Colorado State University Announces Monfort Professor Recipients

Note to Reporters: Photos of Kevin Crooks and Sammy Zahran are available with the news release at or

Today Colorado State University announced Kevin Crooks, associate professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and Sammy Zahran, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, as the 2010 recipients of the distinguished Monfort Professor Award at the Celebrate Colorado State awards ceremony.

The Monfort Professor award was established through a gift from the Monfort Family Foundation. Crooks and Zahran will each receive $75,000 annually for two years to support their research and teaching efforts. In May 2008, Colorado State announced a $3.1 million gift from the foundation to extend its renowned Monfort Excellence Fund.

Nominations for the award are accepted from all eight colleges at CSU. The selection committee looks for individuals who embody the excellence of Colorado State faculty and who have made an impact at the university as well as worldwide.

Kevin Crooks
Crooks started his assistant professorship at CSU in 2003. He received his doctorate in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and his undergraduate degree in zoology from CSU. His scientific research has emphasized the impacts of human disturbances, such as urban sprawl and habitat fragmentation, on our natural world. In addition to his research, Crooks teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in wildlife ecology and conservation, and helps advise the Interdisciplinary Studies Program in Conservation Biology and the CSU Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology.

Among his many externally funded research grants, a notable example is his five-year National Science Foundation grant of $2.3 million to investigate the effects of urban fragmentation on disease dynamics in wild and domestic cats. His Monfort Professorship award funds will help enhance Crooks’ teaching, research and outreach efforts to promote the conservation of wildlife and the systems in which they live. His efforts support the university’s increasing focus on environmental sustainability, and importantly address real-world issues that are impacting humanity locally, nationally and internationally.

Sammy Zahran
Zahran began his assistant professorship at CSU in 2006 after completing postdoctoral training at Texas A&M University. His interdisciplinary research focuses on the demography and social epidemiology of natural and anthropogenic hazards. While at CSU he has been nominated for the Teacher of the Year award, as well as recognized for his mentoring contributions by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

In 2007, Zahran was awarded the “Best Article of the Year” by the American Planning Association for his piece showing how to locate and design new development, especially how to handle the conversion of wetlands, a key factor in determining the amount of flood damage that will result from a storm of a given size. Zahran’s Monfort Professorship funds will go toward growing the research, education and service mission of the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis in the College of Liberal Arts. He hopes to use the center to provide risk and natural hazards information on emergency preparedness, response and recovery systems to benefit the state of Colorado.

Previous Monfort Professors
The Monfort Professors program helps to recruit and retain high-quality faculty at CSU. Previous Monfort Professors include Rajiv Khosla, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences; Venkatesan (Mani) Manivannan, Department of Mechanical Engineering; Frank Dinenno, Department of Health and Exercise Science; Jacob Roberts, Department of Physics; Randy Bartels, Department of Electrical Engineering; David Thompson, Department of Atmospheric Science; N. LeRoy Poff, Department of Biology; Tomislav Rovis, Department of Chemistry; Karolin Luger, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Ranil Wickramasinghe, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering; John Belisle, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology; Kathleen Pickering, Department of Anthropology; A. Scott Denning, Department of Atmospheric Science; and Yian Shi, Department of Chemistry.

About the Monfort Family Foundation
The Monfort Family Foundation is a family-directed charitable organization established by Ken Monfort for his parents Warren and Edith Monfort. The five trustees of the foundation are Kyle Futo, Kay Ward, Myra Monfort, Dick Monfort and Charlie Monfort.