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. Jean Neils-Strunjas serves as the Faculty Fellow for Research & Creative Activity in the College of Health & Human Services.
Dr. Neils-Strunjas conducts clinical research with teams across the US in speech-language pathology, rehabilitation, psychology, and neurology. One area of research concentration addresses the cognitive and linguistic impairments that affect adults with acquired neurogenic disorders. She served on the Joint Committee on Interprofessional Relations of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and Division 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology) of the American Psychological Association as one of 4 professionals representing the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association from 2011-2015 and as Chair from 2013-2015.
She is one of the founding members of the Center for Applied Science in Health & Aging (CASHA). Her goal is to provide graduate students with the knowledge, clinical experience, and research background to impact those with communication disorders. She serves as a Site Reviewer for the CAA (Council on Academic Accreditation).
Dr. Evelyn Thrasher serves as the Interim Associate Dean in the Gordon Ford College of Business.
Dr. Evelyn Thrasher has published 20 articles in academic journals, including Decision Support Systems, OMEGA, and Computers in Human Behavior. She has also published 3 book chapters in healthcare analytics books and has a chapter soon to appear in the book, Gender, Communication, and the Leadership Gap, published by the International Leadership Association. She actively shares her research at conferences, having presented her work at over 20 national and international conferences. She specializes in the areas of information systems business value, information systems in healthcare, smart cities, digital communication for leadership, and the use of information technology in education.
Dr. Thrasher serves as the Knicely Faculty Fellow in the Center for Leadership Excellence. In this role, she assists with the planning and delivery of leadership development and training programs for community leaders, business leaders, and nonprofit organizations. In addition, she conducts research on business leadership challenges among mid-level managers. Prior to beginning this role, she was a member of the first cohort of the WKU Faculty Leadership Year (FLY) Program and is a 2015 Faculty Leadership Year Fellow. She also serves as the Director of the Gordon Ford College of Business Professional Education and Knowledge (PEAK) Initiative, in which she leads a college-wide effort to assist students with their professional and career readiness training. Dr. Thrasher is the 2017 recipient of the Gordon and Glenda Ford Award for Faculty Excellence and a 2016 recipient of the Class of 2020 Award for Engagement.
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.
Dr. Jeffrey Budziak is an Associate Professor Political Science and currently serves as an Interim 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 Courts, Political 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.
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. 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.
Dr. Kevin Williams is a professor in the Department of Chemistry. His research interests are diverse but have focused primarily on the synthesis and reactivity of platinum anticancer drug analogs. He has received grant funding from both state (KY NSF EPSCoR, KBRIN) and national (NIH, NSF, Research Corporation) entities. He is currently the Principal Investigator of an NSF S-STEM grant that provides scholarship support for students pursuing careers in STEM fields and is part of an NIH-supported collaboration to study the hearing loss caused by platinum anticancer drugs.
Dr. Williams served as chair of the University Senate's ad-hoc committee on research in the Spring of 2015. The committee reached out to faculty across all colleges of the university to determine areas in which research could be facilitated at WKU. The committee reported to the provost and the Senate Executive Committee with recommendations for improvements.
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.