At the university level, professors are not solely teachers but also experts in their fields of study, providing the basis for future advancements. A great passion for learning and uncovering new facts spurs many of these professors to conduct cutting edge research. It is for this reason that the Eberly College at West Virginia University is pleased to celebrate the academic accomplishments of its 2011 Outstanding Researcher Award recipients.

This year’s winners are Joseph Hodge, Jason MacDonald, and Daniel McNeil.

Joseph Hodge’s work examines British colonial policy in Africa and the Caribbean, and includes a book, “Triumph of the Expert” (Ohio University Press), that one reviewer suggests “forces us to reassess the late colonial era and its consequences.” Another reviewer noted that it has reoriented the focus of those studying development in Africa. Clearly, “Triumph of the Expert,” as well as Hodge’s articles dealing with British colonial policy, constitutes a significant contribution to the field and merits recognition.

Professor Hodge received his Ph.D. in History at Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada in 1999.

Jason MacDonald, assistant professor of political science at WVU, notes that his research is focused on Congress, with particular attention to legislative efforts to influence bureaucracy in the United States.

“I feel really humble; I read about the previous winners of this award and their accomplishments. I am in very good company,” MacDonald said.

His research has appeared in numerous journals including the rare coup of publication in the top journal in the discipline, the “American Political Science Review.” The article demonstrates that, due to the ability to appropriate funds for agencies’ personnel and programs, Congress has much more leverage over the bureaucracy’s policy decisions than scholars previously appreciated. MacDonald was able to travel to Washington, D.C. and interview congressional staff who work with oversight of the bureaucracy and policy-making issues daily.

“I feel very supported by the political science department and the Eberly College,” MacDonald said. “Both have put me in a position to do this research, which helped me win this award.”

Behavioral dentistry and medicine, including pain, are the research areas studied by Daniel McNeil, professor of psychology at WVU.

“Dentistry is a natural laboratory for the observation of various states of emotional distress,” McNeil said. His research explores what makes events in life emotionally painful and how people cope with such pain.

McNeil is a nationally and internationally recognized scholar in the trans-disciplinary field of behavioral dentistry. He incorporates the social sciences, and particularly psychology, in researching oral health care in the 21st Century.

His work on behavioral dentistry is a prime example of cross-disciplinary research with interesting theoretical and practical consequences.

Another aspect of McNeil’s research involves examining underserved populations across the world. He succeeded in researching cross-cultural interactions among people in New Zealand in 2010 while he was on a Fulbright Senior Scholar fellowship.

McNeil finds it very important to work within the communities he researches not only to collect necessary data, but to give back to the community.

“I try to be a positive impact in a community while also mining research,” he said.

Professor McNeil received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Alabama in 1982.

The awards are given to faculty members in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences who conduct outstanding research and scholarly activity. Each year, the Eberly College Outstanding Researcher Committee will select a maximum of three faculty members to receive awards of $1,000.

For more information, contact Brenda Riggle, operations coordinator for the Eberly College’s Dean’s Office, at (304) 293-4611 ext: 5200 or


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