Western announces 2023 class of Presidential Innovation Professors

Contact: Deanne Puca

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Office of Research and Innovation is recognizing three faculty members for their advanced and creative study.

Amy Bocko, digital projects librarian and associate professor of University Libraries; Dr. Kristina Lemmer, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; and Kelsey Paschich, assistant professor of dance; have been awarded three-year Presidential Innovation Professorships.

“The quality and breadth of this year’s Presidential Innovation Professors’ research programs are incredible,” says WMU President Edward Montgomery. “Each of them has made significant contributions to Western and their fields, and we are deeply appreciative of their commitment to demonstrate outstanding scholarly work.”

“Presidential Innovation Professorships are one of the many ways we recognize our distinguished faculty members who make notable scholarly contributions in their respective fields. WMU believes research, innovation and scholarship should support our students’ growth and learning. These awards are meant to increase the impact these top-notch faculty members have not only in their scholarship area but also in the classroom.” adds Dr. Remzi Seker, vice president for research and innovation.

The awards were determined by a selection committee and announced at Spring Convocation on April 21. Launched in January 2020 to spark innovation in teaching and research, Presidential Innovation Professorships recognize and provide funding to outstanding faculty members for creativity in research and entrepreneurial approaches to their disciplines.

This is the fourth class of Presidential Innovation Professors.

Learn more about the research proposed by the newest class:

Amy Bocko

Amy Bocko

Capturing Kalamazoo: Creating a Community-Driven Archives Initiative with the Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE)

In partnership with SHARE, Capturing Kalamazoo will pilot a community-driven archives initiative that will create a template to create strong collaborative partnerships with local organizations and underrepresented communities to document the rich history, archival materials and voices of the culturally diverse city of Kalamazoo. A WMU-SHARE partnership will build capacity to preserve, grow and disseminate SHARE’s long-time oral history project, establish a hub for participatory community archives, and create student engagement opportunities to record Kalamazoo’s history.

Capturing Kalamazoo’s projected outcomes speak directly to the University’s mission of embedding the values of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) into WMU’s institutional mission of fostering campus-wide collaboration, developing strategic initiatives and engaging in innovative scholarship, says Bocko. In addition, the research demonstrates the University Libraries’ commitment to the values of DEI and accessibility and their goal of creating and stewarding diverse digital collections that amplify the voices of people of color.

Dr. Kristina Lemmer

Dr. Kristina Lemmer

WMU’s First Satellite: Performance of Electrospray Propulsion on Ground and in Space (PEP-GS) CubeSat

Lemmer’s work will provide an important platform for understanding the performance of electrospray propulsion, a type of electric space propulsion, when operating in space versus ground testing. Electrospray propulsion is an emerging technology capable of revolutionizing small satellite capabilities; however, much remains unknown about how this technology affects the spacecraft and how performance varies between on ground testing in vacuum chambers and in-space operations.

The research includes students from a variety of engineering majors working together to design, build, test, launch and operate a small satellite, learning valuable satellite and system engineering skills. Providing students with the opportunity to work on space technology offers them exciting experiences for gaining leadership and capabilities in a necessary and growing field of engineering.

Kelsey Paschich

Kelsey Paschich

Integrating Dance and Emerging Technologies to Cultivate New Modes of Choreography and Performance

Live and virtual dance performance, integrated with digital technologies, is exciting and quickly evolving. Emerging technologies have many creative possibilities, and this project proposes discovering ways to utilize them.

With the Presidential Innovation Professorship, Paschich will:

  • Research and discover innovative methods to choreograph and perform by blending physical and digital platforms to redefine dance performance and create space for local and virtual communities to gather and share a sense of belonging and connection.

  • Develop new skills to advance choreography and performance and share work that intersects with concurring artists through global festivals, performances and conferences.

  • Bring new modalities directly to students in the Department of Dance that empower them with new sets of skills, fresh perspectives and imaginative approaches to dance that cultivate multifaceted artists and community members.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.