2023 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 Online Teaching
JaeHwan Byun, associate professor, School of Education, College of Applied Studies
JaeHwan Byun earned the Bachelor of Arts degree and the Master of Arts degree in educational technology from Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea, in 2001 and 2004, respectively. He earned his doctorate in education in curriculum and instruction and specializing in instructional design and technology from Southern Illinois University in 2012. Before joining the WSU faculty in 2015, Byun was a post-doctoral researcher from 2012-2015 at SIU.
JaeHwan Byun comes from a long family line of teachers going back a few generations. But he's added a modern, contemporary twist to his teaching expertise: that of applying educational technology and optimizing online learning.
Since joining the WSU faculty in 2015, Byun has taught 18 different online courses, including independent study and capstone/thesis courses. Currently, his primary responsibility is teaching core courses in the fully online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in learning and instructional design (LID) program, which he helped develop. In fall 2022, he became the degree's program chair.
In 2017, he collaborated with the LID program coordinator to revise and transition the graduate certificate in educational technology program to a graduate certificate in online learning and educational technology (OLET). The revision was made to provide students with more innovative teaching methods in various online environments.
The OLET certificate program attracts more than students from the education discipline. Other students who benefit are those who plan to become professional trainers in the corporate world or any educational institutions, for example, Byun says.
Students often say Byun's classes have given them the confidence and skills to work as instructional designers.
"Having someone with online teaching and learning expertise (like Byun's) has been invaluable as we move more and more of our coursework into a digital environment," says Jim Granada, the School of Education chair.
Byun has provided his "expert guidance as we have explored new possible certificates to offer, analyzing the courses that currently make up the foundational courses of the LID degree, and ways to expand enrollments beyond teachers and beyond Kansas. The dream is to have an international offering of our M.Ed. degree," Granada says.
Byun believes the same rigor that is applied to classroom teaching must be applied to online teaching to achieve the best outcomes.
"I believe teaching is not just an activity to deliver the specific information or knowledge that an instructor has to students but an art/science to facilitate students' learning by providing effective, efficient and engaging learning environments where students can reflect on their learning progress. Online learning cannot be an exception to that," Byun says.
The use of educational technology can make learning more inclusive and equitable, something that resonates with Byun.
He currently is providing his expertise to help create a digital game-based learning platform using science concepts to teach English to refugees in a $300,000 grant-funded project led by Mythili Menon, the director of WSU's Center for Educational Technologies to Assist Refugee Learners.
During his career, Byun has been part of more than a dozen publications and more than 30 presentations related to educational technology. He is currently a reviewer of two journals, one that focuses on research in innovative teaching and learning and the other on educational technology research and development.
As part of his service activities, Byun recently completed a term on the WSU general education committee and serves on several committees within the College of Applied Sciences, including its accreditation steering and technology committees.
Excellence in Research
Nils Hakansson, associate professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering
Nils Hakansson earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Duke University in 1988, and his Master of Science and doctorate degrees in biomedical engineering from the University of California, Davis in 2003 and 2008, respectively. He was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Delaware between 2008 and 2011, before joining the WSU faculty in 2012. In 2018, Hakansson received the WSU Excellence in Community Research Award.
Nils Hakansson initially came to WSU to be part of its engineering physics program. But soon his colleagues and peers realized that Hakansson and his area of expertise could have a bigger impact on the university's emerging biomedical engineering program.
With the ending of the engineering physics program in 2013 and the forming of the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2014, Hakansson became an integral part of the new department. Since then, he's developed several courses, set up two biomechanics teaching and research labs, and helped the department earn Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology accreditation. He was also instrumental in creating the department's Master of Science degree program, which started in January 2017, and its doctoral program, which started in January 2020.
His Multidisciplinary Human Biomechanics and Design Laboratory, equipped with state-of-the-art biomechanics research equipment, has become an industrious hub for collaborative research initiatives within and outside WSU while providing students with applied research opportunities, says Michael Jorgensen, the department's founding chair. "… from my perspective, it is currently one of the busiest engineering research labs in the John Bardo Center from the numerous research and applied learning activities."
Other WSU researchers speak highly of Hakansson's ability to secure research dollars.
Hakansson's "grantsmanship … is nothing shy of amazing" since 2019, says Ken Pitetti, a WSU physical therapy professor. Hakansson has garnered more than $3 million collectively from various state, regional and federal sources, including the National Science Foundation.
"If you look at the list of his (research) projects, you will see innovative solutions being developed to benefit those with mobility impairments, vision impairments, cognitive impairments and older adults," says Vinod Namboodiri, professor and associate director for research engagement with the School of Computing. Namboodiri has been working with Hakansson on prototype navigation and way-finding apps that, if successful, could form the basis for other customized locator-type apps.
Another of Hakansson's research areas centers on exoskeletons, which are wearable structures that support or assist movement or can augment the body's capabilities.
He did an industry-funded project with Spirit AeroSystems to study whether the use of exoskeletons could help reduce muscle force, which could presumably reduce muscle fatigue and therefore muscle injury in workers.
He's currently doing NSF-funded research on rehabilitative exoskeletons to help improve the design and use of exoskeletons.
His other research includes muscle strengthening for fall prevention for the elderly, and identifying differences in balance strategies between people who are neurotypical and neurodivergent.
His research has resulted in nearly 25 peer-reviewed publications, more than 30 peer-reviewed presentations, a book chapter and several invited presentations.
Hakansson notes, however, that all his research involves collaboration.
"None of this happens in a vacuum. So many other people are critical in what I do. I may be getting the award but it's the folks that I work with who have helped me look good."
Excellence in Teaching
Amy Drassen Ham, clinical professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Health Professions
Amy Drassen Ham earned the Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology, with a minor in psychology, in 1993 and a master’s degree in anthropology in 1997 from Wichita State University. In 2001, she earned the Master of Public Health degree from WSU in conjunction with the University of Kansas School of Medicine. She completed her doctorate in anthropology through KU in 2013. She was a lecturer in the WSU anthropology department from 1997-2003 and joined the public health sciences department in 2001 as a faculty member. In 2009, she was the recipient of a WSU Excellence in Teaching Award.
Amy Drassen Ham takes great pride in her alma mater, Wichita State University. And she wants current and former students to have that same sense too. That’s why she’s intentional in creating classes and activities that will best prepare students.
A prime example of how she has implemented that strategy is the Department of Public Health Sciences’ health management capstone class, a course she has taken "from a standard senior seminar to new heights," according to the award nomination letter submitted by department chair Nicole Rogers and professor Suzanne Hawley.
Each semester, Drassen Ham conceptualizes and develops a new student group project that culminates in a sleek, on-brand professional presentation with actionable plans for the end-user of the project.
Those experiential projects have included initiating a tobacco-free WSU campus, mitigating COVID-19 risk for the WSU community and planning a campus testing and vaccination process, developing a business plan for a midwifery center, helping WSU Student Health Services with its five-year strategic plan, providing background research for the state of Kansas to develop chronic disease management plans for people with serious mental illnesses, and many other projects.
By doing projects such as developing public health campaigns, planning health policies and working with community partners, the students can apply what they’ve learned about addressing complex challenges in public health and health care. Plus, they bolster their resumes. "I want them to have something in their professional portfolio that they can share with potential employers," Drassen Ham says.
"I am passionate about curriculum and how that aligns with our department goals, our college goals and our institutional goals," she continues. "I want to ensure we have helped students hit certain competencies with outcomes. … And if we do that well, it creates better learning environments for our students."
Drassen Ham has always looked for ways to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries, say her colleagues. Early in her WSU career, she created a class called Anthropology of Food that incorporated cultural diversity and interdisciplinary elements. Recently, she started teaching another food-related course called Food, Culture and Privilege for WSU’s First-Year Seminar Program that has been well-received by students, says Aaron Rife, the program’s faculty coordinator.
