2018 William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Awards
James C. Anthony, Ph.D.
College of Human Medicine
James C. Anthony is a world-renowned authority in the epidemiology of psychiatric disorders, particularly the causes and prevention of drug, alcohol and nicotine abuse. He was among the first researchers to assess the overlapping epidemiologic patterns of dependence upon tobacco, alcohol and controlled drugs. By careful analysis of interview data, Anthony distinguished the several processes connected to developing dependency on substances, including being offered drugs, the frequency of using a drug once and the frequency of becoming a habitual user. His findings indicate that some populations have low rates of drug abuse because the opportunity to use is limited, and that distinct groups in the population convert from single use to habitual use at sharply different frequencies. These insights allow the design of drug abuse prevention programs tailored to the special needs of different populations within society.
Anthony’s teaching accomplishments are far-reaching, not just in the classroom but also through workshops on drug dependence epidemiology that he has held in 12 Latin American countries. He has mentored more than 100 degree-earning students and research fellows, including a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award in the Sciences and Engineering and a NIDA Merit awardee. His mentorship includes his role as founding director of two NIH-funded drug dependence epidemiology training programs, one for U.S. citizens and one for epidemiologists from overseas with a South American base in Lima, Peru.
One of his colleagues noted that, “Almost everyone in the fields of drug abuse and psychiatric epidemiology has at one time or another worked with him, or at least has benefited from his work, which has always been at the forefront of scientific rigor and innovation.”
Anthony’s research accomplishments appear in more than 300 published articles and books and have been recognized with awards and honors. He has served as president of the Alpha Chapter of the Delta Omega Society, the premier public health honors society and as chairman of the Section of Epidemiology and Public Health of the World Psychiatric Association. Anthony’s research publications are highly cited by other scholars, placing him in the top one percent of all scientists in his field. His research, along with his workshops, students and trainees, have contributed significantly to the development of drug use policies in the United States and overseas.
A scientist of international renown and a dedicated teacher and devoted mentor to dozens of early career scientists, Anthony is richly deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.
Gary J. Blanchard
College of Natural Science
Gary J. Blanchard is a rare type of scholar, leading his field in research, teaching, service, outreach and creative output. The defining characteristic of his work lies at the forefront of both optical spectroscopic characterization and cutting-edge materials science, especially the study of structurally organized assemblies and liquid-solid interfaces. His research addresses state-of-the-art materials systems using the cutting-edge tools of ultrafast optical spectroscopy to study how molecular diffusion is affected by the organization of functionalized surfaces, biological interfaces and lipid bilayers—work that has important implications for the understanding of cellular membrane organization, novel drug delivery methods and the design of optical devices.
Additionally, Blanchard has recently developed a technology for monitoring force magnitude and location in head trauma, which can help in detecting sports-related body impacts that can cause brain injury. He and a colleague recently launched two companies marketing this sensor technology as part of head caps and headbands for athletes. This technology is particularly relevant today, with concern for the implications of concussion, both short- and long-term, affecting sports play at all levels.
Blanchard has successfully maintained a well-funded research program over the entire course of his career. To date, he has published more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals in areas related to surface, interface and materials chemistry. He has been honored with a rare National Science Foundation Special Creativity Extension and the New York Section of the Society of Applied Spectroscopy’s Gold Medal Award.
As a colleague noted, “The scientific community has always been highly impressed by his scholarship, depth of understanding across a number of different research areas, and relentless attention to detail. His presentations are always packed with new insights.”
Blanchard is committed to his graduate and undergraduate students, having trained and mentored 30 Ph. D. candidates, nine master’s students and countless undergraduates. Blanchard goes the extra mile to make sure his students fully understand the course material and can put into practice what they have learned about measurement science and analytical chemistry. Known as both demanding and fair, his students respect him highly and consider him a strong role model.
For the strength of his research and the excellence of the educational environment in his laboratory, Blanchard is a most-worthy recipient of the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.
College of Engineering
Since joining MSU in 2003, Joyce Chai has established an internationally recognized research program in Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence. Her lab conducts innovative research addressing how context, whether linguistics, visual or situational affects language use and how to model context computationally for natural language processing and language-based human-agent communication. Chai’s work lies at the intersection of language, vision and robotics, which together have significant implications in developing the next generation of cognitive robots that can communicate with humans naturally through language.
Chai has established herself as a distinguished scholar in her research community and has received multiple awards for her work, including the best paper award at the Association for Computational Linguistics in 2010, the most competitive conference in her field. In addition to giving numerous invited lectures at academic conferences, universities and research labs, Chai has participated in various forums and workshops aimed at developing the roadmaps for future research directions among scientific communities and funding agencies. She has successfully obtained research grants from many federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Chai's commitment to teaching and education has only deepened since her move from IBM Research to MSU. In addition to classroom teaching, Chai has supported and supervised more than twenty undergraduate students in her lab, half of whom have continued to further their STEM education in graduate school. Chai has supervised nine Ph.D. students, each of whom has continued to develop strong research credentials upon graduation. A role model for women students and young professionals in the computing field, Chai delivered the keynote address at the Michigan Celebration of Women in Computing, inspiring more than 300 women at the conference to continue in the computing field.
Chai has embraced several leadership roles in serving the broader research community. She serves on the editorial board for Computational Linguistics, one of the most prestigious journals in her field. She was elected to the scientific advisory board member for the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue for the ACL and the International Speech Communication Association. Over the past five years, Chai has served as the program co-chair for three major conferences in NLP and Al.
For her innovative research, commitment to student advancement and leadership in the research community, Joyce Chai is most deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.
College of Natural Science
Since joining MSU in 2004, Alexandra Gade has distinguished herself as one of the leading experimental scientists in nuclear physics. Her research interests are in the study of the structure of the atomic nucleus at the extremes of neutron-proton asymmetry. Short-lived, rare isotopes composed of many more neutrons than protons, for example, often reveal surprising properties. The shape, the excitation pattern, the energy and occupation of the nucleus’ quantum mechanical orbits by protons and neutrons may be significantly altered compared to expectations based on the well-known properties of stable isotopes of the elements found in nature. Her research group performs scattering experiments to characterize the bulk effects of these changes by assessing the deformation of a nucleus and its excitation pattern. She uses beams of rare isotopes to induce particular nuclear reactions in which parts of the nucleus are knocked out or added to a rare isotope, which then allows her to track the exciting modifications of nuclear structure on the level of the neutron and proton quantum mechanical orbits that make up the nucleus on a microscopic level.
Gade has published more than 200 articles in referenced journals and given more than 60 invited talks at conferences and workshops and more than 20 invited seminars and colloquia. She is an excellent mentor and adviser, having supervised 15 undergraduate students, graduated six PhD students, and mentored nine postdoctoral fellows. Three PhDs and two postdoctoral fellows currently work in her group.
Gade’s work includes significant service to the Nuclear Science community. She has been a member of the top advisory committee to the U.S. Government on nuclear science research, the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee of the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. As NSCL’s Chief Scientist, Gade has played a major role in assembling white papers on rare isotope research and defining critical instrumentation needed in the FRIB era. She has served on national and international committees, including the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee, committees of the American Physical Society and program advisory committees of ATLAS at Argonne National Laboratory, GANIL (France) and GSI/FAIR (Germany).
Gade’s leadership has been recognized with several prestigious national and international awards, including the Szymański Prize (2015), the DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator award (2008), the Alfred Sloan fellowship (2008) and American Physical Society fellowship (2013).
For her significant accomplishments as a scholar, teacher, mentor and leader, Alexandra Gade is highly deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Rufus Isaacs is an exceptional scholar, who seamlessly merges fundamental and applied research to solve critical problems with insect pests while simultaneously transmitting knowledge to stakeholders and mentoring the next-generation of scientists. He is internationally recognized for his research on berry crop pollination and insect pest management, which has saved fruit producers millions of dollars in lost revenue and led to effective means for controlling devastating invasive insect pests of grapes, blueberries and other berry crops.
