STATE Magazine, Winter 2018

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BLUE COAT TO WHITE COAT Through a partnership with Oklahoma FFA, we are recruiting and cultivating the next generation of medical students. Shared values such as leadership, commitment, integrity and community service make FFA students ideal candidates for a career in medicine. Learn more about our Blue Coat to White Coat program today by contacting Tanner Thompson, .

Tulsa, OK 74107-1898


In T his Issue

The Research Issue OSU’s land-grant mission is rooted in research, instruction and outreach. In this issue, we’re taking a broad look at some of the research going on at Oklahoma State University. You’ll find this section on Pages 50-91. ON THE COVER: Niblack scholar Alice Chibnall works with Dr. Jose Soulages, the Robert J. Sirny Memorial Endowed Professor in Agricultural Biochemistry on a research project.





Chain Reaction

Fighting Diseases

Mission to Mars

Nourishing Hope

Freshmen get to discover a new world of research, thanks to Dr. John Niblack’s gift of scholarships.

Dr. Lin Liu has put together a successful research center focused on tackling globally devastating diseases.

Two research projects at OSU could put NASA closer to manned travel to Mars.

A new center at OSUTulsa focuses on body image and eating disorders.

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Plus... 4

Letter from the Editor


Socially Orange


President’s Letter




Wellness with Ann Hargis

Stillwater Strong


Campus News

A new memorial is standing tall in honor of those who lost their lives and those whose lives were changed at the 2015 parade tragedy.


Impact Spotlight


Cowboy Chronicles


The Cowboy Way


Research Briefs


Legacy Link


Chapter News

Iba Hall


Alumni Update

The vintage residence hall gets a $3 million makeover.


Babies & Weddings


In Memory

Cowboys ride on to victory at “America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration.”





Adapting Ruth Spivey, the first woman to earn an OSU electrical engineering degree, looks back on her life.



Breaking Ground OSU celebrates the groundbreaking for the new home of the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music.



Student Aid The Student Foundation has been investing in fellow Cowboys for 10 years.



Kyle Wray | Vice President of Enrollment and Brand Management Erin Petrotta | Director of Marketing and Student Communication Megan Horton | Director of Branding and Digital Strategy Monica Roberts | Director of Media Relations Shannon Rigsby | Editorial Coordinator Dave Malec | Design Coordinator Dorothy Pugh | Deputy Editor

Elizabeth Bechtel, Lacy Branson, Codee Classen, Valerie Kisling, Chris Lewis, Michael Molholt and Benton Rudd | Design Phil Shockley, Gary Lawson & Brandee Cazzelle | Photography Kaylee Howell | Intern Kurtis Mason | Trademarks & Licensing Pam Longan, Leslie McClurg | Administrative Support Office of Brand Management | 305 Whitehurst, Stillwater, OK 74078-1024 405-744-6262 | | | Contributors | Kim Archer, Derinda Blakeney, Kendria Cost, Kylie Fanning, Aimee Furrie, Jeff Joiner, Jacob Longan, Amanda O’Toole Mason, Karolyn Moberly, David C. Peters, Nick Trougakos, Mallory Vaughn, Ahna Vuong, Amy Woods

O S U A L U M N I A S S O C I AT I O N Kent Gardner | Chair Tony LoPresto | Vice Chair Phil Kennedy | Immediate Past Chair Blaire Atkinson | President Pam Davis | Vice President and Chief Programs Officer Treca Baetz, James Boggs, Gregg Bradshaw, Larry Briggs, Burns Hargis, Kirk Jewell, Angela Kouplen, Mel Martin, Travis Moss, Tina Parkhill, HJ Reed, Tom Ritchie & Tina Walker | Board of Directors Lacy Branson, Will Carr, Chase Carter, Tori Moore, Paula Jimenez, Jillianne Tebow & Amelia Woods | Communications and Marketing OSU Alumni Association | 201 ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center, Stillwater, OK 740787043 | 405-744-5368 | |

O S U F O U N D AT I O N Lyndon Taylor | Chair Kirk Jewell | President Donna Koeppe | Vice President of Administration & Treasurer Chris Campbell | Senior Associate Vice President of Information Strategy Shane Crawford | Senior Associate Vice President of Philanthropy Stephen Mason | Senior Associate Vice President of Philanthropy David Mays | Senior Associate Vice President of Philanthropy Paula Voyles | Senior Associate Vice President of Philanthropy Jamie Payne | Senior Associate Vice President of Development Services Robyn Baker | Vice President and General Counsel Pam Guthrie | Senior Associate Vice President of Human Resources Deborah Adams, Mark Allen, Bryan Begley, Bryan Close, Jan Cloyde, Patrick Cobb, Ann Dyer, Joe Eastin, Jennifer Grigsby, John Groendyke, Helen Hodges, David Houston, Gary Huneryager, A.J. Jacques, Brett Jameson, Kirk Jewell, Griff Jones, Diana Laing, John Linehan, Joe Martin, Ross McKnight, Jenelle Schatz, Becky Steen, Lyndon Taylor, Phil Terry, Stephen Tuttle, Jay Wiese & Jerry Winchester | Trustees Shelly Cameron, Aimee Furrie, Jennifer Kinnard, Chris Lewis, Amanda O’Toole Mason, Michael Molholt, Lauren Shann, Kyle Stringer & Benton Rudd | Marketing and Communications OSU Foundation | 400 South Monroe, P.O. Box 1749, Stillwater, OK 74076-1749 800-622-4678 | | STATE magazine is published three times a year (Fall, Winter, Spring) by Oklahoma State University, 305 Whitehurst, Stillwater, OK 74078. The magazine is produced by the Office of Brand Management, the OSU Alumni Association and the OSU Foundation, and is mailed to current members of the OSU Alumni Association. Postage is paid at Stillwater, OK, and additional mailing offices. Magazine subscriptions are available only by membership in the OSU Alumni Association. Membership cost is $45. Call 405-744-5368 or mail a check to 201 ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center, Stillwater OK 74078-7043. To change a mailing address, visit or call 405-744-5368.

Letters From the Editor’s Desk Life has brought new STATE editor Shannon Rigsby full circle. She began her college education at Oklahoma State University and has returned here to serve as editorial coordinator in our Department of Brand Management. Her duties include shepherding STATE magazine through its publication paces. “It’s an honor to return to the place where so much of my adult life started,” Shannon said. “I have always loved Oklahoma State, Stillwater and the atmosphere of family that comes with it.” Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees are from the University of Oklahoma, and her career path has included a variety of storytelling experiences. Shannon has worked in Oklahoma journalism in Chickasha and Mustang as well as for a medical ministry that works around the world. Before coming to OSU, she was the public information officer for Mustang Public Schools. “Since I joined Brand Management, I have been overwhelmed with the depth and breadth of the opportunities available and the areas where we are leaders in the United States,” Shannon said. She studied at OSU for two years in the early 1990s. “I remembered Oklahoma State being known for its agriculture and veterinary program as well as its fire service training program when I was a student,” Shannon said. “We’re still leaders in all three, but what I didn’t know was that OSU is a leader in cuttingedge research. It’s unbelievable. What this university does for its undergraduates is going to change the lives of thousands of young people. “Every day has been a day of discovery,” she added. “I am blessed to be part of an incredible team of people who are telling the story of Oklahoma State University and by working with faculty and staff who are devoted to creating opportunity and caring about students.” We’re glad you’re here to help us tell our best stories, Shannon. Go Pokes! Your STATE magazine team

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity has been designated to handle inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies. Contact the Director of Equal Opportunity at 408 Whitehurst, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; telephone 405-744-5371; or email Any person (student, faculty, or staff) who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator at 405-744-9154. This publication, issued by Oklahoma State University as authorized by the vice president of enrollment management and marketing, was printed by Royle Printing Co. at a cost of $0.97 per issue: 37,622 | November 2018 | #7486 | Copyright © 2018, STATE magazine. All rights reserved. Higher Education Marketing Report | 2018 Publications Silver Award Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists | 2016 Best Public Relations Magazine Oklahoma College Public Relations Association | 2016 Magazine Excellence Award Member | Council for Advancement and Support of Education

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Celebrating Research Throughout its history, Oklahoma State University has profoundly touched countless lives through its land-grant mission of teaching, research and service, or extension. This issue of STATE focuses on research. Across all disciplines, OSU researchers and students are exploring, questioning and discovering. They are pursuing the ideas and knowledge that are helping shape our world. For many students the pursuit begins early, thanks to OSU donors. For example, we are thrilled to celebrate the 15th year of the Niblack Research Scholars program, funded by OSU alumnus John Niblack and his wife, Heidi. This unique program allows undergraduates to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real-life research. John enjoyed a highly successful career at Pfizer, and we are fortunate he has shared his passion for undergraduate research with the university he loves. The OSU Research Park west of our Stillwater campus is growing in its reach and impact. In fact, work by OSU physicist Eric Benton at the Venture 1 facility has reached outer space. Dr. Benton developed a monitoring device to study the kinds and levels of radiation astronauts experience on the International Space Station. Back on Earth, you can learn more about important work OSU is doing to combat human health issues.

The OSU Center for Respiratory and Infectious Diseases received an $11.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop vaccines and drugs for a multitude of respiratory diseases that sicken millions. In Tulsa, the OSU Center for Health Sciences has organized a major initiative to battle opioid addiction. Finally, this issue includes a profile on Ruth Spivey, the first woman to earn an electrical engineering degree at OSU (then Oklahoma A&M) in 1945. Ruth enjoyed a long career at the U.S. Department of Defense. She lives in Texas and remains a huge OSU fan. The semester is winding down. We hope you were able to return to campus for Homecoming or another event this fall. First Cowgirl Ann and I wish you happy and healthy holidays and a Happy New Year!

Go Pokes! Burns Hargis OSU President

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Singing Heart, 1994, Bronze, edition of 10. Gift of Jeanene Jenkins Hulsey (Class of ’67) and Ron Hulsey. Located in the Mother’s Garden west of the Atherton.

Abstract Orange, 1991, Steel, edition of 5. Gift of James A. Pickel (Class of ’72). Located northwest of the Student Union.

Oklahoma State University and the OSU Museum of Art celebrate the addition of Singing Heart and Abstract Orange by Allan Houser to the Stillwater campus. Allan Houser (1914-1994), an Oklahoma-born Chiricahua Apache, is known as one of the most renowned American Indian Modernist sculptors of the 20th century.


Dear OSU Alumni and Friends, Welcome to our Winter issue of STATE! In these pages, we’re shining a spotlight on the cuttingedge research going on at Oklahoma State University. As a central aspect of our land-grant mission, research plays a key role in shaping the OSU brand, and our ongoing strategic marketing efforts reinforce this importance. The research projects range from helping more college students across Oklahoma improve in their math classes to working on curing a variety of respiratory illnesses to running experiments on the International Space Station. Clearly, we have a lot to brag about. One of the many features that makes OSU unique is that we welcome students of all levels in our research projects. Our cover story on Niblack scholars offers a glimpse of the impact such programs have on our students and alumni. Many of these programs and our talented faculty researchers are supported with private funds, a critical element to our success. Of course, getting this magazine means you are an OSU scholar or friend. As such, you know that Homecoming is undoubtedly our university’s greatest and most-loved tradition. A recap of this year’s events can be found on Pages 12-24. We’d also like to encourage you to consider donating to the Homecoming Endowment to ensure this great OSU tradition continues. Our Alumni Association continues to focus on developing lifelong connections to OSU and supporting the traditions and events that set our culture apart. This spring, our largest alumni chapters will be hosting events to support scholarships for new members of the Cowboy Family. Look for those dates on Page 121. If you’d like to start or increase

your financial support for Oklahoma State, please contact the OSU Foundation — check out for more information. And remember, we’re always looking for those new members to join our Cowboy Family. Encourage the high school students you know to seriously consider OSU for a high-quality, high-value education. One tip — be sure they submit all application materials by Feb. 1 to guarantee they’re considered for OSU scholarships.

We want to wish you all the happiest of holidays this year. Go Pokes!

Blaire Atkinson

Kirk Jewell

Kyle Wray

President OSU Alumni Association

President OSU Foundation

Vice President for Enrollment and Brand Management

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Encourage the high school senior you know to apply by the February 1 Priority Scholarship Deadline to be considered for great scholarship opportunities.




OSU’s Student Union uses recycled materials, such as counters made from sunflower seed shells.

Dear Cowboy Family, I’m passionate about wellness. I believe healthy and happy go hand-inhand and that wellness encompasses far more than fitness and nutrition. I also believe taking care of our planet is a natural extension of taking care of ourselves. When I first arrived at OSU, I was proud to learn of the studentled initiative to educate the campus population on reducing the university’s environmental footprint. In 2007, the SGA Sustainability Committee was established under the Student Government Association. In addition, faculty and staff formed a sustainability task force to evaluate and improve the sustainability efforts on campus. In 2012, the university hired a full-time sustainability coordinator. I recently visited the university’s recycling center, where items are sorted by hand. I was surprised by what I didn’t know. I discovered recycling options vary by region. There are restrictions on cardboard, paper, glass, aluminum, etc. Not all plastics can be recycled in all

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areas. The university recycles differently than the city of Stillwater, and Stillwater differs from Dallas, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Walla Walla! Learn what options are available in your community by visiting your city’s website or the national EPA website. Sustainability goes far beyond recycling, and OSU is making great strides in many areas. University Dining has a greater focus on areas such as offering local produce, using ecofriendly disposable products and providing scraps to local farmers for composting. New buildings are incorporating energyefficient features. Custodial Services is using more earth-friendly cleaners and unbleached paper goods with the highest post-consumer recycled content. Water stations have been added across campus to reduce the use of plastic bottles. These are just a few examples. I encourage each of you to educate yourselves on what you can do to reduce your environmental footprint. If you’re not sure where to look for sustainability information, ask a young

person! The majority of the students I visit with seem to be conscious of the impact we have on the environment. You don’t have to change everything all at once, but you can start by making some simple changes. In health,

Ann Hargis OSU First Cowgirl More information Learn to reduce, reuse and recycle in your area: An educational walk Take the OSU Sustainability Walking Tour. Get more info and the route at


Where smiles from strangers abound, hometown spirit is a way of life, and cowboys really do ride off into the sunset.

Experience America’s Friendliest College Town!




Homecoming executives (from left) Gentry Meyer, Brooks McKinney, Kieser Hladik, Corian England, Carson Taber, Emily Anderson, Allison Ray, Caleb Eyster and Jackson Emery after the Edmon Low Library fountain is dyed orange.



Thousands of Cowboys welcomed Barry Sanders and his offensive line, the “War Pigs” at the Sea of Orange Parade.

Celebration for the Ages When Barry Sanders and his offensive line walked onto the field during the Homecoming game, the roar of the crowd was something straight out of 1988. And just when we thought Boone Pickens Stadium couldn’t be any louder, the Cowboys upset No. 6 Texas and the fans rushed the field, capping off a Homecoming celebration for the record books. This year marked the 30th anniversary of Sanders’ Heisman Trophy season, and to celebrate, he and the “War Pigs” as they are known served as grand marshals of the 2018 Sea of Orange Parade. Homecoming also served as the 60th anniversary for OSU’s mascot, Pistol Pete. More than 60 Pistol Pete alumni returned for the occasion, and their spirit was felt at every Homecoming event from the Harvest Carnival to Walkaround. Along with our sponsor Phillips 66, the Alumni Association invites you to relive the many wonderful moments from Homecoming 2018: ‘Cowboys Ride On’ in the following pages with complementary video recaps available online at And mark your calendars for the 99th edition of “America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration” in 2019 — Oct. 19 vs. Baylor.

Perfect weather welcomed tens of thousands to Walkaround 2018.



Students observe entries in the Sign Competition including the Greek life winners, Delta Delta Delta/Delta Tau Delta (left).



Clay Daily and Rebecca Mohajerin were crowned 2018 Homecoming King and Queen by last year’s winners, Gage Calhoon (left) and Brittany Krehbiel-Hukill.

Clint Kelley rides to lasso a calf during the Cowboy Stampede Rodeo.


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Students enjoy a volleyball match at the Homecoming Tailgate.

A future Cowboy attempts to throw a lasso at the Horseman’s Association’s Harvest Carnival entry.



A member of the African-American Student Association serves up a sample during the Chili Cook-Off.


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Relive the fun:

This year’s Basketball Bonanza winners included the African-American Student Association in the open bracket (above) and Kappa Alpha Theta/Alpha Gamma Rho in the Greek bracket (below).



Stout Hall won first place for its parade entry in the residential life category.

More than 60 of the 89 Pistol Pete alumni were on hand to celebrate the mascot’s 60th anniversary at Homecoming.


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OSU football great Barry Sanders and his renowned offensive line, the “War Pigs,� joined Alumni Association Board Chair Kent Gardner and Alumni Association President Blaire Atkinson for the halftime awards presentation. Pictured are (from left) Mike Wolfe, Chris Stanley, John Boisvert, Gardner, Sanders, Atkinson, Garret Limbrick, Jason Kidder and Byron Woodard.

Kappa Delta/Sigma Alpha Epsilon took home first place in the house decoration competition.


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Football Coach Mike Gundy removed his shirt at Homecoming & Hoops again this year, revealing this time his throwback jersey from 1988.

Rain was no match for this little Cowgirl’s spirit during Hester Street Painting.





Basketball Bonanza

Harvest Carnival

GREEK BRACKET 1st | Kappa Alpha Theta/Alpha Gamma Rho 2nd | Kappa Delta/Sigma Alpha Epsilon 3rd | Pi Beta Phi/Kappa Sigma Female MVP | Haley Ratcliff Male MVP | Cole Dewitt

STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS 1st | Wildlife Society 2nd | College of Education, Health and Aviation Student Council 3rd | Pete’s Project Phillips 66 Fan Favorite | Recreational Therapy and Occupational Therapy Club

OPEN BRACKET 1st | African-American Student Association 2nd | Zink/Allen 3rd | Iba, Patchin/Jones, Booker/Stinchcomb Female MVP | De’Shonae Tillman Male MVP | Garret Maxey

GREEK LIFE 1st | Chi Omega/FarmHouse 2nd | Kappa Alpha Theta/Alpha Gamma Rho 3rd | Kappa Delta/Sigma Alpha Epsilon Phillips 66 Fan Favorite | Pi Beta Phi/ Kappa Sigma

Sign Competition STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS 1st | Graphic Design Club 2nd | Sigma Phi Lambda 3rd | OSU Swine Club Phillips 66 Fan Favorite | Business Student Council RESIDENT LIFE 1st | Stout Hall 2nd | Wentz/Parker 3rd | University Commons Phillips 66 Fan Favorite | University Commons GREEK LIFE 1st | Delta Delta Delta/Delta Tau Delta 2nd | Chi Omega/FarmHouse 3rd | Kappa Alpha Theta/Alpha Gamma Rho Phillips 66 Fan Favorite | Delta Delta Delta/ Delta Tau Delta

Chili Cook-off Phillips 66 Fan Favorite | Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS 1st | ASABE Club 2nd | College of Arts & Sciences Student Council 3rd | African-American Student Association RESIDENT LIFE 1st | Bennett Hall 2nd | Wentz/Parker 3rd | The Villages

Orange Reflection

1st | Stout Hall 2nd | Kamm/Peterson/Friend, North Monroe, Morrison 3rd | University Commons Phillips 66 Fan Favorite | Stout Hall

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Students rally around Pistol Pete during Hester Street Painting.

House Decorations ALUMNI ASSOCIATION CHAIRMAN'S CUP 1st | Kappa Delta/Sigma Alpha Epsilon 2nd | Kappa Alpha Theta/Alpha Gamma Rho 3rd | Zeta Tau Alpha/Sigma Nu 4th | Chi Omega/FarmHouse 5th | Alpha Xi Delta/Alpha Tau Omega Phillips 66 Fan Favorite | Chi Omega/FarmHouse ENGINEERING EXCELLENCE AWARD Kappa Delta/Sigma Alpha Epsilon SAFETY AWARD Alpha Chi Omega/Sigma Phi Epsilon

Sweepstakes STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS 1st | Oklahoma Collegiate Cattlewomen and Cattlemen’s Association 2nd | CASNR Student Council 3rd | African-American Student Association RESIDENT LIFE 1st | Stout Hall 2nd | Wentz/Parker 3rd | University Commons GREEK LIFE 1st | Kappa Alpha Theta/Alpha Gamma Rho 2nd | Chi Omega/FarmHouse 3rd | Kappa Delta/Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Homecoming King & Queen Clay Daily and Rebecca Mohajerin

Sea of Orange Parade LARGE BAND COMPETITION 1st | Stillwater High School SMALL BAND COMPETITION 1st | Oktaha High School COMMUNITY PARADE ENTRY 1st | Exchange Bank 2nd | Pistol Pete Alumni 3rd | Botanic Gardens STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS 1st | OSU Collegiate Cattlewomen and Cattlemen’s Association 2nd | Beekeeping Club 3rd | CASNR Student Council RESIDENT LIFE 1st | Stout Hall 2nd | University Commons 3rd | Wentz/Parker GRAND MARSHAL'S CUP Exchange Bank

Jerry Gill Spirit Award

Alpha Chi Omega/Sigma Phi Epsilon

Most Spirited College

College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

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Orange Peel




On Oct. 24, 2015, four people at the OSU Sea of Orange parade were killed and 50 were injured when a vehicle drove into the crowd. The Stillwater community and Oklahoma State University united to rebuild and restore in the wake of the tragedy, leading to the birth of the mantra Stillwater Strong. Today, the Stillwater Strong Memorial is standing tall, honoring four lives lost and the countless lives forever changed there. “The memorial provides a lasting tribute to the victims of the parade tragedy, an event that brought the Stillwater community together like never before,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “The community owes a huge thanks to the Stillwater Strong Memorial Committee, Stillwater Medical Foundation and the many donors who made this memorial possible.” The memorial features a 6-foot-tall handcrafted alloy ribbon in orange and blue on a concrete base with four granite tiles describing the lives of the four victims lost. A fifth granite tile on a separate pedestal describes the memorial and the purpose behind the Stillwater Strong effort. OSU graduate Gary Sparks, a Tulsabased architect, was the lead designer for the memorial, which is located at the corner of Hall of Fame and Hoke Street, a block west of Main Street. The dedication ceremony, held just before Walkaround at the 2018 Homecoming, featured a tribute to the memory of Bonnie and Marvin Stone, Nikita Nakal and Nash Lucas, said Scott Petty, executive director for the Stillwater Medical Foundation and memorial committee member. The memorial is illuminated at night and open to visitors at any time.

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OSU remembers the parade victims:


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A ‘47 OHT Two Peat Scrum Flag Long Sleeve Tee S-XXL | $48 B ‘47 Fade Out Boyfriend Tee S-XL | $35 C ‘47 Youth Bronc Clean Up Cap $18 D ‘47 Gradient Script Splitter Raglan Tee S-XL | $34 E How Bout Them Cowboys Tee S-XXL | $32 F ‘47 Roundabout Club Raglan Tee S-XXL | $34 G In Cowboy Country Tee S-XXL | $32 H ‘47 Club Scramble Long Sleeve Tee S-XXL | $40

I ‘47 Match Tri Blend Hero Tee S-XL | $30 J ‘47 Letter Courtside Long Sleeve Tee S-XL | $45 K ‘47 Versus Tri-Colored Tee S-XXL | $35 L Heritage Script Tee S-XXL | $32 M ‘47 Tuscaloosa Clean Up Cap $25 N ‘47 Youth All Pro Raglan Tee S-XL | $22 O ‘47 Women’s Sparkle Hat $26 P Champions Classic Tee S-XXL | $32



Alumni Association names first female president The Oklahoma State University Alumni Association has named Blaire Atkinson as its 14th president, the first woman to hold the office. Atkinson, formerly senior associate vice president of development services for the OSU Foundation, had been interim president. “Blaire has shown tremendous leadership during her interim appointment,” said Kent Gardner, chair of the OSU Alumni Association board of directors. “During the search process, it became evident she was the best person for the position. There are a lot of exciting things happening at the Alumni Association, and we are excited to have Blaire at the helm. We have no doubt she will continue to move this organization forward and help our alumni experience lifelong connections to the Cowboy Family.” Atkinson graduated from OSU in 2004 with a degree in business administration and holds Senior Professional of Human Resources and SHRM Senior Certified Professional of Human Resources designations.

She joined the OSU Foundation in 2011 and provided strategic direction and oversight to the marketing and communications, donor relations and special event areas of the organization. The native of Vici, Oklahoma, also spent 12 years overseeing human resources at various organizations in Oklahoma. “I am honored to serve my alma mater in such an incredible way, and I look forward to being part of an outstanding team focused on engaging all Oklahoma State alumni, students and friends,” Atkinson said. “Alumni have always said there is something undeniably different about Oklahoma State, and I’m proud to be associated with an organization that reminds us daily of the things that set OSU apart — an incredible culture, talented people, transformational progress and a continued commitment to excellence.” Atkinson is a member of Leadership Oklahoma Class 30 and an Oklahoma Achiever Under 40 honoree. She has been involved in various community volunteer organizations and is the board chair for Payne County Youth Services and a board member for the Bandit Football Association. Atkinson and her husband, Matt, met at OSU and have three young children, Wyatt, Westin and Morgan.

OSU honored again for inclusion efforts Oklahoma State University received its third consecutive Institution Committed to Diversity Award from Minority Access Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit agency. Alumnus Justin Biassou accepted the award on behalf of the university. The award was presented at Minority Access’ 19th annual National Role Models Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. The conference assembles innovators, recruiters, researchers, faculty, administrators, students, mentors and alumni, as well as institutions with exemplary records in producing minority researchers. Dr. Jason Kirksey, vice president for Institutional Diversity and chief diversity officer at OSU, was pleased with the award.

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“We are honored to continue being recognized as a national leader for our commitment to sustaining and enriching a culture of inclusion at OSU,” Kirksey said. More than 70 diversity-related student organizations at OSU empower students to promote their heritage and become leaders. The university also supports K-12 programs that facilitate students’ ability to successfully transition to college.

Alumnus Justin Biassou accepted the Institution Committed to Diversity Award from Minority Access on behalf of OSU.

Aviation student organization flies again Oklahoma State University is home to the newest chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), the largest national professional organization for airport executives. The re-establishment of the organization comes on the cusp of record-setting enrollment in OSU’s aviation program and increased student interest in the aviation industry. Previously established in 1994, the organization has been inactive since 2013. “All aviation related majors are welcome to join: pilots, management, security, logistics and engineers,” said Jasmine Bailey, chapter president and senior aviation management student in the College of Education, Health and Aviation. “This is one of the most important student organizations an aviation student can be involved in.” Members of AAAE represent nearly 875 airports and authorities, in addition to hundreds of companies and organizations that support airports. There are 25 active AAAE student organizations across the country, including OSU’s. Membership benefits include access to scholarship opportunities, professional development programs, training and networking opportunities, conferences and certification completion.

“This is one of the most important student organizations an aviation student can be involved in.” GET INVOLVED All aviation majors are welcome to join: pilots, management, security, logistics and engineers.

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OSU-OKC receives $250,000 grant to promote Farmers Market Cody Yount, manager of the Farmers Market at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, was thrilled to learn that the school is receiving a three-year, $250,000 grant from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service Farmers Market Promotion Program. The money will be used to purchase equipment and food for public school field trips, host cooking demonstrations, offer food safety certification courses and purchase radio and billboard ads to promote the market. But Yount is especially excited to use the funds for something newer: hyperoptimized demographic targeting on the market’s social media platforms. “When people think of farmers markets, they tend to associate with a traditional or old-fashioned approach,” he said. “After all, there are few things

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more traditional than the farm-tomarket approach. But just because farming is a traditionally offline discipline, that doesn’t mean we can’t leverage the power of the internet to promote our market.” Using grant funds, Yount and his team will deploy an aggressive social media advertising campaign that will deliver targeted messaging to potential consumers based on geographic location, gender and income, as well as interests and behaviors. An additional layer of advertising will utilize “lookalike” audiences. This allows the Farmers Market to draw from custom audiences — such as social media page fans, website visitors and email subscribers — to target unidentified consumers who match the characteristics and behaviors of those audiences.

These efforts will be followed closely by ongoing ad optimization. “The market is held each Saturday, year-round,” Yount said. “This allows us to update customer count and sales numbers in near-real time and adjust our ad strategy accordingly.” OSU-OKC’s grant calls for efforts to increase sales and customer count, and melding technology with old-fashioned farming to help accomplish those goals seemed natural, he said. “We look at it as if we’re planting digital seeds,” he said, “and we’re excited to watch them grow.”

Grandparent University at OSU draws record attendance A total of 233 families from across the country took part in Grandparent University 2018 at Oklahoma State University this summer. Grandparent University, hosted by the OSU Alumni Association, brought 704 legacies and their grandparents to Stillwater in June for classes taught by OSU faculty and staff, a stay in student housing and on-campus dining. A legacy is any child that has at least one parent or grandparent who is a current member of the OSU Alumni Association. “Grandparent University, or GPU, is a wonderful opportunity for families to

fall in love with everything OSU has to offer,” said Melisa Parkerson, director of student programs for the OSU Alumni Association. “Legacies have the opportunity to see what college life entails, as well as bond with their grandparents and fellow legacies.” This was the 16th year for OSU’s Grandparent University, which has hosted nearly 6,000 participants since 2003. The program has grown from four majors and 80 participants to 33 majors with the record 704 participants. This year's classes included members from 30 states plus Thailand.

704 participants 33 majors 30 states and Thailand

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IMPACT Spotlight

Soaring Success With a rich tradition of excellence and a storied history, OSU aviation is the fastest-growing program in the College of Education, Health and Aviation. The program enrolls more than 300 students annually, with degrees available in aerospace logistics, aerospace security, aviation management, professional pilot and technical service management. OSU is also one of only 18 universities nationally to offer graduate-level aviation degrees. The program’s holistic approach allows students to balance time spent perfecting their skills with taking advantage of all the university has to offer. They also train with the best. Whether students aspire to be pilots, air traffic controllers, airport managers or other aviation professionals, OSU’s graduates are ready to serve on a global scale. Whether through student, faculty or program support, our donors help students soar. Call Denise Melot at 405-385-5663 to find out how you can benefit aviation at OSU.

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Hometown: Forth Worth, Texas Major: Aerospace administration and operations; professional pilot

Victoria Garcia Class of '21

How has participating in the aviation program enhanced your academic experience at OSU? Participating in the aviation program has helped me find a family away from home. Being away from home can be hard, but within the aviation program I have found a group of students who always make me feel welcome. This program is growing but still remains intimate, which allows you to be mentored personally by the OSU faculty. What impact have scholarships had on you and your family? Scholarships have played a very important role in my life as an OSU student, as they have given me an opportunity to continue to follow my dreams and not stop learning. Aviation is an expensive career path to follow, but my scholarship encourages not only me but also other students to continue down this path. Being a woman in aviation can be discouraging at times, but being awarded with scholarships assures me I picked the right career and gives me the encouragement I need when flying gets tough. As a professional pilot student, what does it mean to you to train for your career at OSU? Training at OSU allows me to experience real-world situations in a professional setting. Dealing with students from various backgrounds helps me to broaden my horizons. I feel my academics are preparing me to enter the aviation field. I get to watch my peers enter the airlines and take away from their experience and apply that to my flying, which will help me increase my job opportunities with different airlines.

Hometown: Springfield, Missouri Degree: Bachelor’s in aerospace administration and operations, with a professional pilot option


Earnhardt 2017 Graduate

How did the College of Education, Health and Aviation prepare you for life after college? My professors and flight instructors at OSU prepared me well for the leap into the real world following graduation. Without them, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn, connect and explore the world of aviation. My time in the aviation program at Oklahoma State was more than just my education. I made connections that paved the way for my future career, and I met my lifelong friends. What was the highlight of your college career? I was a member of the Flying Aggies, and I was on the flight team, so definitely flight team competitions! I was awarded the Top Female Pilot at the Region VI NIFA competition in 2015, and I placed on a national level at NIFA 2016 competition. What advice would you give to future aviation students? I would encourage anyone in the aviation program to get involved as much as they can and connect with as many people as possible. By competing on the flight team and going to nationals, I made connections that led to an internship with United Airlines. That opportunity ultimately brought me to my current position with Lufthansa Aviation Training.

Occupation: Assistant professor of Aviation & Space

Dr. Matt Vance

What is your favorite part of teaching OSU students and preparing them for successful careers? I get to interface with young adults who both love and respect my career field — this is mutually motivating. We both benefit and get to talk about and fly airplanes in multiple venues, formally in the classroom, in the simulators and in our aircraft (as I am privileged to teach in all three). I am especially jazzed when I am able to transition timidity into confidence and witness a student demonstrating aeronautical prowess they did not know they were capable of showing. How does the OSU aviation program influence its students’ college experiences? Our faculty and staff model the professional behaviors we expect of our students. We encourage and reward motivation and team players. Additionally, we offer a full university experience with an airport close to campus. We should shortly be able to offer a seaplane license, too. What impact do you see scholarships and other donor funding have on students and the aviation program? The attention and benefit from scholarships and donor funding resonates with the students. Donors provide an opportunity for the students to connect with aviation professionals who have preceded them in the field.

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Iba Hall

50-year-old residence hall renovations create cultural connections

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Inspiring. Bold. Adventurous.


ainted above an elevator, these encouraging words greet all who walk into the lobby of Iba Hall at Oklahoma State University. They also describe the students who now live in the one-time athletic residence hall. The recently renovated Iba Hall houses two different Living Learning Programs on campus. Global Scholars House is a welcoming community for U.S. and international students, while the OKSTATEF1RST program is designed for firstgeneration college students. Dr. Leon McClinton Jr., director of Housing and Residential Life, said the Living Learning Programs are designed around such commonalities as culture, academics or special interests, making these students’ transition into the new experience of university life much easier.

“Living Learning Programs are a major component in our housing program,” McClinton said. “[They] allow students to get acclimated to their new surroundings quicker.” The students in these programs are the first to experience the many updates and renovations in Iba Hall, originally built in 1968 and named after famed OSU basketball coach Henry Iba. “As you take a look or go through Iba Hall, you will see that we renovated the basement where we have an entertainment and kitchen area,” McClinton said. “We set aside a meditation room. We also renovated each residential room. We think our students are going to be very happy with the updates.” The renovation, versus building new, speaks to the university’s stewardship of resources. “This renovation project was funded through our maintenance reserves. We were able to have enough money set aside to fund this project, which cost us $3 million,” McClinton said. “The renovation of Iba Hall was important because it allowed us to not incur any more debt. We were able to take a residence hall that has been here for 50 years and give it a tremendous facelift.” The renovation also meets the needs of many students by providing financial options.

Dr. Leon McClinton Jr.


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Learn more about the new Iba Hall:

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“This project sets OSU apart because we put ourselves in a position to listen to our students,” he said. “We go to our Residence Hall Association and listen to what they have to say about living on campus. We listen to our student staff, and they share with us that they want a low-cost option while going to school, and funding this project through our department allowed that.” Individual student living spaces received extensive upgrades including painting, wood floors, resurfaced shelving and tile surfaces and new beds. Common areas got new carpet. The most dramatic and impressive transformation occurred on the basement level. A new open floor plan brought in an entertainment zone with a community kitchen, large study space and multiple televisions. “I’ve been able to meet so many different people in the kitchen at Iba, and I think food brings people together in general but especially when you have different cultures mixing and intermingling,” said Gracie Savage, a freshman studying psychology. “We are all cooking and it’s a really great opportunity to make friends and learn about other people’s lives.” The community kitchen serves as a focal point for many Iba residents. Students regularly gather in the kitchen to cook dishes from their home countries and often share the delicacies with other students, creating a cultural experience unique to this residence hall. “I love the facilities here,” said Huiwen “Ariel” Wang, a freshman from China studying business English. “For example, this new kitchen has helped me a lot. It helped me to make more friends. We can cook together with American students, and I can share my Chinese food with them. It is very interesting.”

The building’s laundry facilities are also in the basement. “The laundry room is really nice too, because in my home university when you want to do some laundry, you have to pay,” said Chenyi “Liucy” Liu, a freshman from China studying mechanical engineering. “But here I can wash my clothes without having to pay. That is awesome.” The meditation room addresses growing concerns involving students’ mental health. “We recognize that we have many students at OSU who are struggling with their daily lives, so we set aside a room where they can meditate and we are calling it our mindfulness room,” McClinton said. “We are in the process of trying to schedule some yoga classes in there as well.” Living Learning Programs provide a great opportunity to live with others who share interests and a supportive community environment. The programs also provide opportunities for leadership, social interactions and academic success. “We’ve already had our vice president of student affairs come in and we had 18 of our 20 first-generation students, who are part of the OKSTATEF1RST Living Learning Program, learn about study habits,” McClinton said. “We were really proud to have our top administrators come to Iba Hall and spend time with our students.” Fifty years ago, Iba Hall was home to an exclusive club: male athletes from multiple sports who shared meals and living space in the best residence hall of its kind on campus. Five decades later, it bridges the gap between cultures, offering common space and common ground to forge relationships and create a sense of home among students from around the world.

Eye-catching lights that spell out O-S-U in the ceiling greet visitors and residents at Iba Hall.

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A History of Living and Learning 1965.

Oklahoma State University had eight intercollegiate sports teams: basketball, football, wrestling, baseball, track, golf, tennis and swimming. All the teams were exclusively male. At the same time, Baby Boomers were crowding college campuses, including OSU’s. In October 1965, the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College Board of Regents discussed building several new residence halls on campus. Ten- to 14-story residence halls began sprouting west of campus. And the suggestion was made for an athletic dormitory to house all of the athletes on campus at one location. This facility would be part of a multibuilding residence hall complex along Farm Road. Today, living community groups on campus are often formed around academic majors, culture and interests, but this concept was unknown to most students in the 1960s. Room assignments were often “pot luck” — students didn’t know their roommates or neighbors with these random assignments. Students shared rooms and had communal restrooms and lounges on their floor. A residence hall built exclusively to house athletes would become the first officially sponsored “living community” group at OSU.

A number of undergraduate student residential projects were completed in the mid-1960s and included Scott-Parker-Wentz and Kerr-Drummond complexes. Two additional halls were planned that would become Willham North and South. The only residence hall constructed north of Farm Road would be the new athletic residence hall. Original announcements placed the new facility south of Cordell Hall and just west of Lewis Field, but it was later decided to locate it closer to the new residential complex west of the main campus. Private financial support came from a variety of donors through the efforts of Virgil Richardson of Oklahoma City and his co-chair, Duke DeBois of Duncan, Oklahoma. Richardson was a member of the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees, and the group’s effort raised more than $300,000 for the residence hall and other improvements in the OSU Athletic Department. Donors providing $1,500 would have a room named for them, and any donors giving at least $100 would be eligible for the Orange Blazer Club that would form in 1967. More financial support arrived on June 11, 1966, when the Board of Regents sold bonds to Halsey Stuart and Co. totaling $4.4 million. This bond package was for two buildings, the first Willham Hall and the athletic residence hall. The interest rate averaged 4.42 percent, and room fees from

Iba Hall housed members of OSU’s baseball, basketball, football and wrestling teams in 1967.

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Residence hall plans showed Scott-Parker-Wentz on the lower left, the athletic dorm (Iba) top center, KerrDrummond on the right and Willham North and South on the left. Two other proposed halls were never built. Construction on the athletic hall was completed in 1967.

Murray and North Murray residence halls would assist in paying the bond issue. The hall for athletes was designed to be five stories. The first floor would provide space for a lounge, cafeteria and dining area; offices; and study rooms. The building would be airconditioned, a new amenity that was non-existent in campus residence halls constructed before 1960. Some of the coaching staff and student athlete representatives participated in design suggestions, which would “accommodate all of the living needs of the 240 State musclemen who are engaged in sports at OSU. Nothing is too good for our Poke sportsmen, who will see the finest in furnishings inside their living quarters,” reported the O’Collegian on Sept. 29, 1967. The facility included carpeting and furnishings not found in other campus residence halls. Another difference (at least according to campus rumors): Steak was served every evening for dinner in the athletic cafeteria. Construction contracts were awarded in 1966 to the Harmon Construction Co. for both the 14-story Willham South men’s hall and the new residence for athletes. The projects were completed during the late summer of 1967 and ready for student occupancy in August. The athletic hall had 30 double-occupancy rooms on floors two through five. All rooms faced

the outside along the perimeter of the building. Bathrooms, elevators, lounges and other services were located along the interior core of each floor and surrounded by hallways. Rooms were 144 square feet, with closets, study desks and twin beds. Smaller lounges on each floor included small kitchens. Two hundred and forty OSU athletes moved in to the facility known simply as the Athletic Dormitory in August of 1967. The Student Directory listed their addresses with a room number and the term “Athletic.” The second floor included members of the basketball, baseball, swimming and wrestling teams. The third floor housed basketball, tennis, track and two football athletes. The fourth floor had three wrestlers and one basketball player; the rest of the fourth floor and all of the fifth floor were occupied by members of the football team. Those living in the Athletic Dormitory in 1967 included wrestler Fred Fozzard, the NCAA champion at 177 pounds, in Room 226. Wrestler Dwayne Keller lived in Room 420 and won the

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123-pound class at both the 1968 and 1969 NCAA wrestling championships. Freshman Geoff Baum lived in Room 229 and took an NCAA wrestling title in 1970 at 190 pounds. John Ward roomed with Garry Goodwin in 402; he wrestled at heavyweight and was named an All-American after coming in third. But Ward was probably best known for being a first team All-American offensive lineman for the football team in 1969 and going on to play for the Minnesota Vikings for six seasons (including two Super Bowls) before finishing his career with the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the fifth floor — the exclusive domain of members of the OSU football team — Room 510 was the home of two All-Americans in 1967. Terry Brown would be named an honorary All-American at safety and drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. After three years there, he joined Ward with the Vikings from 1972 until 1975. Brown scored the only points by the Vikings on a blocked punt in the 1975 Super Bowl. His roommate was Jon Kolb, an All-American in 1968 at center who would be drafted by the Pittsburg Steelers where he would play for 13 seasons and earn four Super Bowl rings. He also competed in the World’s Strongest Man contests where he came in fourth in 1978 and 1979. Many more OSU athletes living in the Athletic Dormitory would become famous in later years. In 1970, the facility would be named Iba Hall, honoring Henry Payne Iba, the longtime athletic director and famed basketball coach. Iba arrived on campus in 1934 and would lead his teams

over four decades. His 1945 and 1946 teams were NCAA champions. His advocacy of defense, conditioning and discipline led many of his loyal and devoted players to say his middle name should have been spelled “Pain.” Coach Iba retired in 1970 and remained in Stillwater until his death in 1993. In 1983 the Athletic Department began exploring new options for housing team members, and the university transitioned Iba Hall into a home for graduate students on campus during the next year. Residents were required to be 21 years old, but there were no other restrictions. Iba Hall was open year-round, even during the holidays and between academic terms. It also had open visitation 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the first residence hall so designated. It soon became known as “a melting pot of many nationalities,” with a quarter of its residents being international students, providing a wonderful diversity of cultural experiences. As computer use became more common, Iba Hall was at the forefront with exceptional computer access in the study areas. Iba Hall has been a home to many students over the past 50 years. It began as the exclusive home to male athletes at a time when female athletes were provided few, if any, opportunities. (In 1965, it would be another seven years before Title IX would become the law of the land and women’s collegiate teams would get the financial support needed to attract women scholarship athletes.) As our awareness, sensitivity and understanding for providing equal opportunities to all students has improved, Iba Hall’s current residents reflect these positive changes in our learning environments, culture and society.

One of Coach Henry Iba’s basketball teams.

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OSU quarterback Bruce Scott (running with the ball) and the OSU Cowboys lost the 1967 Homecoming game to the University of Kansas.


“Nothing is too good for our Poke sportsmen, who will see the finest in furnishings inside their living quarters.�

The basketball team was NCAA champs in the 1940s.


In 1975, Stillwater Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Norman Durham (center) presented a new color TV set for Iba Hall to Coach Jim Stanley (left) and Charles Pratt as OSU athletes looked on. S TAT E M AG A Z I N E .O K S TAT E . E D U 43

M A R K YO U R C A L E N D A R S !

Chamber Music

Festival The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts at Oklahoma State University is excited to host its second, week-long Chamber Music Festival. Join artistic director and famed concert pianist Anne-Marie McDermott and some of the finest musicians from across North America — including members of the famed St. Lawrence Quartet — in intimate settings in Stillwater, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Dallas for a week of unforgettable music.

February 25 - March 3, 2019 Performances in Stillwater, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Dallas





For more information on the Chamber Music Festival, sponsorship opportunities and to purchase tickets today, visit:


Dr. David Waits, a researcher with deep OSU roots has improved the agriculture industry through conducting research and developing cutting-edge technology. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in geography from OSU before getting his doctorate in land management from Texas Tech University. At OSU, he was exposed to technology that sparked his interest for research. “I found technology at OSU that I didn't know existed, and I was able to take that and leverage it into agriculture,” he said.

“Manage Data. Harvest Information.”

Using his knowledge from three degrees, years of farming, a lot of research and a job at the NASA Commercialization Center, Dr. Waits formed SST Software in 1994. SST Software, now Proagrica, is a precision agriculture technology development company. SST Software merges geographic information systems technology with production agriculture. The technology manages data from farms and uses that information to enable farmers to harvest more effectively.

Back to His Roots

Waits returned to OSU in 2013 after President Hargis asked him to implement his product commercialization and research experience at OSU. Once back at OSU, he formed and organized the OSU Research Foundation. Waits says the foundation “manages intellectual property under the technology development center and commercializes select technologies that belong to OSU.” He served as president from 2015 until his retirement in 2018.

Heart for Agriculture

He didn’t always have the desire to conduct research. In fact, his research stemmed from his passion for agriculture. After many years of farming, Waits knew the potential impact that GIS technology could have on farmers. “I was motivated to develop an application involving GIS techniques and production agriculture that required more research,” he said.

In His Spare Time…

Aside from being an accomplished researcher, he is known as an avid motorcyclist by his friends. He spends a lot of time riding motorcycles crosscountry and has a barn full of the bikes that he collects and repairs. He also enjoys spending time on the ranch he has worked hard to develop over the years.


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Engineering Success

OSU'S first female graduate in her field credits her ability to adjust


dapt. Ruth Spivey has taken that word to heart throughout her 94 years. But when she graduated from OSU more than 70 years ago, adapting wasn’t a choice. It was a requirement. Spivey was born in Ripley, Oklahoma, and eventually moved to Stillwater with her parents. She was always fascinated by math and science. “I was kind of a weird little kid,” Spivey said. “I can remember before I started school, I wanted boys’ toys. My loving grandfather bought me a little steam engine and an electric train. I was always interested in that sort of thing.” This fascination led Spivey to attend OSU (then Oklahoma A&M College) as an electrical engineering student during World War II. “My classes were very small because most of the guys got drafted,” Spivey said. “I think that was one of the reasons I did fairly well. The classes were so small, and I got a lot of individual attention.” At OSU, Spivey was a member of Sigma Delta, an organization designed to stimulate interest and encourage scholastic achievement of the women enrolled in engineering through closer association and mutual assistance.

“We supported each other,” Spivey said. “If we felt overwhelmed, we would boost each other up.” Spivey graduated in 1945 as the first woman to earn an electrical engineering degree from OSU. Before she began her career, Spivey received some advice from a mechanical engineering professor that stuck with her. “He told me I was entering a man’s world. Adapt. Don’t try to change it,” she said. While working her first job as a test engineer for General Electric, Spivey met her husband, Frank. The couple would have three children together: Margaret, Harold and Patricia. Marriage and having children led to more adapting as Spivey continued to pursue her career. “Back in that day, women could not work if they were pregnant,” Spivey said. “There were periods of time when I didn’t get a chance to work. Also, after we got married, Frank and I couldn’t work in the same building for GE.” None of this stopped Spivey from taking jobs across the country for the next five decades as the family moved because of Frank’s position.

“I think it is extremely important to work on something you are excited about. It’s not hard to get along with people if everyone is excited and shares a common goal.”

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One of Spivey’s proudest accomplishments was doing the surveying and assisting with the location map for the Interstate 10 bypass around Benson, Arizona, while she worked for the Arizona Highway Department. Eventually, Spivey would land multiple positions for the U.S. Air Force in San Antonio. She worked for the Air Force in civil service for over 25 years, including as head of the base closure division for Air Educations and Training Command, in charge of nearly 50 other engineers. “I never felt like the men who worked for me were uncomfortable,” Spivey said. “I just treated them like I would have liked to have been treated.” Upon retiring from civil service for the Air Force, Spivey was classified as a GS14—the second-highest civilian rank. Spivey now lives in a retirement home in New Braunfels, Texas, where she continues to support the university she loves. She hopes she can inspire women to reach for their goals. “I think it is extremely important to work on something you are excited about,” Spivey said. “It’s not hard to get along with people if everyone is excited and shares a common goal.”

Ruth Spivey (lower left), with members of Sigma Delta in 1945.

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Amy Cuddy featuring


For event details and information about sponsorships and tickets, visit:


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THE LAND-GRANT MISSION Research brings richness and depth to Oklahoma State University’s teaching and outreach mission. Our researchers bring new technologies, processes and more to the marketplace. Research through the social sciences and humanities improves our well-being and understanding of different cultures and points of view. Research in the creative and performing arts enriches our lives and appreciation of the world. Enjoy the stories and glimpses behind some of the most fascinating research going on at OSU on the following pages.

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52 Kicking Off a Chain Reaction Dr. John Niblack’s gift of scholarships opens doors — and minds — to a new world of research.


Multiplying Success OSU professors are working together to improve student success in math.

58 Saving Lives from Stillwater Dr. Lin Liu has put together a successful research center focused on tackling globally devastating diseases.


Covering the Costs Financial support can be key to research success.


Nourishing Hope A new center at OSU-Tulsa focuses on body image and eating disorders.

62 Stepping Off to Mars Two research projects at OSU could put NASA closer to manned travel to Mars. S TAT E M AG A Z I N E .O K S TAT E . E D U 51


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Dr. John Niblack remembers wanting to be a scientist as early as elementary school, when he started doing simple experiments with a chemistry set. Of course, he didn’t know what it meant to be a scientist, but it sounded interesting. His first chance to work in a laboratory came one summer after an Oklahoma State University tour for high school students interested in science. He met biochemistry professor Dr. Robert Sirny and asked for a summer job. Sirny said sure, and gave him his first lab job — washing dishes.

“I washed a lot of glassware,” Niblack said. “What else could I do? I didn’t know anything.” Niblack’s introduction to science may have begun at the bottom rung of the academic ladder, but his experiences working for Sirny and conducting real research as an OSU undergraduate changed his life. Niblack earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from OSU in 1960 and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Illinois-Champaign. In 1967, he began his career with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. as a research scientist before rising through the ranks to become the company’s executive vice chairman and president of the Global Research and Development division. As Pfizer’s chief scientist, Niblack managed 12,000 researchers worldwide with annual research budgets of more than $5 billion to develop such blockbuster drugs as Viagra, Norvasc, Zithromax and Zoloft. Pfizer grew to become the largest drug company in the world. At Pfizer, Niblack met his wife, Heidi, who was also an employee. They married in 1977. In 2002, Niblack retired from Pfizer. Two years later, he approached OSU about starting a scholarship for undergraduate student researchers. He wanted to give back to the university where his journey to become a scientist began.


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Niblack funds scholarships for a dozen or more undergraduate students each year through the Niblack Research Scholars program, managed by the division of the Vice President for Research. The students take what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to their own original experiments guided by faculty and graduate students. Over the past 15 years, 186 students have worked in science and engineering laboratories across campus in a variety of disciplines. For many of those students, immersion in science early in their university educations opened a world most had never considered before, just as it did for Niblack. “What makes a young person want to go into science? What gets kids that interested?” Niblack asked. “I reflected on my own experience, and for a high school student and then a young college student to actually do real research in a real laboratory was the deciding thing for me.” Dr. Kenneth Sewell, the OSU vice president for research, agrees that student research starts a chain reaction that leads many Niblack scholars to graduate and professional schools and jobs as doctors, veterinarians, professors, research scientists, engineers and even pharmaceutical company executives. “Undergraduate research has already changed your life even if you don't realize it,” Sewell told a group of Niblack scholars. “You’re the lucky ones to be supported by a wonderful program like the Niblack Research Scholars, and you’re lucky that your future has already been transformed. I hope you embrace that.” Niblack was born in Oklahoma City. His father sold oil drilling equipment and moved his family often to be close to oil fields in Oklahoma and Texas. Knowing his son was fascinated with chemistry, the elder Niblack encouraged his son to become a chemical engineer, which sounded interesting — until he learned more about the job. “Chemical engineers build and operate plants to manufacture and transport chemicals, and so they have to work out a lot of plumbing. I wasn’t that interested in plumbing,” he said. What he became interested in was biochemistry. “I thought, ‘Wow! This is the coolest thing,’” Niblack said. “I had never given any thought to chemistry going on inside living matter.”

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Niblack scholars work in an array of research projects.


Niblack draws a direct line from his education at OSU to his success at Pfizer. Today, there are several research programs at OSU for undergraduate students, but Niblack had no such opportunity. He only found himself working in Sirny’s biochemistry lab through a desire to learn and the willingness of a professor to take him under his wing. “Sirny began by teaching me how to operate his equipment and help collect data for studies he was conducting,” Niblack said. “He would give me gentle coaching and then say, ‘Go, see what you can do.’” Sirny allowed Niblack to choose his own projects, and the results of the young student’s experimental forays were at first thrilling — and then embarrassing. In one of his early experiments, Niblack came across something exciting and, he thought, unknown. “I thought I’d found a new pathway for the biosynthesis of an amino acid in this microorganism,” Niblack said. “Sirny suggested I write it up and present it at a regional conference. I did, and it was absolutely ridiculous. Nobody believed it! “Presenting made me think I was awesome, until I figured out my results were preposterous, but Sirny was never judgmental,” he said. To honor his mentor, Niblack and his wife established the Robert J. Sirny Memorial Endowed Professorship in Agricultural Biochemistry in 1988. Dr. José Luis Soulages is the current Sirny professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Just as Sirny took a young Niblack under his wing, Soulages is mentoring Alice Chibnall, a young scientist who is his Niblack scholar. For Chibnall, from Frisco, Texas, working on genuine research allows her to apply classroom concepts to real-life situations.

“This opportunity gives me a very unique experience as an undergrad that will make the transition from my undergraduate program to graduate school slightly easier,” Chibnall said. She plans to study marine biology in graduate school. Though Chibnall’s interest in marine life isn’t closely related to her Niblack research studying lipids in mosquitos, the experience is worthwhile. “I love learning something new every day,” she said. “There’s always a new experiment to run and a new skill to learn.” Another of Niblack’s goals is to make scientists human. Working directly with researchers shows Niblack scholars that scientists aren’t people in white lab coats smoking pipes and writing on blackboards in secret labs. They are real men and women who might even be a next-door neighbor. Niblack stresses the importance of fledgling scientists interacting with working researchers. It’s especially valuable for young women. “At one time, very few women were drawn to the sciences,” Niblack said. “So, for today’s young women to see female scientists working and achieving things — it gives them exciting role models.” Niblack has been pleased to see more women going into STEM fields over the years. That trend is reflected in the Niblack program, where women now outnumber their male counterparts.

Hear from Dr. John Niblack:

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Former Niblack scholar Dr. Savanah Sayler was drawn to study science at OSU from a small Oklahoma high school that offered few opportunities. Undergraduate research gave her confidence and a firm footing to pursue a career in medicine. “Working in a research lab really helped push me in the direction where I am today. And it had a huge impact on the way that I now practice clinically,” said Sayler, an optometrist in Tulsa. A scholar from 2006 to 2007, Sayler was invited to meet the Niblacks again a few years ago during one of their OSU visits. She was impressed with how interested John Niblack was in her career and her experience as a Niblack scholar. “He was so down-to-earth,” she said. “You wouldn’t know he had such a big influence in the lives of so many people.” Each year since starting his program, Niblack returns to Stillwater to meet the latest class of scholars and listen to research presentations from the preceding year’s students. He evaluates experimental design and the students’ abilities to explain their processes and outcomes. It’s also a chance to share more than three decades of wisdom about the life and struggles of research scientists who often face persistent setbacks. The process can lead to weeks, months and even years of hard work without meaningful results. It’s a process that one former Niblack scholar described as heartbreaking. “Science is a very frustrating pursuit because most of the time you fail,” Niblack said. “But that’s OK. Failure is a part of it. It teaches you to keep trying.” At Pfizer, Niblack knew about setbacks in pharmaceutical research and development, which can lead to writing off millions of dollars. But often, perseverance pays off in a big way. Dr. John Niblack



Under Niblack, Pfizer began developing a semisynthetic antibiotic to improve on the existing drug Erythomycin. But time and again, the experimental drugs appeared to be ineffective. Concentrations of the experimental antibiotics necessary to kill bacteria, as measured in the bloodstream, couldn’t be achieved in human subjects during early clinical trials. With a huge potential profit on the line from the development of a new general antibiotic, the research continued for more than 20 years. Finally, Niblack told his scientists that it was time for a breakthrough, or else. “I told the research team that I was going to pull the plug because they had spent too many years and too much money on this for nothing,” he said. That caught their attention. Recent clinical studies of concentrations of certain antibiotics measured in the tissue rather than blood showed high enough levels to kill bacteria. Not confident but facing the end of their program, the Pfizer clinical researchers tested the hypothesis with their best experimental drug (later named Zithromax), and the results showed the drug indeed worked at high enough levels and remained in the body longer than expected to continue killing bacteria. Following clinical trials, Zithromax was approved by the FDA and moved to market. After two decades, and a last-minute reprieve, the antibiotic became one of the company’s most profitable products.

Each year, Zithromax is prescribed to millions of people, and especially to children. Commonly packaged as the Z-pack, it became the best-selling antibiotic in the United States with sales peaking at $2 billion in 2005. When talking to his scholars, Niblack is not all doom and gloom. He points out that young scientists often have a naiveté about what they can accomplish and, instead of shying away, forge ahead eagerly and “starry-eyed,” in his words. “That leads to all sorts of wonderful discoveries accomplished by people who didn't realize they probably couldn't succeed at something and they did anyway,” Niblack said. “That's what youth is all about.”

The 2018 Niblack Research Scholars with Dr. John Niblack (far left), Dr. Kenneth Sewell and OSU President Burns Hargis (far right).

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From early in Dr. Lin Liu’s career, he wanted to build a research center to study diseases of the respiratory system. The seed was planted as he studied these diseases as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1990s. When he came to Oklahoma State University in 2010, he said he wasn’t ready for the challenge of launching a research center. Three years later, the seed blossomed into the Oklahoma Center for Respiratory and Infectious Diseases (OCRID). The course of his career, and dozens of other scientists, was set.

When OCRID opened its doors on the OSU campus with $11 million in federal funding in 2013, it was a thrilling moment for Lui, the center’s director. But the pressure was on to show that this first phase of funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was worth it — and it has been. “Phase 1 has been transformative to the landscape of respiratory and infectious disease research in Oklahoma,” Liu said this summer after learning that OCRID was awarded a Phase 2 grant to continue its research until at least 2023. NIH awarded $11.1 million to the center to continue the work of more than 60 scientists from three research institutions in the state, including OSU. As it did five years ago, the funding comes from the NIH Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) program, which supports expanding biomedical research throughout the country by universities and institutions that recruit and train scientists, develop core research facilities and carry out cutting-edge investigations. The goal is to better understand countless destructive diseases and develop vaccines and drug treatments to prevent infection, limit transmission, treat lung damage and avert related infections. In Oklahoma, OCRID scientists are leading pioneering research into a multitude of diseases that sicken millions. Infectious respiratory diseases are a worldwide public health epidemic. These diseases run the gamut from the common cold and strep to life-threatening infections such as tuberculosis, influenza, pneumonia (the leading worldwide cause of the death of children under 5), human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV), infections that aggravate such disorders as cystic fibrosis and many other illnesses. Most of these illnesses have no vaccines or treatments.

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To carry out its mission, OCRID was set up to be multi-institutional to tap into as much expertise as possible. It includes OSU, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC), the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). “OCRID has put Oklahoma on the map in this critical area of medical research,” said Dr. Kenneth Sewell, OSU vice president for research. “Phase 2 funding from the NIH will allow researchers at OSU, OUHSC, OU and OMRF to accelerate their collaborations over the next five years, generating breakthroughs to understanding the causes and potential cures for devastating infectious diseases of the respiratory system.” As a university-level research center, OCRID reports to the division of Vice President for Research. Although focused on human respiratory diseases, the program is housed at the OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences. The continuation of funding is a significant milestone, said Liu, Regents Professor and Lundberg-Kienlen Endowed Chair in Biomedical Research at OSU. “We want to be extraordinary in Phase 2 by continuing to mentor junior faculty, building infrastructure and promoting collaboration, which will develop a sustainable center of research excellence,” he said. Each five-year phase of CoBRE funding supports four core projects that examine significant, well-established areas of infectious disease research with potential for important advances. A Phase 1 core project led by OSU associate professor of virology Dr. Tom Oomens, an associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, is designing and testing an experimental vaccine for human respiratory syncytial virus the leading cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia among children. His lab’s work is critical because of the virus’ worldwide magnitude and its stubborn resistance to inoculation. “It has been extremely difficult to make a vaccine for HRSV and people all over the world are working on it,” Oomens said. “Mortality estimates are really staggering. Luckily, few children in the U.S. die from HRSV, but about 150,000 die around the world every year.” Main researchers at OCRID, like Oomens, are advancing long-term studies that will eventually move beyond the center to attract large grants from federal research institutes like the NIH. For the many smaller research pilot projects supported almost solely by OCRID, winning large grants is difficult. In these small projects, scientists must come up with preliminary results to show the potential of the research, and OCRID funding allows scientists to show the legitimacy of their ideas. “Their research lays the foundation upon which to build future studies,” Liu said.

