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Faculty Tribute 2021

Norman Campus Faculty Tribute Awards








University of Oklahoma Student Government Association Outstanding Faculty Award

Jordan Loeffelman, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences

Jordan Loeffelman received numerous nominations from students praising her ability to consistently guide them with clarity and kind understanding. One of her students from a Psychological Statistics class stated that she is one of the “most engaging and caring professors that I have ever had.”

Looking at Loeffelman’s publications in academic journals (e.g., Assessment, Multivariate Behavioral Research) and this year’s student nominations, it is clear that she is skilled in communication and collaboration. In one nomination, the student stated that she is “highly sensitive to student feedback and would adapt the course quickly to better support students.”

Loeffelman embraces and promotes OU’s emphases on statistics and research courses to help psychology students develop exceptional analytical, scientific and critical-thinking skills. She is described as using her knowledge and skills to “translate complex material into something comprehensible.”

Loeffelman portrait



Teaching and Mentorship Awards



University Distinguished Teaching Awards

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.


Benjamin L. Alpers, Honors College

Benjamin L. Alpers began teaching in the University of Oklahoma's Honors College in the fall of 1998 as one of its first three faculty members. His research and teaching concern intellectual and cultural history, and are particularly focused on political culture, film and collective memory. He was among the founders of the Society for U.S. Intellectual History and was the first editor of its U.S. Intellectual History Blog. He currently serves on the Board of Oklahoma Humanities.

The four distinct courses that he offers this academic year (2020-21) show the range of his teaching for the Honors College because each one represents a different way of teaching about the past and its relationship to the present.

His “Reacting to the Past” perspectives course encourages students to understand the past from within, as they are asked to play figures from history and navigate important turning points from the past. Students engage directly with the ideas and motivations of historical figures and gain an unusually experiential understanding of historical contingency. His colloquium, “World War II Memory,” takes almost the opposite approach, as it encourages students to see how events in the past affect the present in different times and places. His “American Social Thought” Perspectives class is a more old-fashioned approach to intellectual history – a variation on a “Great Books” course. Almost all of the material he uses consists of primary texts. By engaging with key texts from the American past, students come to better understand the ideas that have shaped our country and its cultures. Finally, his colloquium, “Film Noir,” opens up a variety of vistas on 20th-century U.S. cultural history and gives students the tools to think in richer ways about a medium and a genre that continues to shape their lives and our culture.

These courses are just a sample of the many courses Alpers has taught since joining the OU faculty some two-plus decades ago. Each demonstrates his commitment to students and the energy and creativity he puts into the teaching aspect of being a university professor.

Alpers portrait

Yanrong Qi, Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, College of Arts and Sciences

Prior to coming to OU, Yanrong Qi taught Chinese at Harvard University, where she won the Harvard Excellence in Teaching Award, and at the University of Maryland. She also taught for Middlebury’s Summer Intensive Language Program. Qi earned her doctorate in instructional leadership and academic curriculum in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at OU in 2016. Her research interests include second language acquisition and Chinese language pedagogy, and she has published a textbook and research articles in those fields.

Qi has been teaching the beginning, intermediate and advanced Chinese language courses at OU since 2005. She serves as Chinese Program language coordinator, Chinese major and minor adviser liaison, and Chinese Language Club faculty adviser. She developed and revised the Chinese courses for multiple levels and trained all graduate teaching assistants for the OU Chinese Program.

Qi consistently receives outstanding annual evaluations in teaching, teaches more students than most other faculty in the department, carries out independent studies with students, conducts language placement interviews for Chinese, and designs and coordinates the department’s lower-division courses. She also frequently works with OU’s Extended Campus to offer beginning Chinese courses to a wider community. Before the pandemic, Qi regularly led short-term study abroad programs to China.

While at OU, she has been awarded three curriculum development grants, and colleagues note that her efforts may be a large part of why the Chinese language program has shown good growth in recent years. 

One of Qi’s colleagues stated, “[Qi] searches for effective teaching strategies and constantly thinks about revising them so that she can apply them to her teaching. She is indeed the most popular teacher in the program. She always brings laughter and joy. She helps junior instructors and graduate teaching assistants whenever they need advice for teaching. She is a great asset to our school.”

Qi portrait



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.

Melody Huckaby Rowlett, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences

Melody Huckaby Rowlett is a full-time, renewal-term lecturer who has assumed major responsibilities for teaching PSC 1113 (American Federal Government), which is the only general education course required of all students at the university at the time of this award.

In 2013 the Department of Political Science implemented a new model for this course and involved what it called “Democracy Forums” – classes composed of 250 students, each led by some of the department’s best teachers, along with “Democracy Labs,” limited to 25 students and led by specially trained graduate students. When Rowlett accepted a position as lecturer, she initially covered four of the Democracy Labs each semester, along with teaching other courses.

Within four years, Rowlett was asked to take on her own large sections of PSC 1113. Drawing on her extensive lab and teaching experiences, Rowlett worked alongside Allen Hertzke, David Ross Boyd Professor of Political Science, as a course manager to fully implement the vision behind the Democracy Labs.

In all of the labs for this course, students took part in a legislative simulation on immigration policy, for which Rowlett wrote three congressional bills (in legal format) based on Kettering policy briefs; the briefs are intended to help citizen groups understand ideas and tradeoffs of different approaches to immigration reform. In the simulation, students performed the roles of House and Senate members in both committee and floor action.

By 2018, when Rowlett was teaching her own large sections of PSC 1113, she had developed exercises for every week of the semester. From civil liberties scenarios to a federal budget simulation to "defending your agency" to planning a political campaign, students genuinely engage in the diverse facets of American politics and government. This engagement has created an elan among the department’s teaching fellows, who share with each other ideas about how they successfully employ or adapt the exercises.

As a renewal-term lecturer, Rowlett teaches two sections of PSC 1113 every semester with 250-275 students initially enrolled in each, thereby instructing nearly one thousand students every academic year. She supervises her own lab leaders and conducts the annual training for the teaching fellows, where veteran lab leaders help newcomers. Through her outstanding teaching, coordination, and training, Rowlett is an exceptional contributor to the General Education curriculum at OU.

Rowlett portrait



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.

Joe Marshall, Freshman Programs, University College

Joe Marshall, an adjunct instructor in Freshman Programs, is a skilled educator who not only ensures excellent class sessions for his students but also provides them with outside-of-class opportunities. His students noted appreciation of his expertise and enthusiasm for the course content, care for them and skillful facilitation of discussions. Their remarks included:

  • “Joe has been one of the best professors that I have had at my time here at OU. He was constantly engaged with the class and always had a great attitude. He is passionate about the subject and did a really wonderful job of leading discussions and making sure all student’s opinions and voices were heard. I truly cannot say enough positive things about him. Joe makes each topic enjoyable, understanding and open.”
  • “Mr. Marshall was an amazing professor (who) helped create an open and welcoming environment that contributed positively to the topics and issues we discussed throughout the course. He demonstrated wonderful character while discussing difficult and often controversial topics with a mindset of understanding and care for his students. I truly enjoyed having him as my professor.”
  •  “Joe was a great instructor; he always made sure to allow everyone to speak and was open to all people’s opinions. He made the classroom a welcoming environment. Providing a rubric for papers and presentations was also very helpful to me and allowed me to be successful on those assignments.”
  • “Professor Marshall was so great! He allowed for open discussion and created a great environment. He really cares about his students.”
Marshall portrait



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.

Katie Qualls Fay, Freshman Programs, University College

Katie Qualls Fay is committed to helping her students thrive at OU. She provides an engaging and welcoming atmosphere; creates meaningful and engaging class sessions for her first-year students; and is a skilled facilitator, ensuring that students have thoughtful discussions and all voices in the classroom are heard. Her students expressed appreciation for her effective teaching methods, expertise in delivering the course content and demonstrated holistic care for her students. Their remarks included:

  •  “Katie is the best professor/teacher I have ever had. She cares about her students inside and outside of class and is truly amazing. I would take her class over and over again if I could.”
  •  “Katie fought hard to make sure every student felt heard and was able to share their thoughts and opinions. She made time for her students and always held classes that were meaningful to us. She allowed us to ask any questions and speak to her outside of class if we ever needed anything. Katie was by far my favorite professor of the semester and I wish I could take her class again simply because of how amazing she was.”
  • “Thank you for always being available and genuinely caring about our well-being. This class was a breath of fresh air throughout the week and my favorite part of the week. If the class was five days a week it wouldn't be enough. Thank you for creating this positive atmosphere.”
  •  “The best teacher I had this semester. I genuinely learned more in this class than in my others combined. Katie was an amazing woman who serves as an incredible role model. Katie was so accepting. She took the time to hear everyone out and teach us so much about ourselves. I am so grateful for this class and her! She got me through such a tough and stressful semester.”
  • “By far my favorite class this year. Katie is so understanding and every time I needed help with something, regardless of it being school related or not, she was always willing to help.”
Qualls Fay portrait



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.

Dan Schwartz, School of Music, Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts

Since joining the faculty in the fall of 2011, Dan Schwartz has maintained an active studio of undergraduate and graduate oboists and runs the woodwind chamber music program, as well as performs in the woodwind-quintet-in-residence, the Oklahoma Woodwind Quintet.

An avid performer, Schwartz is currently the Second Oboe/English Horn player in the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Prior to that, he performed with orchestras throughout North America.

Schwartz holds a Bachelor of Music degree in oboe performance from Vanderbilt University, from which he graduated summa cum laude and received the university's highest academic honor, the Founders Medal. He earned his Master of Music degree in oboe performance from the University of Texas, Austin, and Doctor of Musical Arts degree in oboe performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music, where he also received a minor in music education.

Schwartz portrait



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.

Cameron Homeyer, School of Meteorology, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences

Cameron Homeyer’s ability to adapt and successfully advise students for their research projects throughout the COVID-19 pandemic graphically illustrates his capability as an outstanding mentor. He scheduled weekly individual meetings with all of his students over Zoom, which allowed them to maintain productivity levels similar to those experienced before the pandemic.

He showed respect and understanding for each of his students’ unique situations, strongly encouraging self-care. In addition to the one-to-one student meetings, he also maintained research group meetings in a virtual format to continue opportunities for students to enhance their presentation skills and increase intellectual growth and even adapted group social meetings to a virtual format, so that members could talk and play games. He planned some outdoor and socially distant social meetings, such as hiking and laser tag, that followed CDC guidelines, as well. All this has allowed him to continue to develop the cohesive group dynamic he has worked hard to achieve.

Homeyer also was cited for his investment in students in non-pandemic times. In a letter of support, a member of his Convection, Chemistry and Climate Research Group praised Homeyer for his efforts to maximize each student’s growth and help them reach their potential as a scientist. She also noted: He always sets clear expectations for students, which enhances communication and helps students achieve their goals, and continually sets new research goals to help them successfully navigate through their research, as well as increase their capabilities and skills. Homeyer further encourages students to reflect and voice their ideas for their research goals to help ensure they are personally invested in their work. He provides additional instruction and motivation to help students continue to progress past any setbacks they may face while maintaining an optimistic attitude.

Homeyer portrait



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.

Ben Keppel, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences

Ben Keppel has been the History department's coordinator of undergraduate internships and community engagement since 2017. The program offers direct work experience and introduces students to career opportunities in the field. He has worked diligently to secure partners, which include Norman Public Schools, Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, the Governor’s Office, the Oklahoma State Department of Libraries, the Oklahoma Historical Society, Greenwood (Tulsa) Chamber of Commerce and Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Keppel has full responsibility for all the students in the internship program. They report to him every two weeks with a 300- to 500-word progress report, and they submit a final paper assessing their experience and its impact. After the interruption of in-person coursework during spring 2020 due to the pandemic, Keppel worked with community partners to design online and virtual internship opportunities, ensuring the continuity of this significant learning experience.

Another example of Keppel’s engaged teaching in the internship program is illustrated by his involvement with the Sipes Collection Collaboration. Dolores Subia BigFoot, associate professor of pediatrics, director of the Native American Programs at the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect at the OU Health Sciences Center, contacted the university to ask for help in cataloguing 43 boxes of Cheyenne history collected by her husband. Keppel met with her to learn about her needs and to plan for a project to establish an archival project.

In collaboration with OU Libraries and Native American Studies Department, an internship was established to move the project forward. Students were trained in research ethics, archival methods and cataloguing, and a secure location was secured to keep boxes safe during the project. BigFoot, Keppel and students have authored a manuscript to share a set of lessons learned about community collaboration.

According to his letter of nomination: “His mentoring success, his teaching effectiveness, and his dedication to and passion for the internship program as a transformative experience for every student who undertakes it. Our students have been exposed to all manner of historical materials and to various types of archiving, but more importantly perhaps, they have gained a profound understanding of the practical importance of history.”

Keppel portrait



Research Awards



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

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.

Meredith Gwynne Fair Worthen, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences

Meredith Gwynne Fair Worthen is recognized for her engaged and activist scholarship on campus and in the field of sociology on the national level. She initiated both The Welcoming Project and the #MeTooMeredith social media platform to address critical community needs to support both LGBTQ and sexual assault communities and their allies. Worthen’s innovative community engagement initiatives are interconnected and synergistic with her scholarship and research.  

The Welcoming Project, established in 2011, awards two scholarships annually to students with outstanding contributions to LGBTQ activism. It also encourages local businesses, health care and service providers, organizations and congregations to display signs to help these individuals and their allies feel welcomed as patrons. Local businesses supporting this initiative can be identified by little rainbow stickers on the doors or windows. To date, 1,200 have requested stickers. These rainbow stickers set a tone of welcoming for all, but especially for LGBTQ individuals and their allies.

The #MeTooMeredith social media platform, established in 2018, gives survivors of sexual assault a space to share their stories anonymously. The page, which provides a community of support for sexual assault survivors, currently has nearly 1,000 stories posted and over 5,000 followers. Adding to the momentum of the #MeToo movement, in fall of 2019, Worthen also organized a #MeToo Sharing Our Stories Demonstration during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Since coming to OU in 2009, Worthen’s research has focused on Sexualities/LGBTQ Studies, with emphases in stigma, prejudice and crime. Worthen has been especially productive, having published 36 national-level, peer-reviewed articles in this area, one textbook, and one monograph.

Meredith Gwynne Fair Worthen



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.

Deven Carlson, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences

Deven Carlson has established himself as a leading scholar of education policy while still early in his career. He has served as associate director for education at the National Institute of Risk and Resilience since 2016.

His work has been recognized by many publications in some of the most important outlets in education policy, and has been awarded funding from key agencies, including the National Science Foundation, Smith-Richardson Foundation and the Sage Foundation. He has published 34 peer-reviewed journal articles, a co-authored book, four book chapters, and 19 reports in prominent think tanks, including the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute. As a result, domain experts from across the country have recognized his expertise.

Carlson is a national leader in education policy research who dramatically increases OU’s presence and visibility in this domain. He is a remarkably productive scholar and an example that engaged research – research intended to influence current policy activities – does not come at the cost of rigor or prestige within academic circles.

Carlson is a member of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships strategic planning working group, which is tasked with promoting research in society and community transformation. He is also heading an initiative to build a premier repository of data and technological tools that will facilitate insights into the causes and consequences of inequity in Oklahoma, with an emphasis on education.

Carlson portrait



Vice President for Research and Partnerships Award for Excellence in Transdisciplinary, Convergent Research

The Award for Excellence in Transdisciplinary, Convergent Research recognizes leadership in the creation of collaborative initiatives of teams of tenured or tenure-track OU faculty over the recent past on projects that demonstrate a deep integration of disciplines toward new configurations of knowledge production, and that strive toward creating a positive and meaningful societal impact. This award can be given to an individual or to a team, and therefore nominations for teams of faculty are most welcome. Carol Silva and Hank Jenkins-Smith received this as a joint award.

Carol L. Silva, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences; Director, Center for Risk and Crisis Management

Carol L. Silva’s research encompasses the intersection of a set of theoretical and methodological social science issues. She studies social valuation generally, and more specifically the translation of values into public choice. She has published books and articles on public policy analysis, presidential politics, climate and weather, natural disasters, election management, and environmental policy.

Silva specializes in the building and conduct of research programs for interdisciplinary teams and the coordination of resources that encourage and support the achievements of those teams, and she also contributes to state-of-the-art social science discoveries. She directs well-funded research programs in the domains of energy policy, the intersection of technology and democratic institutions, weather and climate policy, COVID-19 adaptation, and benefit cost analysis/non-market valuation. She is the science co-lead (with Hank Jenkins-Smith) on a five-year National Science Foundation study focused on finding sustainable solutions to the complex problems at the intersection of weather, water, land cover and infrastructure in Oklahoma.

Silva, who received the Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professorship in 2017, is the project director of a science cooperation program between OU and the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín, one of Peru’s largest and oldest public research universities, on four collaborative projects to study climate change impacts and adaptation strategies for Latin America, as well as advanced public health monitoring and technologies to mitigate the disparate impact of diseases such as cancer and COVID-19 among the urban and rural populations of Peru. She is also the co-PI on an NSF grant for a year-long study of the social and behavioral aspects of COVID-19-related behaviors.

Silva portrait

Hank Jenkins-Smith, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences; Director, Center for Energy, Security and Society; Co-Director, National Institute for Risk and Resilience and Center for Risk and Crisis Management

Hank Jenkins-Smith’s research focuses on theories of the public policy change, with particular emphasis on the management (and mismanagement) of controversial issues involving high-risk perceptions on the part of the public.

Jenkins-Smith is the science co-lead (with Carol Silva) on a five-year NSF study focused on finding sustainable solutions to the complex problems at the intersection of weather, water, land cover and infrastructure in Oklahoma. He is also the co-PI on an NSF grant for a year-long study of the social and behavioral aspects of COVID-19 related behaviors.

Much of Jenkins-Smith’s research is based on the National Institute for Risk and Resilience’s substantial investment in data collection infrastructure – utilizing both social media and survey data – that enables both long-term and real-time monitoring of the social and policy contexts in which public health, security, and environmental programs operate.

He has published books and articles on public policy, national security, natural disasters, and energy and environmental policy. He has served on national research council committees, as an elected member on the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement, and as a member of the governing Council of the American Political Science Association. He received OU’s George Lynn Cross Research Professorship in 2013.

Jenkins-Smith portrait



Vice President for Research and Partnerships Award for Excellence in Research in the Social Sciences

The Award for Excellence in Research in the Social Sciences recognizes a tenured or tenure-track OU faculty member who has made exceptional, innovative contributions to a social science field throughout their career and/or in their recent work. The Social Sciences award is based on outstanding publications with pioneering research impacts that offer broad societal and community-oriented applications for the common good.