With her cross-disciplinary and anthropologically based perspectives, she creatively infuses the caring disciplines within the College of Health Professions to cultural theory, helping teach students to be responsive to diverse patient populations, her colleagues say.
A department colleague endearingly calls her "Yoda" because of her mastery in teaching and learning and her vast institutional knowledge. Faculty regularly seek out her guidance or sit in on her classes to observe her techniques and they encourage their doctoral students who are interested in teaching to do the same. She regularly mentors new faculty.
Rife, who also worked with Drassen Ham as part of the general education committee between 2017-19, says of Drassen Ham: "She has the habit of inspiring others around her to make meaningful change in the lives of students. Amy is not just a great teacher or lecturer; she is a fantastic colleague and a force for good."
To recognize Drassen Ham’s tremendous impact on students, an alumnus of the HEALTH Student Association that she has advised since 2005 named an endowed scholarship in her honor in 2022.
Academy for Effective Teaching
John Hammond, senior educator, Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
John Hammond earned the Bachelor of Science in Education in mathematics and a minor in computer science in 2006 from Missouri State University and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Missouri in 2012. He joined the WSU faculty in 2012 and was the recipient of the 2022 WSU Excellence in Accessibility Award.
Being a teacher is a big part of his identity, says John Hammond.
And it might well be in his genes. Hammond is a second-generation college instructor. His dad recently retired from his career as a business professor at Missouri State University, where he, too, has received an educator award.
Hammond rarely switches off his "teacher mode," he says, regularly reading journals, books and blogs on the topic of teaching, listening to podcasts about teaching and mulling how he might better explain concepts and incorporate more in-class activities to improve his students’ learning experiences. He’s also attended sessions on teaching, learning and technology at every WSU Academic Resources Conference since its first event in fall 2018.
Every semester, he evaluates and revises the open-source textbook he developed a few years ago for his discrete mathematics class, incorporating student feedback and observations made during the semester.
Initially, he’d created the free textbook to provide a more affordable and more accessible, web-based option. But when one of his students who is blind indicated he had trouble using the textbook, Hammond enlisted the student’s help and spent hours creating a better Braille version of the textbook during the spring 2020 semester.
At the end of the semester, the student had high praise for Hammond’s efforts, writing on a Student Perception of Teaching Effectiveness evaluation, "His book is the most accessible online textbook I’ve ever seen. You can tell that he put a lot of time into making every element of the text readable via a screen reader."
Hammond has since made presentations about creating open-source texts and improving accessibility and engagement at the 2021 Conference on Higher Education Computing in Kansas and the 2022 Kansas Open Educational Resources Conference.
Hammond has also sought out ways to better assess student learning. Now, all of his math content courses incorporate mastery-based testing, using a weekly pass-fail assessment. The assessments, which Hammond calls checkpoints, help both him and the student get a reading on whether the student is staying on track with learning objectives for the class. The weekly frequency helps ensure the student doesn’t fall behind.
Hammond consistently gets high scores on student evaluations and has left lasting impressions on his students.
In nomination letters, former students lauded both Hammond’s teaching style, his caring and friendly nature and his willingness to talk to students on topics ranging from career goals to video games.
"In my whole life, I’ve never seen a teacher try to improve their teaching and grading systems like John Hammond," said Ayham Sabra, a 2022 WSU graduate.
Jonas Zabriskie, who earned a math degree and is now on the staff of the University of Arkansas, said it wasn’t until he took Hammond’s class "that everything began to click." He enjoyed the rapport he and Hammond had whenever he visited during office hours.
"As an individual who once struggled in college, I try to make sure I give my best no matter what, similar to how Mr. Hammond gave his best to me," Zabriskie said.
Young Faculty Risk Taker
Hongsheng He, assistant professor, School of Computing, College of Engineering
Hongsheng He earned the Bachelor of Science degree in automation from Wuhan University of Science and Technology in China in 2006 and a Master of Science in control theory and engineering from Northeastern University. He earned his doctorate from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the National University of Singapore in 2012. Before joining the WSU faculty in 2017, He had been a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
When Hongsheng He, an expert in intelligent robotics, joined the WSU faculty, he helped the School of Computing address the increasing interest in robotics and artificial intelligence.