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OCRID research project leaders and directors include (left to right) Véronique Lacombe, OSU; Marianna Patrauchan, OSU; Shitao Li, OSU; Jordan Metcalf, OUHSC, OCRID co-director; Lin Liu, OSU, director; and William McShan, OUHSC. Not pictured is Richard Eberle, OSU, co-director.

Dr. Véronique Lacombe, an associate professor of physiological sciences at OSU and an OCRID researcher launched a pilot project that this year became one of four OCRID core investigations. “It’s very hard to have support from federal agencies when you’re starting a novel, cuttingedge pilot project based around an unproven idea,” Lacombe said. “So you have to validate your idea by collecting preliminary data, and only OCRID was able to provide that financial support to start my research as a pilot project.” Lacombe is studying why diabetics are predisposed to respiratory infection. She is studying the metabolism of the lungs and why high levels of sugar in the lungs, which can be toxic, can lead to respiratory infection. The long-term goal for Lacombe’s lab is to identify new drugs to treat these patients. The development of treatments – what scientists call “from bench to bedside” – will take years of research and much funding. That happened this fall when a pair of research projects begun at OCRID were awarded NIH grants. OSU’s Dr. Heather Fahlenkamp, a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Dr. Susan Kovats, an associate member of the arthritis and clinical immunology program at OMRF, were awarded a $2 million NIH grant to continue developing an innovative tissueengineered lung model to understand the immune system’s response to influenza. Dr. Haobo Jiang, a Regents Professor in entomology and plant pathology at OSU, received an $1.8 million NIH award for his research into the immune response of insects fighting pathogens that also cause serious human diseases. How did OCRID prove to the NIH CoBRE program that it was on its way toward making significant contributions to respiratory disease research in Oklahoma? In Phase 1, OCRID doubled to 60 the number of respiratory disease researchers who secured more than $50 million in additional funding outside CoBRE. The CoBRE grant also expanded biomedical research infrastructure in Oklahoma with three state-ofthe-art facilities at OSU. It also connected scientists from all over the state to collaborate. That critical process focused on senior researchers mentoring earlycareer scientists. Oomens benefited from one such relationship by working with mentor Dr. Robert Welliver, head of pediatrics at OUHSC. A CoBRE goal is training the next generation of researchers through interdisciplinary collaboration among OCRID’s partner institutions.

“An important way to do that is to bring scientists with different expertise together,” Oomens said. “That benefited me by allowing me to push my research further.” OCRID regularly brings in world-renowned respiratory disease experts to share the latest findings that can impact research here in Oklahoma. By combining scientific strengths and the top facilities in Oklahoma, OCRID is building a national reputation for its work. “OCRID was really the key because it brought together scientists and investigators, which we could not have done independently,” said Dr. Heloise Anne Pereira, dean of the graduate college and Herbert and Dorothy Langsam Chair in Geriatric Pharmacy at OUHSC. “Bringing together the best investigators from each of these institutions has really been the success of OCRID.” The four main researchers from Phase 1, including Fahlenkamp, have “graduated” from OCRID and now work independently from the center to expand their efforts on their own using training and relationships from the center. A new set of four core projects has been selected for funding in the next phase, including the research from Lacombe, and OSU’s Dr. Shitao Li, assistant professor of virology, Dr. Marianna Patrauchan, OSU associate professor in microbiology and molecular genetics, and Dr. William McShan, OUHSC associate professor in pharmaceutical sciences. “I am extremely pleased that the first OSU CoBRE grant was able to transition to Phase 2 without any disruption, thanks to an incredible collaboration from scientists across the state of Oklahoma,” Liu said.

Hear from the researcher of OCRID:

Dr. Lin Liu

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Eighteen years ago, a physicist and a materials scientist from different parts of the country were paired on a project for NASA involving the study of radiation. Their paths crossed again in 2008 as colleagues at Oklahoma State University.

Nearly two decades after their first NASA project, physicist Dr. Eric Benton, materials scientst Dr. Ranji Vaidyanathan and their graduate students are making the dream of reaching Mars safely a greater possibility for NASA. Benton studies radiation itself, designing efficient, economical ways to accurately measure cosmic rays while Vaidyanathan creates new composite materials in hopes of protecting astronauts from them. “Now, the new administration is talking about a ‘hop, skip and jump,’” Vaidyanathan said. “They are talking about hopping to the moon and jumping to Mars. Not a direct jump. The moon would come first, and creating a colony there. On the moon, they need to create what is called an igloo for protecting astronauts from space radiation and then jumping from there to Mars and back.” Getting to Mars would take a year at today’s space travel speeds, Vaidyanathan said, noting the voyage isn’t even possible with current spacecraft materials. There’s no clear picture of exactly how much radiation astronauts are exposed to, nor is there a material for the space craft that would fully protect them. That’s changing. In partnership with NASA, Benton recently put an inexpensive radiation detector on the International Space Station to find out just how much radiation astronauts in space receive. Next spring, Vaidyanathan will have a composite material with a greater radiation shielding capability on the ISS as well.

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One cell at a time

The tools for detecting radiation have evolved. Physicist Dr. Eric Benton holds the “detector head” of the Active Tissue Equivalent Dosimeter, which is filled with low-pressure gas simulating a human cell in his right hand. The ATED recently flew on the International Space Station. In his left hand is an Zeleny Electroscope from the early 1900s.

“Most of the dangerous radiation comes from outside the solar system,” Benton said. “It's called galactic cosmic rays that come from supernova events and huge stellar catastrophes like collisions of neutron stars.” NASA scientists are most concerned about astronauts exposed to ionized radiation during long space missions. Ionized radiation damages cells, including causing genetic mutations that can lead to cancer. “If you want to know what the radiation environment at 20,000 feet is, there’s some data but not much,” Benton said. “Is radiation a health problem to pilots? Probably not, but we don’t have a lot of data.” The earth is protected by a shroud of atmosphere, an umbrella of moisture around 10 meters or about 33 feet thick, stopping the lion’s share of the radiation from space. The higher the altitude, the more radiation gets through. But how much? And what effect does it have on a human body? “At the International Space Station, there’s nothing but the walls of the space station or things present inside like tanks of water to stop the radiation,” Benton said. “They get considerably more radiation. It’s not dangerous in the immediate sense, but it’s a slow, chronic accumulation. The most prominent health risk associated is an increased risk of cancer. Then there may be other effects as well. Chronic radiation exposure is considered to be one of the three biggest obstacles to human exploration and space flight.” NASA’s current radiation detectors were developed long ago and cost millions of dollars. Benton and graduate students in his lab have been developing tissue-equivalent radiation dosimeters to be used in space for more than a decade. A $100,000 grant in 2017 from the NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NASA EPSCoR) program, matched with $50,000 in OSU funding, opened the door to send the latest version, the Active Tissue Equivalent Dosimeter, or ATED, into space. Oklahoma’s NASA EPSCoR program is operated in conjunction with the Oklahoma Space Grant at OSU. The program allows Oklahoma researchers to compete for NASA funding with programs that advance scientific knowledge in areas important to the agency while diversifying the geographic reach of its investments.

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“The fact that OSU teams are leading two of the 17 projects funded by the NASA EPSCoR program to be carried out on the International Space Station is a testament to the high-level science going on at OSU,” said Dr. Kenneth Sewell, OSU vice president for research. “OSU has a long history of partnership with NASA, and these projects extend that legacy into the future.” The detector’s design includes a plastic ball inside a vacuum-packed canister that is refilled with a gas combination that mimics human tissue. The detector is the equivalent of one enlarged human cell. The ATED measures the simulated absorption of ionizing radiation by living tissue. The dosimeter can record data on different energy densities passing through the instrument, which has a similar response to radiation as living cells. “What’s measured is the absorbed dose of energy deposited in the detector by radiation. We convert that measure to a biologically weighted dose equivalent for different types of radiation with different biological effects,” Benton said. “If this energy were instead passing through a cell, it would damage the cell.”

unit in Japan, calibrating it with heavy ions at one of only a handful of particle accelerators on earth that can produce the type of radiation astronauts will encounter in space. “While I was in Japan, the detector stopped working,” Benton said. “The canister has to be pressurized near vacuum, and it leaked. I knew the one at the space center must have a design flaw.” Benton called NASA and requested it be returned so the flaw could be fixed before launch. It went on a delivery truck on Friday, and Benton was supposed to have it the next business day. Monday came and went. The following Friday, Benton called NASA. They looked up the shipment only to discover the truck the ATED was on was destroyed in a fiery roadside crash en route from Tulsa to Stillwater. Benton and Causey immediately went to work remaking their engineering unit, applying what they learned building the previous model to meet space station specifications.

Adherence concerns When he got the stamp of approval from NASA, Benton and graduate student Oliver Causey began modifying the unit to adhere to space station standards. Weight and power demands are premium concerns on spacecraft, so the instrument was designed with low-cost, lightweight components that need only tiny amounts of power. The ATED is doing its job better than competing technologies at a fraction of the cost, Benton said. “Ours is sort of a better, stronger, faster, cheaper version of what NASA already has,” he said. There were multiple requirements for the ISS version of ATED. If something malfunctioned, the unit had to shut down on its own without emitting any smoke or odor. The outer casing could have only rounded corners. Benton traveled to Johnson Space Center in Houston to put the ATED in a room full of antennae to ensure it wouldn’t broadcast radio waves that would interfere with the space station’s ability to communicate with ground control. In November 2017, NASA gave its stamp of approval, and Benton shipped the ATED unit to Houston. It went into storage at Johnson Space Center, waiting to be packed in a space capsule for launch. Meanwhile, Benton had the engineering

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One of the primary components of the ATED is a hollow plastic sphere that is filled with a low-pressure gas combination that mimics human tissue. The spherical detector is the equivalent of one enlarged human cell.

“We rebuilt it as quickly as we possibly could,” Benton said. “We gutted the engineering unit. Oliver Causey worked night and day.”

Graduate student Bryan Hayes works on an Active Tissue Equivalent Dosimeter (ATED) at Oklahoma State University’s Venture 1 labs. An ATED, which measures cosmic radiation, flew on the International Space Station over the summer.

The rebuilt unit, now suitable for space, was put on another truck to NASA. On May 21, 2018, it was launched in the nose of a rocket and was installed in the ISS over the summer. Because of the budget and safety constraints, the unit is relatively primitive, unable to send data down on its own, Benton said. Radiation information is stored on a memory card like the one used in cameras and removed periodically by an astronaut who downloads the information to a laptop to transmit the information back to earth. The day Causey defended his doctoral dissertation, he and Benton returned later to Oklahoma State University’s Venture 1 lab. In Benton’s email inbox was the first set of data ATED collected in space. “(Causey) was thrilled,” Benton said. “He wanted to go home and celebrate. I told him, ‘No. Look at the data and see if it’s working. I have to know.’” Using the data, the pair could follow the space station’s orbit, with spikes in radiation at the poles. As the space station passed over the South Atlantic Anomaly, where the radiation belt dips closest to the earth’s surface, the graph jumped predictably every time. ATED worked, and it worked beautifully. “It was good, clean, solid data,” Benton said. “That was 90 percent of the objective. We can start teasing out more subtle things but the first goal, did it give us the data we expected? Yes. It worked. ‘’ After Causey graduated, graduate student Bryan Hayes took up the cause and is working on a detailed analysis of the data from the ATED’s time in space. Hayes is also taking the lead on another ATED, an improved version, that should make it to the ISS in late 2019 or 2020. It’s a puzzle Benton and his students are trying to complete — placing missing pieces in a sparse map of mankind’s knowledge of the levels and effects of radiation at different altitudes. And the problem isn’t relegated to space. There are questions to be answered in moving up through the atmosphere at all levels et from surface of the earth. Enduci officturio. Onserorrovit autthe iducim doluptati beatquam “This is a stepping stone to the whole program,” he said. dipitatum etus con porrunt.Offic tet iligni arciliq uiatis mollestis “You’re trying to develop an inexpensive detector that’s nihil essusdantis am rendae nus il et omnihil liquas si comnis easy to use andsequi requires power. My hope, ultimately, is to develop quam dolores tem.low Ut abores esed quos sinte apernatiis est a device that we can put on UAVs, drones, balloons — to drop doluptatium, optat. it in there and let it fly and collect as much data as we can and then start teasing out the picture.”

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Above left: Materials scientist Dr. Ranji Vaidyanathan and his graduate students Korey Herrman and Lynsey Baxter pose with a sample of SC2020 set to fly on the ISS next year as well as a pressurized tank made from the composite material. Pictured are (from left) physicist Dr. Eric Benton, Vaidyanathan, Hermann, Baxter, NASA EPSCoR ISS program manager Willie Williams, and (behind them) Bryan Hayes, who works with Benton on the ATED.

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Radiation shield While Benton works to measure and catalogue radiation, Ranji Vaidyanathan hopes to create a material that can replace aluminum as the primary building block of a spacecraft. While aluminum is considered lightweight, it doesn’t block radiation well. Vaidyanathan thought of a composite that included hydrogen. “I came up with an idea — I didn’t know if it was going to work,” he said. “The best material for radiation shielding other than water is polyethylene, a plastic. It has the highest hydrogen content in it. Hydrogen has no neutrons. Even if the hydrogen atom is hit by cosmic radiation, it is not going to release more energetic particles from that.” Around 2013, Vaidyanathan decided to develop a composite material for radiation shielding that could double as the outer skin of a spacecraft. Polyethylene has a low melting point, much like a plastic bag. But when mixed with boron nitride, the melting temperature rises, and the resulting substance is harder than simple polyethylene. Vaidyanathan takes that composite and coats the outside with carbon fibers glued with expoxy. Based on theoretical models developed by the Benton group, Vaidyanathan and Benton may have successfully come up with a solution — and at half the weight of aluminum. “If you do not have proper protection, you cannot do a Mars mission with the current spacecraft materials,” Vaidyanathan said. “And every pound of material we have to send to space costs $8,000 to $10,000 per pound. Aluminum weighs 2.7 grams per centimeter cubed. But the composite is 1.5, almost half of that. If you have a spacecraft material made out of composite that can also protect astronauts at the same time from radiation — that is what NASA wants.”

Vaidyanathan worked for a company in the late 1990s on the cusp of 3D printing, where one nozzle sprays the working material and another sprays a support material that can later be washed off to reveal the multidimensional creation. Two decades later the filaments, or slender, threadlike fibers emitted by the printer, inspired him. “I had the idea, if you have two materials you can do winding of two materials and you can line a composite tank and then wind it outside with the carbon fiber. We tried to do that, but we were never able to make the filament.” By chance, Vaidyanathan discovered a student startup company in Wisconsin with the technology for creating filaments. It took six months for him to get the equipment, which arrived in May. Graduate student Lynsey Baxter came to work for Vaidyanathan for the summer in June. On the first day, he asked if she could create boron nitride polyethylene filaments with the machine. “I expected her to take the whole two months to do this,” he said. “She came to me at the end of the day and said, ‘Now what do you want me to do?’ I said, ‘Make enough of the material to make a composite tank.’” A spacecraft is, in its essence, a pressurized vessel, like a tank that holds natural gas. Vaidyanathan and his graduate students, Baxter and Korey Herrman, created a pressurized tank that Benton took to Japan. “He does the material development, and I do all the testing and modeling from the radiation point of view,” Benton said. “We put it in the particle accelerator in Japan and with water in it, it stops all the radiation. We now have a material we are pretty happy with — SC2020 or space composite 2020.”

Benton and Vaidyanathan have secured some significant real estate aboard the ISS. A 3-by-3inch piece of SC2020 that’s one inch thick will be secured to an experiment field that stays outside the space station called Materials on ISS Experiment, or MISSE. Pebbles used to measure absorbed radiation will be embedded at different depths in the piece, increasing the amount of data that can be collected. Along with the SC2020, OSU will have additional experimental pieces of 1.5-by-1.5-inch pieces of aluminum and copper, items with known degradation rates that will function as experiment controls. A 1.5-by-1.5inch sample of polyethylene plastic, one inch thick will also be added as a comparison sample to the SC2020. “This gives us the best picture we will ever get short of building a spacecraft out of it and flying it,” Benton said. SC2020 will be delivered to NASA in February. It should launch in April, spend six months exposed to space radiation and then be returned to Benton and Vaidyanathan as early as November 2019. Should the results they receive in a little less than a year be as promising as the testing so far, the implications could be as significant as putting a landing on Mars within closer reach. “If you could line the whole spacecraft with these bottles of water made with SC2020, the astronauts will not be affected by radiation at all,” Vaidyanathan said. “We have one of the radiation shielding projects that NASA is considering. If we prove something today, it can go into a NASA spacecraft tomorrow. They don’t have to wait 20 years.” For Benton and Vaidyanathan, life has come full circle. A relationship centered around scientific discovery that got its start at NASA nearly 20 years ago continues to lay foundations for more extensive and safer spaceflight.


Flying High

OSU alumni-owned company is contributing to space and military missions


Brenda Rolls continues the tradition her parents started with Frontier Electronic Systems Corp.

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oday’s Cowboy ingenuity is helping sustain the International Space Station’s mission. The space station is one of many customers of Frontier Electronic Systems Corp., a Stillwater-based company that was founded in 1973 by Peggy and Ed Shreve. Today, the couple’s daughter, Brenda Rolls, serves as president and CEO, a position she’s held since 2008. Rolls describes the company as an engineering and manufacturing company that designs, develops, produces and tests electronic equipment primarily used for space and military applications. This equipment can be found around the world and beyond, including on the International Space Station. Frontier built a docking adapter for the space station to help with visiting vehicles. “We built the apparatus through a contract with Boeing so that when the vehicle docks, it latches on to hold it in place,” Rolls said.

The docking adapter is not the company’s only contribution to the International Space Station. Frontier also built a control box that adjusts the space station’s solar panels as it rotates around Earth. Frontier also works closely with the U.S. military. Through partnerships with companies such as LockheedMartin and Boeing, Frontier also helps support the Navy, which is one of its largest customers. All of these contributions take place because of a strong relationship with OSU, according to Rolls. The university has always played a crucial role in the success and growth of Frontier over its nearly 40 years of full-time operations. Ed Shreve was an electrical engineering professor at OSU, and Peggy Shreve worked in the biochemistry department. “One of the things my dad really focused on was taking technology or theory and seeing it applied in reality that could turn into economic development,” Rolls said. “Oklahoma State is an excellent demonstration on how that occurs because I think they have made significant strides on how to do that technology transfer.”

‘The road to Mars goes through Stillwater, Oklahoma.’



In addition to OSU, the Stillwater community has played a pivotal role in the company’s success over the past few decades. Rolls believes that the community contributes to the overall happiness of Frontier employees. “The Stillwater community is low stress,” Rolls said. “The quality of life here is really good. It is a nice community. People are open and friendly and caring.” At its core, Frontier is a family business, and those values continue to drive the company. The familial aspect goes beyond the fact it was started by the Shreves and is currently run by their daughter. “We have a lot of people who have worked here for 20 or 25 years,” Rolls said. “It’s important to us to take care of folks here and help take care of their families. We see the whole picture.” One of Rolls’ favorite memories at Frontier took place in 2011 during its 30th anniversary celebration. “We had an astronaut come to Frontier to talk about our products and how they worked on the International Space Station,” Rolls said. “It was the fruition of a dream that started 30 years earlier.”

Frontier’s future will grow as it continues to partner with NASA, Lockheed-Martin and United Technology to help pursue the mission to Mars. Representatives of each partner visited Stillwater in the summer of 2017. “They presented us with a banner that says, ‘The road to Mars goes through Stillwater, Oklahoma,’” Rolls said. “We are building hardware that’s going to go on the space launch system and the Orion spacecraft for the deep space mission.” Frontier continues to adjust its manufacturing to increase efficiency and hopes to add jobs in the coming years. Rolls believes the company will keep focusing on making highly reliable equipment for both military and space exploration purposes. “Those kinds of things send chills up your spine,” Rolls said. “It is inspiring and humbling to know that we are part of something so grand.”