Shane Connelly, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences

Shane Connelly’s research interests focus on leadership, emotions in the workplace, and ethical decision-making. With respect to leadership, her research has addressed such issues as how emotions and emotion processes influence the attitudes and performance of leaders and their followers, what skills contribute to leader performance over time, and how case-based training can be structured to effectively develop leaders.

She is also interested in ethical decision-making in organizations, particularly how to assess and train research ethics in various scientific domains.

In recent research, Connelly has examined the relationship of emotion and communication strategies to attitudes within ideologically driven discussions on the internet. Most of her research integrates both novel and tried-and-true approaches to assessing individual differences. She has published numerous articles on leadership, emotions, and integrity and serves on the editorial boards of The Leadership Quarterly and Human Performance.

Connelly is a founding faculty member and serves on the governing board and executive committee of the college’s Center for Applied Social Research.  

Connelly portrait



Vice President for Research and Partnerships Award for Excellence in Research in the Natural Sciences

The Award for Excellence in Research in the Natural Sciences honors a tenured or tenure-track OU faculty member who has made a career-long and/or recent exceptional contribution to advancing fundamental knowledge in a natural sciences field. The contribution made is at a level of importance and impact that garners international visibility and recognition. 

Elinor Martin, School of Meteorology, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences; Affiliate, South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center and Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling

Elinor Martin earned her bachelor of science degree with honors in meteorology with a year in Oklahoma from the University of Reading in the U.K., her master of science degree in atmospheric science from Colorado State University, and her doctoral degree in atmospheric science from Texas A&M University, where her work focused on weather-climate interactions in Caribbean rainfall. After holding a postdoctoral position at SUNY Albany researching decadal climate variability in West Africa, she joined the OU School of Meteorology in 2014.

Martin and her group are working to further our knowledge of climate, climate variability, and weather-climate interactions through research and education, with a focus on precipitation. This work is accomplished with the use of observations and model simulations to increase understanding of essential mechanisms and processes leading to changes in precipitation. Work produced by her group has ranged from global investigations to changes in wet and dry periods and the seasonal timing of rainfall, to tropical rainfall and Oklahoma winter precipitation.

In parallel with these efforts, her group works with the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center and stakeholders to ensure that the science and education materials produced are useable and actionable.

Martin portrait

Jizhong Zhou, Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, College of Arts and Sciences; Director, Institute for Environmental Genomics, College of Arts and Sciences

George Lynn Cross Research Professor Jizhong Zhou is internationally recognized for several ground-breaking discoveries and pioneering advances in environmental microbiology and genomic technologies. The author of over 600 publications, he was listed as a top 0.1% globally highly cited researcher by all three major complementary metrics ( He is currently an editor for ISME Journal and Microbiome and a former editor for mBio and for Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Zhou received the 2019 American Society for Microbiology Award for Environmental Research, recognizing an outstanding scientist with distinguished research achievements in microbial ecology and environmental microbiology; the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award in 2014, the highest scientific recognition awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy; R&D 100 Award in 2009 as one of 100 most innovative scientific and technological breakthroughs; and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2001, the highest honor for young scientists and engineers in the United States.

Zhou is a U.S. ambassador to the International Society of Microbial Ecology and an Honorary Director for the Chinese Association of Microbial Ecology. He is a Fellow of the Ecological Society of Ecology, the American Academy of Microbiology, the International Water Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Zhou portrait



Vice President for Research and Partnerships Award for Excellence in Research, Design and Creative Expression in the Humanities and the Fine Arts

The Award for Excellence in Research, Design, and Creative Expression in the Humanities and the Fine Arts is conferred upon tenured or tenure-track OU faculty members whose career long and/or recent work offers a transformative new direction in humanistic or creative development. Innovative research projects for this award may be oriented toward analyses of the past, present, and future that have the potential to transform a field of study and/or to offer new directions in community-engaged research. Eligible projects must fall within the disciplines of the humanities, arts, and new media. The awardees in this category are Angela Person and Stephanie Pilat (joint award) and Ronald Schleifer.

Angela M. Person, Division of Architecture, Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture

Angela M. Person joined the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture in 2016, where her research and teaching have focused on architectural history and behavioral and emotional influences of built and natural environments.

Before joining OU, she was a Doctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution, where she was first author of The Care and Keeping of Cultural Facilities (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). She is co-editor of two additional scholarly books, Renegades: Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture (2020) and Affective Architectures: More-than-Representational Geographies of Heritage (Routledge, 2021).

Since 2017, Person has co-led the American School Project with Stephanie Pilat, director of the Division of Architecture. This project preserves and documents the school of design and practice that developed under the guidance of Bruce Goff, Herb Greene, and others at the University of Oklahoma in the 1950s and ’60s. As part of this project, Person recently led the creation of an online interactive version of a major American School exhibition when the physical exhibition was shuttered early due to COVID-19.

Person is also part of a team that received National Endowment for the Arts funding to create an online interactive database of significant American School work. With Randy Peppler, a senior research scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, she advises the award-winning Environmental Sustainability Working Group, which provides mentored research experiences to undergraduate students.

She also advises the award-winning Gibbs College student journal, Telesis. Recently, Person organized a national conference, “Schools of Thought,” which brought together more than 100 design educators from over 50 institutions around the United States and beyond to explore the future of design teaching.

Person portrait

Stephanie Z. Pilat, Division of Architecture, Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture

Stephanie Z. Pilat is a designer and architectural historian whose teaching and research examines points of intersection between politics and architecture.

A 2017 recipient of the Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professorship, Pilat co-leads a team of faculty, students, and staff working to bring to light the legacy of the American School of Architecture, which refers to the pedagogy and practices that emerged from OU under the leadership of Bruce Goff and others. A 2020 exhibition at OU’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art showcased the original approach to teaching and fantastic works of the American School. Pilat co-edited the exhibition catalog, Renegades: Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture, with Luca Guido, former visiting associate professor of architecture, and Angela Person, assistant professor of architecture in the College of Architecture. The team worked with the OU Libraries to create the American School Archive as well as an exhibition in Bizzell Memorial Library. In 2018, the American School history was showcased in a special installation at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Pilat is the author of Reconstructing Italy: The Ina-Casa Neighborhoods of the Postwar Era, which won the 2015 Helen and Howard R. Marraro Prize for the best work on Italian history by the Society for Italian Historical Studies. She recently co-edited The Routledge Companion Guide to Fascist Italian Architecture and Urbanism: Reception and Legacy with Kay Bea Jones, an architecture professor at The Ohio State University.

In 2015, Pilat was named as one of the “30 most admired educators” in the nation by DesignIntelligence magazine. Her research has been generously supported by a Fulbright Fellowship, a Rome Prize from the American Academy, a Wolfsonian-FIU Fellowship, an American Fellowship from the American Association of University Women, a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

Pilat portrait

Ronald Schleifer, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences

In addition to his appointment in the Department of English, Ronald Schleifer serves as an adjunct professor of medicine at the University of Oklahoma, where he has taught since 1975.

Schleifer, who received the 2001 George Lynn Cross Research Professorship, has written or edited over 20 books, the most recent of which are Literature and Medicine: A Practical and Pedagogical Guide (co-authored with Dr. Jerry Vannatta, David Ross Boyd Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine and former executive dean of the OU College of Medicine, Palgrave 2019); Pain and Suffering (Routledge, 2014; translated into Chinese 2017); The Chief Concern of Medicine: The Integration of the Medical Humanities and Narrative Knowledge into Medical Practices (co-authored with Dr. Vannatta, Michigan 2013).

He has also published a series of books with Cambridge University Press on the culture of modernism, including Modernism and Time: The Logic of Abundance in Literature, Science, and Culture 1880-1940 (2000); Modernism and Popular Music (2011); and A Political Economy of Modernism: Literature, Post-Classical Economics, and the Lower Middle Class (2018).

Schleifer co-edited two text-anthologies: Contemporary Literature Criticism: Literary and Cultural Studies (with Robert Con Davis-Undiano, director of World Literature Today at OU, Longman 1989, 1994, 1998), and A Postmodern Bible Reader (with David Jobling and Tina Pippin, Blackwell 2001).

From 1976 until 1999, he edited the journal Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture here at OU, and from 1986 until 2000, he co-edited a book series with Davis-Undiano titled The Oklahoma Project for Discourse and Theory (University of Oklahoma Press). He has lectured throughout the world on the medical humanities.

Schleifer portrait



Vice President for Research and Partnerships Award for Excellence in Applied Research and Engineering
The Award for Excellence in Applied Research and Engineering honors a tenured or tenure-track OU faculty member who has made a career long and/or recent exceptional translational research contribution in an area of applied research and/or engineering. The contribution made is characterized by its impact in addressing major technical, social, and/or economic problems in today’s society, and garners international visibility and recognition.

Janet Allen, School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Before coming to OU, Janet Allen retired from the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech, where she is Professor Emerita.

She is known for her work in decision-based design and especially formulating problems and modeling uncertainty. She and her students have published over 300 papers in journals, conference proceedings, and edited books.

