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MSU honors faculty, staff with awards

Morehead State University honored four individuals during the University’s Fall Convocation on Wednesday, Aug. 9.

The 2017 award recipients were Dr. Timothy Hare, professor of anthropology, Distinguished Faculty Service Award; Dr. Geoff Gearner, professor of biology, Distinguished Teacher Award; Dr. Janelle Hare, professor of biology, Distinguished Researcher; and Matt Collinsworth, senior director cultural outreach preservation education at the Kentucky Folk Art Center, Distinguished Staff Service Award.

Dr. Timothy S. Hare earned a Master of Arts degree in economic anthropology at the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. in anthropology at the University at Albany in the Institute for Mesoamerican Studies. He works as a regional analyst and divides his research, teaching and service between addressing social, economic and health disparities across Central Appalachia and assisting in the building of Kentucky’s geospatial infrastructure.

Hare contributes his time, knowledge and skills to a diverse set of organizations and collaborates with a wide variety of people and organizations at MSU and in the surrounding community.

Upon arrival at MSU, he led the Kentucky Height Modernization Program, a federally funded program to upgrade the mapping and engineering infrastructure of Kentucky. In this capacity, he gave presentations, led workshops and provided consulting services to support business and technology development and to attract students into science, math and technology disciplines, and to assist professional development in the surveying and mapping of communities. He collaborated with the Kentucky Geographical Names Project to lead an initiative to train Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP) students in how to use GPS equipment to map historical markers across Kentucky and create an interactive map of Kentucky’s history. He regularly attends the KY-GIS Conference and presents and leads workshops in the use of new mapping and remote-sensing technologies. He hosted regional meetings of the Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals, and led a two-day workshop training GIS directors at Kentucky’s Area Development Districts (ADDs).

Hare served as the First Year Seminar (FYS) coordinator for six years, to help prepare new students to be better learners and develop the knowledge and skills they need. He also worked on the General Education Council for seven years. He collaborated with two MSU colleagues to develop and propose the theme of “Critical Thinking” for MSU’s Quality Enhancement Plan. He participates in the Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, Celebration of Student Scholarship and is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR). He also serves the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics as a member of the Curriculum and Research Committees and has mentored 12 Academy students in research and service research projects.

Hare aims to assist his colleagues’ instruction and research activities by providing GIS, data acquisition processing collaborations, workshops and guest lectures. He is proud to have collaborated with colleagues like Dr. Gary O’Dell, Dr. April Haight and Dr. Paul Steele, who is no longer at MSU, in numerous capacities. For instance, Steele provided workshops targeting gang violence at the International Crime Analysis Association conferences and workshops on identifying child abuse risk at the International Child Advocacy Center Symposia. With Haight, he trained a team of Craft Academy students in 2016-17 to photograph the Licking River stream bed with drones to monitor the impact of reclamation work.

He has been a member of the Kentucky BRFSS Data Advisory Board for eight years, which has enabled him to use his research expertise in the study of disparities in health outcomes and the analysis of health data to assist the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to collect and use important health-behavior data.

Dr. Geoff Gearner was born and raised in Texas. He studied biology, business, chemistry and horticulture at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, graduating with a B.S. in Biology degree in 1981. He later enrolled at Texas A&M University to pursue a doctoral degree. There he worked in Mike Kemp’s Immunoparasitology laboratory, investigating immune escape mechanisms of the blood fluke, Schisotosoma mansoni. He earned his Ph.D. in microbiology in 1990. In August 1990, Gearner moved to Morehead, joining the faculty of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. He began his career at MSU teaching introductory biology for non-majors and majors. He developed and taught courses in immunology, parasitology, virology and his signature course, Principles of Microbiology. Gearner also developed the department’s capstone course (Principles of Evolution) and Biotechnology.  He led the effort to integrate molecular biology into the department’s curriculum in the 1990s. Since the Fall of 1991, 1,700 students have completed the Principles of Microbiology course with him. Dozens of those students are now practicing physicians, dentists, pharmacists, physical therapists, physician’s assistants, teachers and research scientists.  Recently, Gearner developed the MSUTeach Biology program, and the biology and biomedical sciences “4+1” programs.

Gearner’s research activities center on the microbiology of watersheds, especially the Triplett Creek Watershed in Rowan County. His work focuses on assessment of bacterial contamination and the development of molecular methods of microbial source tracking. He has been a P.I. or co-P.I. on numerous extramurally funded grant projects totaling more than 1.3 million dollars. Those projects have resulted in a few publications and numerous student presentations at local, state, and national meetings. Several students who have worked in Gearner’s lab have gone on to complete their master’s and doctoral degrees. He is the current consulting microbiologist for Morehead State University’s Water Testing Laboratory.

