Investing in Faculty 

Michelle Munson and Serban Simu create awards to retain and recruit the best and brightest.

Campaign Themes:

"This type of support for our professors is precisely what we need to compete for the best and brightest faculty members. We are extremely appreciative that Michelle and Serban have chosen this manner of investment in our programs." 
-Darren Dawson, dean of the College of Engineering


Kansas State University recently named six Keystone Research Faculty Scholars in the College of Engineering and three Faculty Stars in the College of Arts and Sciences as part of an initiative to recruit and retain top faculty members.

The College of Engineering identifies Keystone Research Faculty Scholars from among the electrical and computer engineering, and computer science departments. Faculty Stars in the College of Arts and Sciences, selected among the physics, mathematics, statistics and philosophy departments, are awarded in support of faculty excellence.

Keystone Research Faculty Scholars have demonstrated exceptional inquiry protocols and research outcomes, and have been nominated by their department heads for the three-year appointment. Each Keystone Scholar is awarded a salary increase and discretionary research funding to be used for equipment, travel and support. Pavithra Prabhakar, assistant professor, and Eugene Vasserman, associate professor, are this year's Keystone Faculty Scholars in computer science. Junkwun Kim, assistant professor; Behrooz Mirafzal, associate professor; Punit Prakash, assistant professor; and Hongyu Wu, assistant professor, are this year's Keystone Faculty Scholars in electrical and computer engineering.

"This type of support for our early-career professors is precisely what we need to compete for the best and brightest faculty members," said Darren Dawson, dean of the College of Engineering. "We are extremely appreciative that Michelle and Serban have chosen this manner of investment in our programs."

The 2017 Faculty Stars recipients in the College of Arts and Sciences are Tim Bolton, professor of physics; Jon Herington, assistant professor of philosophy; and Yan Soibelman, university distinguished professor of mathematics.

"We are pleased to recognize our arts and sciences colleagues as Faculty Stars for their excellence as educators, researchers and mentors," said Amit Chakrabarti, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Though their disciplines are diverse, their stewardship of knowledge and discovery establishes them all as leaders."

Funded and supported by a gift from 1996 Kansas State University graduate and Aspera CEO and co-founder Michelle Munson, and her husband, Serban Simu, the Keystone Research Faculty Scholars and Faculty Stars programs reflect Aspera's success through difficulties and the rigors of academic research. Munson, a Junction City native and graduate of Chapman High School, and Simu now live in Berkeley, California.

Top: 2017 Faculty Stars, College of Arts and Sciences, Yan Soibelman, university distinguished professor of mathematics; Tim Bolton, professor of physics; and Jon Herington, assistant professor of philosophy. Bottom: 2017 Keystone Research Faculty Scholars, College of Engineering, Hongyu Wu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; Behrooz Mirafzal, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Pavithra Prabhakar, assistant professor of computer science; Junkwun Kim, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Punit Prakash, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. Not pictured is Eugene Vasserman, associate professor of computer science.
Top: 2017 Faculty Stars, College of Arts and Sciences, Yan Soibelman, university distinguished professor of mathematics; Tim Bolton, professor of physics; and Jon Herington, assistant professor of philosophy.
Bottom: 2017 Keystone Research Faculty Scholars, College of Engineering, Hongyu Wu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; Behrooz Mirafzal, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Pavithra Prabhakar, assistant professor of computer science; Junkwun Kim, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Punit Prakash, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. Not pictured is Eugene Vasserman, associate professor of computer science.