She is a Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers, an Honorary Member of Pi Tau Sigma, and is associate editor of The Journal of Mechanical Design (Transactions of ASME). In 2019, Allen was recognized by ASME with the Ruth and Joel Outstanding Design Educator Award, and in 2020, she was recognized as one of the top 100,000 most impactful researchers in the world in a study at Stanford University. 

Allen portrait



Vice President for Research and Partnerships Annual Award for Excellence in Research Grants

The Annual Award for Excellence in Research Grants recognizes tenured or tenure-track OU investigators or teams of investigators that have obtained extramural sponsored research awards of $1 million or more during the past year. No nomination is required for this award.

Click on the projects to learn for more information about the projects and to read short statements from each researcher.

Project Title: AI Institute: Artificial Intelligence for Environmental Sciences (AI2ES) – $20 million – National Science Foundation

Lead PI: Amy McGovern

School of Computer Science, Gallogly College of Engineering; School of Meteorology, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences

Co-PI: Dimitrios Diochnos

School of Computer Science, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Andrew Fagg

School of Computer Science and Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Science and Technology, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Cameron Homeyer, School of Meteorology, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences

Co-PI: Henry Neeman

Information Technology and Supercomputing Center for Education and Research

Co-PI: Nathan Snook

Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, National Weather Center



Project Title: Near-field Scanner and Projects for Advanced Digital Radar – $7.4 million – U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research

Lead PI: Mark Yeary

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Caleb Fulton

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Nathan A. Goodman

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering, and Advanced Radar Research Center

Co-PI: Jay McDaniel

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Justin Metcalf

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Robert Palmer

School of Meteorology, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences

Co-PI: Jessica Ruyle

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Jorge Salazar Cerreño

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Hjalti Sigmarsson

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering



Project Title: Data Quality Manager for the ARM Program – $2.7 million – Battelle - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Lead PI: Randy Peppler

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

Co-PI: Kenneth Kehoe

Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies



Project Title: EPSCoR, RII Track-1: Socially Sustainable Solutions for Water, Carbon, and Infrastructure Resilience in Oklahoma – $9.7 million – National Science Foundation (Oklahoma EPSCoR)

Lead PI: Jeff Basara

School of Meteorology, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences

Lead PI: Hank Jenkins-Smith

Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences; Center for Energy, Security and Society; and National Institute for Risk and Resilience

Lead PI: Kanthasamy Muraleetharan

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

Lead PI: Robert Nairn

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

Lead PI: Xiangming Xiao

Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology and the Center for Spatial Analysis, College of Arts and Sciences

Lead PI: Jason Vogel

School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science and Oklahoma Water Survey, Gallogly College of Engineering

Lead PI: Kyle Murray

Oklahoma Geological Survey and School of Geology and Geophysics, Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy

Lead PI: Tiantian Yang

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

Co-PI: Carol Silva

Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences; Center for Risk and Crisis Management; National Institute for Risk and Resilience

Co-PI: Elinor Martin

School of Meteorology, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences; South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center, and Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling,

Co-PI: Joe Ripberger

Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences; Center for Risk and Crisis Management

Co-PI: Paul Moses

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Jason Furtado

School of Meteorology, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences

Co-PI: Philip Harvey

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

Co-PI: Gerald Miller

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



Project Title: Experimental Robustness vs. Computational Complexity in a Neutral Atom Based NISQ Information Processor – $2.1 million– U.S. Department of Defense, Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Lead PI: Grant Biedermann

Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy and Center for Quantum Research and Technology, College of Arts and Sciences



Project Title: EFRI E3P: Tuning catalyst design to recycle mixed polymer streams – $2 million – National Science Foundation

Lead PI: Steven Crossley

School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Lance Lobban

School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Adam Feltz

Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences

Co-PI: Bin Wang

School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering



Project Title: Exploitation of the Horus All-Digital Polarimetric Phased Array Weather Radar – $2 million – U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Lead PI: Robert Palmer

School of Meteorology, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences

Co-PI: David Bodine

Advanced Radar Research Center

Co-PI: Caleb Fulton

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Boon Leng Cheong

Advanced Radar Research Center and School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences

Co-PI: Jorge Salazar Cerreño

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Hjalti Sigmarsson

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Mark Yeary

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Tian-You Yu

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Guifu Zhang

School of Meteorology, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences



Project Title: Collaborative Research: MTM 2: Searching for General Rules Governing Microbiome Dynamics Using Anaerobic Digesters as Model Systems – $1.3 million – National Science Foundation

Lead PI: Jizhong Zhou

Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology and Institute for Environmental Genomics, College of Arts and Sciences

Co-PI: Naijia Xiao

Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, College of Arts and Sciences

Co-PI: Daliang Ning

Institute for Environmental Genomics

Co-PI: Yajiao Wang

Institute for Environmental Genomics

Co-PI: Gangsheng Wang

Institute for Environmental Genomics

Co-PI: Linwei Wu

Institute for Environmental Genomics

Co-PI: Ya Zhang

Institute for Environmental Genomics



Project Title: Low-cost Retrofit Kit for Integral Reciprocating Compressors to Reduce Emissions and Enhance Efficiency – $1.5 million – U.S. Department of Energy

Lead PI: Pejman Kazempoor

School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Sridhar Radhakrishnan

School of Computer Science and Institute of Data Science and Analytics, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Hamidreza Shabgard

School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Co-PI: Ramkumar Parthasarathy

School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering



Project Title: FY21 ODOT Cultural Resources Program – $1.4 million – State of Oklahoma, Department of Transportation

Lead PI: Amanda Regnier

Oklahoma Archeological Survey

Co-PI: Scott Sundermeyer

Oklahoma Archeological Survey



Project Title: Novel Antimalarials from Fungi – $1.3 million – National Institute of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Lead PI: Robert Cichewicz

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; College of Arts and Sciences

Institute for Natural Products and Research Technologies (INPART)



Project Title: ODOT Natural Resources Program – $1 million – State of Oklahoma, Department of Transportation

Lead PI: Bruce Hoagland

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



Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion



The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Faculty Excellence Award for Norman Campus

The University of Oklahoma Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s DEI Award for Faculty Excellence honors OU faculty who exemplify commitment to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion through their efforts in the areas of innovation, advocacy, commitment and awareness.

Mashhad Fahes, School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering, Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy

Mashhad Fahes, associate professor in the School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering, works tirelessly as a leader for inclusive excellence for the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy and across OU. Fahes has participated in a number of university-wide innovations related to diversity, equity and inclusion. She currently leads the Spring 2021 Faculty Learning Community on the topic of “Systems of Inequities in Higher Education,” which examines the existing inequitable structures that affect faculty and explores ways to transition to an equitable structure that benefits all.

As part of the core group involved in the Theory of Change, she helped develop the innovative Gateway to Belonging at OU course curriculum that will be implemented in fall 2021. Additionally, Fahes has been an active member on the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues. Fahes also serves as the college’s diversity liaison; in that role, she has advocated for many important and actionable results, such as converting the restrooms in Sarkeys Energy Center tower into all-gender restrooms. She spearheaded the formation of the MCEE inclusion and diversity committee and has served as its chair since the inception, a role she will be turning over to new leadership next fall. Fahes invites all community members to participate in making OU a place of inclusive excellence and in building a better common future.  

Fahes portrait



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

Ralph J. Beliveau, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

A passion for teaching and learning permeates the professional life of Ralph Beliveau. His thinking about reflective pedagogy, love for learning and seeing others learn, and cultivation of media literacy are central to his work across his areas of activity in research, teaching and service. He stands out among the faculty for his broad, cross-disciplinary engagement on teaching and pedagogy issues – evident in his engagement across OU. In addition to serving on the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication faculty, Beliveau is affiliate faculty member in the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.

Beliveau writes and teaches about media education and literacy, race, horror media, documentary, rhetorical criticism, video production, film, popular culture, music and cultural studies, and documentary theory production and history.

One of Beliveau’s most significant contributions to Gaylord College’s teaching mission was his leadership of a revision of the freshman introductory media course, JMC 1013. After teaching the course for several years, in 2013 he put together a group of the faculty who had also taught sections of the course to look critically at the content and structure. At the same time, the Center for Teaching Excellence had developed a Course Innovation Program that was offering resources for doing large-scale course redevelopment. Beliveau received a grant of $75,000 per year for two years to support the redesign of the course, from the foundational student learning goals and outcomes to the execution of the course. At the center of the redesign were two elements: a foundation grounded in media literacy and a model of advanced undergraduate student-led recitation sections that would break the educational experience into smaller discussion groups.

In addition to redesigning the first-year “Intro to Media” class, Beliveau taught “Introduction to Documentary” as a dream course in 2008, redesigned the “Teaching in Mass Communication” course for Ph.D. students, and taught the Feaver-MacMinn Seminar on Documentary. He served as a Center for Teaching Excellence Faculty Fellow in 2014 and 2015. Beliveau has co-led the British Media Tour for 16 years and taught “Italian Film & Literature” and “Documentary” in programs in Arezzo, Italy.

Beliveau portrait

Steven S. Gensler, College of Law

Steven S. Gensler’s teaching and research focuses on the structure of the federal courts and the rules governing federal court practice and procedure. He is the consultant to the United States Judicial Conference’s Committee on Federal Jurisdiction and formerly served as a member of the conference’s Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. During 2002-2003, Gensler served as a Supreme Court Fellow with the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2015, he was elected to serve on the governing council of the American Law Institute, becoming the first and only person from Oklahoma ever to hold that position.

