CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article did not include Kristy Duran, Ph.D., faculty director of Undergraduate Research, as the lead principal investigator related to the $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for the project Pathways in Genomics Research Experiences for Undergraduates. The Early Bird regrets the error. 

Metropolitan State University of Denver faculty members publish research in some of the world’s most prestigious academic journals and share their knowledge at conferences around the globe. They also spend time developing valuable partnerships, working with colleagues across the country and world, creating new and exciting learning opportunities for students of all ages and securing vital funding to drive research and innovation. 

Congratulations to the following faculty members and programs for all their recent success:


Faculty Citings

Aaron Brown, Ph.D., professor, Engineering and Engineering Technology 

Plenary talk

“Engineering for Humanity: Tackling Global Challenges with Humanitarian Engineering”  

Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers international conference, Budapest, Hungary. 

The presentation underscored the pivotal role that engineers can play in effecting positive change, urging them to consider how their work can be applied to advance the wellbeing of humanity’s most vulnerable members. 

Bill Carnes, Ph.D., professor, Management 


“Anti-woke legislation: You have the right to remain ignorant, but your ignorance may be used against you by the politicians you vote into office,” accepted for presentation at the 2023 Western Business and Management Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. 

Cristina A. Bejan, affiliate faculty, Theatre and Dance Department and Department of History   


J’y suis j’y reste (Here I am, here I stay)” commission for the anthology “Voices on the Move: An Anthology by and About Refugees” published by Solis Press, September 2020. 

Elisa Varela, Ph.D., associate professor, Communication Studies

Paper and presentation

“Facilitating Speaking for Others in Democratic Talk” is being presented in the Language and Social Interaction’s prestigious “Top Papers” presentation.

Parameswarmi Mukherjee, Ph.D., assistant professor, Health Communication

Paper and presentation

“Organizing and Communicating Health at the Margins of Displacement: A Localocentric Necrocasteist Inquiry of Groundwater Contamination in Rural West Bengal”

“‘I Would Not Buy Water Even if I Have the Money’: Localocentric Stories of Groundwater Contamination by Arsenic in West Bengal”

Accepted to the annual communication convention for presentation in the environmental communication and health communication divisions.

Winter Counts cover, novel by MSU Denver professor David Weiden

David Heska Wanbli Weiden, MFA, J.D., Ph.D., professor of Political Science and Native American Studies

Time Magazine published “The 100 Best Mystery and Thriller Novels of All Time.” The list includes a novel by MSU Denver Professor David Weiden, Ph.D., “Winter Counts”, along with writers such as Henry James, Agatha Christie, Stephen King and Louise Erdrich.   

Full list here. 

Gina Cook, Ph.D., associate professor, Management 

Květa Olšanová, assistant professor, Prague University of Economics and Business 


“How Will the Management of Luxury Brands Evolve?” accepted for presentation at the 2023 Applied Business and Entrepreneurship Association International Conference in Honolulu, Nov. 16-19.
Robert Hancock, Ph.D., professor, Biology 


The Future of Colorado’s Bugs” discussion, SunFest 2023, hosted by the Colorado Sun. 

Yun Kyung Cho, Ph.D., associate professor, Management 

Cynthia Sutton, Ph.D., professor, Management 

Nazim Taskin, Boğaziçi University 


Positive relationship between service performance and social media use in internet retailing: Does information symmetry matter?” published in the Contemporary Management Research Journal, Vol. 19, No. 3.

Awards, recognition and creative contributions

Wilfredo Alvarez, Ph.D., assistant professor, Communications Studies, was selected to deliver a Hispanic Heritage Month keynote address at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, on Oct. 12. 

Additionally, Alvarez’s book “Everyday Dirty Work: Invisibility, Communication, and Immigrant Labor” has been recognized as 2023 Best Book Award winner by the National Communication Association in the Ethnography Division. 

Dawn Clement, associate professor of Jazz and American Improvised Music, and her band Esthesis Quartet were featured in a Swedish film that debuted digitally Oct. 19 on 

Adrianna Taylor, DSW, LCSW, assistant professor, Social Work, recently completed her Doctor of Social Work degree from Simmons University with a dissertation titled “Dear Black Woman, This Is for You: Conceptualizing Relational Trauma and Radicalizing Healing Among the Adult Black Mother/Daughter Dyad.” Taylor’s dissertation explored relational trauma due to the impact of systemic oppression.   

