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Faculty and students to be honored at University of Missouri Presidential Awards ceremony


Christian Basi

June 04, 2009

The University of Missouri will honor seven UM faculty members and one UM student for excellence in an awards ceremony Thursday evening, June 4, 2009, at Linda Hall Library, Kansas City, Mo. The ceremony will be hosted by the University of Missouri Board of Curators and President Gary D. Forsee.

Curators' Award for Scholarly Excellence
This award is given annually to the author of the most outstanding book by a faculty member from any one of the four campuses and published by the University of Missouri Press.

Dr. Thomas V. Quirk
Dr. Tom Quirk, professor of English at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is being honored for his book, Mark Twain and Human Nature, published by the University of Missouri Press.

In the captivating tale, Quirk explores the way Twain contemplated the subject of human nature from early adulthood until the end of his life - and how this outlook changed over time. Quirk establishes the social and scientific contexts that clarify Twain's thinking, as well as considers his stated intentions and ad hoc remarks about the human condition.

Quirk has been a member of the MU faculty since 1979. He received his doctorate from the University of New Mexico and has written numerous articles, books and monographs on American literature and a variety of American authors.

A reviewer of the book writes, "Mark Twain and Human Nature will fascinate and energize Twainians because it engages with the quintessential Twain (and will stir up controversy because it challenges many a consensus about his major books). The alert general reader will recognize an educative yet inviting meditation on the basic, life-shaping ideas and attitudes of one of the most widely known American writers."

Presidential Award for Research and Creativity
This award recognizes a faculty member with a sustained record of national and international quality research or creativity.

Dr. Miles L. Patterson
Dr. Miles Patterson, professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, received his doctorate and master's degree in psychology from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Loyola University. He began as an assistant professor at UMSL in 1969 and has served as chair of the psychology department during his tenure.

Patterson is a leading international scholar in nonverbal communication. His impact has increased in recent years with publications on Japanese- American differences in nonverbal communication. He is currently studying how cell phone use affects sensitivity to others in public settings, and is examining social judgments with the help of a computer-based system.

Patterson is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Sciences. He is a recipient of the UMSL Chancellor's Award for Research and Creativity.

Said one nominator: "Professor Patterson's name is synonymous with groundbreaking scholarship in the arena of nonverbal behavior, in particular the use of genuine behavior to make inferences about social motivation and social cognition. And this is no easy task. Research that includes a behavioral component is not only rare, but recognized as rare because that sort of work is so heroic in the effort and other resources needed to carry it off."

Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching
This award recognizes a faculty member for long-term contributions to teaching.

Dr. John E. Adams
Dr. John Adams, professor of chemistry at the University of Missouri-Columbia, received his doctorate in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and his bachelor's degree in chemistry from the then University of Missouri-Rolla. He joined MU in 1981.

Adams is the recipient of several teaching awards, including the William T. Kemper Fellow for Excellence in Teaching Award, Division of Student Affairs Excellence in Education Award, Outstanding Faculty Academic Advisor Award from the Missouri Academic Advising Association and the Most Inspiring Professor Award from the Student-Athlete Advisory Council.

His service to the campus and university is vast. Adams is currently director of undergraduate studies and honors director for the chemistry department, and has served as chair of the Committee on Curriculum, Instruction and Advising. He was a member of the Task Force on Digital Media Lecture Capture Software, served as director of the Residential Academic Programs Search Committee, and is a member of the American Chemical Society, the Alpha Chi Sigma Professional Chemistry Fraternity and the Phi Lambda Upsilon Honorary Chemical Society.

A former student of Adams writes: "Some professors are good, some are great, and then there is Dr. John Adams: simply outstanding. Dr. Adams holds his students as his first priority, and it shows via his immediate e-mail responses, his invitations to meet students for coffee and his endless efforts to become a better teacher. With seven semesters under my belt, spread between two different state universities, I can say with the most sincerity that Dr. Adams is the best professor I've ever had."

Thomas Jefferson Award
This award is presented biennially to a faculty member who best exemplifies the ideals of Thomas Jefferson and who demonstrates distinction in teaching, research, writing, creative activities and service to the university and humankind.

Dr. David C. Geary
Dr. David Geary, curators' professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is a leading experimenter, theoretician and synthesizer on the workings of the human mind. He received his doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of California, Riverside, his master's degree in clinical child/school psychology from California State University at Hayward and his bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Santa Clara. He began his career at the then University of Missouri-Rolla in 1987.

Geary's research on the cognitive factors that contribute to learning disabilities in mathematics has laid the foundation for research in this area and the funding of a consortium of research programs by the National Institutes of Health. He also was lauded by former California Gov. Gray Davis for his substantial contributions to the mathematics framework in that state. In 2006, he was appointed by President George Bush to the national Mathematics Advisory Panel charged with revamping mathematics curriculum guidelines and education from preschool through high school.

Geary was named a Frederick A. Middlebush Professor of Psychological Sciences in 2000-2003, received honorable mention for one of the best science books of the 1990s, is a recipient of the National Institutes of Health MERIT award, and is a fellow in the American Psychological Society.

One colleague writes: "Professor Geary is an academic of international standing, with an impressive and well-deserved reputation...his research has, without question, made an outstanding, distinctive and pioneering contribution to science. He has taken seriously the implications of evolutionary theory for an understanding of our own species, and in his hands, both the rigor and the richness of this approach have been realized."

Faculty Entrepreneur of the Year Awards
These awards honor a faculty member for a record of entrepreneurial innovation that demonstrates commercial utility, contributes to the public welfare and brings visibility to the university.

Drs. Wesley R. Harris and Christopher D. Spilling
Drs. Wesley Harris and Christopher Spilling have developed a method to remove toxic aluminum from intravenous feeding solutions used for premature infants, which will improve the health prospects of these children.

Harris is professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He received his doctorate from Texas A&M University and conducted postdoctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley. Before joining UMSL, he was an assistant professor at the University of Idaho and the University of California, Davis. Harris received the St. Louis Award from the American Chemical Society in 2005. He is a member of the Graduate Studies Policy Committee and the Long-Range Planning Committee for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UMSL, as well as several other campus committees.

Spilling is the chemistry and biochemistry department chair at UMSL. He received his doctorate from Loughborough University of Technology in England and worked as a postdoctoral associate at Northwestern University before joining UMSL. He is a member of The Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Chemical Association, and is a recipient of the Award for Excellence in Teaching by chemistry graduate students. He currently serves on the Conflict of Interest Committee and the UMSL Senate.

Writes one nominator:"Drs. Spilling and Harris have approached the commercialization effort with vision, attention to detail, and the focus required to ensure success. Their willingness to reach out to business experts is unusual and an indicator of likely success."

Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award
This award honors a University of Missouri student who has shown entrepreneurial attention.

Corey Daniel Rimmel
Mr. Corey Rimmel is the co-founder and owner of Hot Box Cookies LLC in Columbia, Mo., a late-night customizable cookie shop. Development of the business involved drafting and submitting an innovative business plan to secure financing for a Small Business Association loan; balancing long work hours while maintaining status as a full-time student; securing a location; hiring, training and managing numerous employees; and managing the company's brand image through promotional activities.

Rimmel is earning his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia with an expected graduation date of May 2010. He also is the founding father and recruitment chair for Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, a new chapter that was previously off campus for 14 years.

Says one of his professors: "Corey desires to take the initiative with great confidence in his ability to succeed. He has a high energy level, is competitive, intensely focused and perseveres. While taking the necessary short-term actions, he has continued to plan for the future of his business."

C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award
This award recognizes a faculty member who personifies the creativity, vision and leadership exhibited by the late Dr. C. Brice Ratchford, who served as president of the University of Missouri and dean of cooperative extension.

Dr. Ronald J. Turner
Dr. Ronald Turner is executive vice president emeritus of the University of Missouri System and senior fellow in the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He also has served in various other capacities at the university, including director of cooperative extension and vice president for university outreach. He received his doctorate and master's degrees from MU, and his bachelor's degree in education from then Southwest Missouri State University.

Turner received numerous honors and awards during his tenure at the university, including the Martin Luther King Award from MU, a presidential citation from the University of Missouri System Alliance of Alumni Associations, the Leadership Award from the Missouri Farmers' Union and a legislative citation from the Missouri House of Representatives. He also has been cited in several articles and books, and has been invited to numerous forums, associations and conferences as a presenter.

Writes Mary Ratchford Douglass, the daughter of Dr. Ratchford: "I am confident Ron is an exemplary choice for recipient. Mother and daddy both respected and admired Ron for his commitment, expertise and depth of caring on behalf of the university, and mostly his life-long toil on behalf of the people of Missouri and the underprivileged around the world."