Gensler is known for teaching with passion and energy. Students repeatedly laud his expertise and his ability to take very complex material and make it clear and accessible for everyone. Hundreds of his students have commented that he was one of the best professors they have ever had.

In the area of the law concerning court procedure, Gensler has national renown that has been earned in part from the extraordinary and rare trust placed in him by the highest levels of the federal judiciary as a go-to scholar/expert, as well as his stewardship of continually updated legal materials that are used nationwide. He has channeled this expertise into classroom teaching that is of surpassing rigor and excellence. For nearly 20 years, Gensler – who for the most part follows the traditional “Socratic” method of law teaching – has been acknowledged as one of the College of Law's best classroom teachers. He was voted "Best Professor" twice recently, in 2017 and 2019.

Two of Gensler's mentoring activities deserve special mention: his 15-year service as the faculty adviser for the Oklahoma Law Review, OU Law’s flagship student-run scholarly journal, and his ongoing work (writing recommendation letters, using his contacts to help students in their search for opportunities, etc.) in helping students obtain judicial clerkships, which are some of the most prestigious job placements for new law grads.

Genslet portrait

Jeongwon Ham, School of Music, Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts

Jeongwon Ham has performed as a soloist, chamber musician and a master teacher in several European countries, Asia and the United States. She has won top prizes at numerous international piano competitions; given master classes and taught as a guest professor in the United States, Europe and Asia at universities and summer festivals; and is highly sought-after as a juror for piano competitions.

Since joining the OU music faculty in 2002, Ham has consistently demonstrated the ability to establish a supportive and nurturing rapport with her students and develops uniquely personalized teaching strategies that work most effectively for each student. One of her former students writes, “From my first lesson with Dr. Ham, I knew there was something special about her teaching. ... Because I found studying with her to be incredibly motivating, each lesson I arrived fully prepared to perform, and yet, Dr. Ham was able to take my performances and make them even better.”

All of Ham's piano students improve, thrive and succeed, no matter their level of performance at the beginning of their time spent under her tutelage. The list of potential students who wish to study with her is long; in fact, when incoming students list their preferences as to their desired instructor, Ham is consistently the most requested professor in the piano area.

Ham's former and current students frequently distinguish themselves as winners at international, national and regional competitions and hold teaching positions in the United States, Canada, Taiwan and Korea. About 40 of her students have received first prize at state, regional, national and/or international competitions. Her students have gone on to secure academic piano teaching positions at such institutions as Bowling Green State University, the University of Houston, the University of Northern Iowa, Los Angeles Harbor College, Oklahoma City University, Ohio University, and Ewha Womans University and the Korean National Arts University in Seoul, South Korea.

Ham's reputation as an exemplary teacher extends far beyond the OU Norman campus. In 2018, she received the United States Virtuoso Artists International Piano Competition's “Extraordinary Achievement in the Field of Teaching Music” award, and she has been invited to teach master classes in China, Korea, Germany, Austria and France, as well as at institutions spanning the United States.

Ham portrait

Heather Rae Ketchum, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences

Since her arrival at the university in 2005, Heather Rae Ketchum has provided OU undergraduates in medical/veterinary, and forensic entomology with hands-on experiences through teaching, research and service. Focus areas include factors that affect insect development on carrion and the rate of decomposition of remains and tick distributions and associated pathogens to assess tick-borne disease risk. She has been called a “tour-de-force” in the department for her work on innovating current departmental courses, developing new ones and sharing her entomological expertise in educational and professional outreach activities, as well as for the immediate and immeasurable impact she has had on her students.

In addition to her large Human Physiology course, Ketchum has developed and taught many departmental courses, including a cornerstone, research-centered course (“Maggot Diaries”), and three new courses in the Honors College. Her class offerings alone could keep students occupied for many semesters, and in fact, are so popular, many students come back semester after semester to take another one of her engaging classes.

Ketchum reinvents the art of teaching each time she teaches a course, whether it has been taught in the department for decades or is a new course she developed. She incorporates the latest pedagogically sound teaching techniques, with flipped format classes using a variety of active learning techniques and online videos, well before the pandemic made them necessary. After only a few semesters of teaching the large Human Physiology course in the standard lecture-based format, for example, Ketchum flipped it to active learning (nearly unheard of for such a large course) and made her online lectures available on YouTube. Her online lectures for the physiology course are available to her students as well as the general public, with an incredible impact nationally, as evidenced by over 46 million views.

Ketchum has focused on novel ways to reinvent the classroom, whether it’s in the field gathering ticks or by using gamification or real-world scenarios in her smaller entomology courses. Ketchum’s novel approach to course development is an effective blend of incorporating hard science, imagination and interpersonal skills, all things critical in any career, particularly those for which many of our biology students are headed: health care.

Ketchum portrait

Misha Klein, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences

In her 15-plus years at OU, Misha Klein has had a transformative impact within and beyond her fields of anthropology and Latin American Studies. Her classes have inspired students to think critically and make positive changes in the world, as they pursue careers ranging from medicine to urban planning, social work and NGOs. She has received awards for her undergraduate mentoring and her advocacy of human rights, including as chair of the Clyde Snow Social Justice Award committee. She is currently an American Anthropological Association grantee for the OpEd Project, which provides training for academics as public intellectuals.

Klein is an active affiliate faculty member in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, the Department of International and Area Studies (Latin American and Caribbean Studies), and the Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies. She also has taught in the Honors College and in undergraduate general education courses that have challenged students to develop critical thinking skills around culture, race, religion and gender/sexuality. Her undergraduate general education course Sex, Gender, and Sexuality is especially well-known for creating a safe space for students to work through ideas about the cultural variability of gender and sexuality, while also emphasizing the intersectionality with race, class and other forms of difference. Her graduate courses on social theory and ethnographic writing frequently draw students from across the university, providing key support for qualitative social science research.

In addition to teaching students to write and conduct research, a key aspect of Klein’s pedagogy is teaching critical thinking. She teaches concepts that are applicable beyond her courses and beyond the completion of students’ degrees. She engages students in the process of sociocultural analysis and encourages them to take the lessons learned from other cultural contexts and apply them to their own lives. She provides steady guidance in undergraduate and graduate students’ research methods, analysis and writing while allowing them space to explore their topics and develop independent problem-solving skills. A glance at the research projects she has supervised (as both chair and committee member) shows the range of fields and topics that students have pursued, including street art and formal art, multiple areas of health and healing, charitable giving and NGOs, language, education, sports, activism and identity.

Klein portrait



Regents’ Award for Superior Research and Creative Activity

Bin Wang, School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Bin Wang earned his Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the East China University of Science and Technology and his doctoral degree in chemistry from École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, and he was a postdoctoral associate in physics at Vanderbilt University. This unique background has given him an exceptional advantage for conducting interdisciplinary and highly impactful research in both fundamental and applied fields. Accordingly, he has been an active player in several areas of research, particularly in catalysis. With more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters and more than 5,000 citations in less than 10 years, his research productivity is exceptional.

Widely considered a young star in the field of computational theory of catalysis, Wang has demonstrated a unique talent for selecting research problems of crucial importance in the field of catalysis. His research has been funded by Department of Energy (DOE), National Science Foundation, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration for grants totaling more than $2.5 million over the past six years.

In 2019, he received the prestigious DOE Early Career Award – among only 46 recipients in the country for all disciplines – and this year, an OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award by the American Chemical Society Computers in Chemistry Division. He was also recognized with a Big 12 Faculty Fellowship and was included in the Marquis Who’s Who in America as a Marquis’ industrial leader. He is a previous recipient of two other significant awards from very competitive programs: the Marie Curie Fellowship from the European Commission and the Young Scientist Prize at the International Conference on Atomically Controlled Surfaces, Interfaces and Nanostructures.

Wang has attracted the attention and gained the respect of his peers in the catalysis community, as evidenced by recent invitations to participate as a panel member or ad hoc reviewer for the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation, among others, as well as a large number of invited talks and seminars in international conferences and other institutions.

Wang has also served proactively to the professional research community. He played a critical role, as an inaugural officer, for the establishment of the Great Plains Catalysis Society, a local chapter (with more than 100 members) of the North American Catalysis Society. He is also serving as webmaster for the ACS Division of Catalysis Science and Technology.

Bin Wang portrait



Regents' Award for Superior Professional and University Service and Public Outreach

The recipient of the year’s award is a faculty member at the OU Health Sciences Center.



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 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.

Evelyn Mary Aswad, College of Law

Before joining the OU Law faculty in 2013, Evelyn M. Aswad worked for almost 14 years at the U.S. Department of State, most recently as the director of its human rights law office and a member of the Senior Executive Service. Leveraging her professional connections and fueled by her remarkable commitment to students, Aswad has created cutting-edge courses and other learning and mentoring opportunities for OU Law students that have profoundly expanded their ability to engage in high-quality and advanced international legal research and writing, as well as service to the legal profession on international law matters.

Aswad’s courses seamlessly meld legal theory with practical application methods while exposing students to a wide range of international experts. Thanks to her tireless work, the college has offered international law courses that are available at few, if any, law schools.

Through her courses students participate in Diplomacy Lab, a State Department program in which student researchers assist with international issues facing U.S. diplomats. Students have engaged in questions of how Arab Spring countries with legal regimes tied to religious law could engage in reform processes that would reflect human rights standards; how European countries were fighting terrorism and whether such responses comported with human rights standards; and Internet Freedom issues in Central Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Ultimately, the students had the opportunity to share their research results with State Department officials in oral briefings, as well as through the submission of written work products.

