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 is an award-winning professor and mentor with over a decade of Honors teaching and administration, and nearly three decades of experience in higher and secondary education. He 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, the Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (NIU), and the 2017 Ann Covington Award for Mentoring, from MU’s Fellowships Office.
In addition to his role as director of MU’s Honors College, Dr. Bowers is a faculty affiliate in the Black Studies Department, teaches graduate courses in the Harry S. Truman Graduate School of Public Affairs, and is an affiliated faculty member in the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy (KICD).
He maintains an active scholarly career, leading study abroad programs, teaching courses, and conducting research. Over the past six years he has led a program of study, in partnership with The Hague University of Applied Sciences (Den Haag, Nederland), in examining 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, including the religious, social, economic, political, cultural, and health and wellness facets of the failed reconciliation processes. He is also writing several articles on the political and cultural dimensions of post-genocide justice, as well as co-authoring a piece on the student development and global awareness aspects of study abroad.
He remains globally active on the political and social dimensions of genocide as an invited expert for the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute’s (St. Louis) Seminar on the International Criminal Court, and is internationally trained in peace and conflict resolution by the International Center for Transitional Justice (New York City) and the International Catalan Institute for Peace (Barcelona, España).
Prior to coming to MU he was the Associate Vice Provost for University Honors, taught Genocide Studies and History, and was also the director of the Genocide and Human Rights Institute all at Northern Illinois University. While at NIU he was the Co-Principle Investigator on a number of Teaching American History Grants totaling over $4.3 million in research funds, the most for any History Department faculty member since its formation.
He is thrilled to be living in and actively involved throughout the Mizzou and Columbia communities, along with his wife, Dr. Kristy Wilson Bowers, a professor of History at MU, and two daughters.
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 Advisor
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 Advisor 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 Advisor
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. She advises Pre-Health Professions students with last names A-L.
Scholars & Fellows Coordinator
Born and raised in Columbia, Ava has been a lifelong Mizzou Tiger. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from MU and then went on to attend DePaul University in Chicago, graduating with a Master of Science degree in non-profit management. While in graduate school she held an internship at the Adler Planetarium in the Office of Advancement. From that role she gained experience in fundraising and was hired at the Illinois Institute of Technology on the stewardship and donor relations team. There she managed over 300 donor funded scholarships and helped to steward friends and alumni of IIT through events on campus.
In the summer of 2015, Ava returned home to Columbia. For the next two years she worked in the Office of Advancement at Mizzou on the talent management team, the group in charge of hiring and training the development staff at MU. In the summer of 2017, she came on board at the Honors College as the Scholars and Fellows Coordinator. In this role she is responsible for the leadership and development programming for undergraduate participants in thirteen research, artistry, and leadership programs through the Honors College.
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.
Neima Shahdadi is originally from Jefferson City, Missouri. He received his BA 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 daughter, reading, cooking, watching films and television, running, and occasionally writing.
Hannah Guerrero is a Moberly, Missouri native. She attended Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. She earned her B.A. in General Studies, with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. She moved back to the Columbia Area in 2015. She is the newest employee to join the Honors College. Her duties primarily serve the MedOpp Program and the Missouri Scholars Academy. In her free time, she dabbles in photography. Her hobbies include reading, writing, watching old movies, and spending time with her family. She married her High School Sweetheart and they are enjoying living in Columbia.