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Liao Wins Jim Smart Award

Furman University Biology professor Dr. Min-Ken Liao has been named winner of the James H. Smart Award by Furman’s Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection.

Presented annually to a Furman faculty or staff member, the Jim Smart Award is designed to promote encouragement of vocational exploration and reflection by Furman students, and to recognize those who exemplify this work in their teaching, advising, mentoring, service, public engagement, and other aspects of their roles at the university.

The award celebrates the memory of Jim Smart, a longtime Furman history professor (1967-1995) who died in 2013. Smart was known for his passion for teaching and learning, his dedication to student development, and the importance he placed on students’ exploration of values and purposeful living.

The award is made possible by a gift from Smart’s wife, Bonnie Smart, in memory of her husband and in honor of their two children, Rusty Smart and Susan D’Amato.

Liao, who joined the Furman faculty in 2000, was commended for the personal and professional mentorship she offers her students, and for the way she mentors the entire Furman community through her teaching of mindfulness.

She was trained as a bacteriologist, using microbiology and molecular genetic approaches to study the structure, function, and evolution of a membrane protein. She and her undergraduate researchers are using microbiological and molecular genetic techniques to study the genetic diversity of bacterial communities in the environment. Together they have presented and published more than 40 posters and papers.

Liao enjoys teaching courses in microbiology and genetics at all levels, and she is also interested in research in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. She was a research resident of the Biology Scholars Program in 2008-2009. Liao is an active member of American Society for Microbiology and is one of the Research Section reviewers of Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, a PubMed indexed journal.

Liao was named the Henry Keith and Ellen Hard Townes Endowed Chair of Biology in 2008-2010, and is a council member of the South Carolina Academy of Science. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a bachelor’s from National Taiwan University.

For more information, contact the Furman News and Media Relations office at (864) 294-3107.


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