Mizzou hosts gifted high school scholars

Jun 27 2022


Keynote speaker Dr. Erika Michalski (middle of front row) joined her family and her Mizzou mentors from her undergraduate time at MU.

I enjoyed speaking with nearly 300 of our state’s most talented high school students – and the educators who inspire them – as part of Teacher Appreciation Day at the Missouri Scholars Academy. 

Every summer, our campus welcomes gifted, rising juniors from across Missouri for the Academy. Over three weeks, scholars select a “major” (courses such as Making Beautiful Mathematics and the Nature of Creativity), attend guest lectures, and participate in thought-provoking discussions. 

Founded in 1985 and supported by the Missouri Legislature, the Academy is an important way we serve some of our state’s brightest. It also introduces a new generation to Mizzou. 

It was great meeting some of tomorrow’s Tigers. 

—  Mun 


Ag leaders with IMPACT

Jun 22 2022

A photo of President Choi, Curator Wenneker, Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins and members of the IMPACT leadership initiative.Curator Robin Wenneker and I visited with Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins and members of the IMPACT leadership initiative.

IMPACT is an intensive year-long program for young farming leaders from across Missouri to network and learn about emerging agricultural issues. All participants have direct ties to the ag economy, including livestock and crop production, processing and sales.

CAFNR Dean Chris Daubert and Associate Vice Chancellor for Extension Chad Higgins also provided an update on the value-added agriculture programs they’re leading.

We’re proud to support leaders who make Missouri agriculture a $93.7 billion industry and the state’s top economic driver. This support is an important part of our mission as a land-grant university.

— Mun

Softball standout named a 2022 Academic All-American

Jun 13 2022

A photo of Kimberly Wert.

Kimberly Wert (photo courtesy of Mizzou Athletics).

MU Softball player Kimberly Wert earned one of the highest distinctions in college sports last week when she was named a 2022 Academic All-American®, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

This honor isn’t the first recognition of Kimberly’s excellence on and off the field. Twice, SEC leaders named her Player of the Week. Softball America recognized her as a Third Team All-American. And she holds the all-time Mizzou home run record. She graduated in May with dual degrees in psychology and health sciences and a 3.64 GPA.

Congratulations to Kimberly on this accomplishment.

— Mun

Distinguished faculty member retires after 52 years

Jun 7 2022

A photo of President Choi, Mary Sebacher, Dr. Kathy Moss, Dr. Carla Allen and Dean Kris Hagglund.

(Left to right) President Choi, Mary Sebacher and her colleagues Dr. Kathy Moss, Dr. Carla Allen and School of Health Professions Dean Kris Hagglund.

We recently celebrated Professor Emerita Mary Sebacher’s 52-year career at the University of Missouri’s radiography program.

Though officially retired in 2003 from the School of Health Professions, she remained at Mizzou through the spring of 2022 in an adjunct role. She served in leadership positions throughout her career and was honored with the title of Assistant Clinical Professor Emerita in 2019.

Professor Emerita Sebacher trained generations of radiographers – giving them the skills they need to help patients and achieve their goals. Her impact is felt wherever her students serve.

— Mun

MU, NextGen faculty working to cure diabetes

May 31 2022

A photo of Drs. Esma Yolcu and Havla Shirwan in a lab.

Drs. Esma Yolcu and Haval Shirwan

New research by MU School of Medicine professors Haval Shirwan and Esma Yolcu could lead to better treatments for Type 1 diabetes.

Their recent publication in Science Advances is the result of 20 years of research from the conception of the immunomodulatory strategy to testing in various small animal models. In a recent study collaborating with Harvard and Georgia Tech faculty, the researchers found that transplanting insulin-producing pancreas cells can successfully treat Type 1 diabetes in a large animal model. The next step is working with industry partners to translate these advances into treatments that could help patients around the world.

