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2020 Awards

Master of Ceremonies

Dennis Hedge, Pharm.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

David Clay, Ph.D., Professor, Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science/ Faculty Senate President.


Barry H. Dunn, Ph.D., President.

Greetings of Gratitude on Behalf of the SDSU Student Body

Allyson Monson, Students' Association President .


People Centered:

Timothy J. Nichols Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Student Advising

Nicole Grove, Ph.D., Lecturer, Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Dr. Nicole Grove has been a faculty advisor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for almost 7 years.  She feels that advising is so much more than just helping students get registered for the right classes, it encompasses so much more.  Students struggle with mental health issues, financial issues, and many other things that stand in the way of their academic goals.  Pulling from her own experiences as a woman in sciences, she never wants any student, male or female, to feel that they cannot obtain whatever dream they might have.

Awarded by Dennis Hedge, Pharm.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.


Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award

Brian Logue, Ph.D., Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Dr. Brian Logue, a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at South Dakota State University, since 2004. He has mentored 15 students to degree completion, 11 Chemistry Ph.D. students and four masters. students. Over the past year, he has advised eleven graduate students, one Electrical Engineering co-advisee, four undergraduates, four post-doctoral associates, and one research associate, each supported through grant funding. Dr. Logue focuses on developing the intangible skills which make students attractive in the workforce, placing students in prestigious institutions such as Waters, Mayo Clinic, Sciencix and the University of Pittsburg. 

Awarded by Nicole Lounsbery, Ph.D., Interim Dean, Graduate School.


F.O. Butler Award for Excellence in Teaching

Mary Zwart, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Health and Nutritional Sciences.

Dr. Mary Beth Zwart has educated hundreds of athletic training students who work within the state of South Dakota, the United States, and abroad. She discerns the needs of her students, incorporating a variety of teaching strategies to fit their individual learning styles while preparing them to function as working professionals. She challenges her students to apply learned information and reason as practicing clinicians. Dr. Zwart epitomizes what it means to use evidence to support practice and challenges students to do likewise through research projects and public presentation. With her teaching and mentorship, over 50 undergraduate and graduate students have presented evidence-based projects at regional and national conferences. Dr. Zwart challenges herself by engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning, presenting regionally and nationally about teaching strategies she uses in her classroom. Students appreciate her learner-centered approach and compliment her ability to mentor them as people, not just students.


Presentation of Outstanding Researchers, Scholars, Performers, and Artists

College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Outstanding Researcher

Joy Scaria, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.

Since September 2014, Dr. Joy Scaria is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.  During 2009-2014, he was a Research Associate at the Department of Population Medicine & Diagnostic Sciences, Cornell University, New York. Dr. Scaria received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, India in 2006. The primary goal of his research program is to understand how the composition of the gut microbiota determines health or disease. Using this knowledge, his laboratory seeks to develop gut commensals as an alternative to treat drug resistant infections. Dr. Scaria also is an expert in bacterial genomics and helped to develop genome sequencing as a new generation diagnostic tool to track multistate foodborne outbreaks. He also serves as a resource person for the Food and Drug Administration’s efforts to use genome sequencing as a tool for pathogen detection and tracking.

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Researcher

Weiwei Zhang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Sociology and Rural Studies.

Dr. Zhang is the Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Rural Studies at South Dakota State University. She serves as the South Dakota State Demographer. Dr. Zhang received her M.A. from Bowling Green State University and her Ph.D. from Brown University. Her research focuses on the application of quantitative, demographic, and spatial methods to interdisciplinary research that integrates different perspectives, data, techniques and tools to study the connection between people and place. She collaborates with colleagues within and outside South Dakota State University and conducts applied research through grants and contracts. She has publications in peer-reviewed journals such as American Journal of Sociology, Demography, Social Forces, the ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Social Science Research, and Historical Methods.

College of Education and Human Sciences Outstanding Researcher

Wookjae Heo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Consumer Sciences.