He designed new courses and created new research opportunities for students "that capitalize on trends in artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing, thus increasing the competence of students and the quality of education," according to his award nomination.
He uses a research-oriented pedagogy style, where students learn by doing, in his graduate classes. While he shares cutting-edge research topics, he also allows students to explore open questions, to inspire them to delve deeper.
Students benefit from the experiences and the environment He creates. Students have published their research in the most prestigious and highest-ranked Google Scholar publications in robotics, including the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation and IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems.
Bharath Rao attributes his career success to the research and learning experiences he had with He. Two years after graduating with a master’s degree, Rao was promoted to a senior research lead position with Spirit AeroSystems.
"I give full credit to Dr. He’s guidance, especially the approach he took to getting us up to speed on the latest industry trends through his course design. … For anyone who was looking to enter the industry and start delivering real solutions, Dr. He’s lectures were the best resource."
During the Introduction to Intelligent Robotics class, Rao recalls, "We were able to solve problems in robotic vision and natural language processing and test it out in Dr. He’s Robot Intelligence Laboratory."
He’s MagicHand research project has caught the interest of not just students, but funding agencies and industry.
The MagicHand will use AI-enhanced technology so that the robotic hand can do complex automated grasping tasks in a dynamic, unstructured environment, where it would need to be able to react to real-time situations, such as interacting with workers.
After getting smaller grants from two internal WSU sources (the John A. See Innovation Award and Shocker Innovation Corps), the MagicHand project has since garnered NSF Innovation Corps funding.
Students have been involved in writing algorithms for the hand’s AI technology.
The technologies and innovations from He’s research "have great potential for industrial application and commercialization," says Edwin Sawan, the interim director for the School of Computing.
Companies such as Spirit AeroSystems and Amazon have expressed interest in a product like the MagicHand since current popular grippers in the marketplace are mostly two- or three-fingered and they don’t have sensors for context perception. A more sophisticated grasping tool like the MagicHand could be used for sorting and packing irregular-shaped objects, for example.
He also has worked on interdisciplinary research with other departments at WSU and other universities, including projects dealing with human mobility and smart, or assisted, rehabilitation, Sawan notes.
Excellence in Teaching
David Long, assistant professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering
David Long earned the Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, summa cum laude, in 1998 from the Tennessee Technological University. He received the Master of Science and the doctorate both in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001 and 2004, respectively. He completed post-doctoral fellowships at Duke University and was an assistant professor at the University of Auckland from 2009-2016, where he also was part of its Auckland Bioengineering Institute and the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery. He joined the WSU faculty in January 2017.
When David Long joined the WSU faculty in January 2017, he brought considerable experience in teaching and research in the areas of cellular bioengineering and mechanobiology, filling a discipline gap in the then-three-year-old biomedical engineering department.
Students had been requesting such classes and have since enthusiastically embraced Long's classes, according to Michael Jorgensen, who was the department's founding chair.
Long says he was excited to join a relatively new program where he could have an immediate impact.
"A department that was up-and-coming appealed to me, and the program was getting ready to add graduate programs," Long says. The master's program was added in 2017 and the doctoral program was added in 2020.
Long's students benefit from his belief that to be an effective teacher, one shouldn't forget that they, too, are still learners.
"I openly admit to my students that I learn something every time I teach a course, even after multiple offerings, because I have to think about concepts and topics differently, so my lectures fit the learning needs and styles of a new group of students; one lecture doesn't fit all students," Long says.
He's willing to revise and redesign his courses if he finds an approach isn't optimal. For example, when he established the 700-level Mechanobiology of Cells and Tissues class, he first taught it as a traditional lecture. After the first session, he began including standalone, hands-on lab activities. Still not satisfied, he redesigned the class into a semester-long, project-based course. The course is now focused on student-centered applied learning, helping the students hone both their critical thinking and technical skills.
For his Intro to Biofluids class, Long has come up with demonstrations, using inexpensive materials easily found around the house or sourced at big-box DIY-type stores, to illustrate concepts such as laminar flow, fluid statics, compliant blood vessels and viscosity. After demonstrating the phenomenon, Long breaks down what has happened and why.
In reviews, students repeatedly note how helpful the demonstrations are for understanding the material. While his objectives for his students include helping them gain confidence, skills and knowledge, Long also wants to foster a love of learning and instill what Carl Sagan has said: "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."
In addition to creating two new classes, Long created the Mechanobiology and Biomedicine Lab, where a new generation of scientists and biomedical engineers can discover and understand fundamental mechanobiological mechanisms relevant to health and can help develop novel techniques and technology to enable the treatment and prevention of disease.
Long has mentored more than 30 undergraduate research students, who have gone on to doctoral programs at other universities, to medical school or to careers at biotech companies such as Bristol-Myers.
Long's research often involves multiple disciplines and international collaboration, and his research program has produced publications in leading journals in his field of research. Additionally, he and his students have presented at several conferences. Twice he's been invited to the leading international conference on biomechanics.
Young Faculty Scholar
Mythili Menon, assistant professor, Department of English, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Mythili Menon has earned the following degrees: Bachelor of Arts in communicative English from Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, India (2004), the Master of Arts in linguistics from the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (2006), the Master of Philosophy in English (linguistics) from The English and Foreign Languages University (2008), a master’s in linguistics from the University of Southern California (2012) and a doctorate in linguistics from USC (2016). She joined the WSU faculty in 2016 and received the 2021 Young Faculty Risk Taker Award.
Since joining the WSU faculty in 2016, Mythili Menon has built an innovative linguistics program at the university, growing the curriculum into a bachelor’s degree program, garnering more than $900,000 in external and internal research funding, and creating a center focused on helping refugees learn English through educational technologies.
She’s also recognized in the linguistics field for her longstanding research studying property concepts expressions in languages that don’t have adjectives. She’s put forth what fellow linguist Andrew Koontz-Garboden from the University of Manchester calls "a pioneering theory" regarding how adjectives are expressed in those languages. Independent and leading linguistics researchers from around the world, including the Max Planck Institute in Germany and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, have cited her research at least 157 times in their peer-reviewed articles, according to Google Scholar.
Because of extensive debate about her theory, Menon landed a book contract with one of the leading publishers for linguistics research.
At WSU, her passion for language and linguistics has resulted in significant achievements as well.
Initially hired to revive a linguistics minor that had been on the books for years but didn’t have current classes or students, Menon went beyond her initial charge and created an interdisciplinary, three-track bachelor’s degree program in linguistics, which started in fall 2021.
Immediately, 17 students enrolled in the degree program, which conferred its first three degrees in 2022, "a remarkable record of growth for a new program," notes Francis Connor, the English department’s chair.
Besides the general linguistics degree offered through the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the major also has a speech pathology track offered in collaboration with the College of Health Professions and a computational linguistics track offered in collaboration with the College of Engineering.
One of Menon’s innovative linguistics courses is the Language of Food, which is also a general education humanities course. The course examines how we talk about food through a window into history, psychology, culture and economics.
Menon is also developing a respected reputation through article publications and presentations for her research projects related to helping refugees learn English, the spreading of misinformation in English- and Spanish-speaking populations, and studying and preventing cybersecurity attacks among vulnerable, unsuspecting refugee populations. For the latter project, Menon has received more than $250,000 from the National Science Foundation.
The attention the research is getting isn’t limited to the linguistics field.
The United Way of the Plains named Menon’s ongoing collaborative research project that has produced a digital game-based learning platform for teaching English to refugee children as its 2021 Social Innovation Game Changer Award winner in the field of Education. The other contender was Exploration Place.
Created as an initiative of the Center for Educational Technologies to Assist Refugee Learners, which Menon founded and directs, the bilingual platform is being beta-tested in a Wichita middle school. The platform has two modules — on the solar system and the human body — and uses the children’s home language to teach them English as well as middle-school science.