Gearner is a graduate of the 2007 President’s Leadership Academy, and served as the interim chair for the Department of Biology and Chemistry from Aug. 2013 until Dec. 2014.

He resides with his wife and three children in a ridgetop home in eastern Rowan County.

Dr. Janelle Hare started her scientific research career at the University of Iowa, where she received a B.S. degree in microbiology and a B.A. degree in biology. She earned a Ph.D. degree in biomedical sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Albany (SUNY) and completed a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University at Saint Louis and a National Science Foundation postdoctoral Award for Integrating Research into Education at Grinnell College. At Morehead State University, her 40 undergraduate and graduate students have published papers, presented their research and won numerous research awards for their work with her.

As a microbiologist, Hare focuses her investigations of microbial behavior in two related areas: genetic responses of bacteria to environmental stimuli, and the regulation & evolution of bacterial pathogenicity. Her research has revealed how plague bacteria evolved from milder, gastroenteritis-causing relatives, how Salmonella gene networks allow it to sense and survive inside white blood cells, how an antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogen can spread its antibiotic resistance genes to other bacteria, and which genes a hospital-acquired pathogen uses to fix its DNA after UV radiation damage.

Currently, Hare lab members use microbiological, molecular biological, and biochemical techniques to reveal the responses to DNA damage of the bacterial genus Acinetobacter. The multi-drug resistant pathogen A. baumannii has been of increasing concern since being recognized in U.S. military hospitals in the Middle East in the 1990s. Hare’s studies have revealed one way that this antibiotic resistance can arise and be spread: through use of the bacterium’s own natural response to DNA damage. This helps advance the lab’s broad goal of understanding how pathogens control mutagenic responses to DNA damage that may occur in a clinical setting--via UV light used to disinfect hospital surfaces, or antibiotic treatment.

Her research projects have been supported by more than $ 1.5 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the statewide NIH Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (KBRIN) and NSF EPSCOR grant programs, the Kentucky Academy of Sciences, and MSU’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. Hare has given invited research seminars to present her laboratory’s research findings at state, national and international venues and published in top microbiology and science journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

Hare is active in the scholarship of teaching and learning. She has reviewed conference abstracts and developed new evaluation criteria for microbiology teaching as a member of the American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators planning committee. She has published microbiology teaching curricula, images, and lab protocols that are used at universities throughout the country. Hare taught SEA-PHAGES, a HHMI- and KBRIN-sponsored biomedical research class that allows first-year students to discover novel viruses that infect bacteria, characterize their virus’ DNA, and publish their research.

Hare is a committee member of the statewide research consortia NIH-KBRIN and NSF-EPSCoR, and has spoken at grant writing and research development workshops around the state. She reviews NSF and NIH research grant proposals, Carnegie Association SOTL conference proposals, and manuscripts for multiple journals. She believes strongly in encouraging young women’s participation in science, and has served as a panelist for “Women in Math and Science,” and MSU’s “SpaceTrek” Camp.

Matt Collinsworth was raised along White Oak Creek in northern Magoffin County. He holds a B.A. degree in English from Georgetown College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from The Ohio State University.

In the early years of his career, Collinsworth worked as a proposal writer for an insurance company, a technical writer for Lexmark and as Main Street Manager for the City of Morehead. He came to MSU as director of the Kentucky Folk Art Center in 2003. He currently has two titles at MSU, senior director of cultural outreach, preservation and education and director/curator at the Kentucky Folk Art Center.

During his time at MSU, Collinsworth has developed KFAC into one of the finest small museums in America. Under his stewardship, KFAC’s collection has more than doubled in size. The museum instituted an educational outreach program that has served more than 100,000 public school students and hundreds of teachers over the past decade. KFAC is widely known for producing some of the finest exhibitions and catalogs dealing with folk art in America. KFAC won a Governor’s Award in the Arts in 2009. The museum also sponsor numerous annual cultural events and has been the recipient of many state, federal and private foundation grants.

He also is active in his community. Collinsworth is often called upon to consult with community arts groups regarding events and exhibitions. He has worked in the local school system to advise high school and middle school students. He has served as a youth sports coach for many years and recently served as the chair of the Bath County LadyCats Basketball Boosters. Before moving to Owingsville, he served many years as a board member of Morehead Tomorrow and served as volunteer director for the organization for a year while also working at KFAC.

Collinsworth spends countless hours working directly with artists from across Kentucky to find opportunities beyond their home communities. He lives in Owingsville with wife, Kelly, associate professor of legal studies at MSU, his daughter, Brynn, a Craft Academy student, and his son, Eli.