Aswad also has created courses in which her students engaged in projects to help non-governmental organizations struggling with contemporary human rights law issues. Soliciting topics from New York and D.C.-based human rights NGOs that needed research, she then developed materials to train students in researching and writing about those topics. Rather than creating courses that simulate real-world scenarios, Aswad’s students get the opportunity to assist leading human rights defenders in their work.

Given her distinguished career at the State Department before joining the OU Law faculty, it comes as no surprise that students actively seek out Aswad for career counseling advice. She has led “lunch and learn” sessions on how to navigate State Department and other international externship opportunities; reviewed numerous student applications for international externships; advised students on ways to improve their applications; and provided mentoring in numerous other ways.

Evelyn Mary Aswad



George Lynn Cross Research Professorship

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.

Rong Zhu Gan, School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering

Rong Zhu Gan began her career as a traditional mechanical engineer. Gan then transplanted her mechanical engineering experience into the realm of biomedical engineering when Professor Y. C. Fung, the “father” of modern biomechanics, asked her to study under him through Michaele Yen at the University of Memphis. Gan was intrigued by the prospect of helping people through the same discipline that helped her design cars.

Since joining the OU faculty in 1999, Gan has developed a truly transformational, well-funded research program in Biomechanics for Protection and Restoration of Hearing. She is a world-class researcher and scholar in ear biomechanics for sound and blast overpressure transmission, computational modeling of the ear and implantable hearing devices, as evidenced by her numerous publications, successful external funding and innovation of new technologies to benefit the hearing impaired worldwide.

She has expanded her research interests to include the biomechanics of hearing and implantable hearing devices and led the research team in working closely with physicians and otologic surgeons to complete the design, testing and the IDE application to the FDA for a middle ear implantable hearing device, the Soundtec Direct System Soundtec®, which was approved by the FDA in 2001. Middle ear implantable devices are medically desirable for people with certain ear deformities or those with moderate-to-severe sensorineural hearing loss. The implantable device can provide qualities of sounds that are not achievable with conventional hearing aids.

Gan’s research activities also have been extended into new areas of biomechanical modeling and measurement of blast injury and hearing protection mechanisms for U.S. military priority research with the goals of providing a biomechanically validated 3D computational model of the human ear and leveraging the design and evaluation of both passive and active hearing protection devices for military applications and providing therapeutic treatment for blast-induced progressive hearing damage.

Her research contributions in scholarship and scientific literature are extraordinary. Since she joined the OU faculty, she has produced 87 peer-reviewed journal articles, 14 book chapters, 164 conference papers at national and international conferences, 71 unpublished presentations, and 49 reports from sponsored research. She has secured $9.1 million in external research grants. Her research work has been mainly funded by highly competitive grants from federal and state governments such as the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, and the Whitaker Foundation.

Rong Zhu Gan



Regents’ Professorships

The Regents’ Professorship recognizes a faculty member who has rendered outstanding service to the academic community or to an academic or professional discipline through extraordinary achievement in academic administration or professional service.

K. David Hambright, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences

Complementary to his teaching and successful research program in the Biology Department since 2001, K. David Hambright has devoted great time and effort in service to his profession and the university.

He has been an active member of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography for more 35 years and currently serves as editor-in-chief for their flagship journal. As editor-in-chief, he supervised the processing of 1,000 manuscripts annually, conducted student and early career researcher workshops on scientific writing and publishing, and increased the gender and geographical diversity of the journal’s editorial board.

In 2014, Hambright was appointed by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to a five-year term on National Research Council Study Committee, which was tasked with the scientific review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan. Hambright’s expertise was particularly valuable due to his wide knowledge base regarding all of the species under consideration, his familiarity with ecological models, and his grasp of monitoring methods for these organisms (and others, particularly macroinvertebrates).

Also starting in 2014, Hambright served as Faculty Fellow for Water and the Environment in the College of Arts and Sciences dean’s office, then as interim director of the Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment (IPE) program and as director of the IPE’s successor, Environmental Studies, which he led until 2018. In these roles he developed curricular and research collaborations focused on water and other important environmental issues across and beyond the college.

Hambright also founded and organized EarthMonth@OU, which received the Environmental Excellence Award in 2016. EarthMonth@OU, celebrated March 11-April 22, consists of weekly panels, discussions, student and other events for the university and surrounding communities to highlight environmental concerns and challenges facing humanity, and to stimulate discussion and action aimed at meeting these environmental challenges

Having served on numerous departmental-, college- and university-level committees at OU for two decades, Hambright recently completed a three-year term on the Faculty Senate, a two-year term on the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, and currently serves as Senate secretary.

Hambright portrait

Karlos K. Hill, The Clara Luper Department of African and African-American Studies, College of Arts and Sciences

Karlos K. Hill joined the University of Oklahoma faculty in 2016 after serving as a history professor at Texas Tech University. After only 13 months at OU, he was selected to be the interim chair of the African and African American Studies Program, and a year after that, he was selected to be its permanent head.

Hill’s stated goal was to transform OU’s African and African American Studies Program into one of the most accomplished and credible in the country. He has accomplished that in several ways, including the recruitment of nationally recognized and rising professors, raising the quality of instruction, and petitioning the university and Regents to upgrade the program to departmental level. The last goal was achieved within six months. Hill also led a successful campaign to rename the department in honor of Oklahoma civil rights leader Clara Luper.

Hill has taken seriously the university’s mission to connect with and serve the local, state, regional and national communities. With that goal, he has encouraged the department’s faculty and staff to join and lead in public service projects, activities and events, especially those that complement the department’s vision, and encouraged faculty to become partners on the Oklahoma City Mayor's Commission to create a Human Rights Commission for the city.

Hill has teamed up with university and community leaders on projects aimed at exposing history or activities in the state that had previously been untold, or badly told, including the Oklahoma City sit-in movement, which observes its 60th anniversary this year, and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. A co-founder of OU's Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Coordinating Committee, Hill is the author of the first photographic history of the event (forthcoming from the OU Press) and created a Dream Course on the event being taught in Spring 2021; and serves as OU's resident expert on Tulsa Race Massacre curriculum for the K20 Center for Educational and Community Renewal.

Additionally, Hill established OU’s Clara Luper Community Impact Award. In its inaugural year, the award went to 13 original participants of the Oklahoma City Sit-In Movement. He also is leading efforts to republish Clara Luper's book, Behold the Walls, one of the most important books on the Oklahoma City Sit-In Movement.

Hill portrait



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.

Elizabeth Avery, School of Music, Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professorship

Elizabeth Avery has served on the opera faculty in the School of Music since 2011. An active performer and specialist in 20th- and 21st-century vocal music, she has given world premiere performances at New York's Carnegie and Steinway Halls and premiered new operas in Italy. Her advocacy for the music of living composers has shaped her concert work and led to the development of the Living Song Project database.

While French, Italian and German are common in the voice field (all language diction courses that she has taught at OU), Avery in the fall of 2019 designed a new course focusing on Czech diction and literature and another that affords students multiple opportunities to apply their knowledge in a variety of settings. Her diction course combines both lecture-style instruction with individual, one-to-one application of the material in real time – both informally in class and in public performances at the end of the semester. As an accomplished pianist, Avery can accompany her students while coaching them on vocal technique throughout the preparation for these varied performances.

In yet another course developed by Avery, graduate and undergraduate students are exposed to contemporary works for voice. Introduced this fall, Singing 20th and 21st Century Music gives students the opportunity to discover, assess, learn and program new music. While the vast body of vocal literature is quite lyrical, more contemporary music can be much more abstract, making singing technique difficult for (and sometimes seemingly unattainable by) singers. Avery's approach to expose students to an emerging body of literature, while focusing on pedagogical practices for singing and teaching such works, has changed students' views for choosing what they want to perform.

Avery portrait

Firat Demir, Department of Economics, College of Arts and Sciences, L. J. Semrod Presidential Professorship

Firat Demir has taught 21 different courses, including three new courses he developed at both undergraduate and graduate levels since joining the OU faculty in 2006.

Demir is a versatile teacher who values interdisciplinary work. He is an affiliate faculty member in the Department of International and Area Studies, Center for Social Justice, and the Center for Peace and Development. He helped develop and co-led three study abroad programs in Turkey and one in Uganda. He was involved in the launching of the Middle Eastern Studies major in the Department of International and Area Studies, served as a member of the Study Abroad Regional Advisory Committee for Middle East between 2009-2012, and has served on the OU Education Abroad Advisory committee since 2019.

Demir is a two-time Fulbright Professor, serving first at the University of Montenegro in 2015-2016, and then at Vilnius University in 2020-2021. He has also been a visiting professor at Denison University, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Koc University (Istanbul).

Demir has co-authored one book and published over 40 articles, including 26 in peer-reviewed journals (10 in the top two journals in his field), and five in top policy journals, among others. His co-authored book, South-South Trade and Finance in the 21st Century: Rise of the South or a Second Great Divergence, was published in 2016 and has received substantial praise from prominent economists.

Demir’s academic reputation and leadership also is demonstrated through his service as an associate editor for two economics journals, and he has been cited in numerous journal articles, books, Ph.D. dissertations and M.A. theses in various countries and languages, including German, Estonian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Japanese, and Turkish. Almost all major international organizations have cited him in their research, including the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, European Commission, International Labor Organization, and the United Nations.

Demir is also active on campus, having served in the Faculty Senate, as a member of the Research Council and as faculty adviser to a student organization.

Demit portrait

Alexandra Durcikova, Division of Management Information Systems, Michael F. Price College of Business, Mertes Presidential Professorship

Alexandra “Alex” Durcikova was cited for her extraordinary and multifaceted contributions to OU.

She has contributed significantly to the innovative curriculum in MIS undergraduate and graduate courses. For example, Durcikova reorganized the pedagogical framework for Computer-Based Information Systems, a core course for business students with enrollments of over 800 students per semester through which students obtain leading-edge technology knowledge and practical skills. She also started the “minute-clinic” idea to support students through a helpdesk staffed by teaching assistants to provide peer support. These restructuring efforts have dramatically increased enrollment and interest in the course. She also helped develop the study abroad version of the course, which she taught on the Arezzo campus.   

Because Information Systems is a rapidly changing field, requiring an agile and adaptive curriculum, Durcikova keeps abreast of changing skill requirements in the business world. After conducting a survey of practicing managers from the school’s Center for MIS Studies, she developed a new course, Infrastructure and Cybersecurity, to develop cyber knowledge and cyber hygiene skills of students. This placed the OU MIS curriculum on the cutting-edge of IT education; additionally, the course has become one of the most popular in the undergraduate program.

Durcikova is a solid researcher with special expertise in areas of knowledge repositories and cybersecurity whose work has been published in the top MIS journals. She was awarded a National Science Foundation Grant, a feat uncommon in business schools, for her study titled, “Building the Human Firewall: Developing Organizational Resistance to Semantic Security Threats.” In conducting her research, she actively engages with local private and public organizations, including Devon Energy, Hertz Rentals, the Oklahoma Heart Hospital, and the Chickasaw Nation. For this work, she previously earned the Vice President of Research Award for Scholarly Engagement with the Private Sector.

On the service and community dimension, Durcikova has made unique contributions to connect MIS students with local organizations and foster inclusiveness in STEM education. She is involved with the Oklahoma Women in Information Technology professional group, which supports girls and minorities in the pursuit of educational opportunities and careers in STEM fields. 

Durcikova integrates student learning and student experiences in a holistic manner. For example, every semester she organizes lunch-n-learn sessions with the school’s business partners and takes students on field trips to visit organizations.

Durcikova portrait

Kirsten Hextrum, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professorship

Kirsten Hextrum is a nationally recognized expert on college athletics. In 2020, her colleagues honored her with the JRCoE Pre-Tenure Faculty Award and the American Educational Research Association SIG 164 Emerging Scholar Award.

Her scholarship spans different spaces and contexts: classrooms, school communities, intellectual traditions, university life and other social contexts. In all of these areas, Hextrum is committed to transforming dehumanizing social orders where they exist in higher education. Specifically, her special interests address how structural inequities within and across social institutions instantiate, and intersect, through sport, college athletics and admission processes.

Hextrum’s research has received national and international acclaim through both mainstream media outlets, including The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg News and National Public Radio, as well as such scholarly publications as the Harvard Educational Review and Studies in Higher Education. Her forthcoming book, Special Admission: How College Sports Recruitment Favors White Suburban Athletes (Rutgers University Press), is positioned to reshape not only scholarship in college athletics but also policy and practices for decades to come.

Hextrum’s teaching pedagogy 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. She applies a critical framework to her teaching and advising, and in doing so moves from critique to action, action to study, study to transformation. For many students, this is their first exposure to concepts and frameworks that reveal and explain origins and entrenchment of discriminatory practices across race, gender, identity and economics.

Her service is an extension of her scholarship. She commits her time and talents to addressing issues of diversity, equity and justice within the OU Athletics Department by organizing and facilitating an ongoing racial justice professional development series, as well as hosting equity workshops in the community. Throughout her service, she is an unwavering voice for the well-being of individuals and communities oppressed by unjust conditions.

Hextrum portrait

Nathan Kaib, Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences, C.B. Hudson/Torchmark Presidential Professorship

Nathan Kaib joined the OU faculty in August 2015 after earning his doctorate from the University of Washington (supported by a NASA NESSF fellowship) and prize postdoctoral fellowships at Queen's University (CITA National Fellow), Northwestern University (CIERA Fellow), and the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (Carnegie Fellow).

Kaib’s research focuses on the origin and evolution of planetary systems. Despite the perceived simplicity of this topic, the formation of our own solar system is still a mystery. Nothing touches the human soul more than the question “Are we alone?” We now know of many solar systems, but they look nothing like our own. Kaib’s research program attacks this problem: Are the conditions for the formation of our solar system so unique that they have occurred only once in 10 billion stellar systems in our own galaxy? If it is not so unique or if intelligent life is more adaptable than just being able to live on “our” Earth, what is the probability of forming other similar systems? Kaib’s work as a dynamicist ties in with the general field of astrophysics and has immediate implications across the disciplines of philosophy, geology and atmospheric sciences. 

Since joining the OU faculty in 2015, Kaib has published over 25 peer-reviewed research articles and won over $1.8 million in external funding from both the National Science Foundation and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He also is the recipient of a highly prestigious NSF Career Award. Kaib and his research group regularly publish their findings in peer-reviewed, high-impact journals. As demonstrated by an unusually large number of invited seminar, colloquium, workshop and conference talks, the group’s work is highly regarded.

Kaib is noted for his mentoring of students inside and outside the classroom. Six of his OU publications involve graduate students as first authors. He works closely with each member of his research team and tailors projects to each student’s background, talent and career goals. His first Ph.D. student won a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship upon graduating from OU. One of his current Ph.D. students is among the most successful at his career stage in the United States in securing highly competitive telescope observation time.

Outside the classroom, Kaib coordinates several outreach activities that involve Norman high schools, the Norman Public Library and the OU Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. He also works to educate the public about the importance of science.

Kaib portrait

Kyong-Ah Kwon, Department of Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, Rainbolt Family Endowed Education Presidential Professorship

Since joining the OU faculty in 2016, Kyong-Ah Kwon has established herself as an essential instructor and mentor for both graduate and undergraduate students. She teaches seven different courses in the early childhood program and the college's graduate program, serving students in Norman and Tulsa. She consistently receives outstanding course evaluations from her students, who comment upon her deep-based subject knowledge, inclusion of hands-on instruction, insightful and collaborative discussion, and sincere guidance and support.

Students describe Kwon as funny and kind and say that she genuinely learns each student’s research or teaching interests and adapts coursework and guidance toward those areas. She uses personal examples from her teaching and life to guide their understanding and connect to their experiences.

Kwon’s research examines parenting, classroom quality, program evaluation and teachers' well-being and their impact on children's development. She has published one book and 36 publications in such premier publications as the Journal of School Psychology, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Early Childhood Research Quarterly. She has led several external grants contributing to supporting teachers and improving classroom quality. She leads an innovative multidisciplinary research project (the Happy Teacher Project) on teachers' well-being, which has received national recognition. She was awarded the JRCoE Research/Scholarship Award in 2019.

Professionally, she is serving as co-editor of a special issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and as an editorial board member for both the Early Education and Development Journal and the International Journal of Early Childhood Education.

She was an organizer of “The Constructivist Approach to Learning: Infants to 5th Grade Conference” last year and is a consultant on the Development of the BEST Logic Model Committee for the George Kaiser Family Foundation in Tulsa. She served as a research consultant for the Early Learning Inventory feasibility study for the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness in Oklahoma City.

Kwon portrait

Melissa Mortazavi, College of Law, President’s Associates Second Century Presidential Professorship

Melissa Mortazavi joined the OU Law faculty in 2015. She teaches and writes about administrative law, ethics, torts and food law. In the classroom, Mortazavi infuses her classes with current events and her experiences as an attorney. She constantly innovates and experiments with new teaching techniques to make her classes more interactive, collaborative and conducive to student growth. Examples of Mortazavi's innovative teaching techniques and student-centric approach include incorporating mock trial exercises into her Torts course; using a flipped classroom to facilitate group work; and developing simulated materials for her Professional Responsibility course, in which students draft documents and role-play client interactions that generate ethical dilemmas for lawyers. These hands­on, realistic experiences help students make the connection from doctrine to practice and provide insight into what it means to be a lawyer.

Mortazavi is a consistent faculty judge for the moot court teams, and she serves as the faculty adviser for three different student organizations, including OU Law’s flagship academic journal, the Oklahoma Law Review. She strives to make connections with her students both inside and outside of the classroom, including weekly meetings with leaders of student organizations and working with students on diversity initiatives. Her mentorship of students' work continues well after graduation. She advises students in applying for grants such as the Equal Justice Works Fellowship, works with them on honing writing samples for prestigious federal clerkships and mentors students seeking to enter the academic market. The Student Bar Association awarded Mortazavi the 2018-2019 Outstanding Faculty Member Award for her dedication to students.

Her service stands out for her creative solutions and her ability to set and reach ambitious goals such as working to establish the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Chair in Civil Rights, Race and Justice in the College of Law. In 2019, Mortazavi conceived of, proposed and launched a crowdsourced capital campaign to create the Fisher Chair after becoming aware of challenges in the College of Law, such as limited mentorship opportunities for students of color, underdeveloped on-site expertise and course offerings in civil rights and race, and ongoing difficulty regarding successful recruitment and retention of faculty of color. Less than a year later, this chair, the first crowdsourced chair in the history of OU, is fully funded with an endowment more than $1 million. Many individuals, energized by Mortazavi's passion and the importance of the project, became first-time donors to the college.