Wookjae Heo is an assistant professor of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Consumer Sciences, South Dakota State University. He earned his Ph.D. degree from the University of Georgia at 2016. Prior to earning Ph.D. degree, he had worked for a marketing consulting firm as a Strategic Marketing Planner and Consumer Research Specialist in Korea. Before working at the consulting firm, he received MA and BA Degrees from Seoul National University, Korea. His main research interest is broadly about financial consumer welfare including financial behavioral intervention, financial stress on consumer behavior, demand for life insurance and data mining/data analysis in financial planning and consumer research.

Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering Outstanding Researcher

Christopher Saunders, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Mathematics and Statistics.
Dr. Christopher Saunders in an Associate Professor of Statistics at SDSU. He received his Ph.D. in mathematical statistics from the University of Kentucky under the direction of Dr. Constance Wood, before accepting an Intelligence Community postdoctoral fellowship. Dr. Saunders has more than 10 years of experience in dealing with complex evidence forms in support of the FBI and the broader Intelligence Community and is a member of the American Statistical Association advisory committee on forensic science. He is collaborating with the forensic research scientists on interpretation issues related to the development of new technologies for quantification of impression, pattern and trace evidence. Dr. Saunders is also currently involved in or leading a of number federally funded research projects related to the interpretation of various forms of forensic evidence. His current research focus is related to high dimensional pattern recognition and approximate Bayesian inference with applications to forecasting and forensic source identification.

College of Natural Sciences Outstanding Researcher

Wanlong Li, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Biology and Microbiology.

Dr. Wanlong Li has established himself as a nationally recognized expert on the biology of wheat, one of the most important food crops. Wheat is genetically much more complex than humans, and until recently has resisted attempts to directed genetic modification. In the face of growing world population and climate change, improvements to wheat are urgently needed. Dr Li’s research follows a three-pronged approach; Understanding the complex evolution and origin of modern wheat; Identifying genes involved in yield-enhancing traits; and Developing methods to genetically modify wheat for higher yield in the face of drought and flooding.

Dr Li obtained his Ph.D. from Nanjing Agricultural University, joined their academic ranks and moved to Kansas State as Research Assistant Professor in 2001. He joined SDSU in 2009. His research is well funded through grants mainly from USDA-NIFA and DOE, totaling $ 1.8 million to date.

College of Nursing Outstanding Scholar

Cynthia Elverson, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Nursing.

Dr. Elverson earned her Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  She began her research career with a foundation of 25 years in clinical practice as an RN and advanced practice nurse.  Her scholarship is centered on infants and young children, as well as, quality of care.  In addition, she co-developed a study abroad experience infused with the scholarship of teaching and learning.  Dr. Elverson has developed partnerships with clinical agencies in her scholarship projects.  She leads program evaluation of the South Dakota Early Childhood Mental Health Collaborative which is a partnership among Southeastern Behavioral Healthcare, the College of Education and Human Sciences, and the College of Nursing.  This is a 5-year project with more than 2 million dollars in federal funding to improve social-emotional health of preschool children.  Dr. Elverson is an educator, researcher, scholar, and leader on a national level.

College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions Outstanding Scholar

Jennifer Ball, Pharm.D., Assistant Professor, Pharmacy Practice.

Jennifer Ball is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice in the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions.  Her clinical pharmacy practice site is in ambulatory care at the Center for Family Medicine where she teaches in the Family Medicine Residency Programs.  Prior to starting at SDSU, Jennifer completed a PGY1 Community Residency at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and an Ambulatory Care/Academia Fellowship at Purdue University.   Dr. Ball has had outstanding research and scholarship success addressing the opioid crisis and prenatal care.  Her work in developing one of the first office based opioid treatment programs in the state of South Dakota has resulted in training of nearly 100 family medicine physicians and pharmacy students.  She is also currently engaged in a project focused on prenatal innovations to improve patient and neonatal outcomes and reduce costs for underserved, rural and refugee populations in South Dakota.

Awarded by college deans.


