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Five Named 2021 Outstanding Researchers

April 8, 2021

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

Faculty members receiving these awards are Sarah Godsey, Associate Professor, Department of Geosciences, Steven R. Lawyer, Professor, Department of Psychology, Mary A. Nies, Professor School of Nursing and Master of Public Health program, Raphael Chijioke Njoku, Director and Department Chair of Global Studies and Languages, Professor of History and Chad Pope, Professor and Program Director, Department of Nuclear Engineering

From this group ISU’s 2021 Distinguished Researcher honoree will be chosen. All Outstanding Research Award recipients will be acknowledged in ISU’s 2021 commencement program. 

Biographies of the honorees appear below.

Sarah Godsey, Associate Professor, Department of Geosciences

Sarah Godsey earned a PhD in earth and planetary science from University of California – Berkeley in 2009, followed by a postdoctoral research position at Penn State. She joined Idaho State’s Department of Geosciences as faculty in 2012. 

Since then, Godsey has been part of teams awarded four major NSF grants totaling approximately $2 million with additional proposals pending, including the NSF’s CAREER award in 2017. She is a prolific researcher and a known expert on mountain and intermittent stream hydrology. In addition, many of her research articles are written with students; she was awarded “supervisor of the semester” in fall 2020. Godsey regularly leads a large cohort of students to meet to discuss papers in addition to her regularly assigned teaching responsibilities. 

Steven R. Lawyer, Professor, Department of Psychology

Steven Lawyer received a PhD in clinical psychology from Auburn University in 2002 and began as an assistant professor of psychology at ISU in 2004. He served as director of clinical training from 2015 – 2020 and is currently professor of psychology. Lawyer’s research uses laboratory-based behavioral-economic models to examine impulsive and risky decision-making in issues that affect physical and mental health, and he is currently working to develop a network of community stakeholders to improve trauma-informed, telehealth-enhanced behavioral health services for rural Idahoans with a focus on improving prevention and treatment for opioid use disorder. Specifically, Lawyer has had a significant impact on the field of delayed discounting and risky decision-making. His research has been supported by several internal and external grants, including a recent one by the Czech Science Foundation and another grant from the Health Resources Services Administration – all of which total up to nearly $1.5 million.

Mary A. Nies, Professor School of Nursing and Master of Public Health program

Mary Nies is a professor in the College of Health at Idaho State University who also holds a joint appointment with the School of Nursing and Department of Community and Public Health. She received her PhD in Nursing Science from University of Illinois – Chicago and has been at ISU since 2012.  During that time, Nies has received extensive federal and foundation funding, including the Idaho Senior Refugee Inter-professional Holistic Health Project funded by the Health and Resources Administration (HRSA) for $1.5 million. She has numerous publications in well-recognized peer-review journals; in just the past five years, she published 33 articles. Nies has also served on NIH Extramural Grant Committees for multiple institutes and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Currently, she is serving as research mentor for tenure track faculty on two externally funded research grants and is generally considered a leader in research on community interventions for promoting health in vulnerable populations. 

Raphael Chijioke Njoku, Director and Department Chair of Global Studies and Languages, Professor of History

Raphael Njoku is professor and chair of global studies and professor of history at Idaho State University. His research examines the intellectual, political, and sociocultural history of Africa’s and the African Diaspora’s hybrid institutions. He is the author, to date, of 11 books (including edited collections), f14 peer-reviewed articles, 29 book chapters, five encyclopedia essays, 16 book reviews, and he has presented papers at 70 conferences. In 2020 alone, he published two important books: West African Masking Tradition and Diaspora Masquerade Carnivals: History, Memory, Symbols, and Transnationalism, published by University of Rochester Press, and a co-authored book titled United States and Africa Relations: 1400s to the Present, published by Yale University Press. Njoku’s books track over 600 years of history between the U.S. and Africa through a host of intellectual, political, and cultural contexts, including African American emancipation, the rise of African diasporas in the Americas, the Back-to-Africa movement, the founding of Sierra Leone and Liberia, the presence of American missionaries in Africa, the development of blues and jazz music, the presidency of Barack Obama, and more.

Chad L. Pope, Professor and Program Director, Department of Nuclear Engineering

Chad Pope earned his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and PhD in nuclear science and engineering at Idaho State University in 2011. Since 2013 he has been a joint appointment between ISU’s Nuclear Engineering department and the Idaho National Laboratory. Pope’s research focuses on the safety, reliability, and economics of nuclear power, in particular by developing a deeper understanding of the associated risks during flooding events. To this end, he has advanced computational models that allow for identifying components and items that deserve improvements and has studied the safety challenges of new advanced reactors such as sodium metal-cooled fast reactors which has led to the development of a comprehensive assembly of sodium metal properties, including industrial uses.  In addition, he has developed a software application in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy to help with risk analysis in power generation. Pope has brought in more than $4 million in external funding to support this research and is currently the chair of the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Idaho State.


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