Eight faculty win top university awards

9:47:35 AM CDT - Thursday, April 08, 2004

By Amy Geiszler-Jones, Shannon Littlejohn and Sharon Robinson

A longtime writing mentor, an up-and-coming chemist, a forensic sleuth and a clarinetist are among the eight faculty who are receiving WSU's top awards for teaching, research, creative activity and service. This year's awards will be given during the spring general faculty meeting, being held at 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 11, in the Rhatigan Student Center ballroom.

Excellence in Teaching Award

Les Anderson, associate professor, Elliott School of Communication

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Les Anderson, a former longtime newspaper
owner, has mentored and educated a
generation of young journalists and public
relations professionals in his 27 years at
WSU. He is the recipient of WSU's
Excellence in Teaching Award this year.
In 1977, two years after Anderson became the owner, editor and publisher of the weekly Ark Valley News in Valley Center, he started teaching others about the newspaper business as well.

For decades, Anderson has been teaching the foundation classes — editing and reporting — for anyone considering a career in journalism.

In 2001, Anderson decided to concentrate his efforts on teaching and sold the paper he'd founded to a former student.

In the 27 years he's been teaching, his interest in honing students' writing and editing skills hasn't waned. In fact, it's been rejuvenated, he says, with changes in the department's leadership.

"It's fun and exciting to be involved in shaping young people's careers," he says. "The thing that really makes me feel good is the student who does well — maybe getting a better job or better opportunity because of what they learned."

He's left a lasting impact with many former students. He won the Kansas Press Association's Karl and Dorothy Gaston Outstanding Mentor Award last year, an award for which several students now working in print journalism and public relations nominated him.

When he left the helm of the Ark Valley News, an editorial in The Wichita Business Journal paid homage to him in this way. " … he's been a mentor and guide to a generation of young journalists. Some of us have followed in his shoes and made our careers in hometown newspapering. Others have headed off for the big markets. But none of us has worked with anyone with more integrity, humor and energy."

Anderson's professional career has allowed him to bring real-life experiences and expertise into the classroom. It also helps him connect students with media professionals in the Wichita area and throughout the state. Some of those connections have led to his students working with the Kansas Health Foundation and editors of The Winfield Daily Courier and The Arkansas City Traveler. Another student, in a project Anderson helped coordinate, worked with the Kansas Press Association to cover legislative news for 27 Kansas newspapers.

Because he knows the value of forming connections with professionals, Anderson encourages his students to be involved in professional organizations and activities. He's taken students to the American Advertising Federation's awards night, to Journalists Day at the Kansas Supreme Court and to the annual Public Relations Society of America student day.

He was one of five Elliott School faculty members who volunteered to revamp and teach Senior Portfolio, a capstone class for communication students.

While Anderson no longer owns a paper, he still remains active in the newspaper profession, writing a column for The Ark Valley News and occasional stories for The Wichita Eagle and other publications. He also is on the board of directors for the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the Kansas Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Kansas Newspaper Foundation.

Young Faculty Scholar Award

Michael Van Stipdonk, assistant professor, department of chemistry

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Michael Van Stipdonk, the Young Faculty
Scholar winner, stands next to a mass
spectrometer in his third-floor McKinley Hall
lab. Van Stipdonk is using mass
spectrometry to find a faster, more sensitive
and accurate way to identify the body's
proteins, which carry out the body's complex
functions. Protein profiling is essential to
understanding the cause and treatment of
In Van Stipdonk's research, one could say he's combining the old with the new. Van Stipdonk is using the old, powerful technique of mass spectrometry, which measures the mass of ionized molecules, in the relatively new field of proteomics, the study of proteins.

While scientists already have some methods for identifying the body's proteins, the enormous number — possibly hundreds of thousands of proteins — presents a challenge for faster and more accurate methods.

By using mass spectrometry, which has been around for more than 100 years, Van Stipdonk is trying to find a faster, more sensitive and accurate way to identify the body's peptides and proteins. Among its many uses, mass spectrometry has been used to detect steroid use in athletes and by anesthesiologists to monitor a patient's breath during surgery.

Proteomics is a hot field. With the completion of the human genome, the focus in biomedical research is moving from the genes and genomes to proteins and proteomes, which carry out the body's complex functions. Protein profiling is essential to understanding the causes of diseases and devising ways to diagnose and treat diseases.

That's why Van Stipdonk is attracting a lot of attention — and funding — for his efforts. Last year he received $462,000 as a winner of one of the National Science Foundation's most coveted grants for young researchers. According to the NSF, the award is given to those teachers and scholars most likely to become academic leaders in the 21st century.

