The Faculty Merit Foundation announced that West Liberty University Associate Professor Dr. Joseph Horzempa, is the winner of its 2017 Professor of the Year award. The Foundation presented the award on Thursday, April 12, during a banquet held in the Great Hall of the Culture Center in Charleston.
“I congratulate Joe and thank the Faculty Merit Foundation, Bowles Rice and Graystone Consulting for supporting this prestigious honor. Joe is a first-class professor whose research has gained him national attention. He offers our students unparalleled opportunities for research in an active microbiology laboratory. West Liberty University is proud of him,” said WLU President Stephen Greiner.
Dr. Horzempa is an associate professor of biology and the program director of West Liberty University’s newest graduate degree, the MA/MS in biology. He earned both a bachelor and master of science degree from California University of Pennsylvania in 2000 and 2002, respectively. He received his doctoral degree from Duquesne University in 2006.
Since joining the WLU faculty in 2011, Horzempa has received over $2.2 million in grants to support the activities of his lab. He and his students continue his work on developing new antibiotics and vaccines as they research the biology of the bacterium, Francisella tularensis. He has been researching this bacterium since he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine from 2006-11.
Horzempa’s work has been published in a wide variety of scholarly and scientific journals, including the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, Journal of Plant Pathology & Microbiology and American Journal of Virology, to name but a few. A lifetime member of the West Virginia Academy of Science, he is editor-in-chief of its open access, online, peer-reviewed scientific journal, Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Science.
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Horzempa has twice been celebrated as West Liberty University’s Professor of the Year (2015 and 2016). Likewise, 2017 marks the second consecutive year he’s been named a West Virginia Professor of the Year finalist.
A native of Monaca, Pa., Horzempa and his wife Crystal are the parents of two children, Gwen, 11, and Jack, 8. He resides in Scott Township, Pa.
The four remaining 2017 finalists also were recognized, and they include: Dr. Eric Blough, exercise pharmaceutical sciences and research professor, Marshall University; Kathy Hawks, education professor, Concord University; Dr. Carol Plautz, biology professor, Shepherd University; and Dr. Timothy Warner, geology and geography professor, West Virginia University.
West Liberty University has been singled out for this honor in the past when Dr. Zachary Loughman, also a professor in the College of Sciences, was named the state’s 2014 Professor of the Year.
The Faculty Merit Foundation was created in 1984 to provide a means to recognize and reward innovation and creativity among the faculties of West Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities. Through the Professor of the Year program, the outstanding achievements of those individuals are brought to the attention of the general public.
A $10,000 cash award is given to the candidate selected as Professor of the Year, with smaller awards to the other finalists.
The Professor of the Year award is presented with financial support from Bowles Rice LLP and Graystone Consulting.
Pictured above, from left, are: dean of the College of Sciences Dr. Robert Kreisberg; W.Va. Professor of the Year Dr. Joseph Horzempa; chair of the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Dr. Karen Kettler; and President of WLU Dr. Stephen Greiner.