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The Anna S. Brown and Ruth B. Logan Endowed Chair in Pre-Medicine is occupied by Dr. James Ricky Cox. Dr. Cox joined the Department of Chemistry at MSU in 1999 and has a significant record of research and scholarly activity in the areas of antibiotic resistance, protein biochemistry and teaching with technology. His disciplinary work has been published in journals such as Biochemistry, Chemistry and Biology and the Journal of Physical Chemistry. His efforts to improve teaching and learning and develop innovative technology-based instructional techniques have been published in journals such as the Journal of Chemical Education, Journal of College Science Teaching, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education and the Teaching Professor Newsletter. Dr. Cox’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network, American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft Research.
Dr. Cox has won the Board of Regents Award for Teaching Excellence for the College of Science, Engineering and Technology and served as the Teaching Scholar-in-Residence and Interim Director in the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology. In 2007, he was named Outstanding College or University Teacher by the Kentucky Academy of Science. In 2008, he was awarded the Karl F. Hussung Professorship in Chemistry and named the Kentucky Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. In 2011, Dr. Cox was named the Murray State University Distinguished Professor (presented by the Alumni Association) and the Max Carman Outstanding Teacher (presented by the Student Government Association) for his work with students inside the classroom and in the research laboratory. He has also served on the Advisory Board of the Teaching Professor Conference and Chair and Past-Chair of this national conference dedicated to teaching excellence and the dissemination of effective educational methods in higher education.
Dr. Cox has been involved in several initiatives to improve the instructional and learning environments in the science classroom and laboratory. During the past fiscal year, he used funding from his Microsoft Research grant to further investigate the pedagogical advantages of incorporating pen-based technology into traditional and virtual classrooms. In 2011, he published a manuscript in the journal Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education (BAMBED) that describes the incorporation of tablet technology and various digital elements into biochemistry and chemistry curricula. A manuscript was also published in the Teaching Professor Newsletter that describes his current teaching philosophy on academic rigor and engaging students inside and outside the classroom. Dr. Cox has also worked with his students to develop ways to incorporate external representations (diagrams, schemes, etc.) into science courses to help students organize and integrate information, ideas and concepts. A manuscript that describes this approach was recently published in the journal Creative Education.
The Teaching Professor Conference is a national conference for faculty members and instructional designers in higher education to discuss relevant research and strategies to improve student engagement and learning. In 2011, Dr. Cox served as the national Past-Chair of the conference held in Atlanta, GA. He was involved in selecting presenters for the conference and conducted the closing plenary session that served as a conference wrap-up and reflection session.
Dr. Cox maintains an active research group with both undergraduate and graduate students. His current work spans the broad areas of antibiotic resistance, protein biochemistry and molecular recognition. His group continues to collaborate with Dr. Greg Tschumper at the University of Mississippi on the energetic aspects of pi-stacking interactions in important biological molecules.
Dr. Cox served as a co-PI on a current National Science Foundation (Major Research Instrumentation) Grant that brought a new 400 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer to the campus of Murray State. This instrument has impacted the research efforts of faculty members at Murray State and across the region. This instrument has also allowed the chemistry department to add additional laboratory experiments and expand others in the areas of organic, polymer and synthetic chemistry.
During the past fiscal year, Dr. Cox served as a grant reviewer for the Kentucky Academy of Science in addition to being a peer reviewer for manuscripts submitted to the journal Biochemistry.
Support of the Pre-Medical/Health Curriculum
In August of 2009, Dr. Cox and a team of students established an American Medical Student Association (AMSA) chapter at Murray State. Since that time, Dr. Cox has worked with the Houston Endowed Professor (Dr. David Canning) to create the Pre-Health Professionals (PHP) Program at Murray State, that consists of a student organization and a faculty committee to evaluate students applying to medical, dental and other professional schools. Dr. Canning and Dr. Cox are co-advisors of the student PHP club that have over 100 registered members. Last year, the club had many activities designed to provide pre-health students various types of information and opportunities. For example, representatives from the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville Colleges/Schools of Medicine and Dentistry visited campus and talked with students about their programs. The University of Kentucky College of Medicine also discussed their new Rural Physician Leadership Program in Western Kentucky and the logistics of students applying to the program. The PHP club also sponsored presentations from local physicians, dentists and pharmacists. The director of the Trover Rural Scholar Program (University of Louisville School of Medicine-Madisonville, KY) came to campus to discuss the new three-year medical school program in his program and representatives from the Purchase Area Health Education Center conducted a workshop on writing personal statements for professional schools.
The PHP program has a website to serve pre-health students at Murray State and make them aware of upcoming events and information on issues related to health and professional schools.
Murray State PHP Program: