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A star in a circle sits above a wreath on a blue background with glitter. The year 2023 is visible.

Celebrating inclusive excellence, administration, service and performance: 2023 College of Science Awards

By Hannah Ashton

The College of Science gathered on Feb. 22 to recognize and celebrate our high achieving faculty and staff at the 2023 Combined Awards Ceremony. The evening celebrated the very best in the College, from teaching, advising and research to inclusive excellence, administration and service.

The following faculty and staff received awards in the categories of Inclusive Excellence, Administration, Service and Performance.

Congratulations to all the awardees!

College of Science Inclusive Excellence Award

Kirsten Grorud-Colvert stands in a dark dress holding her award.

Kirsten Grorud-Colvert accepts her award from Interim Dean Vrushali Bokil and Department of Integrative Biology Head Dee Denver.

Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, associate professor, senior research in the Department of Integrative Biology, received the Inclusive Excellence Award. In her nine years at Oregon State, she has demonstrated valuable leadership in fostering a culture of inclusion in the College of Science.

In 2020-21 Grorud-Colvert led a department-wide effort to develop an Equity, Justice and Inclusion Community Values statement to guide the department’s future goals and actions. As part of that work, she organized a retreat for faculty, staff and graduate students to discuss individual and group values. Attended by 83 members, the retreat served as a jumping-off point for the department statement, allowing more voices to be heard and incorporated.

In the summer of 2022, Grorud-Colvert co-organized a Decolonizing Biology workshop. A series of four sessions, the workshop provided a deep dive into the historical and ongoing colonial forces that have shaped the biological research discipline. Topics ranged from the exploitation of indigenous bones and DNA to disparities and biases experienced by racial and ethnic minorities in healthcare.

Grorud-Colvert also prioritizes inclusive excellence in her role as a research program leader. She focuses on place-based approaches to understanding the local impacts of marine protected areas in different parts of the world while integrating the perspectives of local communities and historically marginalized populations.

College of Science Gender Equity in Leadership

Created in 2022, the College of Science Gender Equity in Leadership award supports and provides funds for the advancement of the careers of female faculty in the College of Science. Thanks to generous donors, the fund will provide three faculty with a $3K award for developing and implementing projects related to the College’s mission while enhancing leadership skills and opportunities for faculty members who previously or currently identify as women in the College of Science.

This year's recipients include: Marilyn Mackiewicz and Paula Weiss; Elisar Barbar; and Katée Keen and Jennifer Olarra.

Headshot of Marilyn Mackiewicz wearing a blue shirt and headshot of Paula Weiss in striped shirt.

Marilyn Mackiewicz and Paula Weiss.

Marilyn Mackiewicz and Paula Weiss’s award will support specialized mentorship programs for women instructors, professors and researchers in the Department of Chemistry. Called “The Catalyst,” the goal of the program is to cultivate an environment that shapes the next generation of leaders, scientists, mentors and educators. Participants will formulate their career goals and develop a range of skills such as effective grant writing, finding sources of funding and inclusive leadership skills.

Outdoor photo of Elisar Barbar.

Elisar Barbar

Elisar Barbar’s award will fund the development of workshops that support women faculty in science as their careers advance. She will organize formal mentorship opportunities focused on tools and strategies that empower faculty and invite a renowned speaker to lead a full day workshop on leadership, improving quality and quantity of research output and the performance and well-being of science teams.

Katée Keen and Jennifer Olarra.

Katée Keen and Jennifer Olarra.

Katée Keen and Jennifer Olarra’s award will fund a coaching event that supports College of Science staff and professional faculty who identify as women. A guest speaker will lead participants in sessions focused on empowerment, work-life balance, leadership at all levels, connecting personal values to College of Science values, and creating a climate of belonging and support.

Gladys Valley Award for Exemplary Administrative Support

Kelly Carter standing in a blue long sleeve shirt outside in front of a tree.

Kelly Carter, graduate student coordinator and office manager for the Department of Physics

Kelly Carter, graduate student coordinator and office manager for the Department of Physics, received the Gladys Valley Award for her tireless commitment to her department.

