President Choi's Blog, Page 4

Mizzou Football is back: Let’s turn Missouri black & gold 

A photo of Mizzou Football practice in preparation for the coming football season.
Tigers prepare for the upcoming football season.

Mizzou Football is almost here, and I can’t wait! 

The season opener against South Dakota is Thursday. I hope you’ll join me in cheering for our Tigers as they take on the Coyotes at Faurot Field. We’re thrilled that SEC Nation will also be at Memorial Stadium to highlight our incredible student-athletes and community. 

Adding to the excitement, the first game means the return of Black & Gold Fridays. Each Friday during football season, Mizzou fans show their support by wearing their favorite Tiger gear. This Friday is also annual College Colors Day – another excellent reason to represent MU with pride. 

We have a great coach, talented student-athletes, a visionary athletic director and a strong fan base. Those are the elements we need to build a championship culture and compete at the highest level. Our Tigers are ready to rise to the occasion and shock the nation all season long. 

— Mun

Sharing the power of MURR with Lt. Gov. Kehoe

A photo of Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe (center) with university leaders and MURR faculty and staff.
Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe (center) with university leaders and MURR faculty and staff.

On Wednesday, I accompanied Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe on a tour of the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR). MURR Executive Director Matt Sanford led the tour, and we were proud to highlight our work producing medical isotopes for more than 1.6 million cancer and heart disease patients each year.

A photo of Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, MURR Executive Director Matt Sanford and President Choi.
Lt. Gov. Kehoe, MURR Executive Director Matt Sanford and President Choi.

We also discussed the university’s plan to grow MURR’s lifesaving impact. This fall, we’ll celebrate the groundbreaking of MURR West, an addition to the existing facility that adds more lab, production and administrative space. We’ve also made incredible progress on NextGen MURR – a new, state-of-the-art reactor that will expand our capacity to produce medical isotopes that will be used in advanced cancer medicines for decades to come.

I enjoyed sharing our record of safety and excellence with Lt. Gov. Kehoe. Thanks to support from state leaders, we are securing MURR’s place as the world’s most important university research reactor for fighting cancer, while also attracting innovative research, economic investment and jobs to Missouri.

— Mun

A trusted partner for northwest Missouri

A photo from the 2023 Graves-Chapple Center Fish Fry with state Rep. Dean VanSchoiack, state Rep. Brenda Shields, U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, state Rep. Josh Hurlbert, President Choi, Curator Todd Graves, state Rep. Jeff Farnan and interim Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Chad Higgins
2023 Graves-Chapple Center Fish Fry. (Front row, left to right) state Rep. Dean VanSchoiack, state Rep. Brenda Shields, U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, state Rep. Josh Hurlbert, President Choi and Curator Todd Graves; (back row) state Rep. Jeff Farnan, interim Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Chad Higgins

Last August, I attended the groundbreaking of a new machine shed at the Graves-Chapple Extension and Education Center in northwest Missouri. I was pleased to return this year for the ribbon cutting, as well as the center’s annual fish fry and field day. More than 140 community members visited for the celebrations.

Phil Graves, Dr. William LaHue and President Choi during the field day.

The new facility houses essential equipment in one central location and offers expanded capacity for community events. The additional space also provides room for future growth as staff extend their outreach and explore innovative techniques to help local agribusiness, like using GPS for precision farming and drones to monitor and spray crops. The building was funded thanks to the support of the Missouri General Assembly.

I appreciate the dedication shown by our elected officials and the center’s advisory board and staff to advancing agriculture throughout the region.

— Mun

Championing our student-athletes

President Choi joins Gov. Parson, Lt. Gov. Kehoe, Curator Wenneker, elected officials, coaches and leaders for the signing ceremony at the Walsworth Family Columns Club in Memorial Stadium (photo courtesy of the Office of Missouri Governor Mike Parson).

We were pleased to welcome Gov. Mike Parson, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and many elected officials to Memorial Stadium for the signing of Missouri House Bill 417. State leaders were joined by Curator Wenneker, representatives from MU and Mizzou Athletics, as well as coaches and student-athletes to celebrate this cutting-edge legislation that benefits current and future Tigers.

To win championships, we need to recruit the best players – especially from our own state. This law lets student-athletes achieve their ambitious goals while still competing close to home. Our lawmakers have created a new way forward that serves students and is a model of integrity for others to follow across the country.

Gov. Parson with Mizzou student-athletes.

The bill passed overwhelmingly in both chambers, and we’re grateful for the vision of our elected officials and the support of Gov. Parson and Lt. Gov. Kehoe. Thanks to their leadership, we can continue to deliver even more for student-athletes and our gameday best to fans everywhere.

— Mun

Honors College students meet research head on

A photo of 2023 Cherng Summer Scholars. Willow Amman, Luke Annin, Margaret Beecher, Anvitha Boosani, Lorenzo Ceccon, Camryn Habben, Haley Hultz, James Long, Ashley Monks, Faith Quist, Audrey Shively, Lara Stefani, Rachel Weber and Michelle Woolridge
2023 Cherng Summer Scholars. (Front row, left to right) Camryn Habben, Ashley Monks, Haley Hultz, Lara Stefani; (second row) Margaret Beecher, Faith Quist, Rachel Weber; (third row) Anvitha Boosani, Michelle Woolridge, Willow Amann; (top row): Luke Annin, Lorenzo Ceccon, James Long, Audrey Shively


Since 1958, the MU Honors College has provided world-class learning and research opportunities to generations of remarkable Tigers. There are now more ways than ever for Honors College students to get involved and create solutions that change the world. 

The Cherng Summer Scholars program concluded last month and featured the largest cohort in MU history. Cherng Summer Scholars explored potential cancer treatments, international migration and human behavior, along with many other ambitious projects. The program provides mentorship as well as research funding and is supported by a gift from Andrew and Peggy Cherng and the Panda Charitable Foundation.

As we begin the fall semester, the college is welcoming more than 950 students – 100 more than last year. Among the incoming class are eight participating in Stamps Scholars, Mizzou’s premiere scholarship program. These incredible students receive a four-year scholarship, a significant enrichment fund, as well as mentorship to achieve their research goals. We’ve partnered with the national Stamps Scholars Program since 2016 to bring some of the country’s best students to Mizzou, and we’re eager to see what this new group will accomplish.

Throughout the Honors College, we’ve also made transformative investments in student success and undergraduate research. For example, in the last year we hired seven additional advisors, brought in additional faculty members and developed a new interdisciplinary Social Science sequence. We are growing the Honors College to even better prepare students to address society’s biggest challenges. 

Our world-class students are driven to make a difference. The Honors College gives Tigers the tools and support they need to create discoveries with impact.

— Mun

Join us for Mizzou Day at the Missouri State Fair!

A photo of Kaleigh Summers (CAFNR alumni relations), Rob Kallenbach (CAFNR Extension associate dean), John Denker (MU vice chancellor for communications and marketing), Bryon Wiegand (MU Division of Animal Sciences director), Gov. Mike Parson, First Lady Teresa Parson, Chad Higgins (MU Extension interim vice chancellor), Chris Daubert (CAFNR vice chancellor and dean) and President Choi at the Missouri State Fair Foundation Gala on Aug. 9, 2023.
(Left to right) Kaleigh Summers (CAFNR alumni relations), Rob Kallenbach (CAFNR Extension associate dean), John Denker (MU vice chancellor for communications and marketing), Bryon Wiegand (MU Division of Animal Sciences director), Gov. Mike Parson, First Lady Teresa Parson, Chad Higgins (MU Extension interim vice chancellor), Chris Daubert (CAFNR vice chancellor and dean) and President Choi at the Missouri State Fair Foundation Gala on Aug. 9, 2023.

The Missouri State Fair officially begins this morning in Sedalia, and we’re thrilled to kick things off with the very first Mizzou Day! Join us for a full schedule of Tiger-themed events celebrating our impact across the state.

A photo of President Choi talking with a young exhibitor at the Swine Barn.
President Choi talks with young exhibitor Waylon Nolting about his pig, Nelson, a Chester White barrow weighing 325 pounds.

The fun continues the rest of the week at Mizzou Central, a one-stop destination for all things MU. Grab a scoop of Tiger Stripe ice cream and attend one of many demonstrations led by faculty and staff. We’ll also host free screenings from MU Health Care and booths with representatives from CAFNR, MU Extension, Mizzou Athletics and departments across campus – along with free giveaways and exclusive merch only available at Mizzou Central.

For 16 years the University of Missouri has been a proud partner of the State Fair, and this year we have a larger presence than ever before as a Grand Champion sponsor. Stop by Mizzou Central and learn how we’re fulfilling our land-grant mission to improve lives in Missouri.

— Mun

Note: Check out photos from Mizzou Day on Show Me Mizzou.

Mizzou Made connections

A photo of Chad Day and Emily Van Zandt.
Chad Day and Emily Van Zandt

During a recent trip to New York City, I struck up a conversation with Emily Van Zandt, a University of Missouri School of Journalism alumna who noticed my Mizzou shirt.

