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2021 Outstanding Teacher Awards Announced

April 12, 2021

Five Idaho State University faculty members have been selected to receive the 2021 Outstanding Teacher Awards.

Faculty members receiving these awards are Matthew Levay, associate professor and director of graduate studies, Department of English, Marjorie Montanus, clinical coordinator and assistant professor, Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Todd Morris, assistant teaching professor and assistant chair, Department of Chemistry, Shin Kue Ryu, assistant professor, Department of Political Science, and Xiaomeng (Mona) Xu, associate professor, Department of Psychology.

Idaho State’s 2021 Master Teacher honoree will be chosen from this group. 

Biographies of the honorees appear below.

Matthew Levay, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of English

Matthew Levay is associate professor and director of graduate studies in English at Idaho State, where he teaches courses in 20th- and 21st-century literature, modernism and the avant-garde, the history and theory of the novel, comics, periodical studies, and film. His classes feature a combination of canonical and less-taught literary works (from detective fiction and comic books to experimental novels, poems, and cinema), formalist and historicist critical methods, sequential writing assignments and collaborative learning activities that emphasize the transferable skills provided by a humanities education, and class discussions that encourage students to draw upon their own experiences with literature to open up new possibilities for understanding its significance in our daily lives. He is a six-time winner of the Harvard University Certificate in Teaching Excellence, and he continues to serve as a faculty member of the Harvard Summer School. Levay is also an advocate for the importance of graduate education in the humanities, and in Fall 2020 he was an invited speaker and workshop leader at the Modern Language Association’s Virtual Summit on the Future of Doctoral Education. Levay is a newly-elected member of the Board of Directors of the Idaho Humanities Council.

Marjorie Montanus, Clinical Coordinator and Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Laboratory Science

Marjorie Montanus has been a medical laboratory scientist since 1985. She graduated from Illinois State University and worked in the Chicago area for 10 years at the Blood Bank at Hinsdale Hospital in Hinsdale, Illinois as the blood bank educational coordinator for their hospital-based MLS program where she taught students on the bench in Blood Bank. She also taught a semester of Immunology in the MLS program at Chicago Medical School in North Chicago, Illinois. Montanus received a masters degree in health profession education at University of Illinois. After leaving Chicago for the Washington DC area, she had the opportunity to work at Children’s National Medical Center drawing blood donors, performing apheresis procedures, and managing their crew of 10 employees. Montanus later transferred to the Inova Blood Donor Center in Fairfax, Virginia. During her time in the DC area, Montanus became an adjunct faculty at Northern Virginia Community College. After working and teaching in the DC area for a number of years, Montanus  moved to Twin Falls, where she taught elementary school for four years. In 2011, she began working at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Blood Bank and Hematology, later becoming the Point of Care Coordinator. Montanus joined the Idaho State University Medical Laboratory Science program in January 2016 as an adjunct faculty and taught Advanced Concepts in Transfusion Medicine from the Twin Falls CSI campus. In August 2017, Montanus left the clinical lab and began working as an assistant professor in the MLS program at the Meridian campus of Idaho State University. In Fall 2020, Montanus added in the duties of clinical coordinator where she works with the clinical affiliates for the MLS student internships and coordinates the MLS student internships.

Todd Morris, Assistant Teaching Professor, Assistant Chair, Department of Chemistry

After graduating with my Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Alabama in May 2004, Todd Morris was hired as an assistant professor of chemistry (tenure-track) at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado. As one of only four chemistry professors in the chemistry program, he taught introductory chemistry, general chemistry, analytical chemistry, instrumental analysis, environmental chemistry, and seminar during his three year tenure. After a two-year post-doctoral appointment at the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), Morris was a visiting assistant professor of chemistry at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania for one year and taught physical chemistry and general chemistry lecture and lab. Morris was then hired as a visiting assistant professor of chemistry at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania for two years and taught general chemistry lecture and lab, analytical chemistry lab, and seminar. He later became an instructional assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi for two years and taught introductory chemistry lecture and general chemistry lecture. In 2014, Morris was hired as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Chemistry at Idaho State University. In 2015, he was rehired by the department as a visiting lecturer. Finally, in 2016, Morris was hired by the department in his current position as a teaching assistant professor of chemistry.

Shin Kue Ryu, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Shin Kue Ryu is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science. He enhanced the teaching quality of the university with his contributions of bringing in distinguished guest speakers from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, and Senior Public Sector Officials. Ryu also demonstrated early adoption of landscape changing technologies such as ArcGIS Urban in his teaching to ensure his students are internationally competitive. His students work in government both locally and at the federal level. They became competitive in Foreign Service Examinations and in Fulbright applications. 

Xiaomeng (Mona) Xu, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Xiaomeng (Mona) Xu earned a bachelor’s degree from New York University, a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Stony Brook University, and completed an National Institute of Health postdoctoral fellowship at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and The Miriam Hospital. Xu joined ISU in 2013 and is an associate professor of psychology. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, in-person and online, including Social Psychology, Human Sexuality, Close Relationships, Social Neuroscience, Professional Development &Writing, and Teaching of Psychology.  Xu also advises psychology majors and minors and supervises undergraduates and doctoral students through her Teaching, Health, and Optimal Relationships (THOR) laboratory. She includes students in all aspects of her research and mentors student projects. Additionally, Xu works with students on manuscripts, grant applications, conference presentations, and professional development. She regularly attends teaching conferences and workshops on empirically-based best practices, particularly through the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP; Division 2 of the American Psychological Association). She currently serves as the Associate Director of STP Programming at the APA Convention. In recognition of her teaching and mentoring, Xu received an ISU Outstanding Master Teaching Award in 2018 and the Outstanding Experimental Faculty Award from the ISU Psychology Graduate Student Association in 2015 and 2018.