Drs. Shirwan and Yolcu are among the first faculty in the new Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building to publish in a high-impact academic journal. They’re also husband and wife.

We’re proud their accomplishments are generating global media buzz, and we look forward to even more NextGen-powered breakthroughs.

— Mun

MU football player gives back at Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games

May 24 2022

A photo of Melissa Wirt, Alyssa Click and Jalani Williams in the parade of athletes.

(Left to right) Melissa Wirt and Alyssa Click, Special Olympics Missouri athletes, and Jalani Williams, MU football player and Special Olympics Missouri intern, in the opening ceremony.

Last weekend, Mizzou helped host the Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games.

During the opening ceremony parade of athletes, MU football player Jalani Williams escorted the St. Louis metro area competitors. He bonded with them over a shared passion for competition and will plan additional statewide events during his summer internship with the organization.

More than 1,000 athletes and coaches came to Columbia for a weekend of events ­– many held on campus. We are proud that our Tiger community came together to make these games a success. Mizzou last hosted in 2014.

Thanks to the many other volunteers and families of the athletes who make this event possible.

— Mun

Celebrating Staff Recognition Week (with BBQ)

May 20 2022

A photo of President Choi serving at the staff recognition lunch.We are grateful to all of our MU and UM System employees and their many contributions to advance our teaching, research and engagement missions.

Throughout this week, we honored our collective commitment through our annual Staff Recognition Week. On Wednesday, several administrators served a free meal to about 1,300 of our employees.

As part of the celebration, we also distributed awards for outstanding service and hosted opportunities for staff to meet and build new connections.

— Mun

A poignant exhibit

May 17 2022

A photo of the exhibit in the Reynolds Journalism Institute.I recently visited the photo exhibit at the Reynolds Journalism Institute that depicts Ukrainian life in the midst of war. This exhibit was curated by Irynka Hromotska (Kohut), a Fulbright Scholar and a graduate student in photojournalism from Ukraine.

The images show a people who are resilient, patriotic and fighting for dignity. It was a powerful and moving experience for me.

I encourage you to stop by and see it for yourself.

— Mun

Creating faculty connections

May 11 2022

A photo of President Choi addressing new faculty reception attendees at the Residence on Francis Quadrangle.

President Choi addressing new faculty reception attendees at the Residence on Francis Quadrangle.

On Tuesday, we hosted a reception for the more than 400 new faculty who joined Mizzou in 2020 and 2021. Scholars from across campus met one another, shared their research and built new connections.

This reception is one of many events that celebrate faculty accomplishments and promote new interdisciplinary partnerships.

Later this week, we’ll recognize recipients of the National Institutes of Health T32 grant – which helps recruit predoctoral and postdoctoral students to address significant health-related needs. Faculty interested in the grant are welcome to attend and learn more about the process from current recipients and staff with MU’s Division of Research, Innovation and Impact.

By working together, we can discover even more ways faculty can connect and collaborate.

— Mun

From Cape Town to Columbia

May 10 2022

A photo of the University of the Western Cape delegation visiting the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building.

Left to right: Dr. Thabile Sokupa (UWC), Dr. Richard Barohn, Dr. Gillian Bartlett, Dr. Jose Franz (UWC), Althea George (UWC) and Dr. Mary Stegmaier at the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building.

Last week, we hosted a delegation from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) – our longtime partner university located near Cape Town, South Africa. I visited UWC in 2019, and I’m glad that we could return the favor.

As part of the University of Missouri South African Education Program, a group of administrators from the UWC Office of Research and Innovation toured Mizzou, as well as UMSL and UMKC. While in Columbia, they met with faculty from across campus and at the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building. We discussed how to cooperate on precision medicine research and other opportunities to improve our communities.

The UM System’s connection to UWC goes back more than 30 years. It began as an effort to support South Africans disadvantaged by their then-government’s apartheid policies. Though much has changed, this program continues to produce valuable opportunities for exchange and collaboration.

— Mun