MSUToday
Published: Feb. 4, 2014

2014 William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Awards

Shanker Balasubramaniam
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
College of Engineering

Shanker Balasubramaniam is recognized internationally for his innovative scholarship in computational electromagnetics. He has developed numerous algorithms for solving both differential and integral equations across multiple scales, with applications in such diverse areas as antennas, molecular dynamics and integrated circuits. These algorithms are widely recognized for their speed and accuracy; further, Shanker has placed rigorous error bounds on all of his techniques, so that researchers have a measure of how well they may be applied in given situations. Shanker’s research can be applied in a variety of disciplines. In addition to mathematics, researchers use his work to solve a variety of problems in electromagnetics and physics, including scattering from dispersive and lossy bodies, printed circuit board analysis, electromagnetic compatibility, molecular dynamics, surface Plasmon thin films, quantum well infrared detectors, microstrip antenna arrays and micro-bubbles.

Shanker has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers and conference proceedings and has acted as an associate editor for two of IEEE’s journals: Transactions on Antennas and Propagation and Antennas and Wireless Propa- gation Letters. In recognition of his distinguished contributions to computational methods, Shanker was elevated to Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Shanker invests greatly in his interactions with both graduate and undergraduate students. He has taught 200- to the 900-level classes, has acted as adviser to the student honor society Eta Kappa Nu, and has mentored undergraduates considering Ph.D. programs, helping many of them obtain such national awards as the NSF Graduate Fellowship and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. For his outstanding achievements in educating students both inside and outside the classroom, Shanker was awarded the Withrow Teaching Award in 2007.

Rebecca Campbell
Department of Psychology
College of Social Science

Rebecca Campbell is an international expert
 in the field of violence against women and children, particularly involving sexual assault. For more than 25 years, she has conducted community-based, participatory research that examines how contact with the legal and medical systems affects the psychological and physical health of adult, adolescent and pediatric victims. The impact of her work has been substantial; academically, her more than 90 peer-reviewed journal articles have been cited more than a thousand times; in the world of human welfare, Campbell’s work has been credited with altering the paradigm through which social systems address survivor healing and perpetrator accountability. Campbell has published two books, one of which, “Emotionally Involved: The Impact of Researching Rape,” won the 2002 Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology. Recently, she received the 2013 Outstanding Evaluation Award from the American Evaluation Association.

Campbell’s teaching has been as impactful as her research. Her teaching has always been lauded, with students praising her for helping them master challenging subjects and to explore work outside their comfort zone. Her excellent teaching recently earned her a College of Social Science Alumni Association Outstanding Teaching Award.

Campbell’s work led to a National Institute of Justice research project to resolve the backlog of 11,000 untested sexual assault evidence kits, dating back to 1980s, with Detroit police, prosecutors, and victim advocates. Her accomplishments through this project have been featured in National Public Radio, the Associated Press, and the New York Times. At the policy level, Campbell co-created the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Rape Prevention Education National Prevention Model.

Christina Chan  
Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
Department of Computer Science and Engineering, College of Engineering 
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Natural Science

Christina Chan is pioneering work at the interface of biology, chemistry and chemical engineering, and computer science and engineering, leading an integrative approach to the study of medical and biological problems. Her research focuses on bioinformatics and functional genomics as well as cellular and molecular engineering to analyze cellular processes and disease mechanisms. Her work on exploring the mechanisms by which elevated levels of free fatty acids mediate abnormalities in cellular function and metabolism that contribute to the development of severe chronic diseases, such as obesity, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, is groundbreaking.

Among her many accomplishments, Chan’s research group successfully identified a potential drug target for breast cancer that could treat both estrogen-receptor subtypes of the disease, potentially including the triple negative breast cancer subtype, which is the most aggressive and has the most limited treatment options. Chan has published more than 100 articles in leading journals and delivered countless invited international and national lectures at conferences, workshops, and companies, including the key invited lecture at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. Chan has been recognized for her many research contributions, as evidenced most recently by her election to Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

Chan’s concern for educating the next generation of scholars has led her to introduce numerous students to active research projects. During the past 11 years, she has involved more than 55 undergraduates, half of them women, in research projects in her own lab. Many of these undergraduates have gone onto graduate or medical school. She has mentored 13 Ph.D. students to graduation and currently has ten graduate students and five postdoctoral fellows in her research group. In 2010, Chan received the Withrow Excellence in Teaching Award.

Megan Donahue
Department of Physics and Astronomy
College of Natural Science

Megan Donahue is a distinguished researcher in extragalactic astronomy, making fundamental contributions to the fields of cosmic structure and galaxy evolution. She is well-known for her early pioneering work on measuring the x-ray temperature function of the intracluster medium at high redshift using two leading x-ray satellite facilities. This work definitively demonstrated that the evolution in the temperature function is weak and provided a very strong constraint on the cosmological mass density parameter, which indicates the total mass of our universe. More recently, she has pursued innovative programs
to further understanding of the origin of cluster scaling relations (i.e., relationships between fundamental cluster properties, such as mass, entropy, baryon fraction) and has led major programs to probe the nature of ultraviolet emis- sions from the most massive galaxies in these clusters. All these programs have significantly expanded our knowledge of how cosmic structure forms and evolves on intermediate scales. Donahue has produced 114 peer-reviewed papers and received external funding totaling $2.1 million over the past ten years. She was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012.

Donahue is a dedicated and well-appreciated teacher both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She is co-author of a leading introductory textbook entitled “The Cosmic Perspective” that has greatly influenced the teaching of astronomy to undergraduates.

Donahue is a current member of the Committee on Astrophysics and Astronomy of the National Academy and served on the NASA senior review in 2012. She places high importance on the dissemination of knowl- edge about the universe to the public and frequently gives public astronomy talks at the Abrams Planetarium and at local high schools, including inclusion and diversity programs.

David Douches
Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources  

David Douches is the lead scientist of MSU’s potato breeding and genetics project, directing a multidisciplinary program that integrates conventional breeding and cutting-edge biotechnological approaches to developing improved cultivars. To advance new breeding methodologies through genetic engineering and marker technologies, Douches’s research has examined the genetic basis of insect and disease resistance traits as well as tuber quality. Under his leadership, 15 potato varieties have been released, many of which satisfy the industry’s need for pest and disease resistance, particularly to the Colorado potato beetle, scab, late blight and the PVY virus.

With 102 peer-reviewed journal articles, nine book chapters and three Extension bulletins published, the breadth of Douches’s research activities—from the laboratory to the field—has been a model for other plant breeding programs.

Recognized as a global leader in the field of potato research, Douches has been invited to speak in China, India, Egypt, South Africa, Scotland, Peru, Brazil, Switzerland, Ecuador, and Argentina. He has been involved in an international development project that is using biotechnology to improve the lives of farmers in Africa. He was Co-PI of the USAID-funded Bt Potato Project that is awaiting approval of the regulatory dossier for general release of the variety SpuntaG2, which includes resistance to the potato tuber moth.

Douches developed and teaches a lab-based biotechnological techniques and principles course. He is part of a team of faculty to train graduate students in genetics and expose them to the social, ethical, and ecological issues of genetically engineered organisms through the USDA National Needs Fellowships program. Douches currently has four graduate students and has graduated eight Ph.D. and 14 M.S. students. He is director of the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology interdepartmental graduate program.

Mary Hausbeck
Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Mary Hausbeck’s research has focused on
the biology, management and epidemiology of diseases in vegetables and floriculture crops, where her ability to develop, implement and manage chemical strategies for growers in Michigan and around the world has successfully safeguarded numerous crops from disease outbreaks. When cucurbit downy mildew first invaded the important Michigan pickle industry, she quickly deployed people to evaluate fungicides for efficacy in combating this new disease. She also established scouting and reporting systems that allowed her to communicate disease threats and recommend protection procedures to growers in a timely manner. In 2011, her wok provided the clear fungicide recommendations that are credited with protecting the state’s $107 million cucumber/pickle crop. Overall, Hausbeck’s work is sound in both basic and applied science, advancing knowledge of plant diseases and how they function while also helping farmers manage these disease problems as they occur, ensuring that the negative impact is lessened through sound scientific means.

Hausbeck has published more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals and written 62 magazine articles for lay audiences; she has co-authored several pest and disease management bulletins and has written more than 300 articles for MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts on vegetable and greenhouse crops.

Funding for her laboratory has been consistently high, with her total career funding exceeding $12 million to date. Hausbeck is an excellent mentor to her graduate students, instilling in them a high degree of professionalism and providing the tools for them to achieve success. All nine of Hausbeck’s Ph.D. students are currently employed in industry and academia in their chosen field of plant pathology.

Richard Horan
Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources 

Richard Horan’s research focuses on the understanding and management of coupled economic and environmental systems. Specifically, his work seeks to understand how human and environmental systems co-evolve, and how information about human–environment interactions can be used to construct public policies that correct market failures and move society toward more sustainable outcomes. Along these lines, he has investigated a variety of topics relevant to Michigan, the United States and the world, including the management of agricultural non-point source pollution, species conservation and management, protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species, managing infectious diseases in wildlife-livestock systems, and how economic choices may have influenced hominid evolution. Particular features of his research include designing cost-effective permit trading systems between point and nonpoint sources of pollution and the study of the economic tradeoffs of making biosecurity choices to prevent future introductions of invasive alien species, including how economic incentives can encourage firms to make appropriate biosecurity choices. Horan has also examined the role of economic choices in human evolution. His research on how human trade may have driven Neanderthals to extinction was featured in The Economist.