Mortazavi portrait

Jessica E. Ruyle, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering, William H. Barkow Presidential Professorship

Jessica E. Ruyle is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a member of the Advanced Radar Research Center. She has two patents for her antenna design work and is the recipient of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award for her work in highly conformal, placement insensitive antennas.

Ruyle supports nearly all of her graduate students with fully funded graduate research assistantships. She has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on grants totaling over $16 million; her portion of those awards is over $3.7 million. The DARPA Young Faculty Award provided about $500,000 in funds that were almost exclusively used to support graduate and undergraduate research. In addition, Ruyle has placed students in internships and full-time positions at multiple prominent places, including the AT&T Advanced Antennas Department, Air Force Research Lab, National Instruments, Naval Research Laboratory, Raytheon, Sandia National Laboratories, and NASA.

Ruyle’s service activities reflect a personal commitment to broaden participation in electrical and computer engineering – in the field of applied electromagnetics, in particular. She has been an adviser of undergraduate research for nearly 40 students through programs such as Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation, First Year Research Experience and Honors Engineering Research Program. In her first year as a faculty member, she founded a student organization called Women in ECE (WECE). WECE has focused events around building a network of people who support women in ECE and changing the image of an electrical or computer engineer.

During the past seven years at OU, Ruyle has worked to redesign courses to make them more accessible and engaging for all students without compromising the fundamental need to develop a deep understanding and mastery of electromagnetics. As one example, the antennas course she teaches is completely project-based, using both commercial-grade full-wave solvers and antenna construction and testing. The final project for this class calls for students to design and build an antenna that can pick up the available broadcast television stations in Norman. Many of the students have reported that they still use the antennas in their homes for television reception.

Ryule portrait

Jing Tao, Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Presidential Professorship

Jing Tao, who joined the OU faculty in 2012, is an internationally noted mathematician and an expert in Teichmüller theory, Mapping Class Groups and Geometric Group Theory. She has held visiting positions at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, the Fields Institute, the Erwin Schrödinger Institute and the Hausdorff Research Institute for Mathematics. Tao’s research is supported by NSF standard and CAREER awards.

Tao’s work has appeared in such prestigious journals as Duke, GAFA and the Journal of Topology.

She has secured continuous NSF funding for nearly a decade (from 2013 to 2022), including the prestigious CAREER award. Given the scarcity of NSF funding in mathematics in recent years, this is a rare achievement.

A dedicated teacher, Tao constantly looks for innovative ways to connect with students. She is adept with technology and incorporates it seamlessly into her teaching. Recently, she collaborated with colleagues to come up with an innovative capstone course on the topic of Game Theory, and for the midterm exam, she designed an “escape room” scenario, requiring the use of theory and game strategies to pass through levels and eventually “escape.” To carry out the concept, she designed and coded a browser-based app in which the games were implemented.

Tao generously shares her time and talents with graduate students. In 2015 she began the Geometric Group Theory Working Seminar with the aim of introducing graduate students to her general research area. Faculty as well as students attended these seminars.

She has emerged as a leading figure in her field and is in much demand to present at mathematics conferences. She also has organized many workshops and conferences across the country and abroad. Most notably, she served as the main organizer for the fall 2018 semester-long Thematic Program at the Fields Institute in Toronto, described by her colleagues as an impressive achievement for someone at her career stage.

Tao recently joined forces with two other CAREER grant recipients to create the 2020 Women in Groups, Geometry, and Dynamics Retreat, a research event focused on connecting young researchers with new projects in collaboration with more senior mathematicians. In addition, she has long been involved in the AWM Mentoring Network, which targets young women in high school or college from across the country who are interested in mathematics.

Ying Wang, Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Presidential Professorship

Ying Wang, who joined the OU faculty in 2013, is an expert in interdisciplinary and computational mathematics. Her research, which is supported by NSF and CAREER awards, includes developing new models of the mathematics underlying oil recovery and modeling the dynamics of the terrestrial carbon cycle.

Wang received the OU College of Arts and Sciences’ Irene Rothbaum Outstanding Assistant Professor Award in 2019 and the OU Vice President for Research and Partnerships Award for Outstanding Research Engagement in 2020.

Early in her OU career, Wang pioneered the expansion and modernization of many of her department’s Numerical Analysis and Applied course offerings at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Wang was awarded Presidential Dream Course funding to revamp the traditional 4000-level Numerical Analysis course in fall 2018, which had an enrollment of 83 students from across campus that semester.

In 2015, Wang created a well-received research infrastructure, the Applied Mathematics Seminar, for the department’s graduate students, postdoctoral associates and faculty members interested in applications of mathematics. She invites researchers from across campus and outside the university to present their research, and the possible mathematical questions that it engenders, to this mathematics audience.

Wang’s research focuses on the interdisciplinary and computational areas of mathematics and has many applications, including the Buckley-Leverett equations and models of oil-recovery techniques, modeling terrestrial carbon dynamics, machine learning and medical imaging, and passive thermal storage modeling and applications to HVAC design. Having such a diverse, interdisciplinary research portfolio at this early stage of her career is a testament to Wang’s research strength, drive and communication skills.

Wang currently serves as president of the Central States Section of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics. She has co-organized special sessions and symposia in industrial and applied mathematics, modeling and computational science, and other fields. She referees for a broad range of journals and has served as a reviewer on multiple NSF panels.

Within the department, Wang has served terms on the Undergraduate and Graduate committees and for a year acted as departmental webmaster – a highly specialized and time-intensive duty. She is currently part of a team that is developing a Big Data/Data Analysis program.

She also serves as a mentor for college students nationwide through the Association for Women in Mathematics and for high school students through the Association for Women in Science.

Ying Wang portrait

Rui Q. Yang, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering, Gerald Tuma Presidential Professorship

Rui Q. Yang is the inventor of interband cascade lasers, with research activities ranging from physics to semiconductor quantum devices. Yang, who joined the OU faculty in 2007, has authored/co-authored more than 140 refereed journal articles and two book chapters with 10 patents. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Optical Society and received the 2018 IEEE Photonics Society Aron Kressel Award f​or invention of the mid-infrared interband cascade laser and its advancement along with related devices for applications.

Yang has secured grants totaling more than $4 million while at OU. He has mentored and supported students and postdocs, promoted research activities such as Research Day and Journal Club at OU, and involved his students in presentations at national and international technical conferences. He also has arranged and supported student and postdocs’ visits and work at national laboratories such as the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.; the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland; and the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Yang’s trailblazing research has produced original concepts that have been developed into a new family of semiconductor optoelectronic devices, i.e., interband cascade (IC) lasers (ICLs), IC infrared photodetectors (ICIPs) and IC photovoltaic (PV) cells. ICLs have achieved remarkable performance milestones in a wide mid-infrared wavelength spectrum and have significantly impacted many applications, such as chemical sensing, industrial process control, environmental monitoring, breath analyses, and gas/oil exploration. The ICL he developed with his collaborators at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA flight projects is still operating on the Curiosity Rover that landed on Mars in 2012 and has successfully detected CH4 on the planet. In 2007, he received the Edward Stone Award from JPL for outstanding research publications and the successful accelerated infusion of cutting-edge interband cascade semiconductor laser technology into flight mission readiness.

Among courses he teaches are ECE 3323, a core class in the school’s curriculum and one of the most difficult courses in its program, and ECE 5343, a new graduate course he created and developed that covers interdisciplinary and advanced topics with a focus on practical applications, intended to enrich and enhance students’ knowledge and skills in the field. He prides himself in providing students and postdoctoral researchers with a systematic and rigorous training in fundamental knowledge and motivates them to pursue high-quality work and realize their full capacity as researchers.

Rui Wang portrait



Service Recognition

The following faculty members are celebrating important milestones in their service to University of Oklahoma.

30 Years

Younane N. Abousleiman
Gary Clayton Anderson
Professor Dr. Boris N. Apanasov
Sara Ann Beach
Pamela A. Genova
Dipankar Ghosh
Ellen Greene
Gia Loi Le Gruenwald
Ronald L. Halterman
Karen Hayes-Thumann
Susan Taft Marcus-Mendoza
Henry McDonald
Dale A. Morris
Matthias U. Nollert
Amelia S. Pepper
Karl F. Rambo
Hazem H. Refai
Robert A. Rundstrom
Zev M. Trachtenberg
Theodore B. Trfalis
Valerie L. Watts

20 Years

Mohammed Atiquzzaman
Noel P. Brady
Lloyd A. Bumm
Thomas Jerome Burns
Qi Cheng
Laku Chidambaram
Lyn Cramer
Eric Anthony Day
Barbara R. Fast
Xun Ge
K. David Hambright
Austin S. Hartel
Taiawagi Helton
Randall S. Hewes
Hunter A. Heyck
Dean F. Hougen
Petra M. Klein
Yuhua Li
Lucy Lifschitz
Ellen L. Madson
Sean Patrick O’Neill
Sanna Pederson
B. Byron Price
James L. Regens
Rockey Robbins
Alan J. Roche
Beth A. Sievers
Charles G. Warnken