MU Professor wins SEC Faculty Achievement Award

Professor Joshua Millspaugh is now MU's nominee for SEC Professor of the Year Award.

A professor in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources became the first MU professor to win an SEC Faculty Achievement Award on Wednesday.

Professor of Wildlife Management Joshua Millspaugh joins 13 other award recipients, one from each SEC university. Each year, a selection committee of SEC Provosts awards 14 professors from SEC member universities "who have meritorious records in teaching and scholarship and who serve as role models for other faculty and students," according to an SEC news release.

Millspaugh, who won the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 2005, said the award came as a surprise.

"What I can say, in all honesty, is I remember the many people that were supportive of what I did and influenced me," Millspaugh said. "We all need someone to believe in us and someone to help us along the way, and I'm very grateful for those people that have. And there are still people that continue to help me to this day."

Working with students is the highlight of his job, Millspaugh said.

"One of the things I certainly like about my job is teaching and working with students," Millspaugh said. "I think that is one of the most fulfilling things that a university faculty member can do."

Millspaugh particularly loves teaching at MU because of the teaching culture the university has, a culture that isn't always present at large universities, Millspaugh said.

"I like the culture of the University of Missouri, and I specifically like the culture that exists within the College of Agriculture where students are highly valued, students are appreciated and teaching is not just something you do on the side," Millspaugh said. "Teaching is something that is very central to what we do and I really appreciate that perspective. There are lots of big universities that the perspective is clearly on research and I like (that MU) is a combination of research and teaching. "

In addition to teaching classes, Millspaugh also works on research projects in Missouri and throughout the world, including monitoring elk that the Missouri Department of Conservation recently reintroduced to southern region of the state.

Last week, Millspaugh visited Wyoming for several days at the request of the Wyoming state government officials to speak about sage grouses, a type of bird. The noise the wind farms produce disturbs the sage grouse, whose core habitat is in Wyoming, Millspaugh said.

"One of the things that I'm doing in particular is I'm working on the relationship between sage grouses and wind energy development," Millspaugh said. "We're working on what will be the largest wind farm in North America when it's developed in the next couple of years in Southeast Wyoming and we're looking at sage grouse response to that."

Millspaugh also studies how ecotourism effects elephant population in South Africa. Despite the wide range of species in his work, the core questions his team focuses on are the same, Millspaugh said.

"The questions that we're asking are similar," Millspaugh said. "In other words, we're asking questions about what helps those species persist in an environment? How do human factors and human disturbances, how do they affect these populations? So a lot of the same kind of methods that we use can be applied across species."

Millspaugh will receive a $5,000 honorarium from the Southeastern Conference and, as a recipient of the Faculty Achievement award, is now MU's nominee for the SEC Professor of the Year Award, which includes an additional $15,000 honorarium. The SEC will announce winner of that award at the annual SEC Awards Dinner in Destin, Fla.

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