Horan is currently a co-editor of Resource and Energy Economics, associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Energy, Natural Resource, and Environmental Economics, and on the editorial board of the International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics.

The excellence that pervades Horan’s research and service extends to his mentoring of graduate students, four of whom have won AFRE’s best thesis or best dissertation award as well as recognition from professional societies. Horan holds students to high academic standards, balancing methodological skill development with exploration of the scientific literature that takes students to the frontiers of discovery.

Robert LaRose
Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media
College of Communication Arts and Sciences


Robert LaRose is a scholar whose work on the social and psychological impacts of communications technologies has had a profound impact on the discipline. Several
 of his early studies explored the social effects of telephonic communications. His more recent work has critically examined the social and psychological impacts of new media, mobile communication, the Internet, and, most recently, broadband connectivity. LaRose’s groundbreaking work on the factors influencing broadband adoption and use has influenced practitioners in federal and state governments as well as in business and contributed to bringing better Internet service to rural and disadvantages populations.

LaRose’s scholarship has been well received throughout his career and he has been honored with many awards, most recently, the Outstanding Article Award for 2011 from the International Communications Association and the University of Amsterdam prize for best paper in the entire field of communication in 2011.

LaRose has played a key role in teaching social scientific methods to many cohorts of graduate students. LaRose has also contributed significantly to undergraduate education, including pioneering efforts in online teaching. As part of that endeavor, he authored the introductory textbook “Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology,” which is used across the nation to introduce students to media and information technologies and their effects.

Vallabh Sambamurthy
Department of Accounting and Information Systems
Eli Broad College of Business

Vallabh Sambamurthy is an internationally recognized expert in the field of information systems, particularly digital innovation and competitive strategy. His research, which
 has influenced corporate practices and been funded by numerous organizations, including the National Science Foundation, explores how firms compete globally by leveraging the capabilities of the Internet and other advanced information technologies in their business processes and organizational designs. Specifically, his work has addressed three issues related to the strategic management of information technologies in firms. First, how managers can guide the assimilation and use of complex information technologies; second, how firms can compete effectively through their information technology investments; and third, how organizations can use governance mechanisms and organizational structures to promote better decisions regarding investment in information technology.

Sambamurthy has written two books; published more than 55 articles in such peer-reviewed journals as Management Science, Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly, and the IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management; served as editor-in-chief of Information Systems Research, a prestigious, peer-reviewed journal for business research; and made numerous presentations at conferences around the world. At MSU’s Broad College, Sambamurthy led the effort to secure funding to launch the Center for the Leadership of the Digital Enterprise. His impact on the discipline has been recognized through his selection as Fellow of the Association of Information Systems in 2009 and Distinguished Fellow of the Information Systems Society of INFORMS in 2011.

As a teacher and mentor, Sambamurthy has not only created and taught several new courses in the MBA and masters’ programs, but has guided many doctoral students in their dissertation research and helped them secure academic positions upon their degree completion. The Broad College recognized his educational contributions with the John D. and Dortha J. Withrow Endowed Teacher-Scholar Award in 2010.

Cynthia Crump Taggart 
Music Education, College of Music

Cynthia Crump Taggart is one of the nation’s most important research scholars in early childhood and elementary music education. As a world expert on Music Learning Theory —a specialized methodology for music education and aptitude development that the National Association for Music Education has identified as one of the five principal branches of music education—Taggart and her work live at the intersection of research and practice. As a scholar, she has not only generated new knowledge in this field but has translated it for practical use in the classroom through accessible curricular materials, including the multivolume school music curriculum work “Jump Right In,” of which she is a co-author. “Jump Right In,” along with her in-service presentations on how to use her research to implement effective classroom instruction, has had a profound impact upon thousands of teachers and children throughout the world. Her effective in-service presentation have made her one of the most effective—and sought after—speakers in the field of Early Childhood Music Education.

Taggart’s compelling advocacy of this innovative curriculum has helped change
the face of early childhood music education throughout the world, from schools across Taiwan, Brazil, and the United States to major symphony orchestras that reach out
to children. The senior vice president of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was delighted when “a group of our hardened musicians,” under Taggart’s direction, successfully engaged young children in innovative musical activities.

A brilliant teacher and mentor, Taggart motivates students through a combination of high expectations and constant support. She helps them discover content in riveting and inspiring ways, providing opportunities for them to utilize their knowledge and skills in real-world teaching and learning situations.