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Three Idaho State University faculty members honored as 2017 Distinguished Faculty

May 1, 2017

Portraits of the three distinguished faculty
From left, ISU Distinguished Faculty, Catherine Black, Erin Rasmussen and Thomas Kloss

POCATELLO – Three Idaho State University faculty will be honored as Distinguished Faculty at ISU Commencement May 6 in Holt Arena.

They are Catherine Black, senior lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences, Distinguished Teacher; Thomas Kloss, assistant professor, music education coordinator and associate director of bands, Department of Music, Distinguished Service; and Erin Rasmussen, professor, Department of Psychology, Distinguished Researcher.

"It is a distinction to receive one of these three awards, which are the highest honors bestowed on faculty at Idaho State University,” said Laura Woodworth-Ney, ISU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We are proud to recognized these honorees, who are among our most accomplished faculty.”

Portrait of Cathrine BlackDistinguished Teacher, Catherine Black – Black is a senior lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences. She has enjoyed teaching ever since she started serving as a graduate teaching assistant for the ISU Department of Biological Sciences in 1993.

She has been involved with undergraduate instruction in Idaho Falls since the construction of the Center for Higher Education building was completed there in 1994. She became a full-time faculty member in 1998, and she teaches classes at the 1100, 2200, 3300, and 4400 levels. Black has been instrumental in growing the Idaho Falls program and creating a Bachelor of Science in Biology program on the Idaho Falls campus.

Black has a reputation for setting high expectations for her students, but providing them with the tools to meet those expectations. She creates hands-on activities to assist beginning students and meaningful student-centered labs at all levels. She is well known for her off-campus field trips in general ecology, making connections that cannot be achieved in the classroom. She engages students and encourages them to challenge themselves by stressing problem solving, and critical thinking. She frequently works with undergraduate students to develop their own research projects.

Black also advises students extensively by creating course planning for graduation, by providing feedback on applications for scholarships and professional or graduate programs, and by conducting practice interviews for these programs. In addition, she provides many service learning opportunities for her students by bringing science to K-12 students in the community.

Other finalists for the Distinguished Teacher Award, who are 2017 Outstanding Master Teachers, Justin Stover, assistant professor, Department of History; Janet Loxterman, associate professor, Department of Biological Science; Kellee Kirkpatrick, assistant professor, Department of Political Science; Thomas Klein, professor, Department of English and Philosophy.

Tom Kloss portrait.Distinguished Service, Thomas Kloss – Kloss is an assistant professor of music education and the associate director of Athletic Bands at ISU. He received his Bachelor of Music degrees in music education and saxophone performance at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He received his Master of Music and Ph.D. in music education from Arizona State University. Currently, he teaches instrumental and general music pedagogy, and supervises field experience students.

His research interests include the effects of band teacher turnover, oral histories of retired music educators, and student-centered learning in large ensemble classes. Kloss has presented research at several venues, including the Society for Music Teacher Education Symposium, MENC Biennial Conference, and the Arizona Music Educators Conference, and has been published in Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, Arizona Music News, Research and Issues in Music Education, and Idaho Music Notes.

In 2015, Kloss became the associate director of Athletic Bands. His duties include the Bengal Marching Band and Basketball Pep Band. He is also the co-director of the ISU Summer Marching Band Camp, which is held in July at ISU. Kloss is the faculty sponsor of the Collegiate National Association for the Music Education Club, and the Kappa Kappa Psi Band Fraternity.

Other finalists for the Distinguished Service Award, who are 2017 Outstanding Public Service Award winners, Shauna Smith, a speech-language pathologist, clinical associate professor and clinic director in the graduate speech-language pathology (SLP) program of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders; Dawn Konicek, assistant clinical professor of accounting, College of Business; and Donna Lybecker, professor, Department of Political Science.

Erin Rasmussen portrait.Distinguished Researcher, Erin Rasmussen – Rasmussen conducts translational research in the area of obesity. She has two laboratories, animal and human, that are dedicated to examining behavioral economic and neural correlates of behaviors and decision-making involved in obesity. Her animal work examines the extent to which dopaminergic, endocannainoid, and opioid neurotransmitter systems affect the value of food reinforcement in diet-induced and genetic rodent models of obesity.

Her recent work in this area has shown that high-fat, high-sugar diets influence reward processes in delay discounting—a measure of impulsive food choice. Her human work examines how aspects of food availability impact decision making for food. One example of this is the finding that obese individuals tend to prefer more immediate food outcomes (that is, they are more impulsive) than healthy-weight controls.

She recently was awarded a three-year research grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate the relations among food insecurity, diet, obesity and food impulsivity in humans. She is also collaborating on a grant with researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in the Czech Republic.

She has almost 40 peer-reviewed publications to date, many of which involve ISU graduate and undergraduate student co-authors. Rasmussen is also an associate editor of the flagship journal, The Behavior Analyst, for her major professional organization – the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and has also served on the ABAI Science Board.

She has supervised five doctoral dissertations, four master’s theses, and one undergraduate honors thesis, almost all of which have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Other finalists for the ISU Distinguished Researcher Award, who are 2017 Outstanding Research Award winners, are Jessica Winston, professor of English, chair of the Department of History; Karl Madaras-Kelly, professor, College of Pharmacy, located in Meridian; Thom Hasenpflug, chair and professor, Department of Music and co-director of the School for Performing Arts; Raphael Chijioke Njoku, chair of the Department of Global Studies, program director of Department of International studies, and history professor.