WSU Honors Faculty with Research and Innovation Awards

OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University has honored four outstanding faculty members with the annual Research, Commercialization and Entrepreneurial Awards.

The awards provide an opportunity to recognize faculty who have made significant contributions to Weber State, the community and the world through research and innovation.

“Research and innovation are crucial because they discover, explain and validate new knowledge, ideas and technologies essential in driving the future of society and humanity,” said James Taylor, WSU’s Sponsored Projects and Technology Commercialization director. “Our research activities and services have critical economic, societal and environmental impacts locally, nationally and internationally.”

The Office of Sponsored Projects and Technology Commercialization sponsors the awards, which include three categories: Outstanding Research, Innovation Success, Norsatch Entrepreneurial Spirit.

The 2020 award recipients received a $1,500 prize as well as recognition for their contributions and achievements.

Outstanding Research

Economics professor John Mukum Mbaku’s research output over the course of his career has been prolific. His numerous books, articles and law review articles have earned him the attention of prestigious organizations and news outlets. He is a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He has consulted with the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, African Economic Research Consortium, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. News organizations such as the BBC; PRI’s “The World”; CNN International; Aljazeera International; TRT Türk, the Turkish International TV; China Global TV; and TVC News (Nigeria), have interviewed him for his expertise on Africa. During the 2019-20 academic year, he appeared as an expert on the Nile River, political crises in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as on child marriage in Africa. In January 2020, he presented expert testimony to the U.S. Army Africa Command in Vicenza, Italy. His research was also cited in several newspapers and magazines around the world. 

Innovation Success

Microbiology professor Michele Culumber has been at Weber State since 2004. Her research in microbial ecology explores unique microbial habitats including groundwater, peat bogs, the Great Salt Lake and Cheddar cheese. She is part of the BUILD Dairy program at Weber State, which helps students explore careers and research in food science. A dedicated and innovative teacher, Culumber has developed several new and interdisciplinary courses including “Geomicrobiology,” “The Story and The Cell,” and for the Honors Program,“Your Microbial You.” Culumber earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology from Eastern Illinois University and a Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

For the past 40 years, microbiology professor Craig Oberg has maintained an active research program incorporating collaborations with his colleagues, undergraduate research students and faculty from other universities. He is an author of more than 90 research publications, often with Weber State undergraduate students and Weber State faculty as co-authors. His research has been published in the Journal of Bacteriology, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Journal of Dairy Science, The International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, and Advances in Skin and Wound Care, among others. Oberg has maintained a robust research program, having obtained over 70 grants from a variety of local, regional and national funding agencies. He has made more than 200 presentations at professional meetings and has mentored many WSU undergraduate students in their research projects, which has led to numerous opportunities for these students to also present at national conferences as well. 

Norsatch Entrepreneurial Spirit

Chemistry professor Edward Walker exhibits a contagious interest in the intersection of chemistry and industry. He is widely known across campus and the region for his support of local industry related to chemistry. Walker has 47 patents and numerous publications. While a member of the WSU faculty, he co-founded four technology-based corporations spanning the areas of pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements and medical devices. He has served on the board of directors for several local businesses and consults local and regional businesses regarding analytical techniques. Walker is a successful fundraiser on behalf of the university and is the founder and director of the Center for Chemical Technology, which serves to connect the campus and his students with the regional chemical industry. 

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James Taylor, WSU's Sponsored Projects and Technology Commercialization director


Allison Barlow Hess, Public Relations director
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