Three extraordinary researchers at West Virginia University have been named 2015 Benedum Distinguished Scholars in recognition of the high caliber of their research and scholarly activity:

Dr. Cheryl Ball, associate professor of digital publishing studies in the Department of English and director of the digital publishing institute in the university libraries,
Dr. JoNell Strough, a professor of life-span developmental psychology in the Department of Psychology, and
Dr. Jingxin Wang, a professor of wood science and technology and the director of the Biomaterials and Wood Utilization Research Center in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.

Funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Distinguished Scholars awards are given annually to faculty engaged in “creative research” in as many as four categories: behavioral and social sciences, biosciences and health sciences, humanities and the arts, and physical sciences and technology. No recipient was named this year in physical sciences and technology.

“The Benedum Distinguished Scholars Award specifically honors excellence in research,” said Provost Joyce McConnell, “and this year’s recipients, all of whom are leaders in fields that are critical to the future of our world, demonstrate the truly national and even international impact of the research being done at West Virginia University.”

Digital humanities scholar Cheryl E. Ball’s research in editorial workflows and digital publishing infrastructures can be found in journals, edited collections and on her website. During the 2013-14 academic year, she served as a Fulbright Scholar at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, studying research mediation practices. She is currently the co-principal investigator on a $1-million Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to build an open-source academic publishing platform, Vega.

JoNell Strough has received national and international recognition for her research on aging and decision making and on gender development across the life span. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation and she is a Fellow of both the Gerontological Society of America and the American Psychological Association. Her publications include the first edited book in the field on aging and decision making.

Jingxin Wang is a national and international leader in biomass energy and materials research and development, currently focused on uncovering the potentials of plant-based biomass for sustainable energy and products. His research has been funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and United States Department of Energy. He is currently a leading principal investigator on seven USDA and USDOE biomass energy and bio products projects.

“The criteria for the Benedum Distinguished Scholar award are extremely rigorous,” said Associate Provost CB Wilson, whose office oversees all faculty awards. “Yet these three faculty members clearly meet and even exceed those criteria, demonstrating not just excellence but creativity and vision in their approach to their research and scholarship.”

Each Benedum Distinguished Scholar will receive $5000 in professional development support from the Benedum Foundation and be recognized by President Gordon Gee and Provost McConnell at the April 6 faculty and staff awards dinner at Blaney House. The award recipients will also give public lectures in fall 2016. Further information on these lectures, including location and time, will be forthcoming.



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