Carter has been the office manager in the department since 2014 and during the 2021-22 academic year, she managed the role without a support employee after her assistant, Lori Emmons, passed away. Carter frequently performs well beyond her position description duties.

“Kelly has been a fundamental individual in the department workings, a pleasant person to interact with a constant smile, a tireless collaborator, and an incredible source of help and support at any time,” wrote one nominator.

Her colleagues expressed immense gratitude for her willingness to take on more responsibilities while consistently providing a warm welcome to department visitors.

“Kelly is the glue that holds together the complicated trajectories of roughly 20 faculty, 50 graduate students and hundreds of undergraduates,” wrote another nominator. “She deserves recognition for not only doing this difficult task, but also for doing it incredibly well in the face of a plethora of challenges.”

Distinguished Service Award

Five women pose for a picture. The woman in the center is wearing a gold shirt and holds a plaque.

From left to right: Vrushali Bokil, Virginia Weis, Kari van Zee, Lauren Dalton and Kate Shay.

Kari van Zee, senior instructor II and lead advisor for the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, received the Distinguished Service Award. This award recognizes a faculty, staff member or student whose outstanding contributions helped to support and sustain the quality and effectiveness of our College.

Van Zee has taken on a plethora of roles, both official and behind the scenes. In addition to teaching and advising, she is an undergraduate coordinator, faculty senate member, Biochemistry Club advisor and Genetic Code Expansion Center outreach coordinator. On top of everything she is known for fostering a supportive community environment.

“She is a perfect example to emulate: a good friend, advisor and someone to count on for support; whatever it is, however hard it is, whether you are a student, faculty or even department head, Kari is there to help,” wrote the nominators.

Examples of her dedication include hosting social events to help undergraduate seniors brainstorm for their future, organizing the department Dam Proud Day fundraising event, helping faculty adapt for students with disabilities and coordinating pandemic safety procedures.

Colleagues noted she also dedicates her time to building a positive department culture. Van Zee is the first person to give out her information to new staff members and routinely helps plan community-building events.

“In summary, Kari is the heart of the department in so many ways,” the nominators wrote.

Champion of Science Award

Lori Kayes accepts her award standing next to two other women.

Lori Kayes accepts her award from Interim Dean Vrushali Bokil and Acting Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies Virginia Weis.

Lori Kayes, Associate Department Head and Senior Instructor II in the Department of Integrative Biology, received The Champion of Science Award. Chosen by the dean, this award recognizes an individual who demonstrates excellence and extra effort that goes above and beyond what is requested. The award is modeled, including its name, after the President's Beaver Champion Award.

Kayes is a champion of student success, equity and community engagement. Throughout her career, she has strongly advocated for inclusivity in STEM courses and promoted active learning and culturally responsive pedagogies at Oregon State. She has tirelessly advocated for adapting education to meet the needs of today’s learners.

Her contributions were pivotal in Oregon State's recent adoption of the new general education curriculum, which focuses on student success. As co-leader of the Baccalaureate Core Reform Committee, she garnered participation across the university to shape a new curriculum that enhances student potential, including those who are historically underserved.

Her devotion to effective teaching is also demonstrated by the Learning Assistants Program. As a founder with Devon Quick and Dennis Bennett, she helped usher in a new era of evidence-based science teaching in large classrooms at OSU. The Learning Assistants play a vital role in helping students learn by implementing engagement and learning exercises in undergraduate STEM classrooms.

Kayes also has been active in the ongoing efforts to increase inclusive excellence in science as co-PI of the five-year $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which aims to improve instruction in undergraduate STEM classrooms.

College of Science Industry Partnership Award

Kyriakos Stylianou, a man with a beard.

Kyriakos Stylianou

Assistant Chemistry Professor Kyriakos Stylianou and his colleagues received the College of Science Industry Partnership Award. This award will support their work producing metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) able to capture CO2 followed by its conversion into a mixture of ethanol and methanol, which can be used as an alternative fuel source. This will help lower CO2 levels in the ocean and atmosphere and reduce humanity’s dependency on long-chain hydrocarbon fuels, which are rapidly contributing to global warming. In this project, Stylianou will collaborate with an international energy company, and together, they will discover novel strategies to effectively reduce CO2 emissions with MOFs.