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Multiplying Math Success

Course changes increase student success across Oklahoma


or students who struggle in math, it doesn’t matter which of the 27 public institutions governed by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education they attend. Under the leadership of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and a team of mathematicians from Oklahoma State University, all of the colleges are working together to improve student success in entry-level math courses, and the pilot results have been astounding. The work began with a 2012 Regents task force, the Mathematics Success Group, which identified five goals to improve student success, ranging from better preparation through more engaging teaching methods and developing academic success skills. After its report was released in 2015, two working groups — Mathematics Pathways to Completion and Math Co-requisite Instruction at Scale — focused on two of those goals and merged to become today’s Oklahoma Mathematics Task Force. A new group, the Mathematical Inquiry Project, is tackling two of the three remaining goals from that report. Dr. William Jaco, Regents Professor and Grace B. Kerr chair; Dr. Michael Oehrtman, Noble Professor of Mathematics; and a team of OSU faculty members including Dr. Allison Dorko, Dr. John Paul Cook and Dr. Michael Tallman submitted a proposal in December 2017

“It hit me how many kids we were leaving behind. This is wonderful what Oklahoma is doing.” Dr. William Jaco

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that won a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education last summer. For the next five years, the Mathematical Inquiry Project will extend these efforts by supporting teams of mathematicians to improve student success in entry-level college math classes across all public higher education institutions in Oklahoma. Their work will be disseminated statewide through workshops and mentoring programs for higher ed math instructors at OSRHE colleges and universities. After the Regents’ Mathematics Success Group submitted its report in 2015, Jaco co-chaired a statewide math pathways working group that focused on enrolling students in math classes most relevant to their degree path. Committee members believed that students would succeed at higher rates if they saw the class as more meaningful to their own academic interests. Oehrtman served as co-chair of a working group on co-requisite instruction, which places students who need developmental mathematics in a credit-bearing course with additional classes and support built in. The OSRHE initiative has seen measurable success. Jaco provided examples from math pathways and co-requisite instruction at Oklahoma State. “If you have a student who comes to OSU to take college algebra and requires remediation or developmental math, fewer than 20 percent would have earned college credit in two years,” he said. “Now, if they enroll in the co-requisite course, roughly 70 percent are earning college credit in one semester. They’re taking the same tests as the other students, and they’re succeeding at approximately the same rates. Furthermore, if students do not need college algebra as a prerequisite for other courses, then there are other prerequisite pathways using quantitative reasoning or modeling courses. Students take entry-level mathematics courses relative to their planned major and career.” Oehrtman agreed.


From left: Dr. William Jaco, Dr. Michael Oehrtman, Dr. Allison Dorko, Dr. Michael Tallman and Dr. John Paul Cook.

“Across all semesters we have done this, on average, these students do just as well as the students who enroll fully prepared,” he said. “It’s amazing.” The Department of Mathematics looked at the data on student success in college algebra for three years before the co-requisite courses were offered and for three years after the program began. “Essentially the same number of students took the courses during both of those three-year periods, but in the second three-year period approximately 1,800 more students received college credit for the course in one semester,” Jaco said. “It hit me

how many kids we were leaving behind. This is wonderful what Oklahoma is doing.” Through the leadership and involvement of the OSRHE, the 2012 initiative launched an evolution. “Things we worked on before, math pathways and co-requisite remediation, those are structures you can put into place,” Oehrtman said. “They’re not easy to do, but they’re fairly straightforward. You create classes. You offer more support. You advise students in specific ways. Now, we’re talking about individual classroom instruction. How do you teach those courses?”

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These instructional changes require a shift in culture. Students are now being placed in a class that provides the best fit, they’re being given extra support when needed while they’re in a creditbearing class, and student engagement has been moved to the forefront. “The Mathematical Inquiry Project will address those issues,” Jaco said. “The faculty teams will develop modules that will look at the concepts students should gain from entry-level courses. We will be getting all those faculty members together who are interested in a specific course and then develop modules for the concepts, and then bring applications and different ways of developing academic success skills into the modules. Each faculty member will have not only the structure of what the concept is but also ways to get the

The products developed by each committee will be peer-reviewed and disseminated statewide. Committee members will be eligible for professional recognition for the products, which will be publicly available for faculty members to implement in their own courses. The $3 million award for the Mathematical Inquiry Project is about more than refining, evaluating and disseminating information. “This isn’t just an implementation and support project,” Oehrtman said. “There’s an associated research component. That’s why we’re running it through OSU. What we’re focusing on with the research is the process of cultural change in math departments and in the classroom among faculty.” Working with the OSRHE provides researchers with extensive amounts of information and

“You see a lot of education reforms come and go, but you never see anything with this kind of potential for impact.” students actively engaged. We will be helping the faculty prepare to teach the courses, so it won’t matter which public institution a student attends; each one will be trying to accomplish the same outcomes.” The benefits will extend beyond the classroom and improve a student’s ability to transfer to a different university and continue to find success in courses requiring math prerequisites. “We are trying to make these entry-level courses seamlessly transfer between the different institutions so we can help and support each other,” Jaco said. “Oklahoma is in a good position because all of the public institutions are set up under one Regents system. It’s a phenomenal opportunity to accomplish something statewide.” Oehrtman said historically the courses have been taught behind closed doors. “We haven’t had the opportunity to talk to our colleagues about ‘How do you do this? How do you do it well?’ It’s hard to find the time to have a dialogue about engaging students in meaningful problem solving and inquiry,” he said. “This provides the time and support for people to do that well across the state.”

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multiple ways it can be analyzed. Researchers working on the Mathematical Inquiry Project will be able to track how well students did in math courses in high school as well as how they fared in their college math courses, whether they continued in further coursework, and ultimately whether they obtained a certificate or degree. “The Regents keep detailed records of students through secondary and postsecondary education,” Oehrtman said. “I’m not sure you could do this in many other states.” Implementing results will be a focus of the grant. “How do faculty members use these materials? And, if faculty use more of them, do students do better in any measurable way? We won’t measure it just by course grades in a single instance, but persistence into the subsequent courses that depend on that. And long term, we will be measuring degree completion,” Oehrtman said. Based on data from the OSRHE initiative, Jaco and Oehrtman are excited to see the results from the Mathematical Inquiry Project in the years to come. “You see a lot of education reforms come and go,” Oehrtman said, “but you almost never see anything with this kind of potential for impact.”

COWBOY CHRONICLES Ever wonder how traditions, events or buildings on campus came to be? Want to learn more about life at OSU during a specific time period? We want to answer those questions and more! Our very own history expert David Peters will be fielding your questions and providing the answers in STATE. We’ll be featuring photos and historical information that is important to you — our readers. Simply submit your questions about OSU or Cowboy history to and look for the answer in the next issue of STATE! If you can’t wait, check out for more OSU history!

About David Peters As head of the Oklahoma State University Archives, David Peters takes his mission to save, secure and share the university’s story very seriously. Under the leadership of this certified archivist, the department has dramatically expanded its digital content and online presence. With his 32 years (and counting!) of experience at OSU, Peters is known on our Stillwater campus and beyond as the go-to university history expert.

Distinguished Honors Pay Off

Endowed positions have a double impact on research


heat breeding and genetics professor Dr. Brett Carver’s research is changing the way the world eats. For nearly 20 years, he’s led the Oklahoma State University Wheat Improvement Team, an interdisciplinary group of 11 researchers who investigate and develop new seed varieties with attributes such as drought hardiness and immunity to emerging diseases. The research translates to a healthy agricultural economy in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas through the production and regional sale of seed varieties engineered at OSU through the Oklahoma Foundation Seed Stocks. The program recently opened a $4 million facility in southwest Stillwater to accommodate increased demand for the latest high-performance wheat, peanut and grass varieties. By providing improved product to the region’s farmers as well as the nation’s millers and bakers, Carver and his researchers are also ensuring the world’s ever-growing population has enough to eat. Professors like Carver — who is the Wheat Genetics Chair in Agriculture — and programs like the Oklahoma Foundation Seed Stocks are why endowed positions at Oklahoma State University are so crucial. Oklahoma State has nearly 300 endowed faculty positions, all of which are at least partially funded through outside support.

The number of available positions has doubled within the past decade, mostly because of Branding Success: The Campaign for OSU, which included $188.2 million for faculty support and $1.2 billion overall in gifts and commitments. For each endowed position, individual donors or corporations have gifted Oklahoma State enough money to endow the position. The gift generates annual funds the university can count on to help provide ongoing support for increased salaries, hiring graduate assistants, purchasing equipment, funding travel and covering other academic and research needs. Carver uses his funds to help support his research, his Wheat Improvement Team of graduate research assistants, equipment and other costs associated with his work. He said funding from the chair has made a big difference, allowing him consistent funding and the flexibility to quickly adjust his research to address industry problems in real time. It’s helped put OSU on the map in terms of wheat breeding and genetics. Dr. Kenneth Sewell, the university’s vice president for research, said endowed positions provide a powerful double impact to the research enterprise at OSU. “First and foremost, they help us recruit and retain faculty superstars — experts at the very top of their fields whose research programs are typically supported by prestigious federal

“These intellectual risks – on a new idea, on a novel application of a prior discovery, etc. – often have great payoffs in advancing their respective fields of study.”

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grants,” Sewell said. “But on top of that, the endowments allow these superstars to stretch their imaginations and take greater intellectual risks than is possible using federal grant funds. These intellectual risks — on a new idea, on a novel application of a prior discovery, etc. — often have great payoffs in advancing their respective fields of study.” Provost Dr. Gary Sandefur echoed Sewell’s sentiments, calling endowed positions a distinguished honor for faculty. It’s also an added benefit for students. “By being able to retain and attract the most sought-after instructors and researchers through endowed faculty positions, Oklahoma State University is better able to support research and additional initiatives of the faculty members,” he said. “That, in turn, gives the university the best chance to provide students with the best instructional and academic experiences, provide research opportunities and more easily share that research with the public.”

JOIN THE SUPPORT Help OSU's faculty superstars dream big. Get more information related to faculty support by calling the OSU Foundation at 800-622-4678 or by emailing

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A Farming Revolution

SST Software founder takes technology to the fields


esearch being conducted at Oklahoma State University and by its alumni continues to help farmers everywhere looking to increase efficiency and sustainability. One company on the forefront of that research is SST Software, located only a few miles from the OSU campus in Stillwater. David Waits started SST Software in 1994. His son, Matt Waits, is now the CEO, guiding the company through its recent acquisition by Proagrica. During the 1970s and ’80s, David was a farmer and saw the need for more precision in agriculture. “My dad got exposed to the fledgling technologies in the industry as a farmer,” Matt said. “He saw the need for more precision in the agricultural industry.” David went on to earn degrees in economics and geography from OSU along with a doctorate in land management from Texas Tech. His skills as a farmer coupled with his education paved the way for SST Software’s creation and direction — applying satellite sensing and geographic information systems in agriculture.

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Using satellite information coupled with geographic data has helped revolutionize the industry. SST Software has used this research to build precision agriculture applications. “Agronomists use our software to create fertilizer recommendations that can be loaded into the field computers inside a piece of equipment like a tractor,” Matt said. “As the tractor moves across the field with GPS, it will change fertilizer rates as it goes.” The software has increased efficiency for agronomists while keeping costs down for farmers. Larry Tracy, agronomist and president of Precision Agronomics in Danville, Illinois, has been using SST Software platforms for nearly 25 years. “The price to the farmer is probably the same as it was in 1988 because we have gained enough efficiencies through the use of software like SST’s that we haven’t had to increase the price,” Tracy said. “We’re not charging more to do the same job we are doing now even though we are leveraging more acres.” Matt received his agricultural economics degree from OSU in 1999, becoming a third-generation graduate of the university. He points to his education and time spent with his grandparents growing up that lead him to his current career path. “My degree paired with working on my grandparents’ farm in the summers was a pretty good foundation for coming out here and helping the company apply this technology on the farm,” Matt said. OSU was not only important in the education of the Waits family, but also served an integral role in the start of SST Software. David Waits was a professor at OSU in the 1990s, and Matt sees how this benefited the company during its founding. “It was very advantageous to be near the university in the beginning,” Matt said. “A lot of our initial employees were my dad’s students. The beginnings were with his master’s level GIS or remote sensing classes.” The Stillwater community is another important aspect of the company as it continues to house its headquarters in the city where it was founded nearly 25 years ago.


“We have been able to attract a lot of talent out of the university and keep them here in town.”


“It’s a vibrant, young community,” Matt said. “We have been able to attract a lot of talent out of the university and keep them here in town. There are also a lot of alumni who want to get back to Stillwater, so that has also been an advantage.” As the company continues to grow in Stillwater, it is also rapidly expanding into Oklahoma City and Tulsa. This growth and the acquisition by Proagrica were crucial steps for the company as the ag-tech space continues to grow. “We partnered with Proagrica because it is an independent data analytics company,” Matt said. “The independence is important to us because our customers’ data is private. They want to make sure it stays that way.” The next step for Proagrica is to help solidify the supply chain digitally, including farmers, agronomists, grain buyers, insurance providers and more. “It’s very difficult to move the data across the parts of the supply chain,” Matt said. “There is a real lack of standardization. A lot of competitive forces have stopped people from integrating. One of our goals is to take the integration capability Proagrica has and the precision agronomy tools we have and connect them in the supply chain in a way that works.” Improving the digital relationship between the farmer and the rest of the supply chain will increase efficiency, hopefully boosting greater crop yields.


) Matt Waits at the Proagrica office in Stillwater.

To hear David Waits discuss his company, visit

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OSU researchers dip into self-driving market ... The autonomous and connected vehicles being developed today must be able to sense and communicate with their surroundings as well as other vehicles. OSU research is helping to find the best way to handle this. Dr. Sabit Ekin, assistant professor in the school of electrical and computer engineering at OSU, Samir Ahmed, professor of transportation systems and engineering in the school of civil and environmental engineering, and graduate student Hisham Abuella are conducting research on visible light detection and ranging, or ViLDAR, to assist in vehicle sensing and communication applications. “Most vehicle manufacturers use light emitting diode (LED) headlights because of their long lifetime, energy efficiency, and short rise time,” Ekin said, explaining that LED lights have great potential for sensing and communication purposes in intelligent transportation systems (ITS) applications for several reasons: wide availability of the LEDs in vehicles, unique properties of visible light optical propagation, inherent safety and security, and the high degree of spatial confinement that allows high reuse factor.

... and satellite communications Satellites the size of a loaf of bread are currently orbiting the Earth. These small satellites or CubeSats, are a revolutionary, cost-effective way for educational institutions and commercial companies to conduct research. But with increases in their use come new problems in communication links. Ekin has been tasked with finding the solution. Ekin has been awarded a NASA EPSCoR Research Initiation Grant for his work to improve the radio frequency (RF) communication links of CubeSats. He has also enlisted the assistance of two graduate students, Amit Kachroo and Hisham Abuella, as they collaborate with NASA’s Goddard Space Center.

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Professor Sabit Ekin is working on self-driving vehicles and satellite communications.

“The idea is, when the number of satellites or users increase there will start to be issues with the usage and efficiency of RF spectrum,” Ekin said. “Our research is to develop algorithms to increase the spectrum efficiency, which provides solutions for CubeSats to properly transmit and receive data.” Multiple disciplines that will benefit from his research include space science, astronomy, earth science and mechanical and aerospace engineering, which all collect data from space. “CubeSats present their own set of challenges as they are very small, resource-limited platforms that can work in clusters or constellations. We are working to optimize the operation of spectrumsensing mechanism to increase the power efficiency,” Ekin said.

New wheat varieties join the OSU family

OSU scientists help solve a mystery of the ages Oklahoma State University physicists have joined a celebration among a worldwide cadre of scientists who are part of the latest discovery involving the Higgs boson subatomic particle. The August announcement of the discovery, a decade in the making, was made at the ATLAS experiment’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland near Geneva, where OSU physicists, students and post-graduates work on research teams. The recent revelation showed that when the Higgs decays, it transforms into even smaller particles known as bottom or b-quarks, as predicted by the Standard Model of the theory of subatomic particles. “You can only observe the Higgs boson through its decay, which is extremely rare — it is very short-lived,” said Dr. Sasha Khanov, OSU associate professor of physics. OSU’s High Energy Physics group was pivotal in detecting the Higgs boson decay by developing a technique to help identify the event despite its rarity. B-tagging allows scientists to recognize the hard-to-observe Higgs decay by pinpointing signature jets of energy released by b-quarks in LHC collisions. “The OSU High Energy Physics group made significant contributions to the development of b-tagging algorithms at ATLAS, in particular the measurement of the probability to misidentify a non-b-jet as a b-jet,” said OSU physics professor Dr. Flera Rizatdinova.

The Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources released four new hard red winter wheat varieties this fall, the first time its Wheat Improvement Team has released so many varieties at one time. OSU has now released nine varieties since 2015. The new varieties are being marketed as Showdown, Green Hammer, Baker’s Ann and Skydance. Each includes a number of valuable traits — disease and pest resistance, premium milling and baking performance, high yield potential and others — for Oklahoma farmers based on their location in the state, environmental conditions and end uses. OSU-bred wheat accounts for about half of the acres planted in Oklahoma or approximately 4 million to 5 million acres each year. Research involving wheat has been underway at OSU since 1892 when A.C. Magruder sowed the plant in what would later become known as the Magruder Plots.

DID YOU KNOW OSU–bred wheat accounts for 4 million to 5 million acres of Oklahoma's annual wheat harvest.

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Making a ‘promise to elephants’ Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences has partnered with two Oklahoma zoos to study elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV), a blood-clotting disorder affecting juvenile Asian elephants. Dr. Joao Brandao, an assistant professor at OSU’s Veterinary Medical Hospital, said EEHV is endemic in the elephant population and can kill young animals. “By the time an elephant shows signs of EEHV, many times treatment is ineffective,” he said.

Detecting the virus early may be the difference between life and death, Brandao said. Researchers will look at blood samples from healthy Asian elephants to establish baseline clotting data to lead to larger studies. Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino, OKC Zoo director of veterinary services, calls the participation in the project “our promise to elephants.” The Tulsa Zoo is also participating. “The Oklahoma City Zoo is committed to providing the best possible care for its Asian elephants

and part of this mission is studying and researching natural diseases that affect elephants, such as EEHV,” D’Agostino said. “Sometimes we forget that for wildlife species there is still a lack of the basic medical knowledge such as, ‘what is a normal clotting time for this species.’ Without basic research, it is difficult to know normal from abnormal and that’s what makes this type of practical clinical research so important. We are proud to be partners in this project,” said Dr. Kay Backues, director of animal health at the Tulsa Zoo.

OSU wins grant to fight obesity crisis The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded Oklahoma State University $3.9 million to tackle an obesity crisis in Oklahoma. The program will start in Adair and Muskogee counties, which have obesity rates above 40 percent. OSU will

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develop and deploy healthy eating initiatives and physical activity options. OSU's College of Human Sciences and Center for Health Systems Innovation partnered with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.

Dr. Deana Hildebrand, an associate professor in OSU’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, said the project will link health care clinics and doctors with Extension programs. Call 918-696-2253 in Adair County or 918-686-7200 in Muskogee County to learn more.

Professor named to Indian government council Dr. Subhash Kak, Regents Professor in electrical and computer engineering at Oklahoma State University, has been appointed as one of nine permanent members of the Indian Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council. The members of the committee advise Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 10 government ministries on policies. Kak began at OSU as the head of the Department of Computer Science in 2007. He later moved into electrical and computer engineering. His research focus is in artificial intelligence, cryptography, neural networks and quantum information. Born in Srinagar, Kashmir, Kak received his doctorate in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in 1971. He is a noted science historian who writes for the general public and whose work has been showcased on the Discovery and History channels, PBS and Dutch public TV. He is also a renowned scholar of ancient scripts.

Clinical trial tests ultrasound cancer treatment The Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is the first veterinary school in the nation to test high-intensity-focused ultrasound (HIFU) for treating tumors and nonhealing chronic wounds in dogs. The program was started by Dr. Ashish Ranjan, an associate professor in the Department of Physiological Sciences. “The project aims to tailor the HIFU sound energy for enhancing localized tumor killing, enhancing chemotherapy delivery, and optimizing the immune system for robust therapeutic outcomes,” he said. The treatment, noninvasive and nontoxic, is available for dogs in a clinical trial. The technology sets boundaries around a tumor and applies the treatment to that specific area. During this clinical trial phase, the veterinary center team reports varying degrees of success. “In some cases, we had complete remission,” Ranjan reported. “The tumor was gone after one or two treatments. In other cases, we had control of the disease. In other words, the tumor did not grow beyond what it was when the patient came to us, so that is also success.” He also mentioned the treatment can be half the cost of surgery. “If an owner were going to go with focused ultrasound in contrast to surgery, they would be

saving at least 50 percent of the treatment cost. A typical surgical procedure for an oral cancer would cost about $5,000, whereas in the case of focused ultrasound that would be available at $2,000 to $2,500.”

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Doctoral students Ashley Hadwiger (left) and Jennie Martin discuss a research project with Dr. Tonya Hammer in the Body Image and Disordered Eating (BIDE) Lab at OSU-Tulsa.

Nourishing Hope OSU-Tulsa’s Body Image and Disordered Eating Lab tackles an often-hidden epidemic


s a child in a small Texas town, Dr. Tonya Hammer would come home from school every day in anticipation of an afterschool snack that often consisted of her great-grandmother’s homemade biscuits and gravy. “That’s how my great-grandmother showed me love and cared for me, through food,” Hammer said. Her mother, on the other hand, was frequently trying to lose weight in a variety of ways, including eating caramel- and chocolate-flavored appetite suppressant candies. “Me? I buried my nose in books,” Hammer said. “So here’s a combination — no activity for me, my great grandmother feeding me biscuits and gravy after school, and my mom feeding me a message of ‘we need to suppress our appetites and eat less.’”

