Animal Behavior Biologist and Accomplished Chemist Named Monfort Professors by Colorado State University

Kim Hoke, an associate professor in the Department of Biology who has done groundbreaking work in the evolution of animal behavior, has been named a Monfort Professor, one of CSU’s highest honors.

The designation comes with $75,000 a year over the next two years to support her internationally recognized research, which involves integrating behavior, neuroanatomy and genomics of amphibians and fishes.

Beyond her research accomplishments, which have garnered her two major grants from the National Science Foundation (including a prestigious CAREER award) and publication in top journals like the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hoke has also been recognized for excellence in teaching and mentoring. In addition to innovations in teaching, she has been instrumental in designing capstone courses in the department and has a strong undergraduate mentoring program for students in her laboratory, according to her nomination materials.

“My high regard and enthusiasm for Dr. Hoke as a scientific colleague and fellow faculty member has no bounds,” department head Michael Antolin wrote in his recommendation letter. “Her interdisciplinary research takes a familiar endeavor, the observation of animal behavior, and brings it to the highest level and cutting-edge scientific achievement. But even more, this is not a lone journey. Dr. Hoke is dedicated to bringing her younger colleagues with her in mentoring of students in classes and in her lab.”

Antolin, who nominated Hoke for the honor, and College of Natural Sciences Dean Jan Nerger also lauded Hoke’s service and outreach contributions in their recommendation letters.

“Of particular note is her dedication to interdisciplinary teams across campus, serving on multiple NSF panels, and organizing three international conferences,” Nerger wrote. “The intent of the Monfort Professorship is to support our ‘rising star’ faculty in their research and teaching careers. In my opinion, Dr. Hoke is just that … a rising star. Her trajectory is steep and heading toward the distinction of University Distinguished Professor.”

Hoke won the Research Excellence Award from the Office of the Vice President for Research in 2015 for a paper published in Nature, and this year she was named a Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Fellow by the Institute for Advanced Study in Delmenhorst, Germany, to support her upcoming sabbatical.

Hoke intends to use the Monfort funding to extend her research on genetic and developmental contributions to behavioral diversity in Trinidadian guppies.

Melissa Reynolds, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and a faculty member in the School of Biomedical Engineering, has been named a Monfort Professor at Colorado State University. The Monfort Family Foundation helps the university retain talented faculty by awarding funds to two professors each year in support of their research and teaching.

Reynolds, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and a B.S. from Washington State University, leads a research group that integrates novel chemistries into man-made medical devices for humans. One focal point of her research is the development of advanced biocompatible materials that show promise for medicinal-chemistry problems, such as catheter rejection by the body.

Since joining CSU’s faculty in 2009, Reynolds has earned many accolades in research, teaching and service. A mentor to 33 undergraduates, 26 graduate students and three postdoctoral scholars, Reynolds has also taught 11 different courses including analytical and materials chemistry, and bioengineering.

The author of 42 refereed research papers, Reynolds was the first to show that metal organic frameworks can be used as biological catalysts. She has also led the development of a new platform for antimicrobial materials that greatly exceed the efficacy of current treatments.

Reynolds was the inaugural Webb-Waring Biomedical Investigator, awarded through the Boettcher Foundation. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and was named Educator of the year by the Colorado Bioscience Association. Her research has brought in more than $3.3 million in grant funds.

Currently serving as associate chair in the chemistry department, Reynolds has also led the full reorganization of the graduate program to become more student-focused, and has served as advisor to the chemistry graduate organization. “Note that these additional, highly valuable service activities are over and above her exemplary research, classroom teaching, other teaching and student mentoring, and multiple and varied service activities already noted,” wrote Professor of Chemistry Richard Finke in nominating Reynolds.

Added Jan Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences in her nomination letter: “When I consider the intent of the Monfort Professorship program is to identify, reward and retain our best younger faculty, Melissa Reynolds is clearly worthy of this distinction. Her high level of scholarly accomplishments, her excellence in the classroom, dedication to graduate and undergraduate research, and her clear success in supporting her research through external funding, places her among the most productive faculty in the College of Natural Sciences.”