F.O. Butler Award for Excellence in Research

Brian Logue, Ph.D., Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Dr. Brian A. Logue is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at South Dakota State University. He received his PhD in Analytical Chemistry from Oregon State University in 2000 and he then served in the US Army for four years, working at USAMRICD for two. He joined SDSU in 2004 where he has focused his research in the area of Bioanalytical Chemistry and Materials/Organic Chemistry and is considered an expert in the analysis of cyanide, its metabolites and cyanide therapeutics. Dr. Logue has also worked with the analysis of other toxic agents and has developed novel devices and techniques such as a cyanide diagnostic sensor and ICE Concentration Linked with Extractive Stirrer. Dr. Logue has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has secured $11 million in external funding while at SDSU.

Moul Dey, Ph.D., Professor, Health and Natural Sciences
Moul Dey is a Professor in the department of Health and Nutritional Sciences. Dr. Dey has pioneered a new chapter in nutrition science research on South Dakota State’s campus that helps advance understanding of the impact of diet on human gut microbiome through metagenomics and metabolomics. Her research also addresses critical knowledge gaps regarding role of diet in chronic diseases, such as gene-environment interactions and chemoprevention with potential implications for improved healthspan. In the past 10 years, research led by Dr. Dey has generated 28 refereed publications, several hundred citations, 42 news articles, and numerous invited talks. Dr. Dey has received over dozen competitive grants as principle investigator—maintaining uninterrupted research support for over a decade. She has mentored 34 student researchers that helped garner six prestigious national and regional student awards. Dr. Dey’s portfolio of significant disciplinary contributions also includes service to 10 national panels including for NIH, DoD and FFAR.



Dr. Harold and Barbara Bailey Award for Excellence in Academic Department Leadership

Kurt Bassett, Ph.D., Department Head/Professor, Mechanical Engineering.
Dr. Bassett was raised on a dairy farm near Wilmot, South Dakota.  He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from South Dakota State University and a Ph.D. from North Dakota State University.  He joined the Mechanical Engineering faculty at SDSU in 1983.  His professional interests include thermodynamics, HVAC and energy conversion.  From 1993 to 2001 he served as director of a U.S. Department of Energy Industrial Assessment Center.   The center’s faculty-led student teams completed more than 200 energy-saving feasibility studies for commercial, industrial and institutional facilities in a five-state region.  In 2001 Dr. Bassett joined Johnson Controls, Inc. as senior project development engineer.  He returned to the SDSU faculty in 2005 and was appointed department head in 2007.  He is a registered professional engineer in Minnesota and South Dakota and an active member and past president of the South Dakota Chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

Awarded by Dennis Hedge, Pharm.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Dr. Bailey served SDSU as vice president for academic affairs for 24 years. From 1979-1985, he also directed programs to develop departmental leadership for the South Dakota and North Dakota Boards of Regents and the American Council on Education.



Faculty Awards for Global Engagement

Greg Heiberger, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biology and Microbiology.
Since 2007, Dr. Heiberger has played a key role in preparing students for acceptance into professional healthcare programs by helping to develop a culture and infrastructure to support student success. Examples include First Year Seminar with peer mentors, an integrated recruitment - advising - retention model with professional advisors, MCAT preparation, a 1-year MS Human Biology, an undergraduate capstone, articulation agreements with 7 doctoral programs, and an international exchange agreement. Greg developed an agreement with KNUST where SDSU students immerse in a diversity of ways of life and approaches to treating disease, visiting Ghana and the Netherlands and where KNUST students, faculty and staff learn at SDSU. SDSU students become better equipped as aware global citizens, experiencing first-hand how human ingenuity and compassion triumph under starkly different financial models and access to technology.