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Those early experiences ultimately led Hammer, now an associate professor of counseling and counseling psychology and the master’s counseling program coordinator at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, to the research specialty that speaks to her — body image and eating disorders. “I am fat, obese, heavyset and overweight — whatever it is you want to call me,” Hammer said. “And so when we talk body image, I deal with it every day. I know what it’s like to feel invisible or to try to become invisible.” ‘A SILENT KILLER’ Recently, Hammer established the Body Image and Disordered Eating (BIDE) Laboratory at OSU-Tulsa to focus on producing evidence-based research to help curb the number of deaths from what the medical community sometimes refers to as “a silent killer.”

The lab provides space where she and counseling graduate students can collaborate on research projects, plan community outreach programs and host focus groups. Early in her career, Hammer’s research interest centered on women and the influence of the media. But after attending her first professional conference aimed at exploring the influences that lead to eating disorders and body image dissatisfaction, she knew she had found her “home.” “I always questioned whether or not people would take me seriously speaking about body image when I have my own issues, and I’m overweight,” she said. “It’s kind of like when you go to a doctor who doesn’t look the healthiest, and you question whether they have the right to tell you what to do with your body.”



“I’m a survivor of a life-threatening illness, and I take pride in my recovery.”



But sometimes, it’s that intimate connection that engenders passion. It is common to find a personal connection among researchers focused on body image and disordered eating. Doctoral student Ashley Hadwiger said she, too, was drawn to this area of research because eating disorders have touched her life. “I’m a survivor of a life-threatening illness, and I take pride in my recovery,” she said. “Body image and disordered eating will remain a problem as long as it is a systemic issue, so I do research on finding ways to ultimately change that.” DISTINCTIVELY DANGEROUS Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Research shows that most patients with eating disorders also suffer from other conditions such as depression and anxiety. Substance abuse among patients with eating disorders is five times higher than in the general population. “The national statistics — which most say do not accurately reflect the number of people suffering from some form of eating disorder or disordered eating — are alarming,” Hammer said. “The purpose of our lab is to add to the literature concerning treatment, intervention and prevention.” According to NEDA, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

Eating disorders are complex conditions, influenced by a range of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors. They affect people regardless of sex, gender, age, size, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic group. “Our relationship with our body and the food we eat is an inevitable lifelong relationship,” Hadwiger said. “It is something we can’t avoid.” Anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa are the most common eating disorders, and typical behaviors associated with them include preoccupation with weight, body dissatisfaction, severe food restriction, binge eating, self-induced vomiting, laxative overuse or excessive exercise. Hadwiger said that while the causes of eating disorders differ for each individual, one thing is certain: Media messages on television, the internet and in magazines are powerful and significant in the lives of people with eating disorders or body image dissatisfaction. “Societal messages originated in patriarchal values and they assign worth to how we look and what we eat. But what society considers ‘worthy’ is constantly changing and is unobtainable,” she said. Hadwiger calls the fight to end eating disorders “a systemic battle to redefine worth and to find empowerment in the way that our bodies are meant to be appreciated.”

Dr. Tonya Hammer established the Body Image and Disordered Eating (BIDE) Lab at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa.

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Dr. Tonya Hammer (foreground) confers with doctoral student Ashley Hadwiger while doctoral student Jennie Martin searches for a book in the Body Image and Disordered Eating (BIDE) Lab at OSU-Tulsa.

The research team has planned a broad range of research projects to answer such questions as: • What factors affect the body image of typically healthy people? • How does the family unit contribute to body dissatisfaction? • What factors contribute to disordered eating in males? • What role does body image or disordered eating play in relationship satisfaction for LGBTQ people? • How does a person’s lack of a reliable source of food figure into their body image? • What role does a person’s heritage — specifically Latino or Native American — play in body image? The research will be both quantitative and qualitative — the numbers and the stories behind the numbers, Hammer said. “Stories are especially important when looking at marginalized or oppressed populations,” she said. “A lot of assessment instruments have been focused on majority populations, not minority populations.”

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FROM RESEARCH TO ACTION A fundamental part of Hammer’s vision for the BIDE lab is to be proactive. She is resolute in her desire that the work should not end there. “We are a research-to-action lab. We want to do outreach. And we want to be about advocacy,” she said. According to Hammer, the best approach to developing better intervention and prevention programs for people with eating disorders is to encourage public discussion, rather than avoid the issue. “Face it. Talking about size, talking about body image is an uncomfortable conversation that we often avoid, whether it’s because it makes us uncomfortable or we think it’s going to make someone in the room uncomfortable,” Hammer said. “But we need to have the conversation.” One of the researchers’ first prevention efforts was training a group of school counselors to be facilitators within their schools to lead student groups in discussions about body image and eating disorders. That program is based on the Body Project Collaborative, a national effort to help high school girls and collegeage women resist cultural pressures to conform to the ideal appearance standard of female beauty. Supported by evidence-based research, the Body Project has been proven effective in reducing the onset of eating disorders among young women. BIDE lab researchers continue to recruit school counselors to participate in future Body Project training sessions. “This program is an invaluable preventative and educational tool for empowering young women to appreciate their bodies,” said Hadwiger, who helped lead the training along with doctoral student Jennie Martin and OSU-Tulsa visiting professor Dr. Sarah Johnson.

Other efforts will come out of developing partnerships with local community organizations, including building upon the relationship between OSU-Tulsa Counseling Center and the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. Hammer said also she hopes to collaborate with Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Hospital’s eating disorders program and several Tulsa-area school districts to create and deliver researchbased intervention, prevention and treatment programming. In addition, the research team will contribute to the work of advocacy organizations, including the Oklahoma Eating Disorders Association, the National Eating Disorders Association and the International Association of Eating Disorders Providers. “We can do all the research in the world on the current state of affairs, but if we don’t start doing some things that are geared toward prevention the problem will persist,” Hammer said. As president-elect for the Oklahoma Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling, Hammer is currently pursuing her own research on how eating disorders impact relationship satisfaction and emotional health within the LGBTQ community. While not as simple as it sounds, Hammer believes in the power of body positivity, a movement rooted in the belief that all body types should be accepted and appreciated. “We need to constantly remind ourselves that our ‘enoughness’ is off the charts, that who we are — no matter our size, our weight, our height, our BMI — we’re enough,” Hammer said. “And we need to not let others or ourselves tell us otherwise.”

Hear from Dr. Tonya Hammer:

Masterpiece Moments : Artist at the Table combines artists’ talents and the Stillwater community’s commitment to the arts in a funfilled night sure to please. Famous artwork and their creators will be the inspiration behind an artist gallery of tablescape creations — beautiful, interpreted works of art constructed by talented friends and advocates of the OSU Museum of Art.

SATURDAY, MAY 4, 2019 5:30 p.m. | OSU Student Union Ballroom


For more information about the event, tickets and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Deb Engle at or 405.385.5600.

Battling Addiction

OSU-CHS launches Center for Wellness & Recovery to tackle opioid abuse across Oklahoma


eggie Whitten, a prominent lawyer in Oklahoma City, used to think that addiction was a moral or behavioral problem, a problem caused by an individual’s lack of willpower or character flaw. Whitten’s perception of addiction changed in 2002 when his oldest son, Brandon, died from injuries he sustained in a car crash. Brandon, 25, had been driving under the influence of prescription drugs. He had been waging a personal battle against opioid addiction for the last three years of his life. Brandon Whitten is an example of how addiction can happen to anyone. He grew up in an affluent area of Oklahoma

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City. He was a model child growing up, academically inclined and athletically talented. He was crowned homecoming king at West Moore High School and played football at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. But he became addicted to opioids in college. Whitten and Brandon’s mother, Terri, tried to intervene to help their son, enrolling him in several residential rehab programs. Brandon went in and out of sobriety, suffering multiple relapses. Although his heart no longer wanted to be dependent on opioids, Brandon’s brain had been altered by overexposure to opioids.

Two decades ago, little was known about the biological basis of addiction. Back then, addiction was widely believed to be a lifestyle choice — addicts chose to take harmful substances detrimental to their health. In recent years, the predominant view among researchers and scientists is that addiction is a chronic brain disorder, caused by a confluence of behavioral, genetic and biological factors. Although the scientific world has made great strides in understanding the science of addiction, more research needs to be done. OSU Center for Health Sciences is committed to tackling the substance abuse crisis in Oklahoma from every


“Addiction is the greatest public health issue of our time.”

Brandon and Reggie Whitten

OSU-CHS Center for Wellness & Recovery's new home was gifted to OSU-CHS in September by The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation. See pages 92-93 for more on the story.

angle through education, research, treatment and public policy. “Addiction is the greatest public health issue of our time,” said Dr. Kayse Shrum, D.O., president of OSU Center for Health Sciences. “At OSU-CHS, we have some of the best minds in the nation treating patients with substance use disorders and conducting groundbreaking research in the areas of pain and addiction. We created the Center for Wellness & Recovery to improve the lives of Oklahomans affected by pain and substance use disorders.” The Center for Wellness & Recovery was born out of an urgent

“We created the Center for Wellness & Recovery to improve the lives of Oklahomans affected by pain and substance use disorders.” need to provide Oklahomans with expanded access to pain and addiction treatment options, to promote and support pain- and addiction-related research, and to eliminate the stigma associated with addiction. “As an academic health center endowed with an abundance of human talent and with an extensive rural health network, we are uniquely poised to help solve the addiction epidemic impacting Oklahoma,” says Dr. Julie Croff,

executive director of the Center for Wellness & Recovery. One of the leading causes of addiction in Oklahoma is opioid abuse and misuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Opioid Overdose 2017 Report, more Oklahoma adults 25-64 died from unintentional prescription opioid overdose than from motor vehicle crashes in 2016. And enough opioids were prescribed in Oklahoma for every adult in the state to have more than 100 pills.

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Since its inception in November 2017, the Center for Wellness & Recovery has tackled the addiction crisis head-on. Addictive drugs like opioids can alter the way people think, feel and behave. They disrupt neurotransmission, which affects the way in which neurons (nerve cells) exchange and process information. Opioids attach to proteins called opioid receptors on neurons, blocking pain messages from neuron to neuron and releasing large amounts of dopamine throughout the body. As a result, the user experiences less pain and increased feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Opioids hijack the pleasure and reward system in the brain by flooding the brain with an influx of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that is released when an individual does something pleasurable.

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“Our brains are wired to seek out pleasure, to repeat actions that result in pleasure,” said Dr. Jason Beaman, chair of the OSU-CHS Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “For example, when you eat a cheeseburger or a piece of chocolate, your brain releases dopamine. Opioids can release up to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards like eating a cheeseburger do and they do this in a much shorter amount of time. The opioid user feels really good, really fast.” Over time, the neurons become adapted to the drugs and can only function normally in the presence of the drugs. The combination of tolerance to and dependency on the drugs results in

addiction as higher and more frequent doses for the same desired effects. Since its inception in November 2017, the Center for Wellness & Recovery has tackled the addiction crisis head-on. It opened an addiction medicine clinic in Tulsa, providing patients with medication assisted treatment options to recover from addiction. It also held a public screening of the documentary Killing Pain to raise the awareness of the dangers of prescription pain medicine and reduce the stigma associated with addiction. The center recently received two federal grants to fuel its efforts to heighten awareness and expand capacity of treatment options: a $1.4 million Centers for Disease


“With the right medical care and the right support network, patients are able to recover and reclaim their lives.”

Control-originated grant awarded to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (and subcontracted to OSUCHS) and a $450,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. On the research front, clinical and biomedical faculty at OSU-CHS are studying how addiction changes the brains of adolescents and adults. They are delving into research on how the brain processes pain and how inflammation of the spinal cord can augment neural response to pain. They are also looking into the long-lasting impact of addiction on the brain and the brain’s ability to regain cognitive functions once in recovery.

“Addiction is a chronic brain disorder, caused by repeated use of addictive substances like opioids. We treat chronic lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes and heart diseases with medication,” Beaman said. “And like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed and treated. With the right medical care and the right support network, patients are able to recover and reclaim their lives.” Whitten, the grieving father, sees the promise ahead in the center’s mission. “My son Brandon wasn’t a crackhead, junkie or any other harmful labels we use to stigmatize addiction," he said. “He had a brain disorder. These little pills took over his life and enslaved him.

“The innovative research taking place at OSU-CHS on pain and addiction will save lives. I can’t bring Brandon back, but by supporting OSU-CHS, I can make sure that other Oklahoma families won’t have to undergo the pain of losing a loved one to addiction.” OSU Center for Health Sciences is proud to lead the charge in implementing innovative methods for the study, treatment and public understanding of substance use disorders and pain management. Addiction is a brain disease. By treating patients and analyzing the brain, researchers at OSU-CHS will unlock the secrets of drug addiction.

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Creating Space

The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation donates five floors in Legacy Plaza’s west tower


hanks to a generous gift from The Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences will be one of two permanent residents in Tulsa’s Legacy Plaza West. The west tower is the largest in a three-building complex on Tulsa’s East 31st Street and was originally auto rental company Dollar Thrifty’s headquarters. The Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation purchased the property in 2015 and has been developing the space for area nonprofits, which, through similar gifts, own their spaces. On Sept. 11, representatives from The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation announced OSUCHS and Family and Children’s Services (F&CS) as the final two occupants of Legacy Plaza. OSU-CHS received the building’s top five floors and F&CS — Oklahoma’s largest outpatient community mental health center — will take ownership of the first eight.

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“Universities like OSU nurture the hopes of our society, solve our most urgent health care challenges, unlock new medical knowledge and share this new knowledge with stakeholders across the state.” The Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation will transfer ownership of the space to OSU-CHS and F&CS once renovations are complete. OSU-CHS president Dr. Kayse Shrum said the five floors will be dedicated to addressing mental health and substance abuse challenges in Oklahoma through clinical services, outreach and research. “We are enormously grateful to the trustees of The Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation for this profoundly generous gift, which will help ensure that OSU-CHS continues to be the leader in addressing the state’s shortage of mental


health professionals and substance abuse crisis,” Shrum said. “Legacy Plaza West will provide a state-of-the-art environment where OSUCHS physicians and researchers will work sideby-side to advance our understanding of brain diseases that impact the lives of Oklahomans.” Located at Legacy Plaza West will be OSUCHS’s department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; the new Center for Wellness and Recovery, CIRCA (Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Adversity), and Project ECHO (Extension for Community Health Care Outcomes). OSU-CHS will be able to optimize its collaborations with other leading mentalhealth focused nonprofits located at Legacy Plaza, including Family and Children’s Services and Mental Health Association Oklahoma. Regents Chairman Calvin Anthony said the gift represented more than just office space for OSU-CHS. “This is a great example of how institutions of higher education are transforming and improving the lives of Oklahomans through knowledge,” he said. “Universities like OSU nurture the hopes of our society, solve our most urgent health care challenges, unlock new medical knowledge and share this new knowledge with stakeholders across the state.” At the announcement, President Burns Hargis said OSU was humbled yet again by the generosity of The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation.

The organization has given to undergraduate scholarships at OSU-Tulsa and Stillwater, program funding for the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences’ Tulsa Shelter Medicine Program, the College of Human Sciences’ Center for Family Resilience and several areas at OSU Center for Health Sciences. “We have some of the best minds in the country at OSU Center for Health Sciences teaching students and residents, doing research and taking care of patients,” Hargis said. “This gift allows our faculty a place to come together to make a difference in the lives and health of Oklahomans.”

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Jim Vallion Dec. 9, 1930 - Sept. 16, 2018

The Doel Reed Center for the Arts remembers Jim Vallion, a true renaissance man who had a fire for life and a passion for the arts. Mr. Vallion was known as many things throughout his life: an OSU alumnus, legendary restauranteur and a successful entrepreneur, to name a few. To the Doel Reed Center for the Arts, he was a magnanimous influencer who led by doing. Mr. Vallion fervently supported the renovation of the Doel Reed Center, located in Taos, New Mexico, and was instrumental to the project’s ongoing success. In 2010, Mr. Vallion funded the Smelser Vallion Visiting Artist, and well-known Western painter Sonya Terpening was the first to hold the prestigious position. Each year since then, visiting artists have taught courses and created masterpieces while studying at the Doel Reed Center in the summer. They’d later return to Stillwater to share their knowledge during workshops and lectures in a way that honors OSU’s land-grant mission. One of his last gifts to the Taos, New Mexico, center was to help fund the creation of a ramada, an outdoor pavilion and gathering space. Once fully funded, the ramada will provide future visiting artists shelter from afternoon rain showers and forever symbolize Mr. Vallion’s appreciation for art.

If you’d like to contribute to Mr. Vallion’s legacy, contact Sarah Brown at or by calling 405-385-5151.

Doel Reed Center for the Arts Learn more at | Give at

Celebrating 25 Years

Totusek family’s gift honors animal science leader


r. Bob Totusek’s selfless legacy began some 80 years ago during the Great Depression. He was a first-generation American whose parents moved to Oklahoma from Czechoslovakia. They kept a well-tended garden and some livestock during the Dust Bowl and would deliver extra produce to their neighbors in Garber, Oklahoma, on the weekends. These experiences would help him to become one of the most influential men to come through Oklahoma State University. He graduated from Oklahoma A&M in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. He then earned a master’s degree and doctorate in animal nutrition in 1952 from Purdue University before beginning a storied career of teaching, research, public service and administration that lasted for 38 years. Even four years after his passing, Dr. Totusek continues to influence students, faculty and OSU’s department of animal and food sciences through a lecture series named in his honor. The Dr. Robert Totusek Lecture Series celebrated its 25th anniversary in November, bringing people to Stillwater from across the country. In July, Totusek’s three children, Darla Totusek Flanagan, Don Totusek and Diane Stearman, endowed the lecture series with a gift of $125,000. Along with the department of animal and food sciences, the family is hopeful that

Late professor Bob Totusek continues to make an impact at OSU through a lectureship endowed by his children.

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others will be encouraged to help the fund grow to $200,000 and preserve Dr. Totusek’s legacy at OSU. Dr. Totusek’s 14-year tenure as head of animal science included several changes. Undergraduate enrollment increased in his field by more than 60 percent, and funding for research nearly doubled. He was instrumental in the construction of the animal science building and arena. Later, he helped lay the groundwork for the OSU Food and Agricultural Products Center, the Beef Cattle Research Center and the Swine Research and Education Center. “Dr. Totusek was instrumental in the constructing of the animal science building, but even more so he was passionate about livestock judging and giving students extracurricular opportunities,” said Kelsey Bruno, coordinator of the Totusek Lecture series. The OSU Livestock Judging Team won 10 national and international livestock judging competitions while Dr. Totusek was coaching. In fact, livestock judging was one of his favorite things to do. Dr. Totusek retired in 1990. During his retirement, he could be spotted mentoring students, connecting people in the industry and helping OSU wherever he could. He died June 6, 2014. The Totusek Lectureship was created by a group of graduate students to celebrate and honor Dr. Totusek.

Many alumni would come to the event to reconnect with their former professor. The way he was remembered by OSU after his death made a lasting impact on the Totusek family, daughter Darla Totusek Flanagan said. “Through hearing the testimony of the speakers, my siblings and I realized just how much of an impact he had on others and how others at OSU impacted him,” she said. The student-run lecture series was originally funded by corporate sponsors and friends of Dr. Totusek. The Totusek family decided to endow the lectureship this past year, as a way of honoring both their father and mother, Nellie Totusek, who died a few months after her husband in 2014. “The combination of educational value and industry networking provided by the lecture series is a nice representation of what Dad wanted to provide to students and grad students,” Flanagan said. Friend and former colleague Dr. Dennis White remembered well how strongly Totusek advocated for his students. In one instance, he called on behalf of a student applying for a job at a local feed yard. When the young man arrived for an interview, he was given a job offer instead. The lecture series is a way the beloved professor’s legacy continues to champion students by providing practical experience as they manage the event.

“The thing about Dr. Totusek was that he had a feel for a student’s capabilities. He was always able to nudge them into the right role,” White said. The students did a great job at the November event, which featured Ann Burkholder. The Nebraska native is an expert in animal science and ethics and is known as “Feedyard Foodie” to her blog followers because of her background as boss of a feed yard. Bruno said Burkholder created a draw for the 25th annual event, calling her a passionate advocate for animal science. “She has great insight about the future of the beef industry and understands the changes,” Bruno said. “She has something to say to all audiences, young and old.” In the past, the event has attracted animal science experts from across the country. Speakers come with experience from university classrooms to the American Breeders Service. The Totusek children, Bruno and White all hope that increasing the lecture series’ endowment will ensure the event continues to evolve and inspire others.

GET INVOLVED To give toward this legacy of Dr. Bob Totusek, contact Heidi Griswold at 405-385-5656 or She can answer your questions about the Dr. Robert Totusek Lectureship or help you discover ways to impact your other orange passions.