In his four years at WSU, Van Stipdonk has secured other NSF grants, too, that helped him do preliminary research in this field, buy the instrumentation he uses in his third-floor lab in McKinley Hall, and bring in visiting scientists from smaller post-secondary schools to help them with their careers.

Van Stipdonk is also one of the few chemists among 100 researchers from four universities working on a planning grant from a National Institutes of Health agency for a future Regional Center for Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research.

He's been published extensively, including in the very best journals of his field, and has made more than 20 presentations at regional and national scientific meetings.

While colleagues laud his impressive research funding and publication record, they are similarly impressed with the work Van Stipdonk does with students.

"One of the most impressive and distinctive strengths of Professor Van Stipdonk is his genuine commitment to science education and the mentoring of students," notes colleague Bill Groutas, the WSU Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. Along with working with visiting scientists from smaller institutions, he's training a large number of students in research and mass spectrometry.

Leadership in the Advancement of Teaching

Sue Abdinnour-Helm, associate professor and chair, department of finance, real estate and decision sciences

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Sue Abdinnour-Helm
Enterprise resource planning, or ERP, is a buzzword in businesses and other organizations, including WSU. And Abdinnour-Helm is leading the Barton School of Business' efforts to incorporate this cutting-edge information technology system into its curriculum.

ERP refers to powerful software programs that allow companies to integrate all their functions. By having a single coordinated database system, updating the information for any part of the organization updates it for everyone.

ERP is also considered a foundation for different e-commerce activities such as Web-based ordering, customer relationship management and supply chain management.
Abdinnour-Helm has had an interest in ERP since 1998, after hearing a presentation at a professional conference. Since then, she's worked at getting the concept incorporated into classes in the Barton School of Business.

Five years after that conference, Abdinnour-Helm found a cost-effective way to secure ERP software through the SAP University Alliance, which allows WSU to access SAP, a leading ERP software package, through a host university.

"I think the education of technology is extremely important," says local businessman Craig Barton, whose father was a major benefactor of the business school. "Systems are vital to a large organization."

Students are finding that learning about ERP is vital, too, to their education. "The knowledge of this system is a résumé booster," says one student.

Abdinnour-Helm not only secured ERP software for the Barton School, she has taken the lead in implementing it. She sought and received WSU grant funding to set up a mini-ERP lab for students. She not only teaches ERP classes — the first of which was offered in fall 2002, she researches the field, as well. She has surveyed local businesses on their ERP practices.

It's little wonder then that WSU turned to her as a consultant when the university started its endeavor to use ERP.

Within the Barton School, Abdinnour-Helm has worked with a number of colleagues in management and accounting to encourage use of ERP software in their classes.
Her research in this field was one of the reasons she won WSU's Young Faculty Scholar Award four years ago.

Academy for Effective Teaching Awards

Nicholas Smith, professor of French horn, School of Music

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Nicholas Smith

Smith determined his future in high school, learning to play the French horn. He knew then that he wanted to teach and inspire others to perform on what he calls "the most difficult of musical instruments."

By the time he landed at WSU in 1975, he had fine-tuned his teaching philosophy: teach by personal example in performance and collaboration.

"Music is a collaborative art and is learned through experience playing in ensembles and studying with a mentor/pedagogue," he says.

Smith lives the philosophy of collaboration as a member of WSU's Wichita Brass Quintet and Lieurance Woodwind Quintet, where he interacts with a total of eight other faculty musicians who rehearse at least eight hours a week.

As principal horn of the Wichita Symphony, he has taken his student mentoring role outside the WSU classroom by arranging for an additional graduate assistant position in the horn section. Thus, he has to play his own part well while teaching two of his students to prepare their parts.

It's worth the time, Smith says, because playing with Wichita's symphony provides experience students usually can't get in a university or conservatory situation. It also attracts students from the best horn studios, and their success after leaving WSU allows the school to continue to attract talent.

Smith is always working toward another of his teaching goals: to connect students by bringing the best teachers and professional performers to campus, and by sending students to as many conferences, workshops and summer festivals as possible.

His own connections in the music world are vast, having held principal horn positions in a number of symphonies through the years and working major summer festivals.

Smith also collaborates with faculty and student composers to showcase their works. The WSU Horn Club has premiered new work for horn choir at four International Horn Society conferences, including a piece by student composer Jacob Belton at the 2003 conference.

