Illinois State University celebrates research and creative activity each year with faculty awards selected by the University Research Council.

The Creative Activity Initiative Award recognizes faculty members who have initiated exemplary creative productivity early in their academic careers in areas such as painting, sculpture, film, drama, musical composition, choreography, poetry, literature, creative nonfiction, and creative media programming. The Research Initiative Award recognizes faculty members who have initiated an impressive research agenda early in their academic careers.

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John Baur

“These faculty members will become leaders in their respective fields and drive innovation and creative expression on campus,” said Associate Vice President for Research John Baur. “Some are the University Professors and Distinguished Professors of the future.”

For 2020, the Creative Activity Initiative Award went to Ladan Bahmani. Research Initiative Awards were given to Matt Aldeman, Tenley Banik, Jennifer Barnes, Ashley Farmer, Dan Lannin, Alice Lee, Taeok Park, Scott Pierce, and Lindsey Thomas.

Ladan Bahmani, Wonsook Kim School of Art

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Ladan Bahmani

Ladan Bahmani is a graphic designer and educator. She joined Illinois State University in 2017 after earning her MFA in graphic design from Michigan State University. Bahmani’s research is on the concept of translation and language in the context of visual communication. She explores translation as a process that enables new modes of production and critique in both physical and digital spaces and within the practice and theory of graphic design. Her work involves topics such as hybridity of languages, diversity, and the fluidity of language borders. She uses the opportunities that both analog and digital forms offer to create installations, motion videos, and interactive designs.

Bahmani has disseminated her work in the form of conference presentations, research papers, and exhibitions. She recently exhibited her work at Washington Pavilion, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; presented research at the 2019 Typecon conference in Minneapolis; and presented and published two research papers at the 2019 MODE Design Education Summit conference in Wellington, New Zealand. She also joined the DesignInquiry (DI) residencies in 2018 and 2019 and participated in the DI Futurespective exhibition in Portland, Maine.

Matt Aldeman, Department of Technology

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Dr. Matt Aldeman

Dr. Matthew Aldeman is an assistant professor who  teaches in the Sustainable and Renewable Energy and Engineering Technology programs. Aldeman joined the Technology faculty after working at the Illinois State University Center for Renewable Energy for over five years. Previously, he worked at General Electric as a wind site manager at the Grand Ridge and Rail Splitter wind projects. Aldeman’s experience also includes service in the U.S. Navy as a nuclear propulsion officer and leader of the Reactor Electrical division on the aircraft carrier, USS John C. Stennis. Matt is an honors graduate of the U.S. Naval Nuclear Power School and holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University, a master’s degree in engineering management from Old Dominion University, and a Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Tenley Banik, Department of Geography, Geology, and the Environment

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Dr. Tenley Banik

After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Tenley Banik obtained a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, interspersed with some work in the porphyry copper industry and a Fulbright Fellowship to Iceland. She has been an assistant professor at Illinois State since completing her Ph.D., and teaches a month-long field course in Iceland every summer. Her research interests fall broadly in the realm of magmatic processes, where she uses rock- and mineral-scale analyses to unlock histories of magmatic systems and investigate crust-forming and volcano-forming processes. Banik’s current research projects are based in Iceland and rely on geochemical data to identify and understand the past and potential future behaviors of volcanic systems related to climate change as well as early continent building.

Jennifer Barnes, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

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Dr. Jennifer Barnes

Dr. Jennifer Barnes is an assistant professor in the Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics program. She earned a Ph.D. in nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois in 2013 followed by a postdoctoral research appointment in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health. Barnes is also a registered dietitian. She teaches primarily upper undergraduate-and graduate-level courses in metabolism, medical nutrition therapy, and sports nutrition. Her research interests align closely with her courses including investigations into lifestyle modifications and impact on chronic kidney disease, exercise and metabolic health, and eating patterns. Since arriving at Illinois State in 2015, she has published eight manuscripts with another two under review, presented her work at numerous conferences, and is a co-investigator on three externally funded grants.

