2019 Faculty Award honorees
Click on the bars below to read biographies of this year's class of Faculty Award recipients.
Click on the bars below to read biographies of this year's class of Faculty Award recipients.
Excellence in Accessibility
James Beck, assistant professor, Department of Biological Studies, Fairmount College of Arts and Sciences
James Beck earned the Bachelor of Science in biology at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, in 1999 and his doctorate in biology from Washington University in St. Louis in 2007. After serving as a postdoctoral research associate at Duke University and then the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Beck joined the WSU faculty in 2011.
In creating ways to help a visually impaired student learn the material he teaches in his biology classes, James Beck also created a learning experience for himself.
“I learned some things about my teaching like I should slow down a bit and verbalize or explain in better detail,” said Beck. The insights proved helpful for not only the student with the disability but also her classmates, he found. He also developed a deeper sense of empathy for the barriers a person with disabilities may face.
“It wasn't just about the science,” he said.
Beyond the fact that WSU legally must create accessible content for students with disabilities, Beck said his real motivation was that he had a smart, driven student who wanted to succeed.
“It's pretty hard not to go the extra mile for a student who really, really wants to learn the material and there's only one barrier challenging her that is not of her doing.” Her barrier was one he could help move, he said, so he did.
And he did so in an impressive way, according to Grady Landrum, director of Disability Services, and John P. Jones, director of the Media Resources Center. Beck worked with MRC staff to create supplemental and instructional materials to use in his classes.
“In a department that has a well-deserved reputation for strong investment in student success and especially the success of students with disabilities, Dr. Beck stands out as someone who has not just gone an extra mile here and there, but moved that extra mile, built a cabin, planted a garden and generally lived day-to-day on that extra mile,” wrote Jones in his award nomination letter.
“Dr. Beck went far beyond what was expected to make his class accessible,” Landrum said.
For his two lecture/lab courses, General Biology II and Vascular Plants, Beck found ways to adapt all of the material the student needed to complete her coursework. He also had to design or modify test questions that remained rigorous but accessible to both blind and sighted students.
He needed to update existing PowerPoint lectures to add alt-text for all images. The MRC produced Braille versions of the PowerPoints and created tactile versions of approximately 70 figures from the text. In some cases, Beck created hand-drawn graphics, including some of images that other students viewed under a microscope. In all, he created 43 original drawings that were later made tactile by MRC staff.
To help the student review concepts, Beck set up twice-weekly, one-on-one meetings with her.
As a botanist who interprets plant biodiversity and reconstructs plant evolution history, Beck ensured the newly created material gave an accurate picture of such data.
Some of the changes turned into good teaching tools, Beck said. For example, when the Vascular Plants class covered diversity of floral forms, the sighted students used craft supplies to construct 3D models that became useful aids for all students in learning about flower parts. Two models from that exercise sit on a bookshelf in Beck's fifth-floor office in Hubbard Hall.
“This was the best version of the class I've taught,” said Beck, about the experience.
Faculty Risk Taker
Rich Bomgardner, chair and assistant professor, Department of Human Performance Studies, College of Applied Studies
Rich Bomgardner earned the Bachelor of Arts in physical education with an emphasis in athletic training/physical education from Wichita State University in 1987 and the Master of Science in physical education with an emphasis in athletic training/physical education from Fort Hays State University in 1991. He completed the doctorate degree in educational leadership from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, in July 2014. He has been teaching at WSU since 2003.
Thanks to Rich Bomgardner's innovative thinking, the athletic training program at WSU is now one of the first such programs to offer early admittance into a physical therapy graduate program.
The idea started a few years ago, when Bomgardner, the athletic training (AT) program director, approached Robert Manske, physical therapy (PT) department chair, about a way to increase recruitment and retention efforts as part of WSU's strategic plan. Bomgardner wanted to provide AT graduates with diverse career advancement opportunities, and one obvious career path was already offered at WSU: its competitive doctorate of physical therapy program.
“It really boils down to how marketable can we make these students when they graduate,” Bomgardner said.