Her research on misinformation spread in English- and Spanish-speaking populations led to Menon’s guest appearance on an NPR panel called Remaking America on its 1A program July 2022.
Young Faculty Risk Taker
Aubrey Neihaus, assistant professor, School of Education, College of Applied Studies
Aubrey Neihaus earned the Bachelor of Arts in English studies and the Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the State University of New York at Albany in 2007. She earned a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in secondary mathematics education from Union Graduate College in New York in 2009 and earned a doctorate from the University of Arizona in 2021. She joined the WSU faculty in 2020 after spending 10 years in the math department at the University of Arizona.
Aubrey Neihaus is worthy of the label "mathematics activist," says Jim Granada, chair of the School of Education.
That's because she's revolutionizing math education at WSU and making WSU a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion in math education, colleagues say.
As program chair of the mathematics education teacher preparation program, Neihaus teaches a three-course sequence on how to teach math to middle and high school students. In 2020, she started redesigning those courses, applying research-based concepts on teaching math to diverse audiences and being inclusive.
"To share her vision and feedback, Dr. Neihaus met with faculty, staff and administration in the College of Applied Sciences as well as faculty in teacher-education programs beyond the college," writes Clay Stoldt, the college's associate dean. "The idea was met with unanimous encouragement."
Traditionally, mathematics has been thought of as having more to do with the applied sciences, but that short-changes the potential for students to realize math has broader applications.
"The reality is that math is everywhere around us," Neihaus says.
For example, she notes, math can be applied to creative concepts like art or societal decisions on where resources are distributed or community quality-of-life decisions like what potholes get fixed or where to put a bike path.
"If we relegate the idea of math application to just chemistry and biology, we're missing a lot of the more accessible and more everyday occurrences of mathematics," Neihaus says.
As part of the curriculum change, students now participate in three major projects. One, called the Funds of Knowledge Project as it's based on University of Arizona research of the same name, asks prospective teachers to identify strengths among their students, families and school communities and to find ways to apply them. One successful example, Neihaus notes, was a project in which WSU student teachers at Wichita North High — where the student body is more than 70% Hispanic and where tortilla and quinceanera shops are nearby — had their students apply math concepts used in running a tortilla-making business and planning a quinceanera.
In another project, prospective teachers are asked to analyze curricula — whether it's online, mass-produced or teacher-created — to see if it falls short of research-based best practices and to improve it.
The Math IRL (In Real Life) Project asks prospective teachers to develop lesson plans that relate math to things happening around them, such as a news report, a social media post or even advertising. The lesson plans are shared in an online repository that can be accessed later.
Tia Fox, a math teacher at one of Wichita's Title I middle schools, says she has accessed the Math IRL projects to provide classroom content that resonates with her students, and she often uses the skills learned through Neihaus' classes.
"Without Dr. Neihaus' guidance, I would not have the tools needed to build equitable assignments for my students," Fox says.
As Neihaus redesigned the courses, she realized that while there are research texts that connect equity and math, there's less written to directly support math teachers to adapt their curriculum to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion. Neihaus has since collaborated with three other math educators on a manuscript that addresses that gap; the article will be published in the flagship publication of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, "Mathematics Teacher: Learning and Teaching PK-12."
Excellence in Community Research
Lisa Parcell, Betty and Oliver Elliott associate professor of communication and graduate coordinator, Elliott School of Communication, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and co-director, The Research Partnership
Lisa Parcell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communication/journalism in 1993 from Appalachian State University. She earned a Master of Arts in communication/journalism in 1997 and a doctorate in mass communication in 2003, both from The University of Alabama. She joined the Elliott School faculty in 2007.
Since becoming the co-director of The Research Partnership, a full-service market research and consulting firm within WSU’s Elliott School, Lisa Parcell has helped oversee projects that have included gauging Kansans interest in an energy efficiency program, determining customer satisfaction with a large Kansas insurance company and running mock trials of cases scheduled for state and federal courts.
