April 20, 2005

SIUC honors 10 faculty members for excellence

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is honoring 10 faculty members for superior scholarship within their academic units.

Y. Paul Chugh from the College of Engineering, Marcia M. Cornett from the College of Business and Administration, Christina M. Desai from Library Affairs, Mark R. Dixon from the College of Education and Human Services, Thomas J. Johnson from the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, Salah E.A. Mohammed from the College of Science, Ronald J. Pelias from the College of Liberal Arts, Leonard P. Rybak from the School of Medicine, Stewart P. Wessel from the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, and Bryan G. Young from the College of Agricultural Sciences, will receive cash grants and professional development accounts through the University's "Excellence Through Commitment Awards Program."

The "Excellence" initiative, new last year, standardizes individual college efforts and offers more lucrative awards. College-level winners each receive $3,000 outright plus a matching amount through the Office of Research and Development to support professional activities during the next fiscal year.

The "Excellence Through Commitment" program reflects Chancellor Walter V. Wendler's intention to foster creative, scholarly and teaching excellence as outlined in Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

Wendler will host a dinner for all award winners at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 21.

Here is a closer look at each of the scholars.


Y. Paul Chugh

• Chugh, a professor of mining and mineral resources, is nationally and internationally known for his research in rock mechanics and ground control, coal combustion byproducts management, and dust control in face areas of room-and-pillar mining. His research program brings in $500,000 annually and engages seven or eight graduate students each year. He has published more than 90 peer-reviewed articles.

Chugh, who joined the faculty in 1977, earned his bachelor's degree in 1961 from Banares Hindu University in India, and his master's and doctoral degrees in 1968 and 1970 respectively from Pennsylvania State University.


Marcia M. Cornett

• Cornett, Rehn Professor of Business in finance, specializes in bank performance, bank regulation, corporate finance and investments. This year, an article in the Journal of Finance Literature ranked her 320th out of a list of 5,800 authors whose articles have appeared in the field's seven top academic journals between 1953 and 2002.

Cornett earned her bachelor's in 1978 from Knox College in Galesburg and both her master of business administration and doctoral degrees from Indiana University in 1983. She joined the faculty in 1990.


Christina M. Desai

• Desai, an assistant professor who serves as science reference librarian and head of online reference, conducts research in virtual reference services (reference help via chat) and children's literature.

She earned her bachelor's in 1971 from Duquesne University, a master of arts degree in 1973 from the University of Pittsburgh and a master of library and information science degree in 2000 from the University of Illinois.


Mark R. Dixon

• Dixon's research includes gambling, choice and self-control, verbal behavior, organizational effectiveness, and computer programming for psychological research and developmental disabilities. An associate professor in the Rehabilitation Institute, he has written 55 journal articles, five book chapters, two books and more than 200 papers.

Dixon, who came to SIUC in 2000, earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee in 1993 and his master's and doctoral degrees in 1996 and 1998 respectively from the University of Nevada, Reno.


Thomas J. Johnson

• Johnson, a professor of journalism, conducts research in public opinion and political communication with emphasis on the role media play in presidential elections. Recent work has focused on how people use the Internet and the effect on them of online media. He has written one book and was co-author on a second, has published nine book chapters and 27 refereed journal articles and has presented 72 conference papers.

Johnson earned his bachelor's in 1982 from California Polytechnic State University, his master's in 1985 from Iowa State University and his doctorate in 1989 from the University of Washington. He joined the faculty in 1989.


Salah E.A. Mohammed

• A world leader in stochastic analysis, Mohammed, a professor of mathematics, has done pioneering research in deterministic and stochastic hereditary dynamical systems, the Malliavin calculus and its applications to partial differential equations. The National Science Foundation has continuously funded his work since 1989. He has published two groundbreaking research monographs, 30 research papers that appeared in his field's top journals and has made more than 60 research presentations.

Mohammed earned his bachelor's degree in 1970 from the University of Khartoum in Sudan (Africa), his master's in 1972 from the University of Dundee in Scotland and his doctorate in 1976 from the University of Warwick in England. He joined the faculty in 1984.


Ronald J. Pelias

• Nationally and internationally known for original work in performance studies, Pelias, a professor of speech communications, specializes in performance methodologies, performance criticism, autoethnography and performative writing. He has written and directed 29 scripts, published 58 poems and 31 peer-reviewed journal articles, produced six book chapters and presented more than 80 conference papers.

Pelias is a two-degree graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, earning his bachelor's and master's in 1968 and 1971 respectively. He completed his doctorate in 1979 at the University of Illinois and came to SIUC in 1981.


Leonard P. Rybak

• Dr. Rybak, a professor of surgery, has focused on understanding why many drugs commonly used to treat other ailments can wind up damaging the inner ear and causing hearing loss. He was the first to find that cisplatin, an anti-cancer drug, causes the production of free radicals — atoms or groups of atoms with free, or unpaired, electrons — in inner ear tissues. He also has been named this year's outstanding scholar within the University as a whole.

Dr. Rybak earned his bachelor's in 1969 from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, his medical degree in 1973 from the Medical College of Wisconsin and his doctorate in 1979 from the University of Minnesota.


Stewart P. Wessel

• Wessel's research focuses on designing, building and exhibiting original furniture and sculpture. An associate professor, School of Architecture, he has had shows nationally and internationally.

Wessel earned his bachelor's degree in 1983 from SIUC, his master of fine arts degree in 1989 from the University of North Texas in Denton and received his architect's license in 1998. He joined the faculty in 1992.


Bryan G. Young

• Young, associate professor of plant, soil and agricultural systems, conducts research aimed at developing weed management strategies in agronomic and horticultural crops. He specializes in weed biology and ecology, herbicide application technology and herbicide physiology.

A faculty member since 1998, Young earned his bachelor's in 1994 at Michigan State University and his doctorate in 1998 at the University of Illinois.