The College is administered by a professional staff who are engaged in both academic and management affairs. Their years of experience in their roles varies widely, but collectively they present a carefully constructed team of professionals who are dedicated to the success of our students.
Dr. J.D. Bowers came to the Honors College in August 2015. He is an award-winning teacher and mentor, with nine years of Honors teaching and administration experience and over twenty-five years in secondary and higher education, who is passionate about making sure that honors students at MU succeed in their academic and co-curricular pursuits.
He holds a Ph.D. and MA in history from Indiana University and a BA in government from The College of William & Mary in Virginia, is a 2005 recipient of a Fulbright Teaching Award, the recipient of two awards for outstanding international teaching, and also received an award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
In addition to his role as director of MU’s Honors College, Dr. Bowers holds an adjunct teaching position in the Harry S. Truman Graduate School of Public Affairs and is a faculty affiliate in the Black Studies Department.
He maintains an active scholarly career, leading study abroad programs, teaching courses, and conducting research. Over the past four years he has led a program of students, in partnership with The Hague University of Applied Sciences (Den Haag, Nederlands), in an examination of the dimensions of post-genocide justice and conflict resolution, has taught numerous Honors Tutorials, and teaches an undergraduate survey course on genocide. He is currently working on a book manuscript exploring the last fifty years of the unresolved Cyprus conflict as well as several articles on the religious and cultural dimensions of post-genocide justice.
Prior to coming to MU he was the Associate Vice Provost for University Honors, taught Genocide Studies, and was also the director of the Genocide and Human Rights Institute, at Northern Illinois University.
Dr. Bowers is excited to be living in Columbia with his wife, Dr. Kristy Wilson Bowers, a visiting professor in History, and their two daughters, and to be a part of the Mizzou family!
Steven Keller is an Associate Director of the Honors College and 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).
Megan Boyer originally from Jefferson City, Missouri received her Bachelor of Arts from Saint Mary College in Leavenworth, Kansas and majored in English. She has been with the Honors College since 2005, first as an Advisor and now as Assistant Director. 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’s two major hobbies are film photography and performing as a blues vocalist with the Megan Boyer Band. Megan advises students with last names A-L.
Kristina Bradley is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and attended MU, with a double major in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies. As an undergraduate, Kristina was a student in the Honors College and actively involved on campus. After working in Undergraduate Admissions, she continued her education at MU, receiving a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology, with an emphasis in Career Psychology and Development. With a passion for student affairs, she has gained experience working in the MU Career Center, Residential Life, Graduate Student Services, and with high-achieving students in the MU Fellowships Office. Kristina is the newest member of the Honors College advising team, and advises general Honors students with last names M-Z.
MedOpp Program Manager and Chief Health Professions 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.
Associate Health Professions Adviser
Darcy Holtgrave completed a B.A. in English from Eastern Illinois University, an M.F.A. in Poetry from George Mason University, and a PhD in Folklore from the University of Missouri. Her research interests include health belief systems, narrative theory, and online communities; a portion of her dissertation research, an exploration of YouTube vlogs about bipolar disorder, appears in the edited volume Diagnosing Folklore: Perspectives on Disability, Health, and Trauma. In her spare time, Darcy enjoys taking classes at the Craft Studio and punching trees in Minecraft.
Study Abroad Coordinator
Monika Fischer is the Coordinator for the Study Abroad Program through The Honors College. Her role includes identifying exclusive opportunities for Honors students to participate in various forms in social or entrepreneurial activities and domestic with international study. She came 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 experimental education. She grew up in Germany and has lived and studied in France, the US, and Ecudaor. 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.
Humanities Series Coordinator
A winner of the William T. Kemper Award, a Purple Chalk Award, and a WI Excellence Award for Undergraduate Teaching, Dr. Rachel Harper has taught at MU since 1996 and in the Honors College Humanities Series since 1998. She hopes no one does the math and figures out how old she really is. She also feels awkward writing about herself in the third person. [Forges ahead anyway] Dr. Harper is the current Director of MU’s Writing Center and the Coordinator of the Honors Humanities Series.
