Mizzou in Review: Three most influential people of the 2018-2019 school year

Provost Latha Ramchand, Nobel Laureate George Smith and Calving Technologies CEO Libby Martin were among the most influential MU people of the year.
Nobel Prize winner George Smith announces that he is donating his prize money to the MU scholarship fund on March 12, 2019. Photo by Photographer Madeline Carter

New Provost Latha Ramchand had a successful first year at MU

MU appointed a new Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Latha Ramchand, from the University of Houston C.T. Bauer College of Business. Ramchand began her new term on Aug. 15, 2018. “Dr. Ramchand is a strong leader with a demonstrated track record in higher education, and I’m thrilled to have her join the University of Missouri,” Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said in a news release last June. “She has the expertise to lead programs of excellence, student success initiatives, research, economic development and engagement. She also understands the importance of supporting and recognizing faculty who drive our scholarly activities in creative works and research, which benefit our broader community and the world.” During her welcome reception in August, she quoted the saying, “They don’t really care what you know until they know you care.”

“That came through bright and pure,” Ramchand said during her speech. “I know this institution has been through some challenges, but let me tell you from the outside, that sentence about caring [was] what I embraced and that's the prime reason [my husband and I] decided to move.”

Going forward, Ramchand hopes to meet with students to discuss concerns and possible solutions.

“I would love to meet with students. [Meeting] could be formal, but it could also be informal, just come have some coffee with me,” Ramchand said in an interview with The Maneater in July 2018. “Let’s sit outside and talk and tell me about your concerns and let’s see how we can help each other.”

George Smith’s Nobel Prize brought many celebrations throughout the year

It all started when MU’s first ever Nobel Laureate George Smith received a phone call from The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. A few hours later, MU held a press conference, which was only the start of the many events celebrating this recognition.

The first event related to the Nobel Prize was the press conference, followed by the announcement of Smith’s very own bicycle parking space. Many universities have a tradition of dedicating a parking space to their Nobel laureates, but since Smith rides his bicycle to campus every day, MU decided to give Smith a space on the bicycle rack outside of Tucker Hall.

In December, MU hosted a Nobel Prize ceremony watch party.

During the watch party, the MU community had the opportunity to watch the ceremony live from Stockholm, Sweden.

Since Smith and his family were in Stockholm, community members watched a prerecorded message from Smith and his wife, Marjorie Sable.

“I feel that I’m accepting this prize not for myself personally, but on behalf of my great global science community, and also on behalf of my local science community here at the University of Missouri,” Smith said in the video.

On March 12, at another Nobel Prize event called “An Evening with Nobel Laureate George Smith,” Smith announced that he would be donating his prize money of more than $243,000 to support students in the MU College of Arts and Science.

“I consider my liberal arts education in college as a springboard toward a lifetime of learning and cultural engagement,” Smith said in his speech. “This is why I think it’s really important to support culture in general as exemplified by the liberal arts. That’s why we elected to give this award specifically to the College of Arts and Sciences.”

In the October press conference, Pat Okker, dean of the College of Arts and Science, thanked Smith for his research.

“Thank you for being curious about the world,” Okker said during the October press conference. “Thank you for your decades of work and thank you for sharing that passion for your field with the students at Mizzou.”

In addition to Nobel Prize related events, Smith has also attended other events around campus, including the Cultural Association of India’s annual India Day. Since Smith is a cyclist, he also appeared at an event where cyclists petitioned an MU land sale, and he also hosted a lecture titled “Crickets Teach Us Science Reasoning” on Show Me Mizzou Day.

Calving Technologies CEO and founder Libby Martin won the UM System Entrepreneur Quest, winning startup money for her company

Calving Technologies CEO and founder Libby Martin remembers checking on the cattle on her family’s farm and noticing calves that were dead from preventable reasons. She reached out to veterinarians and other experts to see whether there was anything that could be used to prevent the deaths.

When there was nothing already in place, Martin created a collar that would keep track of cattle during calving season.

“It’s our mission to provide producers with affordable and durable technology that will decrease calving mortality rates and increase producer profits,” Martin said in a Maneater article in November. “There are physiological changes that occur right before a cow goes into first phase calving. If we can track those, we can solve the issue [of calving deaths].”

Martin won first place in the UM System Entrepreneur Quest Student Accelerator program, winning $15,000 in startup funding for Calving Technologies LLC.

Martin shared her short term goals for the company.

“For this quarter, goals are consisting of nailing down the perfect algorithm data analytics engineer,” Martin said. “We are working on the hiring process right now. We are trying to pick the right person for the job because that’s where the majority of our funding is going to go. Additionally, we are working closely with a law firm that’s helping us write up a provisional patent so that we can start protecting ourselves in terms of our uniqueness.”

Martin plans to launch the market with Scollar Inc., a company that relocated from Silicon Valley to Kansas City.

“I’m the first company to work with them to go into the large animals space,” Martin said. “They have been working out of the small animal space. I am bringing them a sensory module that will be placed in their open platform collar hardware and from there, we can eventually sell that package to producers.”

Martin is grateful for the entrepreneurship program at MU.

“I want to compliment the unbelievable amount of resources that are here for students who are trying to do startups,” she said. “It’s just a really great place to be when you’re working on your own business because I’ve been so supported through my five years here.”

Edited by Laura Evans | levans@themaneater.com

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