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Seven science faculty recognized for excellence at 2019 University Day

By Debbie Farris
University Day award ceremony in La Sells Stewart Center on campus in 2016

The College of Science matches its record from last year with seven science faculty among this year’s recipients at University Day, OSU’s most prestigious annual awards for scholarship, teamwork, mentoring and service. The awardees will be honored for their distinguished accomplishments at OSU’s 2019 University Day on Tuesday, September 10.

This annual university celebration recognizing faculty and staff excellence will be held in the LaSells Stewart Center’s Austin Auditorium from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. All faculty and staff are invited to a free lunch from 12 to 2 p.m. on 26th Street in front of CH2M Hill Alumni Center.

“I am proud to see our faculty being recognized for such an impressive breadth of accomplishments at the university,” said Roy Haggerty, dean of the College of Science. “I am glad to see this recognition of their scholarship, teaching, innovation and mentoring and the collaborative spirit that connects their efforts to a broader scientific community.”

“I am proud to see our faculty being recognized for such an impressive breadth of accomplishments at the university.”

This year, science faculty are being honored for everything from innovation, collaboration and scholarship to teaching excellence and mentorship. The specific 2019 awards include he Faculty Innovator Award, OSU’s Most Promising Scholar Award, Senior Faculty Teaching Award, Student Learning and Success Teamwork Award, University Mentoring and Professional Development, the Faculty Teaching Excellence Award and the Impact Award for Outstanding Scholarship Award. Congratulations to these faculty for their perseverance, dedication and exemplary achievements.

Innovations in science

Douglas Keszler, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Students, has been awarded the 2019 Faculty Innovator Award. The award recognizes faculty whose extraordinarily high-impact innovations from research are translated into transformative results that help promote economic development and social progress. Keszler is renowned for his highly impressive scientific entrepreneurial drive, energy and vision which have helped shape Corvallis into an industrial hub of cutting-edge materials science and chemistry innovation.

Doug Keszler standing in SEC awning
Douglas Keszler, has been awarded the 2019 Faculty Innovator Award, recognizing his high-impact research innovations that economic development and social progress.

Ranked among the top researchers at OSU, Doug had expenditures of greater than $1.25M last year. In 2017, he was an American Chemical Society (ACS) national award winner in the Chemistry of Materials. He was also recognized with a special symposium by ACS. He established the $20M, NSF-supported Center for Materials and Sustainable Chemistry at Oregon State, which emerged as one of the foremost research and educational institutes for chemical innovation in the nation before it was sunset in 2018 after operating for more than 10 years. The Center conducted collaborative research across eight academic institutions throughout the country to develop materials and methods for sustainable green chemistry.

Keszler’s pioneering innovations have been commercialized by his three start-up companies— Inpria, Amorphyx and Beet—to commercialize path-breaking research done at the intersection of chemistry and engineering sciences. Last year, he developed and helped launch a successful seed funding program for faculty called SciRIS (College of Science’s Science Research and Innovation Seed). The program awards seed funding for high-impact, collaborative proposals that build teams, pursue fundamental discoveries and create societal impact. SciRIS accelerates the pace of research, discovery, and innovation by enabling scientists to work across disciplines in a mentored environment. Awards range from $10K – $125K.

Andrew Blaustein in front of chalkboard
Andrew Blaustein has been recognized for his effort to ensure the quality of undergraduate instruction and significant impact on students with the Richard M. Bressler Senior Faculty Teaching Award.

An impeccable record of teaching excellence

Andrew Blaustein, Distinguished Professor of Integrative Biology, has been awarded the Richard M. Bressler Senior Faculty Teaching Award, which recognizes full professors who have been at OSU a minimum of 15 years and who consistently provide direct instruction to undergraduate students. His research focuses on amphibian population declines, host-pathogen biology and the social and reproductive behavior and the evolution of behavior of amphibians, small mammals and invertebrates.

Blaustein has taught and mentored generations of students who achieve much success during their years as undergraduate and graduate students as well as in their careers as scientists.

Most promise scholar

Elise Lockwood, associate professor of mathematics, is the 2019 recipient of OSU’s Promising Scholar Award, which recognizes a high level of accomplishment by a junior faculty in a relatively short period of time at OSU, and who is also expected to continue her/his extraordinary work. The honor carries a $1,500 honorarium.

Elise Lockwood in front of shrubbery
Elise Lockwood has received OSU’s Promising Scholar Award, recognizing her outstanding research and expertise in teaching and learning. 

Lockwood has garnered numerous awards already in her career, including receiving an NSF CAREER award for her project, “Developing Undergraduate Combinatorial Curriculum in Computational Settings,” the John and Annie Selden Prize for Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education from the Mathematical Association of America, and international recognition as a top young scholar in Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education (RUME). In 2019, Lockwood received a Fulbright research scholarship in Norway to investigate the role computing plays in students’ learning of mathematics. This summer she was a co-PI on a $141K grant from Google for her collaborative project, “Integrating CS Education into Teacher Education and K-12 Mathematics.”

One nominator wrote this about Lockwood: “Lockwood’s research agenda is exceptionally coherent and focused. She has concentrated primarily on students’ learning and understanding of combinatorics…. She has already established herself as the recognized expert in the teaching and learning of combinatorics and is well-positioned to do the same in the area of computation. Research in computing education is in its infancy, and Dr. Lockwood is the ideal person to spearhead and lead this exciting and nationally important area of research.”