“While prospective PT students do have diverse academic majors, the AT program is by far the best preparatory program for PT students in coursework and clinical experience,” Bomgardner wrote in his award nomination statement.
By their senior year, AT students accumulate 2,000 hours of clinical experience in various settings. Often they see some of the same conditions treated by physical therapists such as muscle strain or post-op ACL rehabilitation.
Manske was on board with allowing some of the AT program's top students early acceptance because he had seen that PT students with an AT degree often had more success in the program and did better on the PT national board exam.
Administrators from the College of Applied Sciences, the College of Health Professions and WSU got on board too, realizing the curriculum, the faculty and the outstanding reputations of two high-caliber programs were already in place.
Bomgardner also worked with WSU Tech to offer its students an opportunity to pursue the PT early acceptance option by creating a five-year plan of study for WSU Tech students, similar to the six-year Shocker Pathway program.
The recruitment numbers are telling him “that we have a great product that we're offering. We have a highly successful undergraduate athletic training program and a highly successful physical therapy program and we're collaborating to offer our students something that other universities cannot offer. And it's paid off with student recruitment and student interest,” Bomgardner said.
Even before the AT to PT early transition program started, the AT major was attracting more students, possibly because athletic trainers are in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, AT jobs are expected to increase by 23% by 2026, much faster than average. Adding the transition program has resulted in record numbers of enrollment in the major, particularly among out-of-state students, said Kayla Jasso, academic adviser and outreach coordinator with the College of Applied Sciences.
The program is not only helping increase enrollment numbers, it's also attracting motivated, better quality students, Bomgardner said.
AT to PT early transition candidates have four important requirements to fulfill to be considered for the PT program: having a 3.7 or greater GPA, preparing for and passing their AT national board exam two months earlier than other AT students, having high clinical evaluation scores and finishing the AT program in four years.
Leadership in the Advancement of Teaching
Gina Brown, director of didactic education and assistant professor, Department of Physician Assistant, College of Health Professions
Gina Brown received the Bachelor of Science in secondary education, biological sciences in 1985 from Kansas State University, the Bachelor of Science in physician assistant, magna cum laude, from Wichita State University in 2004 and the Master of Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha in 2009. She joined the Wichita State faculty in 2009.
One of the first patients that students in WSU's two-year physician assistant (PA) program meet is Penny Adams.
Penny exists only on paper and is the brainchild of Gina Brown, developed as a teaching technique for first-year PA students to chart a patient experiencing different medical conditions across a lifespan. The chart and the six health scenarios Penny encounters in her lifetime overlap eight different PA courses – from preventative medicine to specific health specialties – taught by Brown and her colleagues.
Brown has become quite adept at developing case studies, which are an important teaching tool within health professions. She's developed about 30 patient cases for her clinical laboratory course alone and several other cases for other classes, according to her nomination letter.
A few years ago, she was on the College of Health Professions' first interprofessional education faculty team that developed a case study used by students studying in the college's various different health fields. The case study of a homeless veteran gave the students a realistic example of how one patient may require several types of health services, ranging from dental work to lab services to office visits. That case study has been revised and is used now by not only WSU students but also medical students at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita.
Brown keeps her students engaged through intrigue, drawing on her own interesting career as a PA providing medical care to underserved populations.
When her husband worked as an agricultural consultant in Afghanistan, Brown volunteered full time at a Kabul medical facility, setting up thriving women's health and prenatal clinics. She's also worked for a mobile medical clinic and other practices in Kansas.
Driven by a deep sense that everyone deserves dignity, Brown fosters caring, respectful relationships with her students.
One student commented: “Professor Brown has been such an amazing teacher, very inspirational and most importantly, I feel she has a true desire to help the PA students succeed. … She presents even the most difficult material to teach in a way that will spark our interest. She always gives us real-life scenarios and application of the material. She does so much to ensure that as students we feel that we are getting the best we possibly can from her and the education offered here at WSU.”