Specifically, Isaacs’s research on managing the invasive spotted wing Drosophila (commonly known as small fruit flies) has allowed growers to produce berry crops that meet market expectations while minimizing pesticide inputs. His research on pollination services has demonstrated that enhancing native pollinators can be a cost-effective means of sustaining production. He has also significantly changed the science community's understanding of the current pollinator crisis by leading a national project on integrated crop pollination. As a result, this understanding now includes not only managed honeybees but also native bees as critical components of fruit crop production systems.
Isaacs is an outstanding teacher and mentor, effectively training the next generation of entomologists in both classroom and lab settings and providing examples of how scientists can train others and positively affect society. In his lab, students gain hands-on research experience in field and laboratory techniques that allow them to explore the many facets of entomology careers, from private industry, government regulatory agencies and extension education. His teaching style combines traditional elements of instruction with the use of technology and social media to reach a wide variety of audiences. He actively engages his students in the teaching process by coaching them to present information to a diverse set of stakeholders throughout the state, from small and large farmers to other entomologists engaged in pest management research. He guides his students to present their work at conferences, where many are frequently award winners. His comprehensive mentoring has resulted in former students occupying positions of influence in academia, government and NGOs worldwide.
Isaacs' scholarship has global reach as measured by his many invited talks and presentations to international audiences. His publications have received more than 5,500 citations. Additionally, he has an exemplary record of service at international, national, regional and university levels.
For his unparalleled record of research, outstanding mentoring and effective education of stakeholders, Rufus Isaacs is highly deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.
The Eli Broad College of Business
Ranjani Krishnan is an internationally recognized expert in management accounting, particularly on topics with policy implications. Her research utilizes archival, experimental and field research methods to study the design and use of management accounting and control systems. One of her particular research strengths is her ability to examine important management control and cost management issues from an interdisciplinary perspective while also effectively employing survey, archival and experimental methods, where appropriate. Ranjani’s expertise in multiple research methods sets her apart by allowing her to employ the most appropriate means for addressing a research question. Much of her research focuses on the health care industry, where she has examined such topics as health care cost behavior, cost elasticity, cost shifting, outsourcing, pricing, product mix, mergers and acquisitions and governance of health care organizations.
Krishnan’s research has won numerous prestigious awards, including the Greatest Impact on Practice Award from the American Accounting Association, the Notable Contribution to the Accounting Research Award from AAA, the Notable Contribution to the Management Accounting Literature Award from AAA and the McLaughlin Prize for Research in Accounting Ethics. Within MSU, she has received the Teacher-Scholar award, the Withrow Teacher-Scholar Award and the Executive MBA Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017). She was named one of the best Executive MBA professors in the country in the Poets and Quants Journal (2015); and one of her elective courses in the full-time MBA program was rated as the highest quality course, also in the Poets and Quants Journal (2017). She has published more than forty papers in peer-reviewed journals. Her stature in the discipline was further affirmed by her editorial leadership at some of the field’s most prestigious journals, including “The Accounting Review” (2008-2011), “Journal of Management Accounting Research” (2012-2015), “Accounting, Organizations and Society” (2016) and “Management Science” (2016).
Krishnan is an excellent teacher and mentor in the graduate and doctoral programs, recognized with teaching awards naming her as an attentive, engaged instructor with high expectations of her students. She has created several new courses and taught them effectively in the MBA and Master's programs and has guided many doctoral students through their dissertation research, placing them in academic positions at excellent colleges and universities, including Harvard Business School.
For her exceptional scholarship in research and outstanding impact through teaching and service, Ranjani Krishnan is highly deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Frank Lupi is a leading authority in natural resource and environmental economics using nonmarket valuation methods to determine ecosystem service values, that is, the economic values of fisheries, wildlife, outdoor recreation and other nature-related systems that benefit people. After measuring people’s ESS preferences, he then explores how economic incentives can encourage the greater provision of ecosystem services for the public good. Among his articles are empirical studies on what induces people to pay for ESS or to join recycling programs. His significant advances in this area include measuring the economic benefits of controlling sea lamprey in the Great Lakes and measuring the ecosystem service values from farming and various wetland attributes.
Lupi has developed a world-class program of rigorous, policy-relevant research that diffuses results on Great Lakes-region ecosystem service values to audiences ranging from other researchers to Michigan DNR field managers. This Great Lakes-region focus is consistent with Lupi's appointments with MSU Extension and the Partnership for Ecosystem Research and Management program. As the sole economist in the PERM program, Lupi works closely in an Extension capacity with the Fisheries and Wildlife divisions of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to bring insightful economic analysis to interdisciplinary teams to make natural resource management decisions.
A $15.8 million multidisciplinary grants portfolio, which benefits both the State of Michigan and MSU, lies at the core of Lupi's highly integrated research-extension program, including the Center for Water Sciences, the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, the Invasive Species Initiative, the NSF-funded Kellogg Biological Station Long-Term Ecological Research Program, the Environmental Science and Policy Program and the MSU campus sustainable stewardship initiative.
Lupi’s teaching responsibilities are dominated by mentoring and advising. He is widely sought after to serve on guidance committees (22 as chair, 47 as a member), partially because of his success at helping his advisees publish. Forty-three of his 69 journal articles are co-authored with graduate students. His advisees have won AFRE's Best PhD Dissertation Award twice, Best MS Thesis Award once and presentation awards at professional conferences on nine occasions. Lupi received a special AFRE Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising in 2016. Lupi embodies the land-grant ideal for the twenty-first century.
For his research-based policy analysis, excellent instruction and mentoring and leadership in academic governance, Frank Lupi deserves the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.
College of Natural Science
James Kenneth McCusker has always been fascinated by the interaction of light with molecules. As a middle school student, his interest in photography was as much about the process by which the photographs were developed as it was about taking the pictures. This interest carried through into his independent academic career.
McCusker’s research has focused in two major areas of physical-inorganic chemistry, but the one most widely known is the application of the ultrafast spectroscopic techniques for the study of the excited-state properties of transition-metal-containing molecules. This work seeks to understand what happens to the energy a molecule absorbs as light between the moment light first interacts with the molecule and when the molecule can begin performing chemistry. Although the time of these processes can be as short as one-tenth of one-trillionth of a second, it can define everything that follows. The significance of this work ranges from fundamental questions concerning light-matter interactions to the development of strategies for solar energy conversion utilizing earth-abundant materials that can facilitate the global scalability of new discoveries. Real-world applications of McCusker’s research include harvesting solar energy cheaply and efficiently, designing new ways to store and transfer solar energy and using light to discover and manufacture drugs. Research from McCusker’s group has led to the publication of 80 peer-reviewed papers and some 300 invited seminars at conferences and universities in more than 20 countries.
McCusker has been a relentless promoter of the inorganic chemistry field—to both local and international audiences. He organized two major international conferences: the 2012 Gordon Research Conference on Electron Donor-Acceptor Interactions and the 20th International Symposium on the Photophysics and Photochemistry of Coordination Compounds. His appointment to the editorial board of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemical Science along with his designation of Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry further reflects his international influence. Locally, McCusker organized a public symposium celebrating the United Nations International Year of Light in 2015. He is an associate editor of the journal “Chemical Science” and president of the Inter-American Photochemical Society.
McCusker’s passion for research extends to his teaching. In 1999, he was awarded the Department of Chemistry’s Teaching Award at the University of California, Berkeley. His MSU students praise his involvement in their learning and careers, regularly crediting his guidance with their success.
For his research, teaching and dedication to his students and colleagues’ learning and careers, James Kenneth McCusker is richly deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.
College of Social Science
Arthur Melzer is one of the most distinguished political philosophers of his generation, enjoying an international reputation as one of the world's leading scholars of the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the father of almost all modem culture criticism. Melzer studies the cultural discontents generated by modern liberal democratic capitalism and the countercultural ideals spawned by those discontents.
Melzer's scholarly masterpiece is his book, “The Natural Goodness of Man: On the System of Rousseau's Thought.” One scholar wrote, "Nothing new can be said in the sprawling world of Rousseau studies without banging into the brick wall of Melzer's book." Melzer has written on such varied manifestations of Rousseauian culture criticism as the rise of nationalism, the modem cult of sincerity, post-Enlightenment religion, the problem of technology, the modern public intellectual and the moral critique of capitalism. He is also the author of a dazzling book on hermeneutics and rhetoric, “Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing,” which promises to restore a forgotten art of reading.
For forty years, Melzer has been an extraordinary teacher who has had a profound influence on generations of students, often in the introductory undergraduate course that he has taught every year that he has been at MSU.
"Melzer's teaching," one student writes, "is marked by deceptive simplicity. Like his teacher Aristotle, Dr. Melzer speaks the ordinary language of moral life and asks his students the simplest questions, designed to help them explore the meanings embedded in their ordinary understandings and to see the confusions that we are prey to and that can be exposed by thinking rigorously about the things we say. It all seems so obvious; and then you sit back and see how far you have traveled."
Another student writes of a particularly challenging paper assignment "that dared to ask us not only to explain Aristotle's ideal political state, but also to outline our own. Before September of that year, I . . . would have . . . dismissed [such an assignment] with a sarcastic remark, but by November, I had somehow been convinced that it was a soul-defining activity and I spent nights walking and thinking, finally submitting a paper that began with the embarrassingly personal sentence, 'I want to be good, but I am not sure what that means.' It is no small feat of teaching to bring an ironic teenager around to such terrible sincerity."
For his profound inquiries into the cultural discontents of modernity and for his masterly teaching, Arthur Melzer richly deserves the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.
The Eli Broad College of Business
Shawnee K. Vickery has contributed and continues to contribute to several areas within supply chain management: the nature of operations strategy, supply chain integration and the strategic value of product and process modularity. Her research has focused on empirical studies examining factors that affect competitive performance in key industries and has leveraged the knowledge creation in this area in her outreach with industry. Vickery has published extensively, with her articles cited nearly 8,000 times.
Vickery has taken her most passionate research endeavor—transforming companies by applying principles of lean management—to serve as a change agent, creating such transformations one student, organization, program offering and research contribution at a time. Pursuing this passion resulted in Vickery spearheading a $5 million gift leading to the creation of MSU's Demmer Center for Business Transformation, which was created so that other organizations could benefit in receiving hands-on engagement and thought leadership consistent with what Vickery has provided to so many firms.
Vickery currently serves as the faculty director of the Demmer Center for Business Transformation. The mission of the center is to transform Michigan companies into strategic, lean competitors by providing education, hands-on engagement and thoughtful leadership. In her role as faculty director, she has worked with various companies and organizations in strategic planning and lean implementation. Most recently, she has been investigating the effects of various strategies, practice and programs on the performance of hospitals. Specifically, she has been working with MSU's Department of Surgery to assist its doctors, nurses and medical assistants in applying and implementing lean principles in clinical operations.
Vickery has tremendous impact in the classroom, teaching quantitatively focused courses to undergraduate supply chain majors, MBA students and graduate students enrolled in the MS in Supply Chain Management program. Students consistently praise Vickery’s ability to help them understand difficult course material. She has received MSU's Teacher–Scholar award and was twice recognized by Business Week as an outstanding teacher.
In recognition of the significance of her accomplishments as a scholar, program developer, teacher, collaborator and leader, Shawnee K. Vickery is deeply deserving of the Michigan State University William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.