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Leading the Way OSU celebrates the groundbreaking of the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music


hen Oklahoma State University began raising funds to add a worldclass performing arts center, Michael and Anne Greenwood were among the earliest donors. The Stillwater couple soon realized that the university also needed new academic facilities for music. The couple believed “our wonderful students and remarkable faculty� should benefit from a new facility sooner rather than later. "It was an easy decision for us. The more we learned about our lack of facilities, the more we realized the time for action was now," Anne Greenwood said. The Greenwoods made the lead gift for a College of Arts and Sciences building to house what is now

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the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music. OSU held a celebratory groundbreaking for the facility Sept. 15, shortly before the Cowboy football team beat Boise State, 44-21. Both Greenwoods spoke at the ceremony, held at the construction site at the corner of University Avenue and Ramsey Street. They beamed as OSU leaders, music faculty and a student explained what this building will do for the university. It will house a variety of music laboratories, classrooms, rehearsal spaces and teaching studios equipped with the latest technology for high-level studio production, offering a premier teaching and learning experience for the more than 2,100 students who participate in various OSU music programs.


The Sept. 15 groundbreaking event featured performances by students and comments celebrating the new building.

“Their passion and generosity have touched this campus in many, many ways. It’s all over the place. They are a phenomenal couple, and I hope they know how much we appreciate them.”

Watch the groundbreaking:

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“The ability to provide this building and the facilities that are so deserved makes us proud,” Anne Greenwood said. “Every time we make a gift, we want to raise awareness about certain needs and inspire others to join us. Others did step up immediately and supported this. We couldn’t have done this without them, and we will be forever grateful.” OSU President Burns Hargis recognized the Edward and Helen Bartlett Foundation, Jonathan Drummond, Dick and Malinda Berry Fischer, the Inasmuch Foundation, John and Caroline Linehan and other donors who made early commitments to the Greenwood School of Music. But the Greenwoods were the headline honorees on a day that launched “a new era for music” at OSU. Hargis recognized the couple’s since 2011. His students have dominated the ongoing support for the university, including major National Trumpet Competition, winning seven gifts for the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis championships and placing nine times across four Center, the Anne Morris Greenwood Reading categories since 2014. Room in the Edmon Low Library and the new One of those champions, trumpet performance Spears School of Business building. senior Noah Mennenga, said the new facilities “Their passion and generosity have touched this are bringing even more excitement into the campus in many, many ways,” Hargis added. “It’s all music program. It has even touched him, though over the place. They are a phenomenal couple, and I he will graduate before The McKnight Center hope they know how much we appreciate them.” for the Performing Arts opens in fall 2019 and Dr. Howard Potter, chair of the Greenwood the Greenwood School of Music opens the School of Music, said that faculty, students and following year. alumni had been dreaming of this new facility for “In the future, I will have my own students and “at least a generation.” I will be able to recommend OSU as a great place “The combination of President Hargis’ vision to study because I have full confidence in the for what could be and the generosity of the program,” Mennenga said. “Now it’s adding great Greenwoods and many others has made our dream facilities they can use.” into a reality, and we can never thank them enough,” Dr. Doug Henderson, associate director of Potter said. “Their vision and their gifts are a bands and director of the Cowboy Marching Band, reaffirmation of the great work being done in the explained that even changing the name from the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music Department of Music to the Michael and Anne every day. Our expert faculty are dedicated, tireless, Greenwood School of Music is beneficial, especially brilliant and engaging.” for recruiting. Dr. Ryan Gardner, associate professor of trumpet, “It carries an elevation, an intangible thing noted that about 2,100 students share 12 practice for the faculty and the students,” Henderson said. rooms, two rehearsal spaces and two classrooms in “Having this name attached to the degrees of our the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts. graduates will be very special to them.” “Our students never complain, but they come up The university has raised more than two-thirds with creative solutions such as practicing outside, of its fundraising goal, and naming opportunities in hallways, in stairwells, and sometimes even are still available for interested donors. in the bathrooms,” Gardner said. “Our students’ “We’ve seen people from all across campus, passion and determination to be great has never across Stillwater and across the state, and been compromised by the restrictions of our some even beyond that, gather with us to bring current facility. It only makes their achievements momentum behind this elevation of the arts at more significant. OSU music has been excellent for Oklahoma State University,” said Kirk Jewell, many years.” president of the OSU Foundation. “We believe we Gardner would know, having overseen are going to be a true destination for both faculty the trumpet studio and trumpet ensembles and students whose passion is the arts.”

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The Greenwood School of Music is being created for OSU’s talented students and faculty.


Finding awards in the fun Mennenga came to OSU from Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, because he wanted to be part of the university’s trumpet studio. While in high school, he participated in the National Trumpet Competition three times, where he saw OSU’s entrants having fun together while achieving at the highest level. His decision paid off, and he has won a slew of awards during his time as a Cowboy, including the undergraduate soloist division at both the 2018 National Trumpet Competition and the 2018 International Trumpet Guild Conference Solo Competition. He was also third as a soloist at the 2017 National Trumpet Competition, when OSU’s Natalie Upton won, and he was a member of the winning large ensemble in 2016. This spring, he will perform with Christopher Martin, principal trumpet for the New York Philharmonic. Martin will share the stage with the OSU Wind Ensemble on April 18. “He was the principal trumpet for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 11 years, and now he has been with the New York Philharmonic for a couple of years,” Mennenga said. “To be either one of those is incredible. To do both shows you how great he is, and for him to come to OSU is really cool.”

Mennenga said he wishes he could stay at OSU until next fall, when The McKnight Center opens with a performance by the full New York Philharmonic, as well as when the Greenwood School of Music opens. “I am disappointed that I won’t be around to enjoy these facilities as a student, but I know that they will play a big part in further strengthening the reputation of the program,” Mennenga said. “People from all over will be aware of the Greenwood School of Music and Oklahoma State University. To have been here and played a part in creating the momentum before these facilities open makes the time I’ve put in here even more worth it.” He is currently applying to trumpet graduate programs across the country. He has also applied for a Fulbright Scholarship that would allow him to go to Switzerland and study with two of the best in the world. What comes after that is unclear, but he plans to continue playing. “My dream job would be to make and play music that is beautiful, that people enjoy, that tells stories and communicates ideas and emotions,” Mennenga said. “That could be solo music or chamber music or orchestral music. I want to bring joy to people and connect with people, and do good work outside of that, teaching and mentoring young musicians.”

For more information about Oklahoma State’s music programs, visit To learn more about The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts, visit

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Students Helping Students Student philanthropy group marks 10 years


en years ago, a group of enthusiastic philanthropists joined together to change the future of Oklahoma State University — and today, their mission is stronger than ever. The most impressive detail? These Cowboyinvesting, future-building, dream-chasing supporters are students. The Student Foundation, lovingly known as StuFu, was founded in the 2007 academic year by 36 undergraduates. These ambassadors of the OSU Foundation set out on a mission to educate the student body on the impact of giving at Oklahoma State and communicate their utmost gratitude to

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the supporters that made their university dreams a reality. StuFu is undoubtedly leaving its mark. Wade Witcher and Clara Wenger are student campaigns co-chairs. They both lit up with pride discussing the organization. “Thanking donors was my initial draw,” Wenger said. “I’m affected as a scholarship recipient. I’m extremely grateful to attend OSU, and it’s completely because of the donors — that makes me encouraged to give.” About 87 percent of students at Oklahoma State receive some type of financial aid, and many


students would not be able to attend school without the help of generous donors. “I think there’s a misconception that to be a donor, you have to be wealthy,” Wenger said. “And we want to break down that misconception.” The continued outpouring of care from alumni and friends inspires Witcher. “Our passion for giving comes from how much support we receive,” he said. “When alumni give, there’s a fire ignited in us. They have taught us that when we see a need, we take care of it.” StuFu continues to expand its strong presence on campus. Members are often found getting to know their peers face to face through tabling and community outreach events. Witcher said he considers it a win when students are willing to stop at a table and talk with him. Often, those conversations are the first steps to discovering another young donor’s orange passion. “The real heart behind what we do is trying to give people an outlet where they want to give,” he said. In his leadership position, Witcher promotes PhilanthoPete, the online crowdfunding platform through which student projects are funded. He said StuFu focuses on living out OSU’s culture of giving. “When it comes to student involvement, they’re eager to join. We don’t have to sell the PhilanthroPete mindset to students,” he said. During the 1,890-minute Give Orange event last April, the student donor count exceeded 150 — surpassing the goal of 100 students in record time. Goals for Give Orange 2019 include spreading even more orange passion and increasing student involvement.


“The real heart behind what we do is trying to give people an outlet where they want to give.”


Above: The inaugural StuFu members are eager to make an impact on their campus. Left: The 2018-2019 StuFu members proudly support their fellow Cowboys!


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HARVEY SUPPORT After the horrific storm swept through the Houston area, 232 donors immediately came together to support OSU students and raised $57,849 for the Cowboy Strong Student Emergency Fund.

Throughout this academic year, the members of the Student Foundation will be stretching themselves to grow their goals and increase participation. “We’re always trying to set goals that are beyond what we’ve done in the past,” said Wenger. “Our hope as a Student Foundation is that it will continue to grow.” With plans to be even more intentional with donor relationships, launch exciting events and better utilize digital platforms, they are well on their way to another year of incredible impact at Oklahoma State.

Cowboy Strong

Four years ago, the group took its dedication to philanthropy one step further. Under the guidance of OSU Foundation staff adviser John Grice, StuFu partnered with Delta Sigma Pi in creating the Cowboy Strong Student Emergency Fund. The Cowboy Strong Student Emergency Fund provides resources for students who are experiencing financial hardships from natural disasters to personal emergencies. Like many other students, Clara Wenger has a strong passion for this project and is excited to see it making a difference.

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“I helped plan the launch of Cowboy Strong — it’s a fund for students by students,” she said. “Students care about philanthropy — not out of a sense of obligation, but a sense of excitement.” StuFu leads the fundraising efforts for this fund and gets lots of other students involved, too. That increased participation makes a difference, according to Witcher. “We’re here to take care of each other. Anytime you have to give up a resource for something, you have a little more ownership in it.” The Cowboy Strong Student Emergency Fund continues to grow and is distributed regularly to students who are in need. In 2017, Cowboy Strong provided life-changing resources for multiple students who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. More than 350 students were from the Houston area that year, and 232 donors joined the PhilanthroPete efforts to raise $57,849 for those affected by the hurricanes. Students across campus feel the effect of this program. With a grassroots mentality, StuFu continues to grow and adjust, as the community needs are ever-changing.


Oklahoma State University continues to prove itself to be a culture of giving. “The community of philanthropy is already built in,” Witcher said. “We just promote that.”

Inspired supporters

StuFu builds on the philanthropic passions of thousands of donors that continue to support OSU. “Mike Greenwood talks to us about experiencing the joy of giving,” said Wenger. “And we want to make student philanthropy personal. It’s really exciting to see when students learn about opportunities that they’re passionate about.” Since its founding, Mike and Anne Greenwood have happily been two of StuFu’s primary supporters. They have witnessed the impact of this program, and are pleased with the growth and development of the past 10 years. “We cannot wait to see what the future holds for these remarkable and dedicated students,” Anne Greenwood said. “We are confident they will carry on in their lives as caring philanthropists — we could not be prouder of StuFu!” The Student Foundation members are incredibly grateful for the support they have received from alumni and friends within the Cowboy family. “Thank you for seeing our needs,” Witcher said. “And thank you for taking care of us so we can take care of others.”


The student executive team assumes the leadership role, creating a vision and guiding the general membership in fulfilling the StuFu mission.

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Thankful for a Strong Foundation

Alumnus uses a charitable gift annuity to build his legacy at OSU


uring a life fueled by family and filled with adventures from around the world, Pedro Pantoja always gave credit to Oklahoma State University — and now he’s building his legacy at his alma mater. At just 19 years old, Pantoja moved to Oklahoma from his native country of Mexico, quickly finding a new home among the orange and black. “I always wanted to come to America,” he said, reminiscing about the venture to OSU. “People here were very friendly.” When Pantoja started at Oklahoma State, members of the Cowboy family opened up their homes to him until campus housing was available. Even still, one very special family provided ongoing support for his room and board, in

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When Pedro Pantoja graduated from OSU in 1961, his love and affinity for his alma mater continued to grow.


addition to tuition assistance. He was a dedicated student — not only in the classroom, but also as a student worker every day in the cafeteria. This young man was determined to have the necessary funds for his education. After graduating in 1961 with an entomology degree, Pantoja spent many years thriving in his career, visiting more than 90 countries around the world and making memories with his family. He credits much of his success to his time at OSU, as he had wonderful professors and mentors who created incredible opportunities for him. Oklahoma State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, also known as CASNR, equipped him with the tools for success, and he wouldn’t be where he is today without this experience. “When I finished college, my teachers helped me get a job,” he said. “These people opened doors for me.” When Pantoja wanted to show his utmost gratitude for the opportunities made available by his alma mater, he chose to open a charitable gift annuity. Through planned giving, he wants to pay it forward. “For me, Oklahoma is home. I love Oklahoma State University. My kids are working, traveling and doing very well, and I’m glad to be generous to other people.” With a charitable gift annuity, Pantoja supports OSU while receiving a guaranteed fixed payment for life. The substantial reduction in income tax is beneficial, and this giving vehicle provides dependability for the security-minded. There are several options for legacy builders to provide opportunities for the future at OSU. Planned giving has proven to be a powerful, convenient avenue for people like Pedro Pantoja who truly cherish this university.

What is a charitable gift annuity? A charitable gift annuity (CGA) is an agreement between a donor and the OSU Foundation in which the Foundation agrees to pay the donor a fixed income for life in exchange for a gift. The donor may designate the use of the net assets that remain after the death of the final annuitant by completing an endowment agreement and a memorandum of agreement. The minimum gift for funding an annuity is $25,000. The minimum age for life income beneficiaries of a current or deferred gift annuity is 65. The payment is a binding liability of the Foundation. A CGA shall have an annuity rate no higher than the rate suggested by the American Council on Gift Annuities at the time the gift is funded. Under IRS regulations, the maximum number of life income beneficiaries is two. New rates for charitable gift annuities, which will provide higher monthly income for policyholders, went into effect July 1.

To learn more about charitable gift annuities, contact Sarah Brown at or 405-385-5151.

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DISTINGUISHED NEW CLASS OF HONOREES RECOGNIZED The Oklahoma State University Alumni Association welcomed a new class of honorees at a reception the evening of Sept. 14 at the ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center and on the field during halftime of the Boise State football game on Sept. 15. The award recognizes former students who attain distinctive success in their chosen field or professions and perform outstanding service for their community. Learn more about the 2018 honorees on the following pages.

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Alumni Awards

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“I had the most fun time at OSU. The teachers were wonderful. I just love it here!”

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Isabel K. Baker graduated from Oklahoma State University (then Oklahoma A&M) with a master’s degree in elementary education in 1954. She went on to receive her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from OSU in 1972. She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Northeastern State College in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in 1950. Baker taught in the Oklahoma public school system for nearly 20 years before going on to teach at Morehead State University in Kentucky, Oklahoma State University and Northeastern State University. Baker also worked as the director of research at the Cherokee Education Center and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in Tahlequah. In addition, Baker also served on multiple committees. She was the vice chair for the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation and president of Phi Delta Kappa. Baker is also the former president of the Oklahoma Association of Bilingual Education and former president of the Oklahoma Mothers Committee. She also served as an OSU/ A&M Colleges regent for nearly 10 years. Baker has earned many honors and awards throughout her life. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998 and the OSU College of Education, Health and Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006. She was also one of 100 women invited to the White House by President Jimmy Carter to a conference on women’s issues and was a member of the National Federation of Democratic Women. Baker lives in Tahlequah. Her husband, Tim, died in 2005. They have three children. She is a life member of the OSU Alumni Association.


CAROLINA Michael Carolina graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences. He went on to receive a master’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of Oklahoma in 1971. For the past 15 years, Carolina has served as the executive director of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST). Before joining OCAST, he worked in management and executive positions with Western Electric Co., AT&T and Lucent Technologies. A former member of OSU's cross-country team, Carolina also donates his time on multiple committees and boards. He serves on the Dean’s Strategic Advisory Council for the OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology, the OSU-OKC President’s Advisory Board and the Governor’s Science and Technology Council. He also serves on boards at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma. Carolina is a proud member of the OSU POSSE and the OSU O-Club. He was also inducted into the University of Oklahoma Gallogly College of Engineering Distinguished Graduates Society in May 2016. Carolina and his wife, Sharon, reside in Edmond, Oklahoma. He is a life member of the OSU Alumni Association.

“There is just something about OSU that demands an allegiance and a loyalty that I never forgot.”

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“The classroom experiences that I had at OSU were incredible ... because of the support that I got from my teachers.”

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Anita F. Hill graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and from the Yale University School of Law in 1980. While at OSU, Hill was a National Merit Scholar as well as a nominee for the Danforth Fellowship. Throughout her life, she has received multiple awards, honorary degrees and recognitions, including the Ford Hall Forum First Amendment Award. Hill is currently a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She has also been affiliated with the Brandeis Legal Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Programs. Hill also works with Brandeis’ Department of African and Afro-American Sciences. In addition, Hill is of counsel with the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Sellers and Toll, where she is a member of the Civil Rights and Employment Law practice group. In addition, Hill devotes her time to many different boards, commissions and associations. She is the former chair of the Human Rights Committee of the International Bar Association, and currently chairs the entertainment industry’s Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. She also serves on the board of directors for both the National Women’s Law Center and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Boston. Hill has also authored multiple books, articles and papers. Her most recent book, Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race and Finding Home, was published in 2011. She has also given presentations and seminars around the world, including Ireland, New Zealand and Japan. Hill and her husband, Charles Malone Jr., reside in Waltham, Massachusetts.


OGLESBY Ann M. Oglesby graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. At OSU, Oglesby was a President’s Distinguished Scholar and an American Institute of Chemical Engineers Senior Design Award winner. After graduation, she went to work for Mobil Corp. in 1987. She served in multiple engineering, supply, business development and planning positions focused on petrochemicals. She is now the vice president of technology for Phillips 66. She has served in many roles for the company for almost 20 years, including general manager of global risk and compliance, general manager of lubricants, and vice president of communications and public affairs. Oglesby is involved with many different committees and councils. She currently serves as the Phillips 66 OSU Executive Champion and is a member of the OSU Diversity Development Council. She also serves on the Women for OSU Council and the OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Strategic Advisory Council. Oglesby is a board member for the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and the Frank Phillips Foundation. She has also served as a member of the Chemical Engineering Industrial Advisory Committee. Oglesby and her husband, Bill, reside in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. They have two children and two grandchildren. She enjoys riding her horses in her free time. Oglesby is a life member of the OSU Alumni Association.

“What I appreciate the most is the rich values system that is part of being an Oklahoma State Cowboy.”

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“I know that I’ve been gone a while, but this is still home.”

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Bill Self graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in organization administration. He went on to receive a master’s degree from OSU in athletic administration in 1989. At OSU, Self was a four-year basketball letterman and played on the Big Eight conference tournament championship team in 1983. Upon graduating, he served as a graduate assistant coach for the University of Kansas. He returned to OSU in 1986 as an assistant coach under Cowboy head coaches Leonard Hamilton and Eddie Sutton. Self began his head coaching career in 1993 at Oral Roberts University. After four seasons with the Golden Eagles, he was introduced as head coach of the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane in 1997. Self took the Illinois head coaching job in 2000 and became the head coach at the University of Kansas in 2003, where he remains today. During his time as the Jayhawks’ head coach, the team has won 14 Big 12 regular-season titles, eight Big 12 Tournament championships and one national championship in 2008. Throughout his career, Self has accumulated 654 wins and only 200 loses. He is one of 11 active head coaches at the NCAA Division I level to have won a national championship. He also has coached 18 NBA draft first-round selections and 20-straight 23-win seasons. Self was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. Self’s wife, Cindy, is also an OSU graduate. The couple reside in Lawrence, Kansas, and have one daughter, Lauren Browning, one son, Tyler, and one granddaughter, Ella Jane, the daughter of Lauren and Hayden Browning.


