Four professors receive Trustees’ Research award

Rebecca Cross, Assistant Editor

Four Francis Marion University (FMU) professors have received the Trustees’ Research Award, the university’s highest academic research award.

The recipients are: Dr. Lisa Eargle, professor and chair of the department of sociology; Dr. Chris Johnson, professor and chair of the Department of English, modern languages and philosophy; Dr. Derek Jokisch, professor of physics and Dr. Terry Roberts, professor and coordinator of the music industry program.

The award recognizes professors’ research accomplishments and allows recipients to more easily pursue further research. Research Scholars receive a salary supplement and a three hour reduction in their teaching load.

“The time really helps because we need large blocks of time to conduct research,” former Trustees’ Research Scholar recipient and biology professor Dr. Jeffrey Camper said.

“You have to read many scientific articles to keep up with the knowledge base in any field of study. Writing also requires large amounts of time when you are not interrupted.”

Each Research Scholar will continue to pursue research in their chosen field.

Eargle began teaching at FMU in 2000 and is particularly interested in using her time as a Research Scholar to study natural disasters and their sociological effect.

“It was the images of suffering that I saw after Hurricane Katrina that propelled me down this path towards being a disaster researcher,” Eargle said. “My next project will be a book examining the Gulf Coast 10 years after Hurricane Katrina to see how much progress the region has made in recovery and to see what lessons we have learned from the disaster.”

Eargle plans to incorporate her research into her courses at FMU and presentations at conferences and in the community.

Johnson says that he was “surprised and honored” to receive the Trustees’ Research Scholars award. His primary project will be the continuation of his research on British authoress Sarah Fielding. He has been contracted by a London publishing house to write a political biography on Fielding.

Jokisch joined the FMU faculty in 1999, with a concentrated field of study in health

physics. In 2010 he won the Elda E. Anderson Award for his work in that particular field.

Roberts has taught full-time at FMU for six years and has served as Music Director of the Florence Symphony Orchestra for 11 years.

“Any time you do programming for a concert, it involves a lot of research,” Roberts explained.

He studies prospective performances and assists in the planning of performances for both FMU students and performers in the community. He also sais that one of his favorite things about teaching at FMU is the supportive administration.

“You never stop learning,” he said. “We’re all still very professional and very much involved in our profession. I think the administration supports that.”

Trustees’ Research Scholars serve a three-year term, but the award is renewable. Including this year’s recipients, there are currently 12 Trustees’ Research Scholars. Research Scholars span a variety of departments and are using their time to develop research that will impact not only the campus community but society as a whole.

Dr. Pete Peterson, professor of chemistry, sees the broad impact that his personal

research has on society.

“My work contributes to the training and education of young scientists,” Peterson said. “Undergraduate research is a gateway to advanced degrees, so students participating in my research program are more likely to pursue such opportunities and succeed. This in turn contributes to maintaining our country’s status as a world leader in scientific discovery and technological innovation.”

Several Research Scholars have written essays and books in their field.

Lynn Kostoff, professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at FMU, has published three novels.

“My latest novel, Words to Die For, has just been accepted for publication, so a

good chunk of my research time will be used to make any changes my editors need

before the book goes to print,” Kostoff said.

Dr. Scott Kaufman, professor of history, is currently writing a book on international

diplomacy and the environment, as well as co-authoring a biography on Gerald Ford.

The Trustees’ Research Scholar award began under FMU President Dr. Fred Carter’s

administration in 2002 and continues to recognize outstanding professors.

“The people who have been awarded in the past and my fellow recipients are people

who I have tremendous respect and admiration for,” Johnson said. “They are absolutely terrific scholars.

A luncheon in honor of this year’s Trustees’ Research Scholars will be held on Oct. 22, at noon in Ervin Dining Hall’s Palmetto Room.