With her expertise in communication research and in conducting and evaluating marketing campaigns, Parcell is well-suited in helping lead The Research Partnership (TRP), which is co-directed by Jeffrey Jarman, the Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Director of the Elliott School. The two were chosen to lead TRP at WSU when the firm, which was founded by two Wichita State marketing professors, was gifted to the university in 2017.
TRP generates about $200,000 in research contracts each year in work that ranges from telephone surveys to focus groups and even mystery shoppers, Parcell says.
One of its major ongoing contracts is with a state of Washington-based firm, Tsongas, which provides pre-trial jury research so that participants in litigation disputes can make informed decisions about case resolutions, settlements or proceeding to trial.
"Dr. Parcell runs a team that has provided exceptional and reliable quality in support of our projects" that have involved about 75 jury research projects and more than 2,000 mock jury participants, according to Rebecca Prosise with Tsongas.
In another project, the regulatory Kansas Corporation Commission contracted with TRP to gauge interest among Kansans in supporting an energy efficiency program.
"That was a great project to work on because this involved something that could affect every person in the state," recalls Parcell.
Later, Parcell was asked to evaluate and suggest improvements for Evergy’s marketing and educational campaign for its proposed energy efficiency program.
Other TRP clients have included the Kansas Insurance Department’s securities division and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas.
Parcell also provides services to additional groups through the capstone Integrated Marketing Communications class that she teaches. IMC students have created campaigns for several local government and community groups, including Sedgwick County Health Department, the Alce su voz advocacy group that promotes health equity, Rainbows United, Girls on the Run, Wichita Festivals, the Kansas Nonprofit Chamber of Commerce, Wichita’s Price Harris Communications Magnet Elementary School and Real Men, Real Heroes.
As part of an interdisciplinary effort, Parcell partnered with business professor Sue Abdinnour and public history professor Jay Price to develop strategies for creating the new Pizza Hut Museum on campus. That project led to three conference presentations and an article in "The Public Historian" in 2022.
Also in 2022, an article Parcell co-authored with a graduate student on their research into Kellogg’s cereal campaigns was published in the journal "Journalism History." That article recently won the journal’s top paper award. Parcell has served on the journal’s editorial board since 2016.
Parcell, a member and finance officer with the American Journalism Historians Association, is currently researching how national brands hired consumer scientists to run test kitchens and inadvertently opened a back door to women in the advertising industry,
Along with coordinating the Elliott School’s master’s program, Parcell also teaches a number of the program’s graduate research classes.
Academy for Effective Teaching
Perlekar Tamtam, associate teaching professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering & Engineering Technology, College of Engineering
Perlekar Tamtam received a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering in 2004 from Nagarjuna University in India, and a master’s and doctorate in electrical engineering in 2006 and 2012 respectively from Wichita State University. He joined the WSU faculty in 2012.
Perlekar Tamtam was a third grader in India when his uncle set off to study to become a doctor. He remembers his family members and others from his village pointing to him and announcing he would be the next person who would go on to the U.S.
It was a great honor and a great responsibility, he recalls. As an educator now, his main goal is to transfer knowledge and help future generations have the skillsets to create a more sustainable and better place to live, he says.
Through his various teaching and service endeavors, Tamtam reaches hundreds of students each year.
Besides teaching undergraduate and graduate classes, Tamtam has either directed or coordinated multiple WSU engineering summer camps for elementary through high school students. In summer 2022, more than 250 kids attended the 20 different STEM camps.
Since 2019, Tamtam has coordinated the annual Shocker MINDSTORMS challenge, a collaborative project involving the WSU College of Engineering and local industry professionals to provide K-12 students with the opportunity for practical applications and to showcase their math, science, programming and engineering skills and work in teams. Over the past four years, more than 1,000 students have participated.
