Four faculty members at Sul Ross State University have been selected for awards for outstanding scholarship, service and commitment for the 2023 term.
The awards are coordinated by the Office of the Provost while recipients are nominated by their faculty peers or the university administration.
There are three categories, including the Outstanding Scholar, Presidential Award, and this year, the inaugural Faculty Service Award, which resulted in two recipients.
They are as follows:
Dr. Bryon Schroeder, the Director of the Center of the Center for Big Bend Studies (CBBS), was chosen by his peers for the Outstanding Scholar Award for 2023.
He received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Wyoming and a Ph.D from the University of Montana, all in anthropology.
“Dr. Schroeder’s portfolio stood out for his past, present and future research activities. His work has been praised in both the scientific and popular article realms,” said Dr. Ryan Luna, a member of the nomination committee.
Last fall, his research on the Spirit Eye Cave was featured in The New Yorker, bringing national attention to the CBBS, shortly after receiving word from the office U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales that the Department of Education was awarding the center a $1 million grant to help build the anthropology program, including the engagement of three doctorate professors.
Dr. Schroeder also co-directs two annual excavations at the San Esteban Rockshelter and Genevieve Lykes Duncan site in partnership with the University of Kansas Odyssey Archaeological Research Fund.
In addition to publishing in peer reviewed journals and popular magazines, Dr. Schroeder has written book chapters, presented at numerous conferences and public forums, been featured in radio interviews, and recorded podcasts. His body of research is diverse and has impacted the scientific community and descendants of the indigenous communities of the Chihuahuan Desert.
Dr. Robert Kinucan, a professor in the Department of Natural Resource Management, is the recipient of the Presidential Award. He is the former Executive Vice President and Provost, Director of the Division of Range Animal Science and Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences, now the College of Animal, Life and Physical Sciences.
The purpose of the Sul Ross State University Presidential Award is to honor individuals at the rank of professor whose performance and contributions to the educational community at large have been exemplary.
Dr. Kinucan has taught 138 sections of 35 different courses over his career and has 17 publications in peer-reviewed journals and 30 conference presentations.
He helped to develop the Blackboard online learning format for Sul Ross State and worked to restructure the grant office for efficiency.
As the Chief Research Officer, Dean of the Graduate College and Provost, his efforts supported and strengthened academic programs and improved grant support across campus.
In his nomination letter, Dr. Jimmy Case, the retired Dean of the Case College of Literature, Arts and Social Sciences, wrote, “I am convinced that the University is better for Dr. Kinucan’s resolute commitment to his professional ethics and standards.”
Dr. Kinucan received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Idaho, a Master of Science degree from the University of Wyoming and a Ph.D from Texas A&M University, where he first began teaching in the Department of Rangeland Ecology and Management.
Dr. Christopher Ritzi and Dr. Ryan Luna each received an equal number of votes for the inaugural Faculty Service Award.
Dr. Ritzi has served on 27 different university and departmental committees and councils, including the Graduate Council, the Budget Oversight Committee, the Rio Grande Advisory Committee and the Tenure and Promotion Council. In 2012, he served as the interim dean in of College of Arts & Sciences, now the Case College, and as the Chair of the Biology, Geology and Physical Sciences Department.
Dr. Ritzi has advised biology majors for 19 years and has mentored and graduated 20 Master of Science thesis students, 17 non-thesis students and 22 undergraduate research projects.
He is active in the Texas Academy of Science, serving as a board member and officer from 2008-2011 and as the local host in 2011-2012. He is currently serving as the Executive Secretary. He has also served with the Tamarisk Coalition, the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Education Advisory Committee and provided educational outreach to Texas AgriLife and Texas Master Naturalists.
He received his B.A. in biology from Texas A&M University, his M.S. in biology from SRSU and his Ph.D in Life Sciences from Indiana State University.
Dr. Ryan Luna, the Chair of the Department of Natural Resource Management, received his bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Texas Tech University, master’s degree in biology from the University of Texas at San Antonio and his Ph.D in Aquatic Resources and Integrative Biology from Texas State University.
Dr. Luna was the 2022 Outstanding Scholar Award recipient.
He has served on numerous committees during the last 10 years at SRSU and acted as the major advisor for almost 20 graduate students and 10 undergraduate research projects. He has also designed and/or taught 23 different classes.
In addition to working with landowners on research, he has volunteered with the local chapter of 4H as the assistant shotgun coach, as a Range Safety Officer for shooting competitions, with Trail Life USA, the Alpine Christian School, as a deacon and Sunday School teacher and little league coach.
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