BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University honored two professors for superior achievement in their fields and sustained productivity during an event to celebrate the research, scholarship and creative endeavors of the university’s faculty and staff. The Research and Creative Activity at Appalachian event was held Oct. 25 on Appalachian’s campus.
A committee of faculty members from each academic college and the University Libraries selected the recipients of the inaugural Chancellor’s and Provost’s Awards for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity.
Dr. Ellen Cowan, a professor in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, received the Chancellor’s Award, and Dr. Baker Perry ’98, a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, received the Provost’s Award.
A foremost sedimentologist
“In her work every day, Dr. Cowan underscores the importance of research, scholarship and creative activity at Appalachian and she is an exemplary inaugural recipient of the Chancellor’s Award,” Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts said. “Our university is committed to excellence in teaching — a primary facet of which is research, specifically when conducted in concert with undergraduate and graduate students.”
She continued, “Dr. Cowan is one of the foremost glacial sedimentologists in the country, and she continually elevates the Appalachian Experience for her students by engaging them in world-changing climate research.”
Cowan said Appalachian has supported her throughout her career, facilitating her research expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica and providing a place where she can bring first-hand knowledge around climate change to students in her classroom. “Involving Appalachian undergraduate students in my research has really been inspirational to me; it is truly rewarding to go around the world, collect data and come home and then be able to share that research with students,” she said.
Additionally, regarding the involvement of student researchers in her fieldwork, Cowan said, “To see the excitement on their faces when they are standing in front of a glacier is incredible.”
Cowan — a Geological Society of America Fellow — has been a faculty member at Appalachian for more than 30 years and, notably, has participated in four International Ocean Discovery Program expeditions funded in part by the National Science Foundation.
In a reference letter in support of Cowan for the award, a colleague wrote, “Cowan has been a trailblazer for women in science at Appalachian, has been extremely productive in her scholarly output and in the breadth of her work, and has spread this knowledge to the next generation of Earth scientists.”
A globally significant climate science researcher
“Dr. Perry is an ideal recipient of the inaugural Provost’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity,” said Dr. Darrell Kruger, Appalachian’s provost and executive vice chancellor. “He is a prominent climate science researcher whose work is globally significant and also impactful for the education of Appalachian students. He ensures his students participate in his research — using expeditions, such as one to Peru in summer 2018, as opportunities for students to gain field experience.”
“I am honored and humbled to receive the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity, and I am deeply grateful to everyone who has supported me on this path,” Perry said. “Special thanks in particular to my mentors, colleagues, students and family.”
Perry focuses his research on precipitation, glacier–climate interactions and climate change, particularly in the Himalayan, Andes and Appalachian mountains. In 2019, he garnered international attention when he participated in National Geographic and Rolex’s Perpetual Extreme Expedition to Mount Everest, where he led the installation of a world record-breaking network of high-altitude weather stations.
In a reference letter in support of Perry for the award, a colleague described the impact of Perry’s Mount Everest installations: “These weather stations are transmitting data in real time, and early insights suggest their data will fundamentally change our understanding of how fast the highest glaciers in the world will respond to climate change.”
Research and Creative Activity at Appalachian was hosted by the Office of Research, the Office of Student Research and University Libraries. The event, held in Belk Library and Information Commons, featured more than 40 posters, oral presentations and performances, representing faculty and staff from 23 university departments.
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About the Office of Research
Appalachian State University’s Office of Research provides support for the research, creative, and scholarly endeavors of Appalachian faculty, staff and students. The office consists of five units: Grants Resources and Services, Sponsored Programs, Research Data Analysis, Research Protections and the Research Institute for Environment, Energy, and Economics. The Office of Research also collaborates with the university’s Special Funds Accounting on the fiscal management of awarded projects. Learn more at https://research.appstate.edu.
About student research at Appalachian
Appalachian State University encourages faculty-mentored student research, which provides students with the opportunity to work side by side with faculty on meaningful research or creative endeavors. These projects often result in presentations, performances or exhibitions at regional, national and international conferences and events. Students who engage in research are able to apply knowledge from the classroom into real-world experiences and learn how to problem-solve, effectively communicate and analyze complex issues. Appalachian’s Office of Student Research (OSR) was established in 2005 to expand the opportunities necessary for undergraduate and graduate students to engage in research and creative activities at Appalachian. Learn more at https://osr.appstate.edu.
About University Libraries
University Libraries at Appalachian State University contributes to the campus mission of learning, teaching, advancing knowledge, engagement and effectiveness. Belk Library and Information Commons along with the Nicholas Erneston Music Library provide academic resources for all students and faculty. Within the library, students and faculty find group and quiet study spaces, the Digital Media Studio, the inspire lab, the Idea Factory, digital devices to check out, and special collections such as the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection and Instructional Materials Center. Learn more at https://library.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.