After training with the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN) in summer 2017, Tamtam started incorporating the concepts of entrepreneurial-minded learning and project-based learning into his classes. KEEN is a network of thousands of engineering faculty from more than 50 U.S. colleges where best practices for teaching undergraduate engineering faculty to have an entrepreneurial mindset are shared.
In his WSU classes that cover circuits, renewable energy and control systems, Tamtam incorporates real-life examples, writes Gary Brooking the engineering technology chair, in his nomination letter. For example, students have built solar panels in a class on solar engineering.
Former students wrote about the lasting impact Tamtam has made.
"I have had seven semesters worth of college professors, all of which have different, effective teaching styles, but Dr. Tamtam … goes beyond expectations to help his students learn," says Emmalie Gulledge, who recalled her boss who had studied with Tamtam eight years prior also still spoke highly of Tamtam.
"Anyone interested in a career in teaching should look to Dr. Tamtam as a perfect example and model, the epitome of teaching excellence. … He encourages students to work through problems on the white board in his office during and outside of office hours. He will even hold special study sessions on the weekends for the class to make sure everyone is prepared for the exams," notes Kristen Bruce.
Tamtam hasn’t forgotten how he felt as a young boy who realized that not everyone has the resources to achieve an education. He’s planning to change that.
This summer, Tamtam will open a private school he’s built in his hometown to accommodate more than 400 students. Through the school, Tamtam will also honor the many people who have helped him obtain his education — people like Connie Owens from the Graduate School and his former WSU professors and mentors Ward Jewell and Edwin Sawan. He’s naming classrooms after them and others.
Faculty Risk Taker
M. 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. He received the 2018 WSU Excellence in Research Award and the 2019 WSU Excellence in Community Research.
Mehmet Bayram Yildirim has racked up an impressive list of recognitions and awards — from college- and university-level research and service awards to teaching and faculty adviser awards from the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers —for his teaching, research and service accomplishments.
During his career, he has created, managed and helped grow degree programs and mentored young faculty while amassing a strong research record and taking on leadership and service positions in various departmental, college and university committees. He’s also an active community volunteer, working with refugees who settle in Wichita.
Why does he do it? Because he wants to have a positive impact on the people around him: students, faculty, industry and his local community, he says.
As graduate coordinator from 2011-2016, Yildirim helped grow enrollment by 76% in the department’s two master’s degree and one doctoral degree programs.
In 2017, Yildirim collaborated with Mehmet Barut from the Barton School of Business to create one of the first STEM graduate programs in management science and supply chain management in Kansas. He undertook the effort, he says, as a benefit to students, the university and industry. Currently, more than 80 students are in the master’s degree program, according to Barut.
One of Yildirim’s areas of research expertise is energy efficiency manufacturing. Alongside his research, he is director of the WSU Industrial Assessment Center, which is run in partnership with Oklahoma State University as one of 39 such Department of Energy-supported centers in the U.S. Since 2006, the center has trained students to become energy engineers, and the center has done energy audits for a variety of clients, including the Sedgwick County Zoo, a local school and the city of Wichita.
He's also extended his expertise to the area of health care delivery, working with groups such as the local VA medical center and a pediatrics clinic.
As a principal investigator and co-principal investigator, he’s garnered 43 funded proposals for a total of more than $10 million. His research has yielded more than 40 publications, with another seven in progress, three book chapters, nearly 40 conference proceedings and nearly a dozen poster presentations, along with several workshops and seminars. He’s been involved in editorships with a half-dozen journals and conference proceedings.
Yildirim’s always been generous in mentoring young faculty and sharing advice on teaching, according to his colleagues.
A longtime member and later president of Faculty Senate, Yildirim led a successful effort to recognize instructors as non-tenure track teaching faculty through promotion pathways.
It was an important initiative to undertake, he says, as many have been long-term employees who have similar objectives as other faculty in contributing to student success at WSU.
"I felt they deserved to be recognized for that and I felt it was an investment in the future of the university."
Yildirim currently is one of four faculty ombudspersons at WSU and is in his second term chairing the Intercollegiate Athletics Association, which is the liaison body between the athletics and academic communities at WSU.