Groundbreaking Scientist, Noted Poet Named Monfort Professors by Colorado State University

Amy Prieto, a chemist developing a battery that could revolutionize the industry, and Dan Beachy-Quick, an English scholar and noted poet, have been named as Colorado State University Monfort Professors – one of the university’s top honors.

The Monfort Professor Award was established in 2002 through a gift from the Monfort Family Foundation. Prieto and Beachy-Quick will each receive $75,000 annually for two years to support their research projects and teaching efforts. The awards are in addition to the salary and support the professors currently receive from Colorado State.

The professors received their awards Tuesday at the annual Celebrate! Colorado State event.

Nominations for the Monfort Professor Award come from each of the university’s eight colleges. The final selections are made by a committee that looks for individuals who embody the philosophies of Colorado State and have made an impact both at the university and on a larger scale in their field. Recipients are often nominated by colleagues from Colorado State and other universities who recognize their contributions.

Amy Prieto
Prieto, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, has received wide acclaim for her research on a powerful, lighter, and cheaper lithium-ion battery that recharges quickly enough to make all-electric cars the go-to green vehicle.

Prieto launched the first startup company through the university’s Clean Energy Supercluster commercialization arm, Cenergy, in 2009. Prieto Battery focuses on producing batteries that are theoretically up to 1,000 times more powerful and 10 times longer-lasting and cheaper than traditional batteries.

Such a powerhouse of a battery could also revive a smartphone in five minutes, and last through as many as 5,000 cycles, Prieto said. It could allow an electric car to go 400 miles with roughly 20-minute charge times.

“Dr. Prieto’s innovative, entrepreneurial approach represents Colorado State’s spirit of enterprise and complex problem-solving focused on devising solutions on a global scale,” said Janice Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “A truly worthy recipient of the Monfort Professor Award, Dr. Prieto is an exceptional investigator and scholar, who has helped students gain remarkable experience in renewable technologies.”

In 2012, Prieto also was honored for her work by the White House with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Nominated by the National Science Foundation, Prieto was one of only 96 scientists nationwide to receive the award.

“I am incredibly honored to be a Monfort recipient, and am certainly going to work very hard to uphold the high standard that has been set by previous recipients. This award will allow me and my students to explore new ideas and new directions for the group, so I’m extremely excited and grateful.”

Dan Beachy-Quick
Dan Beachy-Quick, associate professor of English, is one of the most respected poets of his generation and a passionate teacher at CSU. He has published five books of poetry and two essay collections. A novel and a book on John Keats will be released this spring.

“Top poets around the country referred to Dan as ‘one of the most inventive writers of our day, one who will become a part of the canon and will remain there for a long, long time,’” said Ann Gill, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “They predicted that one of Dan’s published works will ‘enter literary history as one of the magnificent works of our time.’ Such extraordinary and unprecedented national regard for his work raises the stature of Colorado State’s MFA program in creative writing. Add to that Dan’s truly outstanding teaching and outreach activities, and you will understand why I view him as an amazing gift to this university and to our community.”

Beachy-Quick, a native of Lakewood who earned his master’s degree at the prestigious University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, was inspired to write poetry by one of his Alameda High School teachers. The 39-year-old has been writing ever since.

“My teacher (Becky Porter) helped me fall in love with reading poetry but also helped me find real meaning in it, and how poetry connected with my life,” he said. “Since that time I have really devoted a great portion of my thinking and my life to poetry.”

Beachy-Quick fell in love with teaching while at Grinnell College in Iowa. He landed at CSU six years ago and continues a three-way love affair with writing, teaching and his family – wife Kristy and daughters Hana and Iris. He said much of his writing is inspired by Kristy and his girls.

Teaching, though, has become a deep passion. As much as he loves writing, he delights in seeing those moments when inspiration takes hold in his students.

“That, to me, is more thrilling than finishing a poem, to see that moment when he or she discovers the power in writing a poem or reading a poem, when you see that they understand it at a deep level,” he said. “That’s the great privilege of having a job like this.”

Louann Reid, chair of CSU’s Department of English, said Beachy-Quick brings that rare combination of great talent and great teaching to his work.

“I am thrilled that Dan Beachy-Quick was selected to join the distinguished group of Monfort Professors,” she said. “As the first Monfort Professor from the humanities, Dan brings a perspective to the work this professorship makes possible that is deeply grounded in the exploration, understanding and articulation of human experience. Already recognized as one of the top poets of his generation, he is an outstanding teacher and generous colleague.”

While he remains “flabbergasted” that he was named a Monfort Professor, he plans to make good use of the money that comes with the prestigious title. He will deepen his knowledge of Greek and ancient Greek literature, finish another book of poems and start another novel.

“This gift from the Monforts allows me to spend time with projects I otherwise wouldn’t be able to get to,” he said. “It’s an incredible honor, and I’m still shocked.”