Building community through teamwork and mentorship

David Hendrix, an associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics, is the recipient of the 2019 University Mentoring and Professional Development Award, which recognizes those who excel in supporting and encouraging OSU employees to participate in professional and/or educational development opportunities.

David Hendrix in front of grey backdrop
David Hendrix's dedicated support and mentorship has earned him the 2019 University Mentoring and Professional Development Award.

Dr. Hendrix is a dedicated mentor to the five graduate students, often going above and beyond to welcome everyone who works in his lab and creating a home where students thrive professionally and are supported emotionally. He is renowned for his deeply supportive and encouraging mentorship style, which has attracted a highly diverse team of graduate students from across science and engineering eager to work with him.

One nominator wrote: “David Hendrix is a caring and hard-working mentor who treats all of his employees and students as people first, foremost, and at all times. This nurturing ethos is perhaps why his popularity continues to grow.”

He offered high praise for Hendrix. “David’s strengths as a mentor go beyond all of this. He is extremely supportive of his graduate student employees’ long-term professional needs and development opportunities, whether that means letting them take an internship at a company for a half a year or letting them work primarily from home in order to spend time with family.”

Hendrix’s research is focused at the nexus of data science and human health. He and his team developed a neural network program that illuminates connections between mutant genetic material and disease. His team also used deep learning to decipher which ribonucleic acids have the potential to encode proteins, an important step toward better understanding RNA, one of life’s fundamental, essential molecules.

Accelerating momentum on student success

This year’s Student Learning and Success Teamwork Award goes to the Learning Assistant Program (LA) founders Lori Kayes and Devon Quick, both senior instructors in integrative biology, as well as Dennis Bennett, director of OSU’s Writing Center. This award recognizes departments or interdisciplinary groups at OSU that have demonstrated exceptional teamwork in creating and sustaining an exemplary teaching and learning environment to advance the university’s strategic goal of student success and excellence.

Devon Quick in front of shrubbery
Devon Quick has received the Student Learning and Success Teamwork Award for her innovative work with the Learning Assistant Program. 

Through the LA program, Kayes and Quick train top undergraduates to facilitate peer discussions and class activities. LAs foster in-class learning by providing individualized feedback as students grapple with complex clicker questions posed by the instructor or classmates. This experience builds the confidence of the student LAs and creates strong connections with their learners. The LA program helped change their classrooms to be a more active learning classroom, giving students more responsibility for their learning.

One nominator wrote: “The Learning Assistant Program team of Devon Quick, Lori Kayes, and Dennis Bennett has come together to make excellent teaching and learning a reality. They have contributed significantly to department, college, and university goals for student success. They have demonstrated innovation in student mentoring, teaching, and curriculum development and the initiative to share their ideas with the broader university community.”

Lori Kayes standing in classroom
Lori Kayes has received the Student Learning and Success Teamwork Award for her innovative work with the Learning Assistant Program and the Faculty Teaching Excellence Award for her efforts and achievements in teaching and scholarship. 

Kayes also won a second university award—the 2019 OSU Faculty Teaching Excellence Award which honors unusually significant and meritorious achievement in teaching and scholarship which enhances effective instruction. She is also co-PI on a 5-year, $1 million project, “Inclusive Excellence @ Oregon State,” supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to produce sweeping cultural changes in post-secondary institutions through a variety of pedagogical approaches to increase diversity and inclusion of underrepresented minority students in science programs.

Making waves of impact in chemistry

Associate Professor of Chemistry Chong Fang is this year’s recipient of the OSU Impact Award for Outstanding Scholarship, which recognizes OSU faculty who have demonstrated outstanding scholarship in a specific project or activity resulting in substantial impact beyond the university setting. Last year he received a 3-year, $400K NSF award for his project on “Dissecting Photoconversion in Fluorescent Proteins Frame by Frame.”

Fang’s research, at the intersection of chemistry, physics and biology, has garnered significant recognition and awards. In addition to the prestigious NSF CAREER Award, Fang has received numerous awards, including OSU’s Promising Scholar Award in 2016, the Oregon Medical Research Foundation New Investigator Award, the Robin Hochstrasser Young Investigator Award by Elsevier and Chemical Physics and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi Emerging Scholar Award.

Chong Fang in front of a black backdrop
Chong Fang has received recognition for the impact of his research with the OSU Impact Award for Outstanding Scholarship.

Fang and his team have published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, two reviews and one book chapter, three OSU IP disclosures and one U.S. provisional patent, while generating a large body of news coverage for his collaborative research projects on aqueous aluminum chemistry and protein biosensor development.

One nominator wrote: “The impacts of Fang’s research are profound, as his new structural dynamics toolset has provided crucial insights currently unavailable from other methods, and essentially provide “molecular movies” of how important processes work at the molecular scale.”

Celebrating a day of university excellence

University Day 2019 Faculty and Staff Awards Recognition kicks off with opening remarks by President Ed Ray. The keynote speaker is Dr. Diana Natalicio, president of University Texas El Paso from 1988 until August 2019. She has had a long and distinguished career at the university and was deeply committed to providing all residents of the Paso del Norte region access to outstanding higher education opportunities. In 2017, Natalicio was named one of Fortune magazine’s Top 50 World Leaders. She was also named to the 2016 TIME 100 list of most influential people in the world.

See the full event schedule for 2019 University Day.