Michelle Tollefson, M.D., associate professor, Health Professions, has been selected as a 2023 American College of Lifestyle Medicine Special Recognition Award winner for her outstanding achievement in advancing lifestyle medicine within undergraduate and graduate education, particularly for helping to develop the country’s first Bachelor of Science in Lifestyle Medicine. The award will be presented during the American College of Lifestyle Medicine 2023 at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Spa on Oct. 31. Tollefson, who is completing her final year on the ACLM executive board, and several MSU Denver students will also present at the conference. 

Congratulations to the 2023 College of Health and Human Sciences Award winners: 

Outstanding Teaching Award – Ann Diker, Ph.D., RDN, professor of Nutrition 

As the lead instructor for NUT 2040 Introduction to Nutrition (a general-studies course as well as pre-req for all NUT courses), she continually provides resources for a multitude of affiliate faculty members to ensure excellence in teaching and assessment. The Open Educational Resources textbook she wrote and launched in fall 2020 has saved students over $450,000 in textbook costs. 

Outstanding Service Award – Denise Mowder, J.D., Ph.D., professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology 

Mowder runs the Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) club, which seeks to decrease gender disparity in the cybersecurity industry. She works hard to take her students to conferences, set up professional-development projects and introduce them to important people in this ever-growing field.  

Outstanding Scholarship Award – Jessica Ritter, MSSW, Ph.D., professor of Social Work 

Ritter has published three books since she came to MSU Denver five years ago: “101 Careers in Social Work (3rd edition; published by Springer)”; “Social Work Policy Practice: Changing our Community, Nation and the World (3rd edition; published by Cognella)”; and a new book, “Introduction to Social Work: Social Workers Effecting Change in Our World (1st edition; published by Cognella).” 

Outstanding Collaboration Award – Erin Murray, Ph.D., MSPH, RDN, associate professor of Nutrition 

Murray has developed and maintained invaluable on- and off-campus partnerships that have led to the success of the dietetic internship program. This includes partnerships with the Colorado School of Mines, the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, the Garfield County Public Health Department, Clinica Family Health, Swedish Medical Center, Tri-County Health, Project Angel Heart, Metro Caring, the Boulder Valley School System and dozens of others. 

Outstanding Staff Award – Vanessa Tackman, director, CHHS Advising 

Tackman supervises nearly 20 people, both professional and student staff, and has created an office environment that’s inclusive and supportive professionally and personally. She creates opportunities for each individual guided by their interests and demonstrates excellence in her position as an Advising Coordinator in micro and macro levels.  

In appreciation for outstanding service to the College – Henry Jackson, CJC, Jr., Ph.D., MPA, professor, interim department chair, Human Services and Counseling 

Jackson had just served six years as the chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology and had stepped aside to allow others the opportunity to serve. When asked to help another department, Jackson stepped up. The department and the Dean’s Office are grateful for Jackson’s leadership, listening skills and guidance.    

Grants, research and programmatic success

  • Principal Investigator Kristy Duran, Ph.D., faculty director of Undergraduate Research, and co-PI Hsiu-Ping Liu, Ph.D., director of the Center for Advanced STEM Education and professor in the Department of Biology, were awarded $1.7 million from the National Institutes of Health for the project Pathways in Genomics Research Experiences for Undergraduates. The goal of the project is to prepare and support undergraduate students for graduate school and/or a career in genomics research. This includes providing high-quality research experiences, professional-development opportunities and mentorship while building a robust community of research scholars.
    • The total award is $1,707,373, and the University of Colorado Anschutz sub-award is $66,539. Of these funds, $1,325,611 will go to direct student support, including tuition, fees, health insurance, hourly wages, travel to conferences and computer support.
  • The Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence at Auraria within the College of Aerospace, Computing, Engineering and Design has been awarded a five-year, $500,000 grant from the National Economic Development Agency to study the process of artificial intelligence and machine learning in metal 3D printing. Devi Kalla, Ph.D., director of the Mechanical Engineering Technology program, will serve as the principal investigator of this research.  
  • K Scherrer, LCSW, Ph.D., professor, Social Work (co-principal investigator), and Emily Kazyak, Ph.D., professor of Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Nebraska, were awarded $519,905 total ($274,899 to MSU Denver, $245,006 to the University of Nebraska) from the National Science Foundation for their collaborative research Navigating change in intergenerational family relationships: Cohort, age, and family role, and social marginalization. The project synthesizes three interrelated theories to examine the relationship between macro-level structural factors and micro-level family processes to advance family science. The investigators use a case-study approach to examine how generationally informed understandings about sexual orientation shape the intergenerational family relationships of sexual minority individuals.  
  • Congratulations to the hardworking faculty and staff members within the Computer Engineering program, which recently received its initial Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology accreditation.