Colorado State University Announces New Monfort Professors

Colorado State today announced two recipients of the prestigious Monfort Professor Award, an award established through a gift from the Monfort Family Foundation to help the university recruit and retain top-quality faculty.

John Belisle, associate professor of microbiology and a leading expert in tuberculosis research, and Kathleen Pickering, assistant professor of anthropology who is known for her significant work in economic anthropology, each will receive $75,000 yearly for two years to support innovative teaching and research activities. The award is provided in addition to the salary and support the professors already receive from the university.

The awards were presented today at Colorado State’s all-university awards luncheon by Dick Monfort, member of the Monfort Family Foundation.

"Over the past three generations, our family has continued our commitment and tradition of supporting excellence in the university’s faculty, students and the overall academic experience," Monfort said. "We’re pleased to support Colorado State’s world-class faculty and their efforts to provide the best possible educational opportunities for students."

The selection of the Monfort Professors was a result of a nomination process that included input from all eight colleges at the university, said Provost Peter Nicholls.

"These two new Professors represent the wide-ranging and vitally important work that is the hallmark of teaching and research at the university," Nicholls said. "Students as well as the global community are the ultimate benefactors of the dynamic contributions that take place with the help of crucial programs such as the Monfort Professors."

The Monfort Professor program is the centerpiece of a $5 million gift given to the university in spring 2002 through the Monfort Family Foundation. The gift will create a series of enhancements to the university’s faculty, students and educational experience over the next decade. The gift, which also supports the Monfort Scholars program, brings the total donations from the Monfort family and its foundations to Colorado State to more than $12.5 million.

John Belisle, a Colorado State alumnus, joined the university’s faculty in 1999 and is director of the Mycobacteria Research Laboratories, one of the university’s most active research facilities. In addition to an excellent teaching record, Belisle is recognized as a leading expert in tuberculosis research. He is credited with establishing an internationally recognized and premier program for the study of the molecular physiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis. Belisle’s progressive investigations of the M. tuberculosis genome and the proteins of this human pathogen have significantly contributed to vaccine and diagnostic development for tuberculosis and definition of host-pathogen interactions.

As one of the best-funded researchers at Colorado State, Belisle is principal or co-principal investigator of four National Institutes of Health grants and throughout his career has generated nearly $14 million in research funds at the university.

Belisle plans to use the funds associated with being named a Monfort Professor to implement an academic course on the technologies associated with functional genomics and to boost undergraduate and graduate training in proteomic and post-genomic development research.

Kathleen Pickering, who joined Colorado State’s faculty in 1997, holds joint appointments in anthropology and the graduate faculty in sociology, is associated with the Center for Applied Studies in American Ethnicity and has notable roles in international development and women’s studies programs. Since 1991, she has led significant research projects at the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian reservations in South Dakota.

Pickering, who received the College of Liberal Arts Excellence in Teaching Award in 2002 and a five-year National Science Foundation Career Grant in 2001, plans to use her two-year Monfort professorship to expand her economic development research on the Pine Ridge reservation. Her work explores the role of social relationships and cultural practices in alleviating poverty among indigenous peoples internationally. She also will orchestrate an international collaborative forum on indigenous conservation movements and natural resource management and plans to develop a course on the subject to help meet growing student interest in indigenous cultures and environmental issues.

Belisle and Pickering join two previously named Monfort Professors. A. Scott Denning, assistant professor of atmospheric science and an international leader in the study of global climate change, and Yian Shi, associate professor of chemistry who has discovered several highly fundamental chemical processes, were the first two Monfort Professors named by Colorado State in September 2002.

A total of 10 Monfort Professors will be selected for the award over a five-year period.