University of Idaho Honors Teaching, Research, Outreach and Advising Achievements

Monday, April 20 2009

April 20, 2009

Written by Joni Kirk

MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho faculty, staff and students will be honored at a ceremony later today for outstanding achievements in teaching, research, outreach and advising. The annual Excellence Awards banquet will take place at 6 p.m. at the University Inn Best Western, 1516 Pullman Rd. in Moscow.

Research or Creative Activity Excellence Award
Larry Forney, professor of biology, joined the university in 2000. His internationally-reaching research focuses on microbial communities and ecology, including adaptive evolution in spatially structured environments such as biofilms; the biodiversity and biogeography of prokaryotes; and the ecology of the human microbiome, particularly the female urogenital tract. One of Forney’s great accomplishments is that his vision reaches beyond his own research focus to include other scientists which cross disciplinary fields of study, such as mathematics, computer science, geology, environmental engineering and statistics to create collaborative work. During his tenure at the University of Idaho, Forney has established a network of interdisciplinary collaborations that has built up the university’s infrastructure and provided support to many researchers.

Teaching Excellence Awards
Sean Quinlan, associated professor of history, has taught at the university since 2001. He has transformed students with his vibrant, intellectually rigorous and multimedia classroom adventures. He regularly teaches nine courses in varying disciplines, including the history of medicine and science, gender and sexuality, modern France and modern European cultural history. He also teaches extensively for the honors program. Alumna Catherine Cronquist Browning '04 wrote, “. . . now, as a teacher in my own right, I look back on Professor Quinlan’s classes as foundational . . . I would go so far as to say that I didn’t really know what the phrase ‘infectious enthusiasm’ meant until I took History 102. I am [now] able to discern some of the careful planning and attention to detail that went into creating the general impression of enthusiasm and excitement in [his] classroom.”

Stephen Devadoss, professor of agricultural economics, has taught at the university since 1992. He is devoted to improving student learning, and lives by the rule that students come first. His students and colleagues report of his coaching students to overcome individual challenges. Colleague Joe Guenther noted, “Being located near his office, I have observed Dr. Devadoss spending countless hours teaching students in his office and giving advice related to their career choices. His door is always open to students because he believes that learning does not end in the classroom.”

Patricia Hart, assistant professor of communication, has taught at the university since 2003. Hart pushes her students to increase their critical thinking skills by creating an environment where “there’s room for experimentation and failure – not simply programmed success.” A senior public relation’s major articulates Hart’s impact in this way, “In her class, I found my voice. No one had told me that I would need to form my own opinion on readings and defend those opinions in front of my peers. This was a totally new concept to me, and one that was vital to getting the most from my education.”

Advising Excellence Awards
Lynaire Banks received the Advising Excellence Staff award. Banks is the advising specialist for the College of Natural Resources. Although she is primary adviser for about 35 students, she has ultimate responsibility for almost 300 undergraduates, and is the go-to person for all faculty and staff advisers in the college. She advises the Ecology and Conservation Biology program, the Masters of Natural Resources program, and the graduate certificate in restoration ecology. Michael Whiteman has observed the patience and compassion in her approach to people, and noted, “She will take whatever time is needed to ensure that advisees clearly understand what needs to be done, how it must be done and within what timeframe it must be done. She advises both with her head and her heart."

Annette Folwell received the Advising Excellence Undergraduate Award. An associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Communication Studies, she has taught at the university since 2000. Folwell advises more than 60 undergraduate students each semester. When advising a student, Folwell has two specific goals in mind. First, she informs the student about university and major requirements. Then, she seeks to get to know each advisee as an individual. Kenneth Locke, chair of Psychology and Communication Studies, said, “Her popularity with the students shows the degree to which they recognize and appreciate her commitment to their actualizing their personal and professional potential. She treats each advisee with care and consideration.”

Stephen Devadoss received the Advising Excellence Graduate Award. He works very closely with graduate students through all aspects of their education. He uses an open-door policy with his students and meets regularly with students to monitor their academic performance. He also helps students formulate educational plans based on their interests and abilities and engages in two-way communication to build a trusted relationship with students that stimulate their creative thinking. A group of former graduate students observed, “One of the key roles of mentors is to help the students to grow as responsible citizens and contribute to the society. Dr. Devadoss taught us this quality during our study at the university, for which we will be thankful forever. He performed several roles (teacher, motivator, and mentor) for us during our stay, and we will never forget the most important role of Dr. Devadoss – his friendship. We will cherish and value our positive experience of working with him for years to come.”

Donald Crawford Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award
Paul Joyce, professor of mathematics, joined the university in 1991. He is well known for his enthusiasm and ability to mentor graduate students from multiple departments and programs. Chris Williams, director of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) noted, “One of Paul Joyce’s biggest accomplishments was his most impressive contributions to BCB graduate students in the newly formed graduate program. Of the first 14 graduates, Paul has been the major professor to four and a committee member to six of them, thus having a direct impact on the dissertation of thesis for over 70 percent of the first crop of BCB graduates." Reflecting on his mentoring philosophy, Joyce wrote, “Students do not work for me, they work with me. I have never been comfortable with the role of all-knowing professor dispensing wisdom. . .I prefer the give and take, the flow of ideas, and the excitement of working together to solve problems that comes from the interaction with colleagues."

Outstanding Graduate Student Research and Creative Activity Award
Niko Balkenhol currently is a doctoral student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife in the College of Natural Resources. In his nomination letter, Lisette Waits wrote, “I feel Niko is an excellent candidate for this award. He has demonstrated excellence not only in research but also in course development and creativity. His Ph.D. research has made a significant and impressive contribution to science. He is one of those rare students who has taught me as much or more than I have taught him. He has also generously shared this knowledge and his time with any student that requested his assistance, and will be a co-author on at least two other research papers because of his contributions.” Balkenhol also has mentored two undergraduate research projects during his three and a half years at the university, and one of the undergraduates he mentored has presented research at local and national meetings.

Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award
• Mechanical engineering doctoral candidate Dan Cordon is a great proponent of active learning using a variety of in-class activities; his primary goal is to help his students become self-learners. He takes pleasure in watching students develop the ability to use their knowledge and new skills to take steps forward on their own. Drs. Steven Beyerlein, John Crepeau and Karen Den Braven noted in his nomination letter, “Undergraduate students enjoy Dan’s playful demeanor, his vast theoretical and hands-on knowledge of engine systems, his interactive learning activities, his informative lab exercises, his meaningful modeling assignments, his thoughtful integration of web technology and his accessibility outside of class. His teaching evaluations are comparable to the best instructors in our department.” Cordon has been a student at the university since 1996, and has progressed from freshman to doctoral candidate; he expects to graduate this year.

Excellence in Outreach and Engagement Awards
Stephen Drown, professor and chair of landscape architecture, has been with the university since 1994. His résumé features a truly impressive list of service learning projects across the state, including community planning, botanical garden design, stream restoration and park design. Building on Extension work through the Horizons program in Cascade, Drown engaged multiple planning and design classes to address bioregional planning, community design, and park and recreation design. This project employs disciplines across the university to encourage broad-based, sustainable economic solutions in a community devastated by the loss of the timber industry.

Karen Launchbaugh, associate professor in the Department of Rangeland Ecology and Management, has been with the university since 1996. She has worked closely with the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission to enhance rangeland education throughout Idaho. Together, she and IRRC have established a noteworthy program of rangeland education. The IRRC’s statistics show that due to her direct efforts, the number of students involved in rangeland education increased from 50 students prior to 1996 to more than 20,000 Idaho elementary students and more than 100 high school students today. Some 500 teachers have been involved in rangeland education during this time. Launchbaugh also has led the development of numerous field guides and handbooks; her efforts have resulted in an increased understanding and awareness of rangeland ecology and management, and have helped landowners make more informed decisions.

Gordon Keetch, professor and Extension educator in Adams county, joined the university's Cooperative Extension System in 1985. Keetch's main emphasis is beef cattle production and management in Adams and Washington counties; he has nationally recognized expertise in retained ownership marketing of calves and has collected feedlot and carcass data on over 6,500 head of cattle from 124 ranches in four states. As a result of 14 years of feeding trials, ranchers have increased profitability from calf sales, improved genetic selection of bulls and replacement heifers, and developed improved herd health programs at weaning. In addition, Keetch facilitates gardening classes for homeowners and provides overall leadership and supervision for the Adams County 4-H program. He also is a member of numerous county/community boards, councils and commissions in the areas of natural resources, county planning and agriculture.
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 150 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit www.uidaho.eduu.

Media Contact: Joni Kirk, University Communications, (208) 885-7725,

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit