Staff

Staff List Phone
Nancy West, Director 573-882-3893
Heidi Appel, Senior Associate Director 573-882-8066
Monika Fischer, Associate Director 573-882-4328
Steven Keller, Associate Director 573-884-6893
Gregory Triplett, Associate Director 573-882-2781
Kristina Wright, Senior Academic Adviser 573-882-4112
Megan Boyer, Academic Adviser 573-882-6770
Susan Geisert, Academic Adviser 573-882-6224
Brenda Betz, Administrative Assistant 573-882-3893
John Kumia, Administrative Assistant and Assistant to the Director 573-884-6744
Peggy O’Connor, Administrative Assistant 573-882-2909

Portrait of Nancy WestNancy West, Director

Dr. Nancy West came to the Honors College in September, 2011.  Prior to this, she taught Victorian and Film Studies in the English department at MU for sixteen years. She holds a Ph.D and MA from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a BA from Rutgers University.

An award-winning teacher and mentor, Dr. West is passionate about making sure that honors students at MU receive all they can for their intellectual and personal growth. She is a 2004 winner of the William T. Kemper award for Outstanding Teaching, and has also received two Gold Chalk Awards for Excellence in Graduate Teaching, the inaugural EGSA award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty Member (2005), and the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentorship Award (2011). When asked about her plans for the College, she replies, “Students enrolled in the Honors College will be provided with the best courses on campus as well as a wealth of programs and opportunities designed exclusively for them. They will become models of undergraduate excellence in character as well as intellect, and their presence on campus will create a richer, more vibrant academic culture all around in the years to come.”

In addition to her role as director of the Honors College, Dr. West maintains an active writing career. She has published articles in such journals as Narrative, Nineteenth Century Contexts, the Yale Journal of Criticism, Postscript, and the Yale Journal of Law and Humanities. Her first book, Kodak and the Lens of Nostalgia, was published in 2000 by the University Press of Virginia. She completed another book, entitled Tabloid, Inc.: Crimes, News, Narratives (Ohio State UP, 2010) with former MU graduate student Penelope Pelizzon. Currently, she is working on a history of Masterpiece Theatre.

Dr. West enjoys living in Columbia with her husband, Dr. Craig Kluever, a professor in Mechanical Engineering, and their son, Silas, age 10. For Dr. West’s latest thoughts on life at the Honors College, see her blog. And please feel free to email her at WestN@missouri.edu.


Portrait of Heidi AppelHeidi Appel, Senior Associate Director

Dr. Heidi Appel joined the Honors College in September 2012. She has been a Senior Research Associate and Member of the Graduate Faculty since moving to MU in 2007, following almost two decades at Penn State as a Research Associate and Member of the Graduate Faculty. She holds a PhD in Biology from the University of Michigan. She is a widely published author in her specialty—the molecular ecology of plant insect interactions – and continues to do research with the help of talented undergraduate and graduate students.

Dr. Appel has been actively involved in innovative education since graduate school. At Penn State, she taught in the Schreyers Honor College where she designed and taught Honors Introductory Biology and Honors Ecology & Population Biology as an integration of lecture, discussion, and problem-based learning. Graduate courses she designed at PSU and MU have similarly focused on development of critical thinking skills through problem-based learning. She also has a strong interest in public understanding of science and has worked extensively with schools and teachers to foster understanding of the nature and value of science.

When asked about her plans for the Honors College, she said “I think the ideal Honors College provides high quality experiences in and out of the classroom to encourage interdisciplinary and critical thinking and community engagement. The cultivation of intellectual depth and breadth in Honors College students should prepare them to become the citizen scholars and public intellectuals of tomorrow. I’m looking forward to developing more science and interdisciplinary courses to meet these goals.”

Dr. Appel is part of a husband-wife research team with Jack Schultz in their lab at the Bond Life Sciences Center. They live in Columbia with their daughters, 18 and 26, and mom 92.


Portrait of Monika FischerMonika Fischer, Associate Director

Monika Fischer comes to the Honors College from the German and Russian Studies Department at MU where she has been teaching since 2005 and has served as Director of Undergraduate Studies. She received her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Oregon and an MSEd in Higher Education Administration from Baruch College, CUNY.

Dr. Fischer has traveled widely and developed a passion for global learning and experiential education. She grew up in Germany and has lived and studied in France, the US, and Ecuador. In addition, she has conducted research in New Zealand, Turkey and Mongolia. While in Mongolia, she was intrigued by the unique interplay of Mongolian oral culture and songs. This interest has sparked her current research with indigenous oral cultures and digital storytelling in which she examines how stories affect people and create identities and cultures.

At the Honors College, Dr. Fischer is committed to promoting internationalism and a global curriculum, and ensuring that global perspectives and issues are an integral part of the intellectual and cultural experience of all honors students. She believes strongly in providing students with the opportunity for a global learning experience and encourages them to become committed citizens in their local as well as in the global community. Her role at the Honors College includes identifying exclusive opportunities for students of the Honors College to participate in various forms in social or entrepreneurial activities and combining domestic with international study.

Dr. Fischer has received numerous grants and awards, among others an eResearch Grant, Educational Technologies at Missouri Academic Transformation Grant, the 2007 Helen Williams Award for Excellence in Collegiate Independent Study, two DAAD research grants and an NEH grant that allowed her to do research on how global and social responsibility can be effectively integrated into a student’s curriculum. A recent MU Advantage grant resulted in MU Global Connect, a new undergraduate certificate in digital, global studies.

At MU, Dr. Fischer serves on the Advisory Committee for the Media of the Future Initiative and the Council of International Initiatives. She is also a faculty affiliate of the Center for the Digital Globe.


Portrait of Steven KellerSteven Keller, Associate Director

Steven Keller is an Associate Director of the Honors College and Co-Director of the Missouri Scholars Academy. Steve has taught extensively in the Honors College, developing courses in the history of science, science and politics, as well as a “big ideas” in science course offered with Prof. David Setzer. He has been co-author of “Chemistry in Context,” the textbook used in Chemistry 1100, MU’s non-science major’s chemistry course, and has been on the staff of the Wakonse Conference on Excellence in College Teaching since 1999. In 2009, a chance meeting with Carl Edwards sparked an interest in NASCAR and the science behind racing, and Steve has developed a seminar in the “Chemistry of NASCAR”; he has toyed with the idea of creating a new honors course on the topic. Steve has been a co-facilitator for the Freshman Interest Groups for over a decade, and served as a faculty advisor to several student organizations including Tiger’s Lair and Zou Crew. He has received several awards since joining the Mizzou faculty in 1995, including a National Science Foundation Career Award (1998), the Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faulty Teaching Award (1999), the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching (2003), and most recently, the Professor of the Year Award from the Department of Athletics (2012). For the past 25 months, Professor Keller’s time away from campus is focused on being Lindsay Grace’s dad, and watching a bit of soccer here and there (he is the cousin of Kasey Keller, former goalkeeper for the U.S. National Soccer team).


Portrait of Gregory TriplettGregory Triplett, Associate Director

Dr. Gregory Triplett joins the Honors College as Associate Director in 2012. In addition to responsibilities in the Honors College, Dr. Triplett is Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and serves as the Honors Advisor in his department.

Since his arrival at MU in 2004, Dr. Triplett has been recognized for his research, teaching, and service. As a researcher, he was selected as an Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Summer Faculty Fellow, an AFOSR Young Investigator Program Recipient and has acquired research funding from the NSF, Army, AFOSR, Dept. of Energy, and the University of Missouri System. His research area involves the development of mid-infrared photonic structures and compound semiconductor device manufacturing. He also focuses on retention strategies for electrical and computer engineering students at both undergraduate and graduate levels. His commitment to students and teaching has earned him numerous awards including the William T. Kemper Teaching Award in 2010. While Dr. Triplett serves on committees at the university and nationally, he is personally committed to supporting students to reach their fullest potential by mentoring them both formally and informally.

He graduated from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Florida State University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology with a BS, MS, and PhD, respectively, in electrical engineering.


Portrait of Kristina WrightKristina Wright, Senior Academic Adviser

Kristina Wright joined the Honors College staff in January 2003. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Doane College and a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Career Development from MU. Kristina advises Pre Health Professions students with last names A-L and undecided Honors students. Kristina also coordinates the 1st Year Discovery Fellows Program and teaches General Honors 1010H: Career Explorations for the Multipotentialed Student.


Portrait of Megan BoyerMegan Boyer, Academic Adviser

Megan Boyer originally from Jefferson City, Missouri received her Bachelor of Arts from Saint Mary College in Leavenworth, Kansas and majored in English. Passionate about working with students, Megan earned her Master's degree in College Student Personnel Administration from Central Missouri State University. After leaving CMSU, Megan worked as a Residence Hall Coordinator at Mizzou for two years. Megan has been an adviser in the Honors College since 2005. Megan's two major hobbies are film photography and performing as a blues vocalist with the Megan Boyer Band.


Portrait of Susan GeisertSusan Geisert, Academic Adviser

Susan Geisert is originally from Kearney, Nebraska. She received her B.S. degree in Journalism—News Editorial and her M.S. degree in Mass Communications from Oklahoma State University. Susan worked as an Academic Adviser for the School of Journalism at OSU for 15 years before moving to Columbia. Susan now advises Pre-Health Professions students with last names M-Z.


Portrait of Brenda BetzBrenda Betz, Administrative Assistant

With almost 28 years at the University of Missouri, Brenda Betz has been given the opportunity to work with faculty, staff and students from across campus. Currently she shares an appointment with the Honors College and Office of Service Learning as an Administrative Assistant. During late spring and summer she works with the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies planning the New Faculty Orientation, which is held each August for new MU faculty.


Portrait of John KumiaJohn Kumia, Administrative Assistant and Assistant to the Director

John Kumia originally from O’ahu, Hawai’i attended Saint Louis High School and Chaminade University in Honolulu. John moved to MO in 1993 and has worked for MU at the Journalism School, Community Development and the MU Rec Center before joining the Honors College in January 2004. John organizes and plans social events and other social aspects of the Honors College. He interacts with and supports our students and faculty to include handling all pre-med applications and interviews, learning by contracts, applications for admission and graduation certificates.

With a commitment to things Hawaiian, John founded Missouri’s first Hula School and participated as a Master Artist with the Missouri Folk Arts program. John enjoys gardening, music, and exploring Missouri’s wild life. Born in the Year of the Monkey, he’s the guy with the Monkey on his desk. Stop by and say Aloha!


Portrait of Peggy O'ConnorPeggy O’Connor, Administrative Assistant

Peggy O’Connor, originally from Ossining, New York, joined the Honors College as an Administrative Assistant in August, 2012. She holds a BA in Humanities from the University of Colorado, Boulder, a MED in English Education from MU, and Missouri teaching certificates in Secondary English and Special Education. Prior to moving to Missouri in 2000, Peggy had a varied 25-year business career, primarily in the Compensation and Employee Benefits fields, ending as a Store Manager for JCPenney. After graduating from MU in 2003, she taught Special Ed English at Rock Bridge High School. At the Honors College, Peggy primarily schedules prospective student appointments, collects and analyzes honors student and course data, tries to keep the College web information up-to-date, provides administrative support for the Missouri Scholars Academy, and coordinates the new honors course approval process.