Montana State University

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Letters and Science Annual Awards

Wednesday, April 11, 2012, from 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Strand Union Building, Ballroom D

The Montana State University College of Letters and Science will honor the recipients of the college's annual awards at a ceremony from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, in MSU's SUB Ballroom D.

David Eitle, sociology, and Thomas Hughes, cell biology and neuroscience, will receive the Letters and Science Award for Meritorious Research and Creativity.

Eitle is a widely published researcher with 36 peer-reviewed articles over the span of his 15-year career. His research program is primarily focused on the causes and control of crime, and he uses sophisticated quantitative methods to conduct theoretically driven research. His work has elevated the status of the social sciences at MSU, and in 2010 he became the first social scientist at MSU to obtain a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Hughes is an internationally known neuroscientist whose current research investigates the use of fluorescent proteins as fluorescent biosensors, as well as generating and measuring the properties of fluorescent proteins in two-photon microscopy. During his career, he has published 46 peer-reviewed articles in top tier journals such as Science, Neuron, the Journal of Neuroscience and the Journal of Cell Biology. His work is currently funded by four different collaborative NIH grants through 2015.

Steve Eiger, cell biology and neuroscience, and Sandy Bowers, mathematical sciences, will receive Letters and Science Outstanding Teaching Awards.

Eiger teaches physiology at every level, from freshman to medical students, as well as medical ethics and research enterprise. He is known for his use of a variety of teaching techniques to engage students, his commitment to his students and their success, and his willingness to be a mentor and not just a teacher. Each undergraduate course he teaches he developed himself, and he always tailors courses to the interests, needs and academic level of his students.

Bowers currently serves as the course supervisor for M172 (Calculus II) and is the co-director of the Math Learning Center. She is known in the classroom for her clear explanations and thorough organization. She consistently receives outstanding teaching evaluations, and has been selected by three different students (1992, 2000 and 2007) as a faculty mentor for the Bozeman Area Chamber of Commerce/Alumni Association Award for Excellence.

Matthew Fockler, earth sciences, and Katie Jo LaRiviere, English, have won Letters and Science Graduate Student Teaching Awards.

Fockler has served as the instructor of record for several geography classes, and excelled at all aspects of course design, syllabus development and instruction. He has served his students and the university at large by providing unpaid, out-of-class tutoring for at-risk students and by allowing 40 A.C.E. Language Institute students to participate in one of his classes. He has maintained his own excellent scholarship, and has published peer-reviewed articles and presented 13 professional papers at a variety of conferences.

LaRiviere is commended for her work in the classroom--particularly her ability to make difficult material accessible and interesting for her students. She supports her fellow graduate students by serving as the president of the Association of English Graduate Students where she organizes workshops and support meetings for GTAs. She serves the department by participating in the graduate and composition committees.

Jim Burns, Native American studies, and Judith Van Andel, ecology, will be honored with L&S's Kathy Griffith Employee Excellence Award.

Burns served as counselor and adviser in Native American student support services for 15 years. During his time at MSU, he initiated several successful programs that have greatly enhanced MSU's Native student recruitment and retention. He is best known as being the mentor and tireless advocate for hundreds of Native students throughout the years, helping students cope with the transition to college and helping them deal with personal and family issues. He was also the driving force behind MSU American Indian Club annual pow wow, one of the largest pow wows in the region.

Van Andel has worked in the Department of Ecology for eight years, serving as the academic coordinator in a department with 320 undergraduate students and 50 graduate students. She works tirelessly on behalf of students in a variety of areas ranging from academic advising to employment and training opportunities. In addition to her work with students, she supports the department in innumerable ways, and her colleagues greatly value her initiative, attention to detail and organizational skills.

Finally, Elizabeth "Bizz" Browning, English and modern languages and literatures, and Daniel Barta, earth sciences, will receive the Dean's Award for Academic Excellence. This award is presented to the top two seniors in the college.

Browning has successfully completed all of the requirements for her two majors in four years while maintaining a very high GPA. She has accomplished excellent scholarship while participating in a variety of activities and service projects on campus and in the community, such as working as a SmartyCat tutor at MSU and as a volunteer in-school tutor while she was an exchange student in Germany.

Barta is commended for his excellent scholarship, which has been recognized with several prestigious awards including a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. His passion for science extends beyond the classroom to a variety of activities, including volunteer fossil preparation at the Museum of the Rockies, assisting at field digs and giving outreach presentations. He is also actively involved in two research projects.

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