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Research and Creative Activity Council

The Research and Creative Activity Council (RCAC) serves as an advisory committee to the Associate Provost for Research and Creative Activity. The RCAC provides counsel on a wide variety of matters relating to the research and creative enterprises of WKU faculty, staff, and students. The group is composed of the following members:


Dr. Austin Griffiths


Dr. Austin Griffiths is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at Western Kentucky University and the Director of the Center for Child Welfare Education and Research (CCWEAR).  He previously worked for the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services in adult and child protective services.  He is currently the Principal Investigator on a Medicaid funded project entitled the Kentucky Child Welfare Workforce Wellness Initiative and the majority of his research is focused on child welfare practice, training, and workforce development.

The Center for Child Welfare Eduation and Research can be found here

Dr. Evelyn Thrasher


Dr. Lily Popova Zhuhadar received her Ph.D. degree in Computer Science and Computer Engineering from the University of Louisville in 2009.

While earning her doctorate, she worked as a Research Scientist at WKU for six years (2007-2013). In 2013, she joined the GFCB Department of Information Systems. During her appointment, she submitted more than 12 grant proposals, internally and externally, with amounts ranging from $3,000.00 to $925,000.00. To date, she has been awarded eight grants with amounts ranging from $3,000.00 to $35,000.00.

Dr. Zhuhadar applied research is directed toward collaborating with colleagues from various disciplines in the USA and Europe to solve today's Big Data problems by using Data Mining methodologies. The impact of her research has been witnessed by its contribution to more than 50 publications in peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and national/international conference proceedings. She published in many top journals such as Computers in Human Behavior (Elsevier), Journal of the Knowledge Economy (Springer), Social Network Analysis and Mining (Springer), Journal of Universal Computer Science (Technische Universität Graz), International Journal of Knowledge Society Research (IGI Global), and the International Journal of Hybrid Intelligent Systems (IOS Press). These publications have had a significant impact on her ranking on ResearchGate. She is above 77.5% of all ResearchGate members Worldwide1.

The National Science Foundation has invited her twice, in 2012 and 2016, to attend the NSF Summit Symposium Workshops. Dr. Zhuhadar was awarded the 2018 GFCB Research & Creative Activities Award, the 2017 GFCB PRIDA Award, the 2015 Dean Merits’ Award, and the 2014 WKU Office of Sponsored Programs Award for the Most Prolific Grant Proposer by College.

Dr. Zhuhadar is a fellow of the following associations: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), The IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE), The AACSB International,the Association for Information Systems (AIS), the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).


Jeff Hook


Jeff Hook is Director of the WKU Center for Research and Development and the Executive Director for the Central Region Office of the Kentucky Innovation Network.  Jeff Hook brings over 20 years engineering/product development experience along with extensive experience in technical sales, marketing and business startups. Additionally Mr. Hook has managed the operations of the WKU Business Accelerator since it opened in 2004 and works with other regional strategic partners to deliver a variety of business development services to clients that include faculty, students and the general public.




Jeffery Budziak


Dr. Jeffrey Budziak is an Associate Professor Political Science and currently serves as the Assistant Dean in the Potter College of Arts and Letters. He received his BA in Political Science from the University of Dayton, and both his MA and PhD. in Political Science from The Ohio State University. Dr. Budziak’s scholarly interests focus on American government, law and courts, and statistical methodology. His research primarily investigates the behavior and decision-making patterns of the United States Supreme Court and the United States Courts of Appeals. This research has been published in scholarly journals such as TheJournal of Law and CourtsPolitical Behavior, and Political Science Research and Methods, among others, and has been featured in press outlets like The Washington Post. His current research projects examine how writing style influences the treatment of legal opinions by future courts.  


Jenni Redifer


Dr. Jenni Rediferis an Assistant Professor within the Department of Psychology.  More recently she has been    appointed as the Assistant to the Dean for Research within the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences. She  received her B.A. in Psychology from Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University), and both her M.A.E.  and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Florida.

 Her research examines cognitive factors related to student learning and achievement.  She is also the Lab Director of the Attention and Memory Lab which examines cognitive factors related to student learning and achievement.  The lab investigates how working memory capacity (the limited attentional resources we have available during  effortful tasks) influences problem-solving and retrieval of information from long-term memory. Part of this work investigates methods for teaching effective strategies to individuals with low working memory capacity (i.e., fewer attentional resources).  Effective strategy instruction can help students with low working memory succeed at tasks that tax working memory, such as reading comprehension and mathematical problem-solving. 

 Dr. Redifer has received over $287,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation and $7,500 through WKU’s Research and Creative Activities Program.  She also served as a Research and Creative Activities Program Review Committee member from 2015-2017.


Dr. Cate Webb


Dr. Cathleen Webb is presently serving as the Associate Dean of Research of the Ogden College of Science and Engineering at Western Kentucky University.  Dr. Webb recently completed twelve years as Department Head of Chemistry.  Prior to joining the faculty at Western Kentucky University in 2001, she taught for 11 years in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T).

 Dr. Webb has had continuous and diverse external research funding (federal – NSF, NPS, USGS, BLM, EPA, and USFS, state and private) since 1991, with over 40 grants totaling over $3M, including an SBIR Phase I and Phase II grant from the EPA.  She has published over 40 articles, chapters, conference proceedings, and technical reports.  Her research area of specialty is environmental and geochemistry and impacts on water quality.

Dr. Webb is the Principle Investigator on two interdisciplinary NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs. One hallmark of these NSF REU programs is the target population of students, which are first-generation college students from the Appalachian region.  This is an important population of students at WKU; one particularly close to her personal values as an educator as she herself was a first generation college student.


Mr. Haiwang Yuan


Mr. Haiwang Yuan is a professor in DLPS. Having worked as a web coordinator since 1998, he took on the science librarian responsibility in 2018. He received his M.A. and M.L.S. from Indiana University at Bloomington. He oversees needs from OCSE programs and PCAL’s Chinese Program and Asian Studies.

His research interests are library information technology as well as Chinese culture and folkway. Besides publishing two dozen articles in regional, national, and international peer-reviewed library journals, he authored China’s first book on digital libraries in 2002. Subsequently, he published a dozen monographs, including his recent Mastering Modern Chinese through the Classics (Routledge 2018) and Forty Chinese Proverbs for Lifelong Learning and Classroom Study (Berkshire 2018). His Encyclopedia of Chinese Ethnic Groups is currently in print. One of his books received the 2009 Aesop Accolade Award from the American Folklore Society-Children Folklore Section and another the 2010 Storytelling World Resource Honor.

After his Fulbright Grant, he received the 1999 Kentucky Libraries Award, a 2009 Institute of Museum and Library Services grant, and two WKU RCAP grants, plus several WKU college awards. He is a guest professor of his alma mater Nankai University and a sinologist attendee of the 2018 Sino-Foreign Literature Publishing and Translation Workshop sponsored by the Cultural Ministry of China.


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 Last Modified 10/30/20