Award for Faculty Engagement in International Research

Xiuqing Wang, Ph.D., Professor, Biology and Microbiology.
Dr. Wang is a tenured Professor in the Department of Biology and Microbiology at South Dakota State University (SDSU), Brookings, SD. Since she joined SDSU in 2002 as an assistant Professor, she has been very successful in securing research funding from highly competitive federal agencies such as United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Institute of Health (NIH). Her research experience and expertise in viral pathogenesis and viral immunology is well received and respected by the scientific community. She was invited to serve as a guest editor, a review editor and editorial board member for scientific journals as wells as meeting organizers and keynote speakers for international meetings on virology. In particularly, her work on dendritic cells, avian infectious bronchitis virus and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus has attracted international attention, which results in the opportunities of international research collaborations with scientists from Brazil, China and United Kingdom.

Awarded by Jon Stauff, Assistant Vice President for International Affairs.


F.O. Butler Award for Excellence in Community Service

Toby Uecker, Associate Director for Living-Learning and Outreach
Tobias W. Uecker,  Associate Director for Living-Learning and Outreach in Housing & Residential Life. An SDSU alumnus, Toby earned a bachelor's degree with Honors College Distinction in 2004 and has worked at his alma mater since 2013. He holds a master's degree in the field of Student Affairs in Higher Education from Miami University and has worked at higher education institutions in Minnesota and Ohio in addition to his home state of South Dakota. In his current role at State, Toby has expanded Living-Learning Community offerings for students in University housing and has coordinated the Meet State Move-In efforts for the past six years. Toby's community involvement ranges from sharing music to fostering global engagement to encouraging participation in the democratic process. Toby acts on deep commitments to inclusive higher education access, career and personal development for student affairs professionals, high school speech and debate and all things SDSU.

Awarded by Barry H. Dunn, Ph.D., President.


David Fee Memorial Lecture

Joy Scaria. Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Dr. Scaria’s Lecture titled, “Transforming Animal Agriculture to Improve Planetary Health” focused on the need for innovations in agriculture and medicine to feed the people of the world sustainably and to keep them healthy.  The Scaria lab has developed improved methods to culture uncultivable bacteria for human and animal gut microbiota.  Development of such non-antibiotic alternatives and improved diagnostics methods are important to keep the food productions system efficient without compromising human and animal health.

Awarded by Barry H. Dunn, Ph.D., President.

Dr. David Fee was a professor of philosophy and religion at SDSU from 1964-1987. He was known to live “the life of the mind” and was an advocate for cross-disciplinary learning, inquiry and collegiality.



Excellence in Online Teaching Award

Rebecca Diischer, Lecturer, Mathematics and Statistics
Becky Diischer serves as a Lecturer and Online Program Coordinator for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Becky has served as an instructor and lecturer for the past 10 years at SDSU, and regularly teaches online Mathematical Reasoning, College Algebra and Precalculus. In her time at SDSU, Becky has also served as College Algebra Coordinator, presented regularly at Mathematics conferences regarding course design that supports student success, particularly for the underprepared students and has been very involved in course re-design at SDSU that focuses on helping students understand the relevance of mathematics in their own fields. Becky earned a B.S. in Mathematics from SDSU in 2004 and a Masters of Mathematics from the University of Iowa in 2007. When not teaching, Becky enjoys spending time with her husband, Matt, and two cats, Rory and Flynn, as well as running, cooking and being a Minnesota Vikings season ticket holder.

Awarded by Lindsey Hamlin, MBA, Director, Continuing and Distance Education.


Award for Excellence in Outreach and Engagement

Amber Letcher, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Kristine Ramsay-Seaner, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Counseling and Human Development
Drs. Amber Letcher and Kristine Ramsay-Seaner are faculty in the Department of Counseling and Human Development. In 2017, they formed the multi-state, interdisciplinary collaboration known as Strengthening the Heartland with Dr. Meagan Scott Hoffman at North Dakota State University. The mission of Strengthening the Heartland is to invest in the wellness and prosperity of rural communities across the Dakotas. Since forming, they have received over $2 million in federal and state funding from SAMHSA and USDA-NIFA to prevent rural opioid misuse and increase life readiness skills for rural youth. In the first year of opioid misuse prevention programming, the team reached over 4,000 individuals in 50 communities. They are currently partnering with eight rural schools to nurture the social-emotional development of the students and the professional development of the staff. In all outreach efforts, they strive to empower rural communities because small towns have big hearts.