Originally from Champaign, Illinois, Dr. Harper holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Missouri and a B.A. in English and Spanish from Illinois Wesleyan University. She teaches all four semesters of the Honors Humanities Series and regularly lectures on Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Melville’s Benito Cereno in the third semester of the series. She also teaches an honors writing intensive course every semester on “The Theory and Practice of Tutoring Writing,” which all undergraduates must take before being considered for a position as a writing tutor.
Currently, she is working on a critical edition of Jean Kenyon Mackenzie’s 1928 novella The Trader’s Wife and various articles related to tutoring writing and teaching, including ones on applying acting theory to tutoring with Dr. Greg Foster and on the ending of Don Quixote that was inspired by her teaching in the Humanities Series.
When she’s not doing all of the above or serving on a million committees, she’s chasing her three small children. And drinking coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
Science Series Coordinator
Sarah Humfeld is Coordinator for the Honors College Science Series at the University of Missouri. She received her B.S. in Biology from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Missouri. Since completing her degree, in which she studied the alternative ‘satellite’ mating tactic used by male Green Treefrogs, she has worked with undergraduates on collaborative research projects ranging from behavioral ecology to evolution of communication systems. In her scholarship and work with the Science Series, Sarah places a special emphasis on engaging undergraduate students in the scientific process. In addition to teaching and coordinating the two courses comprising the Science Series, Environment and Energy, Sarah also teaches introductory biology, animal behavior, evolution and mammalogy for the Division of Biological Sciences. Sarah is the proud (and frazzled) mother of three young biologists, and a very slow half-marathon runner.
Aleesha Coke is originally from Southwest Missouri but likes to hail from Kansas City. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from William Jewell College, and a Master of Business Administration degree from William Woods University. Although her undergraduate degree suggests she is a literary connoisseur, she secretly just loves to read trashy romance novels. Her dream job is to be a best-selling author living on a beach in Hawaii. Aleesha has worked in higher education at several different institutions for over ten years in a variety of positions ranging from admissions to student advising. She came to the MU Honors College in December 2014. She now coordinates the Missouri Scholars Academy, as well as prospective student visits for the Honors College.
Neima Shahdadi is originally from Jefferson City, Missouri. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from MU in 2007 and joined the Honors College staff in November of 2015. Neima coordinates prospective student visits, processes applications, plans events, and works with Dr. Bowers on various tasks and projects. He enjoys spending time with his wife and two-year-old daughter, reading, cooking, watching films and television, running, and occasionally writing.
Belquis Elhadi is from Columbia, MO. She is a junior sociology major and honors student. She’s passionate about social justice and loves cats and film photography. Belquis works at the front desk of the Honors College, helping out in whatever way she can.
Nicole Formhals is from Joliet, IL and is a senior this year majoring in biology and religious studies. She has been part of the Honors College for the past four years. She is hoping to become a physician one day, so she enjoys volunteering at the Women and Children’s Hospital and at the MedZou Clinic. She is also involved in numerous organizations at Mizzou, including Arts and Science Student Council, Mizzou’s Center Stage, and the Newman Center. In her free time she likes to travel, eat ice cream, and watch any Mizzou sporting event.
Emily Hannemann is a current freshman at MU and is majoring in Journalism. In the future she hopes to work in corporate communications or to write for a magazine. In her free time, Emily enjoys running, swimming, reading and writing articles.
Eleanor Hasenbeck is from Piedmont, Missouri. Eleanor is studying Journalism and Anthropology. After Mizzou, Eleanor hopes to work closely with Latin American culture within a government agency or as a foreign correspondent. Eleanor enjoys spending time outdoors, comedy, and consuming copious amounts of spaghetti.
Jackie Olson is a rising junior undergraduate studying journalism with an emphasis in Strategic Communications. She is working on two minors, one in Business and one in Leadership and Public Service. In addition to working for the Honors College, she works as the Communications Intern for the University Relations Department of the University of Missouri System. She is an active member of the Alpha Mu chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta. She is also president and a competing varsity member of the University of Missouri Rowing Club.
Cole Young is currently a Sophomore majoring in Social Work and minoring in Leadership & Public Service and Women & Gender Studies. He is very involved in the LGBT community, where he is on staff at the LGBT Resource center, does OUTReach Panels and co-leads a club for Trans+ students on campus. Cole is a site leader for a MAB spring break trip.