CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Six Urbana campus faculty members have been recognized as University Scholars. The program recognizes excellence while helping to identify and retain the university's most talented teachers, scholars and researchers.
Now in its 23rd year, the program provides $10,000 to each scholar for each of three years to use to enhance his or her academic career. The money may be used for travel, equipment, research assistants, books or other purposes.
"The University Scholars Program, inaugurated in 1985, recognizes faculty who are nominated by their colleagues as among the very best in their fields," said Mrinalini "Meena" Chatta Rao, university vice president for academic affairs. "The University Scholar designation is not awarded for a specific project or proposal, but rather, it symbolizes the recipient's excellence and the university's commitment to foster outstanding faculty and their work."
The recipients (with comments from their nominating papers):
• Ann P. Bishop, professor of library and information science, a co-founder and co-director of the Community Informatics Initiative, is recognized internationally for her research in the field of community informatics. Community informatics examines how information and communication technologies are used to help geographic communities achieve their goals. Her commitment to endeavors to improve social and educational institutions is manifested in direct research and service engagements with public schools and community organizations. She started the Booker T. Washington After-School Program for children of recent Spanish-speaking immigrants; it is now entering its third year.
In 1998, she was recognized by President Bill Clinton for her zeal in creating and promoting access to technology for underserved populations.
Ollie Watts Davis
Ollie Watts Davis
• Ollie Watts Davis, a professor of music, has performed as a vocal soloist with major orchestras throughout the U.S. and around the world. She has had an equally active and successful career as a conductor. 2007 marked her 25th year as musical director and conductor of the 110-member U. of I. Black Chorus, an organization she created. In 1991, she founded the Black Sacred Music Symposium, a four-day on-campus biennial conference hosted by the Black Chorus in cooperation with Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, School of Music and other campus units. She also teaches at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and has been recognized for her outstanding teaching with a Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
• Barbara Minsker, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, focuses her research on improving the management of complex environmental systems through new and innovative systems analysis techniques. She is the leader in the emerging field of environmental information technology. She and her students and post-doctoral researchers have conducted research that has led to the development of computationally efficient methods based on genetic algorithms that have enabled solution of problems that are of great interest to environmental engineering practice and have not been previously been solved - for example, long-term monitoring design, in situ bioremediation design, and risk-based mediation design.
• Klara Nahrstedt, a professor of computer science, has established herself as one of the world's leading experts in multimedia systems, including contributions that are now regarded as seminal in the field. Her research group is evaluated as the best group in the world in the area of network quality of service and quality of service management. Quality of service is the ability to prioritize applications, users, or data flows to guarantee a certain level of performance for a data flow. As one of the first researchers in this area in the 1990s, Nahrstedt defined the concept of media quality in distributed networked systems.
She serves as an active member of the College of Engineering advisory board for Women in Engineering, and is actively involved with the Women in Computer Science student organization.
• Michaelene Ostrosky, a professor of education, has focused her research on interventions to change the learning environments of young children with disabilities as a means to support their learning and development, with a focus on social emotional and communicative competence. Both of these are areas in which many young children with disabilities, irrespective of diagnosis, have significant delays. Ostrosky has been influential in the development of conceptual papers that describe an intervention approach for addressing social emotional competence for children with persistent challenging behaviors. She had devoted herself not only to conducting research in these areas, but also to translating the emerging research into guidelines for practice that can be used in early childhood classrooms.
• Kelly A. Tappenden, a professor of food science and human nutrition, enhances the lives of children and adults with intestinal failure by providing key information needed to establish novel therapies that are now reaching the clinical arena. She is committed to fostering student learning and these efforts have resulted in her receipt of multiple teaching awards, her inclusion on the campus's Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent on a dozen occasions, and her educational leadership evident within the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, and across the campus. Tappenden has established fundamental and innovative animal models simulating intestinal failure that have enabled the testing of critical hypotheses relating to the regulation of gastrointestinal function.