TUTTLE Stephen and Diane Tuttle’s love for Oklahoma State University has grown stronger over the past 40 years as they continue to support their alma mater. Stephen graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Diane received her degree in management in 1985. Both would have successful careers in the gas and energy industries. Stephen retired as president of NGL Energy Partners, and after years of working in the energy industry in Tulsa, Diane shifted her focus to volunteer work. The Tuttles have continued to give back to OSU. Stephen is a former member of the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees and was named a Spears School of Business 100 For 100. The couple endowed a scholarship for OSU football in addition to supporting basketball, baseball and golf. They have also endowed the Stephen & Diane Tuttle Accelerator for the School of Entrepreneurship in the Spears School of Business. For their support, the OSU Foundation honored the Tuttles as Proud & Immortal Society inductees for a lifetime of gifts to the university totaling more than $1 million, and they have both been inducted into the Spears School of Business Hall of Fame. Steve and Diane are members of Presidents’ Fellows and both serve on the OSU Foundation’s Board of Governors. The Tuttles are also active in their community of Tulsa. Stephen has served on the board of directors for the LPG Charity Fund and the Tulsa Public Schools Partners in Education. Diane has volunteered with the American Heart Association, Women Impacting Tulsa’s giving circle and served on the Women for OSU Council. The Tuttles have three children and are both life members of the OSU Alumni Association.

“It has been so impactful and life-changing for us to be this involved at OSU.”

Watch the ceremony:

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Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton, American Indian OSU Alumni Society Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton followed in her family’s footsteps by graduating from Oklahoma State University, making her a third-generation Cowboy. “I grew up with a lot of orange in my closet,” the Tulsa native said. As the former president of the American Indian Alumni Society, she continues to stay involved with OSU by working to increase society involvement with Native American students. “We’d like to be in a position where we’re able to provide greater support to the native students at Oklahoma State,” she said. Now working as a freelance reporter in Tulsa, Krehbiel-Burton graduated from Oklahoma State with her undergraduate and graduate degrees. In 2006, she received two bachelor’s degrees through the Honors College, one in broadcast journalism and the other in political science. In 2008, she earned her master’s degree through the School of Global Studies and Partnerships.

At OSU, Krehbiel-Burton was a member of the Cowboy Marching Band and Spirit Band, co-founder of the quiz bowl team, O’Colly editor-in-chief and served on the executive board for the Multicultural Greek Council. She is also still a member of Alpha Pi Omega Sorority, the country’s oldest and largest Native American Greek-letter organization. Krehbiel-Burton met her husband and best friends through organizations at OSU. One of her best memories is qualifying for the quiz bowl national championship in Washington, D.C., where the team finished 16th in the nation. Krehbiel-Burton credits the team for introducing her to lifelong friends. “We still stay in touch," she said. “My daughter and son know them as ‘uncle’ and ‘auntie.’” Since joining the American Indian Alumni Society, Krehbiel-Burton has been able to share her OSU experience with multiple generations of Native American alumni.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know other indigenous Cowboys that I might not have necessarily had the opportunity to meet while I was in college,” she said. Her favorite society event is the Distinguished American Indian Alumni Reception, which is an opportunity for current society members to honor some of their predecessors. “It’s very rewarding to give back and to recognize our elders who have come before us.” Krehbiel-Burton’s presidency of the American Indian Alumni Society ended in November 2018 following five years of serving as an officer. She joined the society to continue her involvement with OSU and do some good and quickly became a member of a support network that shared the same Native American heritage and Cowboy pride as she has. “Within a couple of weeks of getting involved, I wound up becoming an officer and haven’t looked back.”

AMERICAN INDIAN ALUMNI SOCIETY BY THE NUMBERS 9,340 alumni and friends 760 members

Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton (left) and her daughter, Addie.

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Cowboys and Cowgirls made a stop at Broken Arrow Brewing Company on the first-ever Cowboy Brews Cruise in Tulsa. Additional stops included Dead Armadillo, Heirloom Rustic Ales and Marshall Brewing.

The group of OSU alumni and friends received private tours of each brewery they visited along the way.

Everyone had a great time showing their love for OSU and supporting local breweries in the Tulsa area.

Each brewery offered samples of some of their best craft brews.


The late kickoff did not scare away the OSU faithful in Boston as they gathered for the South Alabama game.

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Former Cowboy football player and current Dallas Cowboy Blake Jarwin threw out the first pitch at this year’s OSU Night at the Texas Rangers.


Watch parties, including this one in Los Angeles for the Boise State game in September, bring together fans of every generation.

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Upcoming Chapter Events

Pistol Pete and members of the OSU Pom Squad were in attendance. Everyone who purchased a special ticket received an OSU-branded Texas Rangers hat.

Dec. 3

OSU Night at the Dallas Stars North Texas Chapter

Dec. 6

Christmas Cookie Decorating OKC Metro Chapter

Dec. 16

Iron Monk Watch Party Women’s basketball vs. UCLA Stillwater

Dec. 16

The Nutcracker Tulsa Chapter

Jan. 5

Iron Monk Watch Party Men’s basketball vs. OU Stillwater

Jan. 15

North Texas Chapter Board Meeting

Feb. 9 Iron Monk Watch Party Men’s basketball vs. Kansas Stillwater Feb. 15

North Texas Chapter Brighter Orange

Feb. 16

Houston Chapter Brighter Orange

March 2

Cowboy Run Pittsburg County Chapter

March 6

Iron Monk Watch Party Men’s basketball vs. Baylor Stillwater

March 13

Men’s Big 12 Basketball Tournament Tip off Party Kansas City

March 20 Wrestling National Championship Kickoff Party Pittsburgh


This future Cowgirl cheered on the Pokes loud and proud using one of the custom megaphones provided by the OSU Alumni Association at watch parties this season.

March 28

Murder Mystery Dinner OKC Metro Chapter

March 29

Tulsa Chapter Orange Peel


Cowboys for a Cause Month

April 7

OKC Chapter Orange Peel

May 1

Paint Pete Night

May 11

Cowboy Crawl Tulsa Chapter

For more information, visit

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Cowboys from Orange County gathered at the Tustin Ranch Golf Course in Tustin, California, on July 23 for this year’s Pistol Pete Charity Golf Classic.

Former OSU Cowboy baseball player and current Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Andrew Heaney stopped by to join in on the fun.

This year’s Pistol Pete Charity Golf Classic raised more than $40,000 in scholarship money for students attending OSU from the Orange County area.


Cowgirls from Atlanta cheered on J.D. King and the rest of the Cowboy football team against Boise State.

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’50s Marilyn Kay Anthony, ’58 child care program management, has retired from her education career. Her husband, Bob Anthony, ’64 trade and industry education, is also retired from OG&E. They have four grandchildren, two who have graduated from OSU and two who are currently attending.

’60s Allen Haight, ’61 management, and his wife, Joy Haight, ’61 family relationships and child development, are enjoying their retirement and dividing their time between homes in Texas and Colorado. Their grandchildren live in Dallas and Houston. Charles Posl, ’61 general business, is living in Liberal, Kansas, as a retired property owner. Dan Roe, ’62 design/drafting and mechanical engineering technology, is proud of his granddaughter, Crystal James, who is a senior at OSU majoring in microbiology. Barbara Thomas, ’63 general business, is currently retired in Ninnekah, Oklahoma. She is the widow of George Thomas, ’68 DVM, and they have two children, Michelle and Joe, and five grandchildren. Fran SparksFuller, ’67 fashion merchandise, married her husband, Grady Fuller, 20 years ago. She retired from retail management in 2009. She and Grady have four children, nine grandchildren and eight greatgrandchildren. She enjoys volunteering, gardening and spending time with her family.

Richard D. Cook, ’68, business, retired in 2005 after serving as the risk manager for a school bus company, Student Transportation of America.

’70s Gary Voise, ’70 agricultural marketing and business, has retired after more than 20 years of self-employment and is living in Tulsa. Loren West, ’71 secondary education and ’79 master’s, is retired and living in Joplin, Missouri. She is enjoying all that Joplin has to offer, and she is proud of her alma mater. Go Pokes! John Lundquist, ’72 finance, and spouse Judith Lundquist, ’72 secondary education, are finishing up 26 years in North Dallas real estate. They are looking forward to retirement and plan on moving to California to be closer to their daughter and grandson. Randall S. Sumpter, ’72 journalism, has published a book, Before Journalism Schools: How Gilded Age Reporters Learned the Rules. The volume is part of a new series printed by the University of Missouri Press. Sumpter, a former editor and reporter, is an associate professor of communication at Texas A&M University in College Station. He co-edited the Daily O’Collegian in 1971.

Ching Long Ko (Kent Liaong), ’74 master’s in civil engineering, ’76 master’s in mechanical engineering, teaches engineering at Oakland University in Michigan. He has written five piano concertos, which were recorded by Janacek Philharmonic Orchesta in the Czech Republic. Long Ko has also been interviewed by radio stations, newspapers and TV stations in Taiwan regarding his piano concertos. James Harwick, ’75 electrical engineering, ’79 management, retired from his engineering and management career in the aerospace industry. His hobbies now include ranching, and he is the mayor of Lone Chimney in Pawnee, Oklahoma. Larry McLaughlin, ’77 agricultural education, is married to Teresa McLaughlin and living in Altus, Oklahoma. On June 1, he retired from a 37-year banking career, and he taught agricultural education for four years prior. Jack Bossler, ’78 accounting, retired in 2017. Roger Gaddis, ’79 accounting, has been elected vice chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (OTRS), the state pension system that manages the estimated $16 billion pension fund for more than 175,000 active and retired public school teachers in Oklahoma. He is serving his second full term on the OTRS board. Gaddis is owner/ manager of Gaddis & Gaddis Wealth Management, which he co-founded in 1995.

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’80s Nancy Gayle Arnold, ’80 political science, recently donated bone marrow through the “Be the Match” registry program. Kristine Mayo, ’82 HIDCS, lost her husband of 36 years, Harland DeWayne Mayo, on July 15. Eric Ford, ’84 mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Christine Ford, ’84 finance, are celebrating more than 30 years of marriage and have four grandchildren. Currently living in Edmond, Oklahoma, the Fords are still moving, smiling and laughing, and life is great! Mark R. Kimsey, ’87 veterinary medicine, has retired after five years of veterinary practice and 25 years working in the animal health industry. Kimsey has six kids, seven wonderful grandchildren and is expecting an eighth. He enjoys building furniture, wood projects and working in the yard. Tom Heyer, ’88 marketing, is the owner of Motto Mortage South in Marietta, Georgia. He provides a transparent, engaging and fun experience for residential mortgage clients. Angela Lee, ’89 marketing and her husband, Douglas Lee, currently live in Cleveland, Oklahoma, and are a family of orange with their two daughters. Caroline Lee, ’16 multimedia journalism, works for KJRH (Channel 2) in Tulsa, and Julia “Junior” Lee is premed, studying occupational therapy at OSU.

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Jeff Wilkerson, ’91 animal science business, has started his own company in animal health and nutrition. He plans to continue to operate Wilkerson Cattle Co.

Mark R. McCoy, ’00 occupational and adult education, is a professor of forensic science at the University of Central Oklahoma. He was recently awarded the 2018 Neely Excellence in Teaching Award.

Renee Williams Vause, ’94 accounting, has been promoted to director for a pipeline industry benefit fund in June. She is the first female director for the fund. Tracey Welcher, ’94 accounting, has been promoted to assurance partner at Eide Baily LLP. Colleen Ewing, ’99 master’s in psychology, ’09 doctorate in clinical psychology, has joined the Virginia Department of Veteran Services. Ewing works statewide, providing outreach, connections and assistance to veterans and their families. She comes from a military family herself: Her father served in the U.S. Air Force and her brother in the U.S. Army. She looks forward to transitioning to a leadership role where she can have a positive impact on the lives of veterans and military families. Misty D. Mangels, ’99 accounting, became a director at Mary Martha Outreach, the largest food pantry in northeast Oklahoma.

Trevor D. Riddle, ’01 philosophy, was recognized by Best Lawyers in America for a second consecutive year for his criminal defense-general practice. Riddle has earned a reputation for handling scientific witnesses such as forensic laboratory technicians, doctors, biomechanical engineers and other expert witnesses in an array of important cases. He was the first attorney in Kansas to argue the admissibility of polygraph evidence under that state’s recently amended rules of evidence. Eric Vogt, ’03 architecture, has been named the director of design for Dewberry, a civil engineering firm with over 50 locations across the United States. Vogt is a registered architect in Oklahoma and a member of the American Institute of Architects. His project portfolio includes the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Oklahoma State UniversityOklahoma City Allied Health and others. He is currently working on campus improvements and programs for Union Public Schools in Tulsa.

Robin Renee Wolfe, ’05 hospitality and hotel management, has recently been promoted to director of operation-rooms at the Renaissance Los Angeles Airport. Wolfe joined the Renaissance team in 2014. She has held many leadership positions in the hotel management business across the United States.

Mason Cox, ’14 mechanical engineering, was a walk-on for the Oklahoma State basketball team from 2012-2014. Cox was recruited in 2015 to play Australian Rules Football, making him the first American to play in the Aussie Super Bowl.

Gerardo Myrin, ’09 philosophy, has completed his fellowship training at Cleveland Clinic and now has a hip and replacement practice in Oklahoma City.

Kelsie Kruptizer, ’16 psychology, just completed her master’s degree at Texas Tech University.

’10s Heath Foster, ’10 general business, and Coree Foster, ’09 elementary education, introduced their kids, Drew and Mavis, to their very first OSU football game. The family cheered the Cowboys to victory against Boise State. Jonathan Stockton, ’12 civil engineering, ’15 master’s in business administration, works for ONEOK in the hydraulic modeling group. He and his 17-month-old son, Jeremiah, celebrated the season opener for the OSU Cowboys. Go Pokes!

Ruth Inman, ’16 agricultural education, is continuing her long career in higher education by joining the faculty in agricultural communications at Oklahoma State. Inman will be teaching courses in digital and online media and integrated marketing communications.

Submit your update at

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Births Cherisse Stone, ’03 marketing, and husband Nate welcomed their son Boston on June 7. Macey (Hedges) Mueller, ’05 agricultural communications, and her husband, Josh, welcomed a daughter, Gloria Gale “G.G.” Mueller, on Sept. 27. She joins big brothers Conway, 11, and Raleigh, 1. The family farms and ranches near Halstead, Kansas. Stephanie Josefy, ’07 theater design, gave birth to a baby boy, Kevin, on Aug. 28. Audrey Morris Westphalen, ’09 physiology, and Justin Westphalen, ’09 physiology, completed their family on Dec. 25, 2017, with the birth of daughter Emma Claire. Nancy Isch, ’11 English, and husband Brian Watkins had their baby and future Cowgirl Hadley Ruth-Mari Watkins. Grandparents Mike Isch, ’76 architecture, and Julie Isch, ’89 child development, are happy to welcome their first grandchild.


Kimberly Mathe-Cuellar, ’11 hotel restaurant administration, gave birth to future Cowboy Benjamin Ryan Cuellar, on Aug. 14. Dad Jacob and big brother Luke are excited about the new addition to the Cuellar family.



Allison Taylor Warcup, ’12 elementary education, and Braden Kyle Warcup, ’11 biosystems and agricultural engineering, are having another Cowboy. The family is pictured with their firstborn, Colten, in front of library lawn. They love bringing Colten to campus for Game Day, and they cannot wait until Cade Hendley Warcup joins them and the Cowboy Family in February 2019! Ashley Feeback, ’12 political science, along with husband Brett and big sisters Allie Rae and Maxwell Grace are thrilled to introduce their new baby sister, Edie Simone. Baby Edie was born Aug. 27.


Camille Bateman, ’12 journalism and broadcasting, and Ethan Bateman, ’14 construction management, welcomed baby boy James William Bateman to the family on Dec. 27, 2017.


Katelyn Ingram-Seitz, ’12 international business, and husband Timothy Seitz, ’12 mechanical engineering, along with proud grandparents Catherine and Mark welcomed a future Cowgirl. Baby Clara Rose was born June 2.


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Haley (Schwager) Riggs, ’13 master’s in nutritional science, and Kyle Riggs, ’13 mechanical engineering, welcomed a fourth-generation Poke. Karson Michael Riggs was born June 20.

Jessica Stipe Hall, ’13 design housing and merchandise, alongside husband Kaleb Hall welcomed another baby boy to the Cowboy family on June 6. Baby Jace is pictured with big brother Kaden, supporting their favorite team. Go Pokes! Halley Garry, ’14 human development and family science, and husband Michael Garry welcomed Blaire Elizabeth Garry on April 19. Blaire was born at 6 pounds and 1 ounce. Megan Gregory, ’15 education, and husband Hunter Gregory celebrated their son Keaton’s first birthday and made it OSU tailgate-themed. Keaton was born Sept. 11, 2017.


Weddings Submit your update at

Daniel Joe Taulman, ’11 geography, married Joanna Johnson in Mayer, Arizona, on June 21. Mary Isch, ’15 art, recently married fellow Cowboy Jon Cooper, ’15 veterinary medicine. Brittany Krehbiel Hukill, ’17 agricultural economics, and Logan James Hukill, ’17 nutritional sciences, tied the knot in Hydro, Oklahoma, on April 14. The newlyweds celebrated with Pistol Pete at their wedding. Go Pokes! Sarah Emily Sauer, ’17 nutritional sciences and Spanish, married Reilee Landon Berger, ’16 economics, on May 27. Frances Knaust Hicks, ’18 philosophy, and Mark Anthony Hicks met in 2013. They married in Washington, Missouri, on Sept. 9. Their son, Hayden, wore orange at the wedding.






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In Memory

Joseph Paul Fontenot, ’53 master’s in animal science, ’54 doctorate in animal breed, died April 17, 2018 in Blacksburg, Virginia. Dr. Fontenot was a post-doctoral student at OSU in 1955 and joined the faculty of animal science and biochemistry at Virginia Tech in 1956. Dr. Fontenot retired in 2003.

James “Jim” Vallion, ’51 political science and ’54 master’s in political science, was born Dec. 9, 1930, and died Sept. 16, 2018. Born and raised in the Oklahoma coal-mining community of Panama in LeFlore County, Mr. Vallion was the oldest of seven children of Gladys and Jack Vallion.

He was internationally recognized with many awards for his enduring research in animal nutrition and contribution to the education and development of many of the current leaders in animal nutrition throughout the world. He also trained hundreds of students in animal nutrition research.

Mr. Vallion was half the namesake of Val-Gene Associates, Oklahoma City’s first major restaurant group, and owner of Trochta’s Flowers since 1980. Val-Gene Associates introduced or operated more than 30 restaurants in Oklahoma City over five decades, including the Sidewalk Café, the Hungry Peddler, the Eagle’s Nest and more. Mr. Vallion also had a passion for flowers and purchased Trochta’s Flowers in 1980.

He is survived by his wife Amalie, six children, 15 grandchildren, two great-grandsons and a brother, Cleveland. Donald Lee Jackson, ’51 agriculture, ’54 master’s in agriculture, was born Nov. 13, 1929, near Butler, Oklahoma. Mr. Jackson earned his degree in agriculture from Oklahoma A&M College and later went on to serve in the U.S. Air Force. He spent 30 years with the USDA Soil Conservation Service before going to work in the Farm & Ranch Trust department for Liberty National Bank of Oklahoma. Mr. Jackson and his wife, Pat Bolton Talkington Jackson, had six children and 14 grandchildren. His wife and children survive him.

He was honored by the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund at the 26th annual Red Tie Night with the inaugural Jim Vallion Philanthropy Award. A member of the OSU Alumni Association, Mr. Vallion was inducted into the OSU Hall of Fame in 2017. He endowed two scholarships at OSU: the Smelser-Vallion Basketball Scholarship and the Smelser-Vallion Doel Reed Center Art Scholarship. Mr. Vallion was a founding patron of the OSU Museum of Art in 2013 and continued to support exhibitions and the museum’s collection. He and his sister Maggie were fervent supporters of the Doel Reed Center for the Arts. He also endowed the Smelser-Vallion Visiting Artist award to bring celebrated artists to the Taos, New Mexico center to create art and teach OSU students. Mr. Vallion is survived by his daughter, son-in-law, sister, brothers, grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

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William C. Terry, ’60 DVM, was born in Lubbock, Texas on Jan. 6, 1930. He attended OSU and served in the Armor Division of the U.S. Army, where he was a captain. Dr. Terry practiced veterinary medicine for 31 years in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and was president of the Arkansas Veterinary Medicine Association. He also served as chairman of the United Way, president of Hot Springs Country Club, board member of Teen Challenge of Arkansas and a founding member of Trinity Church. Dr. Terry died June 11, 2018. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Drew Reeves Terry; daughters, Druann and Allison; and three grandchildren.

Friends Edwin Earl Ketchum, was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, May 28, 1929, and died May 31, 2016. Mr. Ketchum attended OSU and was a part of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources for a couple of years. He went on to earn his degree from Iowa State and upon graduation, he served in the U.S. Army. Mr. Ketchum was a great contributor to the city of Duncan, the state of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. He spent a lot of his time supporting OSU academics and agricultural education. Mr. Ketchum exemplified what it means to be an ambassador for OSU. He spent 16 years as a member of the Oklahoma A&M Colleges Board of Regents. Mr. Ketchum was a life member of the OSU Alumni Association and helped many students enroll at OSU.

201 ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center Stillwater, OK 74078-7043

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