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University of Missouri Board of Curators award six Curators’ Professorships

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John Fougere

October 29, 2015

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri Board of Curators appointed six faculty members to Curators' Professorships, academic appointments that are considered the most prestigious among the four campuses. The appointments were awarded during the board’s October 1-2, 2015, meeting in Kansas City to recognize the exemplary teaching, research and service contributions of faculty throughout the University of Missouri System.

“Curators’ Professors represent the very best faculty across the university,” Hank Foley, executive vice president for academic affairs, research and economic development for the UM System, said. “These professors are expected to be a resource for the entire university through activities such as giving lectures on our campuses, assisting in improving the quality of teaching at the university, and engaging in research and teaching across divisional lines.”

The board appointed four Curators’ Professors and two Curators’ Teaching Professors. These appointments recognize outstanding scholars and teachers, respectively, with established reputations and include a $10,000 annual stipend. Initial appointments are held for a period of five years, but may be renewed at discretion of the university.

Curators’ Professorships:

Diana L. Ahmad, Curators’ Teaching Professor, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Dr. Diana L. Ahmad, professor of history and political science and university archivist at Missouri S&T, joined the university as an assistant professor in 2000. Prior, Ahmad held faculty positions at the State University of New York-Potsdam and with the University of Maryland’s Asian Division in Korea, Japan and Guam.

Ahmad earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1997. She has received numerous awards for outstanding teaching, outstanding advising and faculty excellence including the Faculty Service Award (2009), Outstanding Academic Advisor (2010), and Outstanding Teaching Award (2014) at Missouri S&T.

Joel G. Burken, Curators’ Professor, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Dr. Joel G. Burken serves as associate chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at Missouri S&T. He joined the S&T faculty in 1997 and since that time, he has served on more than 20 university and department committees, as president of the Association of Environmental Engineering Science Professors, as a founder and vice president of the International Phytotechnologies Society and as chair of the campus promotion and tenure committee. He also serves as director of the Environmental Research Center at S&T.

Burken has been honored numerous times for his teaching and academic pursuits. He received the Rudolph Hering Medal by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1998 and 2007. In 2000, Burken received a faculty early career development award from the NSF.

Henry T. Nguyen, Curators’ Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia

Dr. Henry T. Nguyen joined the faculty at MU in 2002 as the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council Endowed Professor of Genetics and Soybean Technology. Nguyen received a doctorate from MU in 1982 in agronomy and currently serves as the director of the National Center for Soybean Biotechnology. A pioneer in the molecular mapping and genetic dissection of abiotic stress tolerance in crop plants, particularly drought tolerance, he has garnered nearly $40 million in external support while at MU.

Nguyen is part of numerous professional and honorary societies and serves in many capacities at MU. In 2009, he was named a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2005, he received an Outstanding Research Award from the Missouri Soybean Association. Nguyen is also a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and Crops Science Society of America.

Mary Jo Muratore, Curators’ Teaching Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia

Dr. Mary Jo Muratore, Catherine Paine Middlebush Professor of the Humanities and Professor of French, has been a member of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at MU since 1983. She currently serves as the associate chair and director of graduates studies of the department. She is co-founder of the Afro-Romance Institute and has twice received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities for programming for university teachers.

Highly regarded on campus for excellence in teaching and mentoring graduate and undergraduate students, Muratore received the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching in 1991, the award’s inaugural year. Since then she has received an Excellence in Education Award (1997), a Faculty Service Award for Outstanding Mentoring (2012), and a Writing Intensive Excellence in Teaching Award (2014).

Kennon M. Sheldon, Curators’ Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia

Dr. Kennon M. Sheldon joined the Department of Psychological Sciences at MU in 1997, rising to the level of professor in 2007. He is recognized globally as a leader in the area of personality, motivation, goals, subjective well-being, values and positive psychology. Sheldon has been named one of the 20 most cited social psychologists in the world and is among the top 20 most productive social psychologists with more nearly 200 published works, including eight books.

Sheldon is the 2002 recipient of the prestigious Templeton Prize in Positive Psychology and recently received the 2015 Diener Mid-Career Award for Contributions to Personality Psychology. In addition, he was awarded the MU Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding research Creativity in the Social Sciences in 2006.

Gary A. Weisman, Curators’ Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia

Dr. Gary A. Weisman, professor of biochemistry, began his career at MU in 1985 as an assistant professor in the Food for the 21st Century Program. His longtime research in purinergic signaling has received multiple awards from the NIH as well as funding from the USDA and other disease-specific funding agencies totaling more than $5 million. Weisman has given more than 50 invited presentations worldwide and has countless publications, 32 of which have been published in the last five years.

Weisman is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Federation of American Society for Experimental Biology among other organizations.  He was named by the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources as its 2012 Distinguished Researcher and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011.