A Pair of Surprise Parties

Photo by Janet Rogers, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Two professors win UM System President’s Award

It’s not often — actually ever, according to longtime faculty — that University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Leo E. Morton attends the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s Friday morning meeting.

In the conference room, Morton walked over to Daniel H. McIntosh, associate professor of physics and astronomy at UMKC. “Your teaching has created more excitement than the big bang theory,” he told McIntosh before delivering the news that he won the University of Missouri System President’s Award for Innovative Teaching.

“I knew something was up when I was told to dress nice,” McIntosh said. “But thank you. I love teaching.”

In a similar stealth move earlier in the week, School of Pharmacy colleagues surprised Ashim K. Mitra, curators’ professor of pharmacy, with a President’s Award for Sustained Career Excellence.

McIntosh and Mitra were among eight winners of the University of Missouri System President’s Awards to be presented to faculty in 2016; each award includes a $5,000 prize. The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university. McIntosh and Mitra will be formally recognized by UM System Interim President Michael Middleton during an awards celebration to be held in June.

Photo by Janet Rogers, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Ashim K. Mitra, School of Pharmacy

Mitra’s award recognizes faculty for distinguished, career-long sustained excellence in scholarship, research or creativity, for a period of 15 or more years.

Mitra joined the UMKC faculty in 1994 as professor and chair of pharmaceutical sciences in the School of Pharmacy and was named to a prestigious Curators’ Professorshp in 2002. Within two years, he was appointed co-director of the Kansas City Vision Research Center in the School of Medicine and as vice provost for interdisciplinary research at UMKC.

For more than two decades, Mitra has conducted extensive research focused on the delivery and targeting of antiviral agents as well as the development of noninvasive delivery systems for peptide and protein drugs. His work has secured more than $7 million in extramural funding, leading the school to rank in the top 20 pharmacy programs in the nation in terms of such funding. In addition, he holds nine patents, has graduated more than 55 doctoral students and has mentored 14 post-doctoral scientists.

“Professor Mitra has made substantial contributions to several areas within the pharmaceutical sciences, and has improved the state of knowledge of ocular drug delivery,” wrote former student Sai Boddu, assistant professor of pharmaceutics at the University of Toledo. “His innovations are tangible and have benefited millions of patients worldwide.”

Mitra boasts an outstanding research record, authoring more than 350 primary peer-reviewed research papers and work that has been cited more than 10,000 times. His research accomplishments have led to his service on numerous prestigious scientific committees including the United States Pharmacopeia Ophthalmic Preparation Expert Panel Committee and more than 50 expert review panels for the National Institutes of Health.

“I believe that a distinguished scientist is someone who has not only made a lasting impact on advancement of the knowledge in her or his area, but also one who has taken that passion and enthusiasm for learning and passed that on to students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty,” wrote nominator Russell Melchert, dean of the UMKC School of Pharmacy. “Dr. Mitra has done that quite well. In fact, I personally find Dr. Mitra’s passion for learning inspirational and contagious.”

Daniel H. McIntosh, College of Arts and Sciences

McIntosh joined the UMKC faculty in 2008 and has since been the recipient of six teaching award nominations and the 2014 UMKC College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award. McIntosh prides himself on engaging his students in physics concepts by facilitating active learning in the classroom. As a part of his course offerings, he began an introductory astronomy sequence that is unique in the nation as it discards the traditional facts-heavy organization and, instead, uses two independent, concepts-heavy courses that reinforce a deeper understanding of physics.

“Dr. McIntosh has completely revamped our department,” his nominators wrote. “He has engaged in exciting galaxy research projects, increased our course offerings, and affected a five-fold increase in the enrollment in the astronomy courses he took over and developed.”

In 2010, McIntosh founded Astro Hour, a weekly discussion forum open to all students, to promote diversity, open dialogue and scientific literacy. In 2012, he created “A Bridge to the Stars Scholars and Mentors” program, providing scholarships for under-represented and minority students to enroll in his introductory astronomy courses. The following year, he founded a sustainable training course in which students complete a set of experiential tutorials to advance their skills in producing high-level science products.

“Dr. McIntosh is an innovative and caring instructor,” his nominators wrote. “His teaching style throws out the old, stale lecture format and allows for the students to answer and pose questions in a nurturing classroom where all the students feel a part of something bigger. It is really uplifting to watch; students who have always struggled in the ‘hard’ sciences are now motivated and engaged.”

In addition to excellence in teaching, McIntosh has co-authored more than 85 publications appearing in leading scientific journals and has secured six grants totaling $386,000 to develop UMKC’s burgeoning astronomy program. His commitment to innovative instruction and programmatic success has helped transform the Department of Physics into today’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university. McIntosh will be formally recognized by UM System Interim President Michael Middleton during an awards celebration to be held in June.



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