College of Human Environmental Sciences announces new Faculty Scholars program

“One of the things I love about Mizzou is the emphasis they have on helping junior faculty be successful,” HES Faculty Scholar Kelli Canada said.

The College of Human Environmental Sciences has announced the start of a new faculty scholars program that recognizes influential junior faculty.

The HES Faculty Scholars program awards six MU professors with the title and additional resources to support their individual research projects for the next two years. The additional resources will be given to award recipients as monetary awards, each worth about $8,000.

Bimal Balakrishnan, Kelli Canada, Jung Ha-Brookshire, Ashlie Lester, Jaume Padilla and Rui Yao are the scholars who were named in the first round.

The scholars were chosen from architectural studies, the School of Social Work, textile and apparel management, human development and family sciences, nutrition and exercise physiology and personal financial planning.

Canada, assistant professor for the School of Social Work, said she had no idea that she was being considered for the award.

“I was surprised because this is a new award program; we’re kind of the inaugural cohort,” Canada said. “I didn’t even know that it was something that was being considered. Then, I was just very grateful and happy to have some research dollars I can use, especially for some pilot work that’s harder to fund.”

The program assigns HES Faculty Scholars to two groups: Research Scholars and Teaching Scholars. Research Scholar awards recognize great research and are meant to help plan for research production and productivity for the two years the award is active. Teaching Scholar awards are for professors who have shown promise in the classroom and contributed to learning.

The program is “in part to recognize the accomplishments of faculty and in part to enable them to, sort of, take a jump in their careers,” said J. Sanford Rikoon, dean of the College of Human Environmental Sciences. “In other words, the people we’re looking for to participate are people who have demonstrated excellence but who also stand poised to, sort of, jump up in their disciplines and reputations and so on.”

Rikkon said the program targets ambitious early- to mid-level faculty and is available for tenure track and non-tenure track faculty. It is also seen as a method to encourage faculty to stay at MU and turn down employment opportunities from other universities.

“People are watching our faculty, people on the east coast, the people at the private schools, and, you know, every year we do the best we can to make sure our top faculty stay at Mizzou,” Rikoon said. “So we recruit them to Mizzou and we have to retain them.”

The program enables young professors to pursue and conduct more research that is important for their field and personal careers.

“One of the things I love about Mizzou is the emphasis they have on helping junior faculty be successful,” Canada said. “Because the funding environment is so competitive, you know, even if you have a really strong project, it’s still hard to get funding from especially nationally competitive grants.”

The additional resources can be used as a small salary for research assistants, accommodations for research conferences or any activities that increase visibility in their field.

“The general direction would be to use the funds to maybe purchase data, hire a research assistant or use it as the seed money to get an external research grant,” Yao said.

Funding for this program came from donations from MU alumni.

“Of course we want [the alumni] to give school scholarship funds; we want them to give endowed professor funds; we want them to give teaching scholar funds,” Rikoon said. “And if these endowments grow, we can increase the size of the amount we give or give more to more faculty. But, this is the first year, so that’s where it started.”

Edited by Olivia Garrett |

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