Other faculty have adopted Brown's practice of providing a personal statement on her syllabi. Hers reads: “My primary goal as a teacher is to help students learn how to provide the highest quality of medical care to patients in their role as future physician assistants. This is my statement of personal commitment to my students to do the best I can do to help them achieve medical excellence, accompanied by respect for others.”
Ever since joining the WSU faculty, others have recognized Brown's outstanding teaching ability and her service. She's a two-time winner of the College of Health Professions' Rodenberg Award for Excellence in Teaching and a 2015 WSU Academy for Effective Teaching Award winner. In 2015 she was nominated by her students and won the national American Academy of Physician Assistants' Humanitarian Award.
Academy for Effective Teaching
Katherine “Katie” Cramer, associate professor and program chair of middle/secondary English, School of Education, College of Applied Studies
Katherine “Katie'” Cramer earned the Bachelor of Science in Education in English from Emporia State University in 2000, the Master of Science in English as a second language from Kansas State University in 2003 and the doctorate in curriculum and instruction in English education from Arizona State University in 2006. After teaching positions at ASU and Kennesaw State University in Georgia, she joined the WSU faculty in 2010.
In pursuit of her own education, Katie Cramer found her dream job of being surrounded by future educators who share her passion.
As a swim coach years ago, she saw students thrilled at learning new skills and that's what sparked her interest in teaching.
While teaching language arts at a Kansas City, Kansas, middle school, she wanted to delve deeper into her profession. Her own love of learning and teaching and her penchant for challenging herself are what led to her completing master's and doctorate's degrees and to the front of the college classroom.
“Teaching is my favorite part of this job. I am constantly amazed and inspired by the energy my students bring to my classroom and to their own teaching, especially in a time when education is sometimes not supported in the way we'd like for it to be supported. My students have such positive attitudes and energy and this thirst for knowledge,” Cramer said. “They are professionals in the truest sense of the word.”
Cramer teaches young adult literature classes to graduate and undergraduate education students and also teaches juniors and seniors about English language methods as well as how to design a curriculum, manage a classroom and pursue jobs in their chosen profession.
Cramer said she believes her greatest strengths as a teacher include designing high-quality instruction that aligns with research-based best practices in English language pedagogy and creating a comfortable, safe place for students to discuss new ideas and to question and critically evaluate information.
In 2017, she took on the additional duties of coordinating field placements for the teaching candidates and interns – approximately 30 in each semester – who are in her middle and secondary English education programs. To help strengthen experiences and placements, Cramer collaborates with classroom teachers and school administrators in more than 20 middle and high schools in the metropolitan area. She also devised a placement request system from interns so that she can tailor their placements to the classroom levels they desire.
Cramer, who revived the peer-reviewed journal “Kansas English” when she took over as editor in 2017 and has served in several leadership roles with Kansas teaching organizations, encourages her students to turn classroom projects and presentations into submissions for professional publications and conference presentations. It's part of the risk-taking that can enhance one's teaching career, she believes.
This past fall, two students from her Literature for Adolescents class submitted three manuscripts to “Kansas English” and another submitted a proposal to present at the fall 2019 Kansas Teachers of English conference.
When it comes to risk-taking and trying new things, she tries to lead by example. Every year, she evaluates the effectiveness of how she's taught the material previously, taking into account feedback from students and implementing different techniques, if necessary.
“Like tomorrow we're going to look at how to assess whether a project is good in a more analytical way. ... Last year, what I did was OK, but now I'm showing them weak, medium and strong examples of an interdisciplinary unit plan. They will practice evaluating by using criteria to judge and determine the strength of such a plan,” she said.
Excellence in Creative Activity
William Flynn, assistant professor of guitar and director of jazz studies, School of Music, College of Fine Arts
William Flynn earned the Bachelor of Music in jazz studies from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, in 2010 and the Master of Music in jazz studies from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, in 2012. He joined the WSU faculty as a visiting instructor in 2013 and became a full-time assistant professor in 2014.
If you ask the colleagues of William Flynn about his accomplishments, get ready to hear a long list. The list will leave no doubt that Flynn is not just strumming along in his career.
