Two K-State faculty receive $5,000 Iman Awards for research and teaching

Posted November 03, 2015

Two Kansas State University faculty members in biology and psychological sciences, who are also longtime Manhattan community members, will each receive $5,000 awards in recognition of their outstanding research and teaching during a 4 p.m. ceremony Nov. 4 at the K-State Alumni Center.

Introduced in 2007, the annual Dr. Ron and Rae Iman Outstanding Faculty Awards are sponsored by the K-State Alumni Association and are made possible through the generosity of Ron and Rae Iman.

Dr. John Blair, university distinguished professor and Edwin G. and Lillian J. Brychta Professor of Biology, will receive the Iman Outstanding Faculty Award for Research. The recipient of the Iman Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching is Dr. Donald Saucier, associate professor and 2015-2016 Coffman Chair for University Distinguished Teaching Scholars.

Blair’s award recognizes faculty members who have distinguished themselves in their chosen profession and who have contributed significantly through research to improve the betterment of the educational experience, or whose research has had a significant impact on their area of study.

Blair, a terrestrial ecosystem ecologist with broad interests in the ecology and conservation of grasslands, leads the National Science Foundation-funded Long-Term Ecological Research program at Konza Prairie Biological Station.

His nominator, Dr. Brian Spooner, university distinguished professor and head of K-State’s Division of Biology, said, “His research provides a great body of work on the ecology of the tallgrass prairie, grasslands and global change, soil nutrient cycling, and restoration ecology… and includes collaborations across Kansas State University, the state of Kansas, the nation and the world.”

Blair’s research, which focuses on plant productivity in grasslands and the ecological consequences of global change, has been supported by more than $39 million in competitive grants. He is the author of more than 100 journal articles and book chapters and is an elected Fellow of the Ecological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Blair also serves as associate director for faculty development in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Division of Biology. Additionally, he was awarded the William L. Stamey Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1998. Blair has been a member of the Manhattan community since 1992.

Saucier’s award honors a full-time K-State faculty member for excellence in high-quality instruction, strong relationships with students inside and outside the classroom and a reputation for scholarship and distinguished service to the university.

His nominator, Dr. Michael Young, professor and head of K-State’s Department of Psychological Sciences, said, “Dr. Saucier takes the teaching mission quite seriously and feels a strong sense of responsibility to prepare the students by challenging them with difficult material and ensuring that they ‘learn to learn’ by owning their education.”

Saucier’s numerous awards and honors include the Putting Students First Award for Outstanding Service to Students, the University Distinguished Faculty Award for Mentoring of Undergraduate Students in Research, the 2010 William L. Stamey Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Commerce Bank Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award and the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Saucier serves as the director of undergraduate studies, chair of the undergraduate program committee and co-director of the teaching apprenticeship program in the Department of Psychological Sciences. He has taught a broad range of classes, from large sections of general psychology to small classes in advanced psychological research methods. Saucier has been a member of the Manhattan community since 2004.

“We are so pleased to honor these outstanding K-State faculty members,” said Amy Button Renz, president and CEO of the K-State Alumni Association. “The accomplishments and personal touch of Dr. Blair and Dr. Saucier have truly elevated the educational experience of our students and enhanced the reputation of K-State worldwide. We are also deeply appreciative to Ron and Rae Iman for their generous commitment to make these awards possible."

The Imans live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ron and Rae are life members of the K-State Alumni Association and serve as Kansas State University Foundation trustees. Ron Iman earned three degrees from K-State: a bachelor’s degree in math education in 1962, a master’s degree in 1970 and a doctorate in statistics in 1973. He is a past member of the Association’s board of directors, served as the Association’s representative to the KSU Research Foundation board and is a past chair of the Arts and Sciences Advisory Council. He received the university’s Arts and Sciences Distinguished Service Award in 1996 and, in 1994, served as national president of the American Statistical Association. Ron Iman was named a Highly Cited Researcher by the Institute for Scientific Information in 2004.