Besides teaching, Smith has served as graduate coordinator, associate chair and acting chair for the School of Music and, for five years, as associate dean of the College of Fine Arts. But the classroom is where his heart lies.

"To be able to help young minds and talent succeed," he says, "is a privilege."

His talent for teaching is affirmed by his students. One student comments: "Years of playing and teaching have made him one of the most effective and enjoyable teachers in the department."

Charles Yang, assistant professor in the department of mechanical engineering

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Charles Yang
Since coming to WSU in 1997, Yang has been very involved in his students' education, not only in the classroom but outside of it as well.

He announces in each of his classes his open-door policy for students to ask questions, and many take advantage of that. He also is the faculty adviser for Pi Tau Sigma, the student honor society of mechanical engineering.

Presently he is advising one doctoral and four master's students with research assistantship support from his research grants. "I take pride in teaching at an academic institution and I understand the importance of education in preparing our engineering students for future challenges," says Yang.

Yang has been described as an exceptional teacher who is intelligent, humorous and down to earth. One student says, "He has answers to all questions and has excellent knowledge in the related field." He is very enthusiastic about the subject matter he teaches and is always willing to give advice to students, says another.

"He has demonstrated many times over his knowledge, ability and thoroughness for educating tomorrow's engineers," says Rye Kennedy, an undergraduate student at WSU. "An example is the high amount of respect that students have for Dr. Yang, as they know nothing less would be given to them."

He is very good at providing a comfortable atmosphere for students, while maintaining professional classroom standards, says another.

He has a strong background of the subject he teaches, which includes "real-world" experience. In 1999 he successfully started the four-year, collegewide "Research Experience for Undergraduate in Advanced Composites for Aviation Industry" program at WSU. It was because of this program that 31 undergraduate students had the opportunity to actively participate in research, seminars, plant tours, presentations and report/proposal writing.

Excellence in Creative Activity Award

James Jones, professor of clarinet, School of Music

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James Jones, professor of clarinet, works
with middle and high school students during
Clarinet Day, which was held in February. In
addition to Clarinet Day, Jones has
organized other opportunities to showcase
the School of Music. In 1976 he started the
American Music Week Festival, which
inspired another WSU festival. Jones, who
is receiving the Excellence in Creative
Activity Award, is also a prolific performer.
As Jones readies himself for retirement from the university that has nurtured his creative nature for the past 35 years, he faces a series of final moments. But this full-time professor of clarinet has his share of impressive firsts.

Between teaching and performing for three-and-a-half decades as principal clarinet for the Wichita Symphony and as the sole clarinetist in the Lieurance Woodwind Quintet, Jones has been an untiring organizer of superior and creative musical events, his colleagues report.

In 1976, he initiated the first American Music Week Festival at WSU in conjunction with the American Music Center in New York City. He has directed the annual event every year since, inviting renowned composers and commissioning local performance pieces for what has become a nationally prestigious festival. It has won recognition from the National Federation of Music Clubs, including a first prize in 2003.

Since 1992, Katherine Murdock, professor of music composition and theory, has composed six pieces for Jones, who has a passion for promoting new music from local composers.
"I have found him to be a great source of information and inspiration," she says. "He has given my music life."

Jones' festival inspired her 1991 creation of the WSU Contemporary Music Festival, Murdock says.

"The festivals are very important to our reputation here," says Jones. Guest artists, he says, take note of WSU's artists and compositions. That recognition results in prestigious invitations to perform at other venues.

Jones has a long list of impressive first-time performances both as soloist and as part of the Lieurance Woodwind Quintet and the Wiedemann Trio, which he founded in 1991 with Andrew Trechak.

The quintet has toured Europe and performed at the Library of Congress (where a commissioned piece by Walter Mays gained critical acclaim) and Merkin Hall in New York.

Both the quintet's and trio's recitals for the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., earned reviews in The Washington Post.

Jones has also played Carnegie Recital Hall and the International Clarinet Association, whose journal, The Clarinet, benefits from his chamber music reviews.

His CD performances, besides those recorded with the Lieurance Woodwind Quintet, include a collection of French recital favorites with Karen Schlabaugh and chamber music by Meyer Kupferman, a friend and guest of American Music Week who died last fall.

The Harvey Music Festival in Newton was also founded by Jones, in 1994. It's a chamber music passion that Jones will continue, so his creative work won't end. He'll also continue as principal clarinet with the Wichita Symphony.