Aleks Sternfeld-Dunn, director of the School of Music and a previous WSU Excellence in Creative Activity Award winner, listed things like: “a national presence” as a performer and educator, five CDs of original compositions and arrangements, favorable reviews in jazz publications, a series of music education materials for guitar players and an Instagram jazz education account of more than 17,000 followers.
“Professor Flynn embodies the best of what creative activity should look like in the 21st century,” said Sternfeld-Dunn, noting Flynn also won the 2018 College of Fine Arts' Mickey and Pete Armstrong Faculty of Excellence in Creative Activity Award.
Rodney Miller, College of Fine Arts dean, called Flynn “one of our best and brightest.” Miller said two highly regarded elements shine through in Flynn's recordings: the virtuosity of his playing and the importance of his voice as a composer.
“Flynn is showing the potential to be one of the most current creative voices in jazz,” added Mark Foley, professor of bass and coordinator of contemporary media. “His music is an all-too-rare combination of old-school training and thoroughly contemporary aesthetic.”
“I continue to try to create as much music as I can and put it in posterity,” Flynn said. Recording his music gives him a sense of completion, plus it allows him to share his passion and it documents where he's at in his career and the influences on his music.
The influences on Flynn's are plentiful: from his dad's extensive 1950s and 1960s jazz album collection to the pop and rock he listened to growing up in South Dakota to the places he has composed in solitude – a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains and a seaside cottage in Florida.
He particularly relishes those times where he can go somewhere and just immerse himself in his music. Creativity to him “is a muscle you have to flex. Otherwise it will atrophy.”
Four of the CDs in Flynn's discography were created since joining the WSU faculty: “Cross Country,” “Yuletide,” “Traveler” and “The Songbook Project.”
Flynn has a busy performance schedule, as well, playing club gigs, recitals and major music festivals. Sometimes he appears solo, at other times he's performed with major jazz artists, including a Grammy Award winner and a nominee.
Flynn said he was always into music from a young age. He started playing trumpet in second grade but gave it up when braces interfered with his playing. He turned to guitar – an instrument his dad had showed him how to strum around age 10 – and had a garage rock band for awhile. His high school band director introduced the teenaged Flynn to jazz, and he was hooked.
“It became a puzzle I wanted to crack,” he said, of the improv nature of jazz music.
Excellence in Research
Shuang Gu, assistant professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering
Shuang Gu earned the bachelor's degree and the doctorate in chemical engineering in 2000 and 2007, respectively, from Dalian University of Technology in China. After working a researcher at the University of California – Riverside and the University of Delaware, Gu joined the WSU faculty in 2015.
With a major grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, WSU researcher Shuang Gu is among the researchers on a sort of holy grail quest to find an alternative energy source. And it literally could be created from water and air.
Gu is the lead researcher in a collaborative effort to develop novel technology to more efficiently produce ammonia as an alternative fuel. The work is being funded in large part by an $855,000 grant from the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program. The highly competitive grant award marked the first time a Kansas institution had received ARPA-E recognition as a project lead. Gu is collaborating with researchers from George Washington University and Iowa State University.
Funded by other grant sources, the total project expenditure is more than $1 million, noted Janet Twomey, associate dean for research and graduate studies with the College of Engineering.
While ammonia is a colorless gas, researchers say there's plenty of green that could result if a successful discovery to produce it more efficiently is made. It could reduce America's reliance on foreign fuels, reduce gases associated with global warming and lead to new jobs in a new technology field. One of its major benefits is zero carbon emissions. It's a proven fuel source and can be used in a range of engines, including internal combustion engines, combustion turbines and direct fuel cells.
But with current production methods, creating ammonia is very energy-intensive and expensive. It's produced in huge chemical plants using large amounts of hydrogen gas from fossil fuels.
Gu and his fellow researchers are working on a method of creating ammonia from air, using a polymer-based hydroxide exchange membrane powered by renewable energy.
Twomey calls Gu “a national rising star in the area of sustainable materials.”
“In over 20 years at WSU, I have never witnessed a research record as strong and impactful as Dr. Gu's record,” she added. “He is becoming a leader in a field of critical interest – global warning.”
As a principal and co-principal investigator, Gu has earned research funding of $4.1 million since joining the WSU faculty.
He also has a very strong publication record: about 60 peer-reviewed journal articles with more than 4,000 citations, two book chapters and 40 technical reports. Six of his papers have earned cover pictures and stories in the journals that published them. Several of his papers have received more than 100 citations, as well.
Gu also holds 15 patents, eight of which have been granted and four of which are licensed to U.S. companies, Twomey said.
Gu was recruited to WSU three years ago after serving as a research assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Delaware. His success at securing highly competitive DOE awards and his research record has impressed his colleagues.
“We are all amazed at how quickly and extensively Dr. Gu has been able to develop and expand his research program at WSU,” said Hamid Lankarani, mechanical engineering professor, NIAR senior fellow and former Excellence of Research award winner.
Faculty Risk Taker
Achita Muthitacharoen, associate professor of management information systems, Department of Finance, Real Estate and Decision Sciences, W. Frank Barton School of Business
Achita Muthitacharoen earned the Bachelor of Arts in economics with a minor in information systems in 1994 from Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand, and the Master of Business Administration and a doctorate, both in management information systems, in 1997 and 2002, respectively, from the University of Memphis. She joined the WSU faculty in 2002.
To keep Wichita State information management and management information systems majors competitive in the growing $38 billion web development industry, Achita Muthitacharoen knew she needed to find an applied learning experience for her fall-semester Dynamic Programming class.
It would take Dr. Mi (pronounced Me) – as she's known to colleagues and students – two years of collaborating with Koch College Recruiting and its then-executive and WSU alumnus Robert Moon to create such a project that could be done in a semester-long class. In the real world, a programming project usually takes experienced, dedicated staff anywhere from six to 12 months, she noted.
The outcome was an annual competition, started in fall 2017, in which teams of students create a web-based hardware procurement system for the intranet of the hypothetical company “Shocker Industries.” Winning teams present their projects to Koch Industries' IT department and other company executives.
A key feature of the competition is that it builds on skills students learn in other IT/MIS classes, such as programming, communicating with clients, connecting the new program with an existing database and more.
About 30 students, several of whom also work full-time jobs, tend to enroll in Dynamic Programming, an elective Dr. Mi created in 2004.
Barton School Dean Anand Desai and Rick LeCompte, Dr. Mi's department chair, had high praise for the resulting final presentations.
“This is a great professional experience for our students,” LeCompte said. “It has the added benefits of providing a focused pathway for our students to interact with a potential future employer, and it enhances WSU's connection with Koch Industries.” Other employers have since inquired about providing similar experiences, he noted.
To pair with Koch College Recruiting is a great opportunity, agreed Dr. Mi. Koch College Recruiting creates learning opportunities for students at several universities nationwide, so it was a coup for WSU to land a project with the team. Also, according to the Koch College Recruiting team website, Koch Industries and its many businesses “have some serious digital capabilities and multiple multi-million dollar projects” so it actively recruits IT professionals.
After the first competition in fall 2017, one student was offered a job at Koch Industries while another gave credit to the competition in landing a job with GE Industries.
Students in the competition “are motivated to show off their work and when you put it in a competition format, they get bragging rights,” Dr. Mi said.
Some students showed dedication by taking time off from their jobs to complete the project. Others created professional executive summary handouts to impress the judges. Some teams went further and created a mobile-friendly app or other features not required in the project parameters.
“My class isn't a mobile app development class so that shows how far they wanted to go,” she said.
“Both years we have been completely amazed at the quality of work each student group has produced,” said Collin Shores with Koch College Recruiting. “The students are not only applying the technical skills they have learned but are also asking questions about value drivers and economics that indicate to us they understand how these create value for an organization.”
Excellence in Teaching
Rick Pappas, senior educator, Department of Human Performance Studies, College of Applied Studies
Rick Pappas completed the Bachelor of Science in physical education from Fort Hays State University in 1976 and the Master of Education in physical education from Wichita State in 1987. Pappas joined the WSU faculty full time in 2010 after a 34-year career teaching at Wichita public elementary schools.
