on high-impact weather. She and her students work on improving the prediction of tornadoes, hail, severe wind, aircraft turbulence, floods, and droughts. Currently, she leads a proposal for a large NSF Center on artificial intelligence for environmental sciences, including atmospheric sciences and ocean sciences.

McGovern’s work extends beyond severe weather applications to a variety of other real-world applications. For example, she has actively collaborated with engineering education researchers to develop a method to better understand retention of engineering students in under-represented groups. She also worked with robotics researchers to develop a method that autonomously learns spatial relationships from continuous multi-dimensional data, and with computer engineers to develop machine learning algorithms for intelligent instruction scheduling on machines with heterogeneous processors. This latter interdisciplinary project was awarded an NSF grant and demonstrated success at using machine learning to efficiently schedule processes on a variety of machines. In recent work, she collaborated with biologists and aeroecology researchers to identify bird roosts in radar data using deep learning, which will enable biologists to study long-term migration patterns.


Amy McGovern

Rockey R. Robbins, Department of Educational Psychology, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, President’s Associates Second Century Professorships

Rockey R. Robbins is a Choctaw-Cherokee Professor of Professional Counseling in the Department of Educational Psychology. He excels in all areas of academic responsibility – research, teaching and service – which he combines meaningfully and seamlessly, each aspect richly informing the others.

Robbins is an internationally recognized expert on Native American issues and counseling psychology, particularly relating to culturally appropriate psychological assessment, developing American Indian treatment models and techniques based on traditional American Indian ideas and practices, Native American spirituality and psychology, and group interventions.

His scholarly work is described by colleagues as “the best in his domain,” and he is in high demand as a keynote speaker, having delivered nearly 50 keynote addresses at national conferences, tribal complexes, reservations and universities such as Dartmouth, Columbia and Boston University.

Robbins’ teaching and mentoring has powerfully and positively impacted many students’ lives, especially students from marginalized groups. He is devoted to supporting Indian students on campus, and to developing and supporting mentoring systems to support them.

He has developed partnerships specifically with the Wichita, Creek, Cherokee and Chickasaw, among other tribes, and with the Oklahoma Gambling Addiction Agency. Through these partnerships, he has provided Counseling Psychology students work and financial opportunities as counselors, as well as research and other practicum and internship opportunities.

Robbins has received a multitude of awards for his scholarly work, teaching and service, including the Jon E. Pedersen Mentoring and Advising award (2019) and the Leadership/Citizenship Award (2016), both from the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education; the Robert D. Lemon Social Justice Award from the Department of OU Women’s and Gender Studies (2015); and the first Citation for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion award from the Oklahoma Psychological Association, to name a few.

Rockey Robbins

Jenifer Saltzstein, School of Music, Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, President’s Associates Second Century Presidential Professorship

Jenifer Saltzstein is a distinguished scholar in her field of musicology, as demonstrated by her impressive record of research activity and her many prestigious awards, publications, presentations, conference papers and book reviews.

At the graduate level, she has supervised 14 graduate theses, and currently serves on 17 graduate committees. She has taught Research and Bibliography for the past three years; this course has a fully scaffolded design that guides students through the research process step-by-step and provides feedback at every level. Saltzstein has chaired three masters' theses, all of which won awards, and sponsored three presentations at OU's undergraduate research day, two of which won the Phi Kappa Phi Award for distinguished undergraduate research.

In addition, Saltzstein designed an original study abroad course on Italian music in which students developed research topics centered around historical sites, artifacts and urban environments that they visited in person in Arezzo, Rome, and Venice.

Outside the classroom, Saltzstein maintains a prominent research profile, recently highlighted by the prestigious H. Colin Slim Award, given by the American Musicological society to the best article written by a senior scholar in the field of musicology. This annual award, the highest national achievement attainable by a musicology scholar, was bestowed in recognition of her article "Rape and Repentance in Two Medieval Motets," published in 2017 by the Journal of the American Musicological Society.

Her other recent accolades include receiving a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2016- 2017). This achievement, among many others, speaks to her rapidly growing reputation as one of the leading musicological scholars in the United States.

Jenifer Saltzstein

Ian R. Sellers, Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences, Ted S. Webb Presidential Professorship

During the past eight years, Ian R. Sellers has established a leading research group in photovoltaic materials. Photovoltaics are the solar cell devices at the heart of every system of solar panels. In building his research program, he has exemplified a spirit of collaboration by teaming with researchers in industry, government laboratories, other departments and other universities. This spirit extends to the many graduate and undergraduate students who have conducted research under Sellers’ supervision. Colleagues cite this associate professor’s passion and infectious enthusiasm for his research.

Sellers’ research focus is in the development and fundamental investigation of next generation photovoltaic materials. His group performs experiments that correlate optical spectroscopy and solar cell characterization with device physics.

Sellers’ current research group includes two postdoctoral researchers, four Ph.D. students and three undergraduates. Two Ph.D. students have graduated and been placed in very good jobs. The first graduated in 2017 after co-authoring four published papers, and is now an engineer for Intel Corporation, one of the world’s largest semiconductor chip manufacturers. 

Ian Sellers

Mirelsie Velázquez, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies,
Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, Rainbolt Family Endowed Education Presidential Professorship

Mirelsie Velázquez is an assistant professor and graduate program liaison in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Her scholarship, integrated within and across teaching, research and service, and anchored by and lived through principles of justice and equity, advances the aspirational ideals and virtues of the Rainbolt Family Endowed Presidential Professorship, wrote her colleagues in her letter of nomination.

“By scholarship, we refer to how professor Velázquez engages knowledge and knowing across different spaces and contexts – classrooms, school communities, intellectual traditions, university life, and other social contexts,” they wrote. “The common thread connecting these engagements is a commitment to transforming dehumanizing social orders that deny individuals and classes of people innate and universal freedom, dignity and justice. Professor Velázquez’s line of inquiry into historical accounts of insurgent practices within communities and across time and space exemplifies her scholarly approach to justice work.”

Velázquez engages students in knowledge and knowing in and outside of classrooms. Her pedagogical engagement exposes students to frameworks, questions and experiences that enable them to understand how structural conditions in society, communities and schools reinforce inequitable and unjust social orders.

Velázquez is active in Women’s and Gender Studies, the Center for Social Justice, and Latinx student groups. Nationally, she works extensively to provide access and opportunities for graduate students of color through the McNair Research Program and through her leadership in the History of Education Society.

She is completing a book tentatively titled Puerto Rican Chicago: Schooling the City, 1940-1977 (University of Illinois Press). It offers an historical account of Puerto Ricans in Chicago in the post-War years, centering the community's activism around schooling concerns within a larger conversation of the city. Her work most recently has appeared in the journals Latino Studies, Centro and Gender and Education.

Mirelsie Velasquez

Jeffery S. Volz, School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, Gallogly College of Engineering, Lloyd G. and Joyce Austin Presidential Professorship

Since joining the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science as an associate professor in August 2013, Jeffery S. Volz has demonstrated leadership in modernizing and improving the instructional enterprise at all levels within the School. At the graduate level he led the development of a fully online Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree program. Launched in the fall of 2018, this program helps working professionals pursue an advanced degree to further their careers.

In the classroom, Volz is engaging and consistently achieves excellent evaluation scores for classes ranging from sophomore through graduate level. In 2017, he received the Department’s George W. Tauxe Outstanding Professor Award, which is voted on by CEES undergraduate students. While his classroom teaching is exceptional, Volz further engages his students through mentoring incoming students and through his undergraduate research efforts. Many of his students go on to pursue a Master of Science degree, either at OU or at another university, an indicator of the high quality of Volz’s mentorship.

Volz has actively participated in advising student technical societies, including the American Society of Civil Engineers, ASCE and Architectural Engineering Institute, and student competition teams. He consistently encourages and provides opportunities for his students to present their work at regional, national and international conferences.

Volz has participated in research grants totaling $9.6 million, with his individual contribution being over $2 million. The projects have a wide range of local, state and national sponsors.

He is a well-known expert in several areas, including sustainable, low environmental impact concrete and use of composite materials in bridge decks.

Jeffery Volz

Liangzhong “Shawn” Xiang, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering, Lloyd G. and Joyce Austin Presidential Professorship

Liangzhong “Shawn” Xiang is an assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a member of the Stephenson Cancer Center at the OU Health Sciences Center.

He was a postdoctoral fellow trained in medical physics at Stanford Medical School and was selected for the U.S. Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Postdoctoral Training Program at Stanford University from 2012-2015. Since joining OU, he has blazed an entirely new research path and formed a strong network of collaborators across the world, positioning his research to make a larger impact in the area of biomedical imaging.

Xiang is the first principal investigator to win a National Institutes of Health MERIT Award (R37) on the OU Norman campus. The prestigious NIH MERIT, created in 1986, is designed to provide stable, long-term funding support to outstanding, experienced investigators whose productivity is distinctly superior and who are deemed highly likely to continue to perform their research activities in an outstanding manner. Unlike most NIH grant awards, the MERIT award cannot be applied for by the investigator; the recipient is selected by members of the cognizant National Advisory Council. Xiang’s research on XACT imaging has been selected by the National Advisory Council to provide over $3 million of funding for seven years.

Xiang emphasizes teaching students cutting-edge research and advanced technologies through active research programs that effectively complement classroom studies and enhance the undergraduate and graduate curricula.

He received the Nancy L. Mergler Faculty Mentor Award for Undergraduate Research at OU in 2017. In addition to the support of undergraduate students through his individual mentoring, he also mentors undergraduate student researchers in his lab through the University of Oklahoma Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, First Year Research Experience, and the Honors Research Assistant Program.

Liangzhong Xiang

Guifu Zhang, School of Meteorology, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences, Sam K. Viersen Family Foundation Presidential Professorship

Guifu Zhang is a professor in the School of Meteorology, as well as an adjunct faculty member in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His primary research focus is radar polarimetry and interferometry for weather quantification and forecasting.

Since joining OU in 2005, Zhang has published over 100 referred journal articles with his students and colleagues, and his papers have been cited approximately 5,000 times with an H-Index of 34, according to Google Scholar. He has coauthored over 60 journal papers with his graduate students and postdocs, with 54 of them led by his students/postdocs at first author.

Zhang’s efforts as a PI or Co-PI have resulted in more than $19 million in research funds to the University, and nearly $4 million total personal research expenditures. He is the PI of five current research grants, and his research expenditure of the most recent year is about $500,000, placing him among the top researchers at OU.

Zhang’s colleagues agree that he is a rare breed of theoretical and experimental researcher alike. He has ingenious inspiration when it comes to the design of novel hardware, the implementation of new calibration techniques and the development of new inversion algorithms for these observation systems. This approach has led to the development of unique, innovative cylindrical polarimetric phased array radar theories and technologies that have been granted U.S. patents. A prototype system of the cylindrical radar has been built, and such a system has the potential to become the core design of the next-generation operational weather radar network of the United States.

Guifu Zhang

Bin Zheng, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering, Gerald Tuma Presidential Professorship

Bin Zheng joined the faculty of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2013 from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a professor of radiology. Since then, Zheng has made a most significant impact on the scholarly and overall professional development of students.

Zheng’s research and scholarly activity focuses on medical imaging informatics. It aims to identify quantitative imaging markers and develop machine learning models to help predict cancer risk, diagnose diseases and assess disease prognosis, and to develop interactive computer-aided diagnosis schemes using content-based image retrieval approaches to provide support tools to clinicians in the diagnosis of diseases.

Since joining OU, Zheng has mentored three postdoctoral research associates, 15 graduate students and one undergraduate student as research associates or assistants in his research lab. These students have participated in two National Institutes of Health-awarded R01 projects, one Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology-awarded project, and one OU Stephenson Cancer Center-awarded project.

His lab organizes weekly group meetings to exchange new research ideas, present and discuss ongoing research work and stimulate a supportive environment among postdoc and graduate students. By working together, the students have learned how to identify research hypothesis and explore new approaches to test the research hypothesis or problems.

In the fall 2016, Zheng offered a new graduate class on Medical Imaging Informatics. This is research-driven class teaches not only the basic concepts of quantitative medical imaging analysis and information management in the health care system, but also presents the latest research progress made in the field. This new course has proven to be invaluable to our students who aspire to work in biomedical imaging informatics, and it has opened up career opportunities at high-tech companies such as Google and Roche.

Bin Zheng



Service Recognition

50 Years

Albert Schwarzkopf, Department of Management Information Systems, Michael F. Price College of Business

30 Years

Eric Anderson, School of Visual Arts, Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts

Michael Ashby, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Arts and Sciences

Edward Baron, Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences

Robert Dauffenbach, Center for Economic and Management Research, Michael F. Price College of Business

Eric Kramer, Department of Communication, College of Arts and Sciences

Jonathan Lee, Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences

Patrick McCann, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Jorge Mendoza, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences

Tomasz Przebinda, Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences

Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Department of Computer Science, Gallogly College of Engineering

Karen Rupp-Serrano, University Libraries

Barbara Safiejko-Mroczka, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences

Mark Sharfman, Department of Management and International Business, Michael F. Price College of Business

Mark Shafer, Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences

William Tabb, College of Law

Pengfei Zhang, School of Meteorology, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences

20 Years

Braden Abbott, Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences

Elizabeth Bergey, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences

Ann Beutel, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences

Elyssa Faison, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences

Steven Gensler, College of Law

Ralph Hamerla, Honors College

Chung Kao, Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences

Rita Keresztesi, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences

Tomasz Kuder, School of Geosciences, Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy

Carrie Langston, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences

Karen Leighly, Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences

Hong Liu, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Kerry Magruder, University Libraries

Aparna Mitra, Department of Economics, College of Arts and Sciences

Lina Ortega, University Libraries

Christopher Ramseyer, School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, Gallogly College of Engineering

Jiening Ruan, Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education

Valentin Rybenkov, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Arts and Sciences

Shawn Schaefer, Division of Architecture, Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture

Zahed Siddique, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Tracy Stetson, John T. Steed School of Accounting, Michael F. Price College of Business

Shizuka Tatsuzawa, Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, College of Arts and Sciences

Wayne Thomas, John T. Steed School of Accounting, Michael F. Price College of Business

Steven Wilson, Business Communication, Michael F.Price College of Business

Wai Tak Yip, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Arts and Sciences

Elena Zgurskaya, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Arts and Sciences