Awarded by Dennis Hedge, Pharm.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Edward Patrick Hogan Awards for Teaching Excellence

Christine Larson, Ph.D., Professor, Mathematics and Statistics
Dr. Christine Larson grew up in Aberdeen, SD and received her undergraduate degree from Augustana University with an English/Mathematics double major, and a minor in computer science.  She received both a Master’s degree in mathematics and a Doctoral degree in mathematics education at Montana State University.

She has been teaching at SDSU since 1992.  She has had the honor of helping students start their journey in Calculus, and then finish with courses that prepare them for their own classrooms.   She has been involved in the creation of many mathematics education courses over the years to provide a solid mathematics foundation for all future teachers. When students’ love of learning combines with her passion for teaching, something wonderful happens. And when she looks at all the teachers that have graduated from our program, she knows that our department is making a difference in the lives of thousands of students.

Dale Potts, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of American and Global Studies
Dale Potts graduated with a doctoral degree in history from the University of Maine at Orono. He is an Associate Professor of History at South Dakota State University where he teaches courses in environmental history, American Indian history and U.S. cultural history. He currently researches popular nature writing in the twentieth century and how it relates to American conservation and environmentalism. He has published in journals such as Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment and Studies in American Indian Literatures. He contributed a chapter to the anthology Rediscovering the Maine Woods: Thoreau’s Legacy in an Unsettled Land for the University of Massachusetts Press. He is the recipient of the Kentucky Historical Society Scholarly Research Fellowship in 2016 and the James Phinney Baxter Award for best 2018 article in the journal Maine History.

Awarded by Dennis Hedge, Pharm.D., Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Hogan served many different roles during his 36-year career at SDSU including professor and head of the Department of Geography, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, assistant vice president for academic affairs and chief information technology officer


Dr. Sherwood and Elizabeth Berg Research Young Faculty Award

Nicholas Butzin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biology and Microbiology
Dr. Butzin joined the Department of Biology and Microbiology at South Dakota State University in 2017 as an Assistant Professor. He previously was a Research Scientist and postdoc in the Department of Physics, Virginia Tech, and a postdoc in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology, University of Connecticut. The Butzin lab explores microbial systems using an evolutionary perspective and a synthetic biology approach. His goal is to understand the principles behind robustness in both natural and synthetic microbial systems. He is particularly interested in how individual cells cope with constant fluctuations in natural environments and limited enzymatic resources. Although his lab has several ongoing projects ranging from the development of new robust synthetic circuits to the study of antibiotic resistance and biofilms, all projects utilize synthetic biology to understand natural phenomena or to develop products for industrial and medical applications.

Awarded by Daniel Scholl, Ph.D., Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

Dr. Berg was president of SDSU from 1975-1984 and was the first SDSU graduate to serve in this role. He served in World War II and was a U.S. Agricultural Attaché. Mrs. Berg, First Lady Emeritus, was awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Public Service for her volunteer leadership and service.


Distinguished Professor

Anne Fennell, Ph.D., Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science
Fennell has a proven track record as a teacher, mentor, and researcher committed to the land grant mission.  She developed a nationally and internationally recognized grapevine systems biology and genomics research program and transitions the knowledge to applied research.  Fennell trains interdisciplinary next-generation scientist and has provided team leadership as PI or Co-PI on $44.67 million in national research projects. She has contributed to the state, national, and international research agenda through the National Grape Research Alliance, BioSystems Networks/Translational Research (BioSNTR), National Science Foundation Committee of Visitors, NSF International Research and Educational Collaboration for Grape Functional Genomics and European Cooperation in Science and Technology INTEGRAPE.  Fennell believes strongly in local foods and contributed to the development of the South Dakota grape and wine industry and South Dakota Specialty Producers Association. When not working, Anne enjoys sunrises, kayaking, fishing and swimming on a northern lake with her family. 

Awarded by Barry H. Dunn, Ph.D., President.