ISU announces 'Promising Scholars'

January 26 2006

As part of its efforts to become the best university of its kind in the Midwest, Indiana State University today named 18 up-and-coming faculty members as "Promising Scholars," awarding research grants of up to $15,000 for each of 16 projects.

Promising Scholars are educators who have not yet attained the rank of professor but have demonstrated a commitment to meaningful research that has the potential to benefit the state and nation.

The program is designed to help attract and retain exceptionally qualified faculty by providing support for scholarly research early in their careers. It is part of "Fulfilling the Promise - The Path to Pre-eminence," a six-year plan to shift the university's mission toward providing real-world learning for students and creating solutions to community problems.

Announced by President Lloyd W. Benjamin III in 2004, "Fulfilling the Promise" aims to raise Indiana State to a high level of pre-eminence in the state, Midwest region and nation. The Promising Scholars program is a major step along that path, Benjamin said.

"The benefits of the Promising Scholars program will extend well beyond the individual recipients, their departments and even our university. Supporting faculty in this kind of research will eventually result in a measurable impact on our local, regional and national communities," he said.

Promising Scholars were selected through a competitive process from a field of 54 applicants.

"The future of Indiana State University is dependent upon the productivity of our faculty," said C. Jack Maynard, ISU provost and vice president for academic affairs. "This program provides resources that allow faculty to more efficiently and effectively develop their scholarship and research agenda.

"Projects submitted for review by a campus-wide committee included some pretty impressive initiatives and demonstrate that our up-and-coming faculty at Indiana State share the university's commitment to experiential learning and meaningful research."

A four-year grant from the Lilly Endowment to recruit and retain intellectual capital for Indiana's higher education institutions is providing initial support to the Promising Scholars program. Indiana State has the goal of re-allocating university funds to continue to support the program, Benjamin said.

The 2005-06 Promising Scholars are:

M. Affan Badar, assistant professor, industrial/mechanical technology
Shannon Barton-Bellessa and Phillip Shon, assistant professors, criminology
Kymberley Bennett, assistant professor, psychology
Christopher Berchild, assistant professor, theater
Michael Chambers, associate professor, political science
Ann Chirhart, assistant professor, history
Richard Fitch, assistant professor, chemistry
Eric Hampton and Steve Gruenert, assistant professors, education/school psychology
Myung-Ah Lee, assistant professor, physical education
Thomas Nesser, assistant professor, physical education
Theodore Piechocinski, associate professor, music
Josh Powers, assistant professor, educational leadership, administration and foundations Kenneth Prouty, assistant professor, African and African-American studies
William Wilhelm, assistant professor, business education/information/technology
Kelly Wilkinson, assistant professor, business education/information/technology
Guo-Ping Zhang, assistant professor, physics

Projects to be undertaken by ISU's Promising Scholars:

M. Affan Badar, "Improving Health Care Systems Using Lean Manufacturing & Simulation Techniques." Aimed at reducing the time patients spend in the emergency department of Terre Haute's Union Hospital, this project adapts lean manufacturing principles to the health care field, with a goal of developing a model for health care systems elsewhere.

Shannon Barton-Bellessa and Phillip Shon, "Improving Homicide Case Solvability: A Structural Examination of Crime-Scene Behaviors." A study of the characteristics of homicide cases in El Salvador with a goal of identifying characteristics of such crimes that increase the likelihood of solving the cases.

Kymberley Bennett, "Why Did This Happen to Me? How Explanations for Cardiovascular Disease Influence Recovery Among Patients in Cardiac Rehabilitation." This project examines whether creating explanations that foster a sense of control over the cause of cardiac events will improve patients' physical and mental health because they feel more optimistic about being able to make healthy choices.

Christopher Berchild, "The Dreaming Dust: A Performance in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin." ISU theater students will be cast in Irish playwright Denis Johnston's play about writer Jonathan Swift. The play will be the centerpiece of the Jonathan Swift Symposium in October 2007 and will be the first production ever staged in the cathedral.

Michael Chambers, "Evolving Sino-Indonesian Relations: Indonesia's Growing Importance to the People's Republic of China." Working with a small team of students, Chambers will examine the extent to which China's desire for energy security is responsible for its improving relations with Indonesia.

Ann Chirhart, "Worship in the Wabash Valley." Via oral histories, students, faculty and community members will explore the role houses of worship played in family interactions, ethnicity, personal identity, economic transformation and education from the 19th to the 20th century.

Richard Fitch, "Enantioselective Catalysis of Metal-Mediated Organic Reactions." Many of the important drugs today are complex molecules, having precise three-dimensional arrangements of atoms that are critical to the function of these medicines. The project is centered around developing special catalysts to build such molecules, allowing one to put each atom in its proper place. If successful, these catalysts can be used to more efficiently prepare important drugs for treating disease.

Eric Hampton and Steve Gruenert, "Adequate Yearly Progress and Social Capital." Utilizing interviews and questionnaires of high school principals and faculty in Indiana, this project will examine two groups of schools with similar demographic data, those that have previously been on the state's school improvement list but have been removed due to making adequate yearly progress and those who continue on the list.

Myung-Ah Lee, "Infusing Technology Into Early Field Experience in Physical Education." Technology-integrated teaching method courses and early field experience will establish a problem-based learning environment. This will help preservice teachers improve their operational technology skills, and integrate technology topics into their teaching experience.

Thomas Nesser, "An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of a Community-Based Childhood Obesity Treatment Program on Improving Physical Activity and Dietary Patterns of Child and Parent Participants." Healthy Choices for Life is a multi-disciplinary program focusing on the prevention and treatment of childhood weight concerns. The program goals are: improve children's nutritional choices, increase children's physical activity, and enhance children's self-esteem.

Theodore Piechocinski, "A New Textbook on the Music Business/Music Industry Studies." Piechocinski will develop a new introductory music business text that will provide extensive exercises, assignments and practical applications drawn from actual industry situations. An accompanying CD will provide resource and supplemental materials, including sample contracts and copyright forms.

Josh Powers, "Economic Development and Technology Transfer at Regional State Universities." This project will investigate the forces regional state universities such as Indiana State face as they are increasingly called upon to contribute to economic development and engage in technology transfer practices appropriate for this type of institution.

Kenneth Prouty, "Technology and the Learning of Jazz." An examination of how development of advanced digital instructional technology has influenced the learning and teaching of jazz.

William Wilhelm, "Teaching Ethics in Undergraduate Business Core Courses." This study will identify effective teaching methods for instructors, who may not be formally trained business ethicists, in each discipline of business.

Kelly Wilkinson, "Using Breeze for Communication and Assessment of Internships." Using Breeze software, a Web camera and headset, student interns will be able to see and hear their internship coordinators via the Internet and ask questions of professors monitoring their experiences. Students also will record a video diary which faculty can use as a tool for teaching and grading.

Guo-ping Zhang, "High Harmonic Generation in Fullerenes." This nanotechnology project examines a new frontier of light source from materials that are one-billionth of a meter and can take a real-time picture of a moving cell in human bodies.

Contact: Robert English, interim associate vice president for academic affairs, Indiana State University, (812) 237-2307 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3743 or


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ISU has named 18 up-and-coming faculty members

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