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University of Nevada, Reno announces 2011 Foundation Professors – Cushman, Keef and Kim honored



Left to Right, Foundation professors Kathleen Keef, John Cushman and Kwang Kim honored. Photo by Teresa Danna-Douglas, University of Nevada, Reno.

Professors of mechanical engineering, medicine and biotechnology recognized for teaching and research

John Cushman, Kathleen Keef, and Kwang Jin Kim, three distinguished University of Nevada, Reno professors, were recently named Foundation Professors in recognition of their outstanding research and teaching achievements. The University’s Foundation awards each a grant of $5,000 for three years to be used to further their professional endeavors.

Cushman, in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, is a nationally-recognized research professor in the field of molecular biology of plants in response to abiotic stress who joined the University in 2000. He conducts successful algae to bio-diesel renewable energy research as well as other plant based biotechnology.

He has built the plant molecular sciences at the University, using his considerable influence in the field to attract additional outstanding researchers. He has also assisted a number of fellow faculty members in their grant work. In addition to his research, Cushman serves as Director of the Graduate Program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and played a key role in the first INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence), a $17.3 million program.

“John is an excellent choice. He’s a world-class scientist, collaborative, highly productive and works well with students,” Ron Pardini, dean of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources said. “ He’s very patient with students and teaches and trains them well in the labs. On top of that he has numerous and important grants and publications.”

Keef, in the University of Nevada School of Medicine, is a professor in physiology and cell biology, with expertise in renal physiology, fluid and electrolyte balance, and acid-base balance. Since joining the University in 1987, she has published more than 60 scholarly manuscripts in some of the best peer-reviewed journals in her scientific area.

An accomplished educator, she continually sets the standard for high achievement in the department. Keef’s work on extramural research grants has brought countless dollars to the University. She receives numerous invited speaker invitations, many from institutions of international venue. Her teaching accomplishments were recognized by UNSOM in 1997, when she was awarded the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award. Her research work was recognized in 2002 when Keef received the Outstanding Researcher of the Year Award from the University.

“Dr. Keef has been an outstanding member of our faculty,” Cheryl-Hug English, interim dean of the medical school said. “Her leadership in teaching, research, and service has been exemplary. Her work ethic,  professionalism,   optimistic and enthusiasm  are all characteristics that I admire and respect greatly. Dr. Keef has been so generous with her time for other colleagues, faculty, staff, and in mentoring our students.  We are so fortunate to have her as part of UNSOM.”

Kim is an internationally known leader in the research fields of active materials and energy systems who joined the University in 2001 and is director of the Active Material and Processing Laboratory and the Low Carbon Green Technology Laboratory. For the past four years, he has served as chair of the mechanical engineering department in the College of Engineering and is faculty coordinator for the Hydrogen Energy and Storage Group in the University’s Renewable Energy Center.

His pioneering scholarly research work has been well documented in an exceptionally large number of archived journals, papers at national and international conferences, and invited lectures.

He was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 2007. Kim is an excellent instructor, developing a teaching method that emphasizes direct interaction with students, and has mentored and supported 67 students at all levels, as well as faculty. He has extensive experience in leading R&D projects funded by NSF, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Office of Naval Research, U.S. Air Force, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, U.S. Army, NASA, GRI, the State of Nevada, and private industry.

“Kwang Kim has achieved excellence on many fronts,” Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering said. “He is an outstanding researcher., gaining national recognition for his research in the fields of Active Materials and Energy Systems.

“He is an excellent teacher, has been involved in outreach activities with national profile and his administration has raised the Mechanical Engineering Department to the next level of performance. He exemplifies the College of Engineering’s pursuit of excellence and international prominence and the prestigious Foundation professorship is the proper award for his efforts and success.”

Nevada’s land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno has an enrollment of more than 17,000 students. The University is home to the state’s medical school and one of the country’s largest study-abroad programs, and offers outreach and education programs in all Nevada counties. For more information, visit www.unr.edu. The University of Nevada, Reno is part of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

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