Excellence in Research Award

S. Hossein Cheraghi, associate professor, industrial and manufacturing engineering

Cheraghi, winner of the 1999 Young Faculty Scholar Award, has become nationally known for his research in the area of manufacturing accuracy and tolerance control. This research focuses on developing techniques to analyze and control process dimensions so that products are produced with high quality. It also aims at developing procedures for controlling manufacturing operations.

Cheraghi has published 79 articles related to his research in internationally recognized journal and conference proceedings, including some of the most respected journals in his field.
According to colleague Janet Twomey, Cheraghi has created an excellent reputation by directing his research efforts to help local manufacturers, through problems related to manufacturing systems and processes. It is because of this that he has become an important resource for local companies such as Boeing, Cessna, Brittain Machine and Raytheon, she says.

Cheraghi, who has been at WSU since 1993, also has been aggressive, and successful, in searching for research grants. He has secured more than $2 million from federal and industry sources.

Cheraghi is currently researching the area of dimensional management and control of manufacturing.

"This area of research is highly important to the manufacturing industry, which is under increasing pressure to improve the quality of its products," said Saeid Motavalli from California State University, Hayward. "The unique aspect of Dr. Cheraghi's research is that he has been successful in both applied and theoretical research."

One colleague also noted that while Cheraghi's publication record is impressive, his quality of work is equally impressive.

 "He is very thorough in his analysis and shows a very good understanding of the problems in question, " says Pius Egbelu, dean of engineering and Bert Turner Distinguished professor at Louisiana State University.

Cheraghi has been very successful in bringing his research to the classroom. He involves students in every aspect of his research, including papers published in scientific journals and has supervised more than 30 graduate students. More than 90 percent of the papers published have been co-authored by students and graduate students.

Award for Community Research

Peer Moore-Jansen, associate professor and chair, department of anthropology

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WSU's lone biological anthropologist Peer
Moore-Jansen, winner of this year's Award
for Community Research, discusses human
remains identification with a forensic
anthropology class. Since coming to WSU in
1989, he has helped local and regional
authorities with forensic identification in
more than 100 cases. He also has done
numerous workshops and presentations to
both law enforcement and community
Give Moore-Jansen a bone and more than likely he can tell you quite a few things about it — whether it's human or nonhuman, the age of it and several other characteristics.

Sometimes a forensic anthropologist like Moore-Jansen is the first step in identifying remains by authorities. That's what makes Moore-Jansen, WSU's lone biological anthropologist and skeletal biology expert, a valuable resource to local and regional law enforcement agencies.

Since joining the WSU faculty in 1989, he has helped with forensic identification in more than 100 cases, including such high-profile cases as the Nancy Shoemaker kidnapping and murder in 1991 and the Club Mexico triple homicide in Wichita last year.

Not all cases in which Moore-Jansen is called upon involve criminal wrongdoing. Last year he worked with journalist Bill Kurtis, who was documenting for the History Channel an exhumation of a Kansas farmer some believed may have been the legendary outlaw Jesse James.

"He has an outstanding knowledge of forensic anthropology and keeps current with the latest advances and research in this field," says Sedgwick County coroner Dr. Mary Dudley, who has often consulted with Moore-Jansen. "(He) has shown a sincere, willing and unswerving interest in his field and is an asset to his profession."

Besides spending myriad hours investigating cases, Moore-Jansen passes on his enthusiasm for forensic sleuthing to students. Many students get hooked on anthropology after taking his introductory class. Most students request him as an adviser, and several have been invited to join in his many research studies.

Just as he works with outside agencies, Moore-Jansen also networks with other departments. He is currently working with the chairs of the School of Community Affairs, chemistry, biology and psychology to develop a research-focused degree program in forensic science at WSU.

Because the field of forensics has become such a mainstream fascination, Moore-Jansen has made several presentations not only to professional organizations but to community and school groups, as well. He also conducts a popular workshop through WSU's Midwest Criminal Justice Institute and teaches at a semi-annual conference organized by Dudley's office.

"My students always look forward to visiting the 'bone guy' because of his engaging storytelling and fascinating information," says Northeast Magnet High School science teacher Leah Kasten, who has invited Moore-Jansen to her classroom and has taken groups of students to Moore-Jansen's forensic anthropology lab in Neff Hall. "Students immediately recognize his passion for his work and eagerness to share his knowledge and experiences with them."

Moore-Jansen's many achievements have not gone without recognition in the past. In 2002, he was named the Kansas Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. He's also a past recipient of WSU's Academy for Effective Teaching and Leadership in the Advancement of Teaching awards.

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