Emily graduated in 2009 and is now a senior program manager of event content at Amazon Web Services, a job that takes her around the globe. She’s had a distinguished career as a reporter for the Kansas City Star, the Chicago Tribune, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and as an editor at the Washington Business Journal. It was great to hear her story and how the School of Journalism prepared her for success.

A photo of Chad Day and Emily Van Zandt at graduation in 2009.
Day and Van Zandt at graduation in 2009.

Emily also shared that her husband, Chad Day, is a fellow ‘09 J-School graduate and the chief elections analyst for The Associated Press (AP). In that role, he’s one of three people who review and approve the AP’s final call on election results. Like Emily, Chad has had an impressive career in journalism – first at the Kansas City Star and then at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Before the AP, Chad was the lead data reporter for The Wall Street Journal and was on the team that won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting. Also on the team were two other School of Journalism grads, Coulter Jones and James Grimaldi.

The MU connections don’t stop there. Emily’s father, Mark Van Zandt, is a longtime member of the Office of the General Counsel at the University of Missouri System.

I enjoyed meeting Emily, and I’m proud to see our alumni are achieving incredible things. No matter where you go, the Mizzou community is never far away.

— Mun

Animal Sciences team wins second consecutive national academic quadrathlon

A photo of Aliyah Luntsford, Catriona Chew, Caleigh Grote and Alexia Sweiger holding an award for winning the academic quadrathlon.
Aliyah Luntsford, Catriona Chew, Caleigh Grote and Alexia Sweiger

MU’s Animal Sciences Academic Quadrathlon team recently earned the top title at the American Society of Animal Science National Meeting in Albuquerque, N.M. It’s the second year in a row that a team of Mizzou students has won. Congratulations to Aliyah Luntsford, Catriona Chew, Caleigh Grote and Alexia Sweiger.

The academic quadrathlon is comprised of a laboratory practicum, scientific presentation, written exam and a quiz bowl. To qualify, the team first won a local event, followed by a regional competition in Madison, Wis. At the national meeting, they defeated teams from Texas A&M, Penn State and the University of Wyoming.

Caleigh is a senior animal sciences major, Aliyah and Catriona are studying veterinary medicine at Mizzou and Alexia graduated in the spring. Along the way, the team received incredible support from Hannah Twenter, an animal sciences instructor, as well as Animal Sciences Division Director Bryon Wiegand.

CAFNR programs, including animal sciences, are shaping the next generation of ag leaders. The academic quadrathlon team shows that our students are among the best in the country. Great job, Tigers!

— Mun

Mizzou researcher quoted in The New York Times

A photo of Dr. Xiu-Feng “Henry” Wan.
Dr. Xiu-Feng “Henry” Wan

In case you missed it: Last week Dr. Xiu-Feng “Henry” Wan – MU professor, Bond Life Sciences Center researcher and director of the NextGen Center for Influenza and Emerging Infectious Diseases – was included in a New York Times story about a significant new finding.

Dr. Wan is part of a study that suggests SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spread from humans to white-tailed deer, and possibly back to humans. This important discovery could shape future public health responses to the disease. The first author of the study is Dr. Aijing Feng, an MU postdoctoral fellow, and co-authors include Cynthia Tang, an M.D.-Ph.D. student in Mizzou’s Institute for Data Science and Informatics, and researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Their paper was published in Nature Communications, a major research journal. In addition to The New York Times, it’s also been covered by CBS News and other outlets around the world.

I’m proud to see the outstanding work of our groundbreaking researchers.

— Mun

Members of MU chess community win national awards

A photo of Begim Tokhirjonova
Begim Tokhirjonova

Mizzou Chess is again receiving national recognition for excellence.

MU student Begim Tokhirjonova was recently named the 2023 U.S. Chess Federation Woman Chessplayer of the Year. Originally from Uzbekistan, she is an International Woman Grandmaster and was part of the inaugural Mizzou Chess Team in 2019 – putting our Tigers on an upward trajectory. Begim is completing a degree in business administration with an emphasis in management, a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation, and a global business certificate.

A photo of Rex Sinquefield, Begim Tokhirjonova, President Choi and Curator Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield at an MU Chess Team reception in April 2022.
(Left to right) Rex Sinquefield, Begim Tokhirjonova, President Choi and Curator Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield at an MU Chess Team reception in April 2022.

The U.S. Chess Federation also announced that Curator Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield and Rex Sinquefield received the Gold Koltanowski Award for growing the country’s chess community. Both are dedicated supporters of MU Chess – as well as our music programs through the visionary Mizzou New Music Initiative and the Sinquefield Music Center.

Congratulations to all!

— Mun