Ashley Farmer, Criminal Justice Sciences

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Dr. Ashley Farmer

Dr. Ashley K. Farmer joined Illinois State University in 2016 after completing a Ph.D. at the University of Delaware. Since that time, she has published nine journal articles, one book chapter, two encyclopedia entries; presented her work at numerous conferences; and received two university research grants. She has applied for several state and national foundation grants, and in 2017 she and a colleague were awarded a National Science Foundation RAPID grant to study the management of companion animals during disasters. Her research focuses on police-community relations and the rise of technology and surveillance in policing, and specifically how technology affects police-citizen interactions. Her secondary research interests are in disaster studies, particularly evacuation and sheltering with pets in disasters and fear of crime during disaster events.

Dan Lannin, Department of Psychology

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Dr. Dan Lannin

Dr. Dan Lannin began his career at Illinois State University in the fall of 2016. His research interests center around enhancing peoples’ ability to live and work effectively, according to their most important values. Lannin also serves as a continuous quality improvement co-lead for a federally funded program called the Champaign Area Relationship Education for Youth. In this role, Lannin helps evaluate a relationship and financial literacy educational program, and he studies aspects of diverse youth including their social media usage, life goals, and mental health.

Since coming to ISU, Lannin has co-authored 58 peer-reviewed conference presentations, and published 25 peer-reviewed articles, with eight manuscripts currently under review and three book chapters in progress. He often involves students in his research. At Illinois State, Lannin has worked with over 35 undergraduate research assistants and has served on 15 committees for theses, dissertations, and master’s level capstone projects.

Alice Lee, School of Teaching and Learning

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Dr. Alice Lee

Dr. Alice Y. Lee, Ph.D., is an assistant professor whose research focuses on the racialized life experiences of teachers, and how such experiences are embodied into pedagogy. She employs this lens to interrogate the continued maltreatment of African American, black language speakers in schooling. She also applies her work toward teacher selection, recruitment, and education in efforts to diversify the teacher workforce. Her work has been supported by the Spencer Foundation; published in The Reading TeacherLanguage Arts Journal of Michigan, and Talking Points; and she currently serves on the editorial review board of the Journal of Literacy Research.

Taeok Park, Communication Sciences and Disorders

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Dr. Taeok Park

Dr. Taeok Park began her career at Illinois State University in fall of 2015, after receiving her Ph.D. from Ohio University in speech language pathology. Her research focuses on the physiology and pathophysiology of swallowing and to develop and refine diagnostic tools through the analysis of temporal and biomechanical characteristics of swallowing. Additionally, she focuses on the development of preventive swallowing exercises for the elderly populations.

Since 2015, Taeok has published nine peer-reviewed articles in publications such as the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease and Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. She was awarded four university research grants and a summer faculty fellowship. These funded projects involved the elderly populations in the local community to participate in a preventive swallowing exercise program. She also established international collaborative research with Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, South Korea, through the physiological analyses of swallowing mechanism in patients with dysphagia. She serves as a member of the editorial board and reviewer for peer-reviewed journals.

Scott Pierce, School of Kinesiology and Recreation

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Dr. Scott Pierce

Dr. Scott Pierce arrived at Illinois State in 2015 after earning a Ph.D. in sport psychology at Michigan State University. His research focuses on understanding how athletes can develop psychologically through sport for success in sport and in other areas of life.

Since 2015, Pierce has 12 published manuscripts, three published book chapters, three manuscripts currently under review, and several research studies in progress. He has 15 scholarly presentations at international or national conferences and 11 invited presentations or workshops. To support his work, Pierce has received external funding from the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (IAHPERD), the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) in Canada.

Lindsey Thomas, School of Communication

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Dr. Lindsey Thomas

Dr. Lindsey Thomas joined the School of Communication at Illinois State University in 2017, after earning her doctorate in communication from the University of Iowa in 2015 and spending two years as faculty member at the University of Puget Sound. Her research centers on interpersonal/family communication processes and sheds light on the impacts of family diversity on individual and social well-being.

Since coming to ISU, Thomas has published seven peer-reviewed journal articles, two book chapters, and several case studies and encyclopedia entries. She has also regularly presented at conferences, given research- and methods-related invited talks, and reviewed for numerous journals and conferences. Thomas’ research has been published in academic outlets such as the Journal of Family CommunicationHealth Communication, and the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. In addition, her work has appeared in popular press outlets including The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.