The Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships recognized the recipients of the 2023 VPRP Research and Creative Activity Awards during a ceremony held at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History on April 18, 2023.
The ceremony recognized faculty recipients of the awards for excellence in campus-wide research and creative activities, as well as 10 recipients of active early career awards, 34 project teams that earned $1 million or more in extramural funding, 15 recipients of patents, and two recipients of the Award for Excellence in Research Service and Administration.
Ten faculty were recognized for their active early career grants as well as comparable accolades and awards for faculty members’ early career research and creative activities from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, American Meteorology Society, and the Henry Luce Foundation.
The annual Award for Excellence in Research Grants were awarded to 30 tenured or tenure-track OU investigators or research teams who obtained extramural sponsored research awards totaling $1 million or more in 2022.
Fifteen inventors contributed to 12 domestic and international patents received in 2022. These inventions and technological advancements are not only unique but also represent some of the most far-reaching work being done to impact our world.
The VPRP Award for Excellence in Research in Engineering and Applied Science honors exceptional translational research contributions that address major technical, social, and/or economic problems in today’s society, and garners international visibility and recognition. The 2023 recipient is Steven Crossley, Ph.D., professor in the School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering.
With a mission to explore how to produce hydrogen for clean-burning energy without adding to greenhouse gas emissions, Crossley has distinguished himself as an outstanding researcher in heterogeneous catalysis science and applications. He is a key participant of the CHEPS Project, or “Carbon-free H2 Production and Storage,” one of the five ambitious Big Idea Challenge projects at OU intended to tackle large, impactful problems that affect our state and nation, and has been a PI or co-PI on grants totaling over $14 million.
Named for the OU alumni, respected scientist, and science advisor Neal Lane, the Neal Lane Award for Excellence in Research in the Natural Sciences recognizes contributions made at a level of importance and impact that garners international visibility and recognition. The 2023 recipient is Si Wu, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences.
Wu’s research focuses on the rapid identification, characterization and quantification of proteins and the understanding of protein functionality, which is critical to understanding cellular pathways and human disease. Her recognitions include being featured as a “Young Scientist” in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences and winning the Robert J. Cotter New Investigator Award from the U.S. Human Proteome Organization in 2020. She is also currently the editor of the Journal of Mass Spectrometry.
The Award for Excellence in Research, Design, and Creative Expression in the Humanities and the Fine Arts honors work that offers a transformative new direction in humanistic or creative development. The 2023 recipients are Hans Butzer, FAIA, dean of the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture and Rilla Askew, associate professor in the Department of English, Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences.
As an architect, urban designer and educator, Butzer’s career is centered on the goal of creating meaningful and memorable places designed with, and for, communities. Among his high-profile projects are the Oklahoma City National Memorial, for which he collaborated with community members to create a space of contemplation and serenity, and the Skydance Pedestrian Bridge in Oklahoma City. When he was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture in 2016, the American Institute of Architects wrote, “The phenomenal transformation that has occurred in Oklahoma City in the early 21st century is a direct result of Butzer’s work.”
Askew is a nationally recognized author of novels and essays who recently gained national recognition for her American Book Award-winning novel about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Fire in Beulah. Writing in a time when the story of the massacre was suppressed and archives were censored, Askew conducted prodigious research over the course of 11 years to uncover the facts of the assault on Greenwood and the forces that created it. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo observed, “Rilla Askew – a storyteller of truth and grace in all she writes, whether novel or essay – moves us to compassionately consider Oklahoma in all its faces… Askew teaches us to see with wiser eyes.”
The Award for Excellence in Research in the Social Sciences recognizes outstanding publications with pioneering research impacts that offer broad societal and community-oriented applications for the common good. The 2023 recipient is Joseph Ripberger, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Political Science, Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences.
Since joining the Department of Political Science in 2016, Ripberger has been the principal investigator on more than $3.5 million in grants and the co-PI on another $8.75 million. He applies a range of big data analytical techniques to study public perceptions of the threats posed by climate change and severe weather, with much of his work focused on behavioral and public policy responses. His work is in use at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency.
The Award for Excellence in Transdisciplinary, Convergent Research recognizes leadership in the creation of collaborative initiatives of teams of tenured or tenure-track OU faculty on projects that both demonstrate a deep integration of disciplines toward new configurations of knowledge production and strive toward creating a positive and meaningful societal impact.
The 2023 recipient is the Happy Teacher Project, a transdisciplinary, convergent research team that focuses on improving the well-being of Head Start teachers in Oklahoma. The team, composed of faculty, staff and students from across multiple disciplines on all three of OU’s campuses, launched a four-year project aimed at improving the physical, psychological and professional well-being and workplace conditions of early childhood educators. The project has led to $2.1 million in funding to design and implement a holistic and interdisciplinary intervention to promote Head Start staff well-being, competence and retention.
The Happy Teacher Project is composed of faculty members from the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, including the Principal Investigator Kyong-ah Kwon, Ph.D., and co-PIs Tim Ford, Ph.D., Sherri Castle, Ph.D., Diane Horm, Ph.D., Wonkyung Jang, Ph.D., and Corey Peltier, Ph.D. From the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences, team members include Seulki “Rachel” Jang, Ph.D., Brenda Lloyd-Jones, Ph.D., Yong Ju Jung, Ph.D., Le Wang, Ph.D., and Julie Miller-Cribbs, Ph.D.; Mia Kile, Ph.D., from the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture; Ken Randall, Ph.D., Jessica Tsotsoros, Ph.D., Susan Sisson, Ph.D., and Carolyn Cheema, Ph.D., from the College of Allied Health, and from the School of Community Medicine at OU-Tulsa, Michael Baxter, DO.
The Award for Excellence in Research Service and Administration honors a staff member who has made exceptional, innovative contributions in support of the research or creative endeavors of OU faculty and staff. These impactful contributions may have been realized recently or demonstrated through career-long service and dedication.
The first award was presented to Gayle Parker, senior award administrator in the Office of Research Services, for her exceptional oversight of high-profile sponsored agreement negotiations, coordination between faculty, the sponsor and the University, and unique ability to spot and solve issues.
The second award was presented posthumously to Susan Cates, senior award administrator in the Office of Research Services, for her commitment to managing complexities and actions of research administration and willingness to take on complicated projects in support of ORS operations, even as her health was failing. Her award was presented to her husband Ross, and an annual scholarship was established in Susan’s name to provide registration and travel to the Society of Research Administrators International meeting.
The Office of the Vice President congratulates the award recipients and thanks those who took the time and care to submit nominations. OVPRP also extends our congratulations to the recipients of the 2023 Faculty Awards and Honors recognized by the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost on April 12, 2023.