After Rick Pappas retired from a 34-year career teaching physical education in Wichita public elementary schools, Price-Harris Elementary named its gym after him. Now as he prepares to retire from Wichita State, he's earning a university-level teaching award.
Those achievements seem appropriate validations of the impact Pappas has made for more four decades.
“Rick has a well-deserved reputation, both locally and nationally, as one of the most eminent teachers of physical education,” said faculty colleague Professor Michael Rogers.
He's researched the state of recess time in Kansas with a $25,000 Kansas Health Foundation grant, served on a national task force that wrote position papers on the role of PE in schools, advocated for PE's importance to legislators and has spent countless hours in service to both state and national PE organizations.
A former competitive collegiate gymnast, Pappas is a passionate proponent of providing more physical exercise breaks in schools, and he's been an innovative integrater of academic exercises with physical exercise. The latter effort is referred to as physical/cognitive integration.
“I do a lot of integration with other academics,” said Pappas. It started when he saw a third-grade teacher using a soccer ball that she'd put numbers on for a math exercise. After catching the ball, the student would have to reveal the numbers under their thumbs and then multiply the two numbers.
He got a grant to find other ways to integrate academics with physical movement, and “my name got out,” he said. He started giving presentations at conferences and even to PE teacher candidates at WSU.
When Pappas joined the WSU faculty, word got out about his work in physical/cognitive integration and he teamed up with Gayla Lohfink, a former WSU education professor. Her education students noted that when they were in area classrooms, they saw kids sitting for long periods of time.
“Dr. Lohfink asked if I would collaborate with her to find ways to incorporate movement into reading for her students. That was one of my highlights working here at WSU,” Pappas said. The pair presented their collaboration results at a national conference, wrote an article and also created a WSU badge course.
At WSU, Pappas has been able “to utilize his tremendous teaching skills to prepare physical education majors who will carry his legacy far into the future,” Rogers said.
He took what had been lecture classes at WSU and turned them into hands-on learning opportunities for his students, earning comments like “I like how he got students out of the classroom to reinforce learning.” He showed them how to integrate geography by having kids catch special balloons that depict the world map with green land mass and blue water and to integrate STEM concepts by having kids find places to stick magnetic strips.
Pappas has racked up several awards over his career, including being a finalist for the National Physical Education Teacher of the Year while at Price-Harris. While at WSU, he received the two highest awards given by the Kansas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance organization.
Young Faculty Scholar
Ehsan Salari, assistant professor, Department of Industrial, Systems and Manufacturing Engineering, College of Engineering
Ehsan Salari received the Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, in 2003, the Master of Science in industrial and systems engineering at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran in 2005 and the doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, in 2011. Until joining the WSU faculty in 2013, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
For engineers like Ehsan Salari, the human body can be viewed as a complex operating system with each person having a unique geometry.
Using his strong skills in both theoretical and applied research, Salari works with other researchers, clinicians and practitioners on radiation therapy planning for cancer treatments.
In radiation therapy, high-energy beams from a machine are aimed at precise points in the patient's body to kill cancer cells. The treatment itself often takes just minutes but the preparation to deliver on-target treatment can take hours as a medical team reviews CT scans and other images of a patient's body and calculates what's needed to hit the targeted area.
While a patient must stay very still during treatment, movement still happening within the body – breathing and involuntary organ motion, for example – presents an ongoing challenge. The recent development of real-time imaging technology particularly interests Salari. This new technology brings real-time sight to radiation therapy clinicians as they direct the intense beams during treatment.
Using challenging mathematical models and optimization techniques to account for different variables, particularly motion, Salari is looking for solutions to help both the medical team using the technology and the patient who can avoid suffering less damage to healthy cells around the cancer.
His postdoctoral research work in the radiation oncology department of Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital gives Salari the advantage of understanding the clinical setting.
He's in year two of a three-year National Science Foundation-funded project called “Radiotherapy Planning for Organ Motion Management” with Massachusetts General, Harvard Medical School and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. WSU's portion of the award is about $225,000. Currently a doctoral student is assisting Salari in his research, which requires extended visits to hospitals in Boston and St. Louis to work with clinicians. The research has generated a published article, an article under review and a working paper so far, Salari said. Similar work by Salari has been funded by the Flossie E. West Memorial Foundation and a University Research/Creative Project grant.
In his nomination letter for Salari, Gregory Sharp, an associate professor with Harvard Medical School, noted Salari's outstanding publication record of 14 peer-reviewed journal articles and five peer-reviewed conference presentations.
According to Google Scholar, Salari's research articles have been cited more than 340 times.
Sharp also had high praise for Salari's ability to conduct collaborative and multidisciplinary research and his mentoring of students. Salari is advising or has advised three Ph.D. students in their research, has supervised two master's students and has served on several thesis and dissertation committees.
In addition, Salari has developed three new courses in the core area of operations research for undergraduate and graduate students, and has received very good or high scores on student evaluations, said Krishna Krishnan, professor and department chair.
Through his service as an executive officer with INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and Management Systems) Junior Faculty Interest Group since 2015, Salari has organized and chaired annual panel discussions to help with junior faculty career development.
Excellence in Community Research
Mehmet Bayram Yildirim, professor, Department of Industrial, Systems and Manufacturing Engineering, College of Engineering
Mehmet Bayram Yildirim earned the Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from Bogazici University in Istanbul in 1994, the Master of Science in industrial engineering from Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey in 1996, and a doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Florida in 2001. In 2002, he joined the WSU faculty.
Mehmet Bayram Yildirim's research involves studying how organizations and businesses can optimize and use resources more efficiently. It's the kind of research that can be applied in almost any industry or business sector, from a top tourist attraction to a VA hospital to aviation manufacturers.
It's also the kind of research that creates learning opportunities for his undergraduate and graduate students, plus it's contributed to Yildirim's prolific publications, presentations and funding record.
“His research has direct impact on the businesses and well-being of communities,” said Krishna Krishnan, professor and department chair.
For the past 12 years, Yildirim and his students have been performing free energy audits for small- and medium-sized businesses in Kansas as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) at WSU. The center, which conducts about seven audits annually, is funded through a joint DOE grant with Oklahoma State University.
The audits, Yildirim said, help companies save money and reduce their energy footprint, plus it helps his WSU students become adapt at tackling sustainability projects.
More than a handful of WSU students are generally involved in doing site visits, performing the audits, writing the reports and presenting their findings to business executives.
“This is a great, additional applied skill-set that our students develop,” said Yildirim, citing the students have opportunities to hone other skills besides data collection, such as leadership and communication skills.
About six months after an audit, the IAC team follows up with the business to check what recommendations were implemented. An audit can typically identify more than $130,000 in potential annual savings opportunities for a business, according to the DOE.
Yildirim's research team has also done some volunteer audits outside the scope of the IAC, including a 2017 audit of the Sedgwick County Zoo's gorilla habitat.
“If we find an interesting case or a business we've not seen before, it's a good way to train students in new and different systems,” Yildirim said.
Yildirim also does research in the health care field, working with local providers to identify ways to enhance their service delivery capacities. One of his most recent projects involved analyzing and improving the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center's surgery supply chain system. In the past, Yildirim worked with Wesley's pediatrics clinic to identify how doctors could better serve patients and schedule appointments more efficiently.
Yildirim has amassed a prolific publication and presentation record. He's had more than 70 peer-reviewed articles published, and his article on methods for minimizing energy consumption of manufacturing equipment has been cited more than 275 times, while at least two others have been cited nearly 150 times each. Yildirim is also a regular presenter at his profession's top two conferences.
In nominating Yildirim, Krishnan also noted that during the last year, Yildirim has helped develop curriculum for two new interdisciplinary graduate programs with the Barton School of Business: a Master of Science in global supply chain management and a special supply chain management certificate for Cargill Industries.