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NMSU names three Regents Professors

Three New Mexico State University professors are the latest recipients of the prestigious Regents Professorship.

Left to right: NMSU Regents Professorship winners Sonya Cooper, Jeffrey Arterburn and James Shearer. (NMSU photo)

Jeffrey Arterburn, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Sonya Cooper, professor of engineering technology; and James Shearer, professor of music, were awarded the Regents Professorships at today's 2011 Fall Convocation.

"The three Regents Professors named today exemplify the highest academic standards at NMSU," said Executive Vice President and Provost Wendy K. Wilkins. "All have invested many years of their careers at NMSU, and each has contributed greatly to the university's mission to serve the educational needs of New Mexico's diverse population through comprehensive programs of education, research, extension education and public service, while developing impressive academic credentials worthy of international distinction."

The NMSU's Board of Regents established the Regents Professorship in 2001. Regents Professors hold the title for as long as they continue to teach at NMSU.

Arterburn started his career at NMSU in 1992 as an assistant professor in the division of organic chemistry. He is the principal investigator of the New Mexico IDeA Network for Biomedical Research, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Research Resources. The grant has benefited institutions of higher education throughout the state, engaging early-career faculty and students. The grant award totaled $22.5 million from 2001-2009. Recently, Arterburn successfully worked to renew funding for the project through 2014.

A tenured full professor, Arterburn has received the Westhafer Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity, the University Research Council Distinguished Career Award, the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Outstanding Achievement Award and the Donald C. Rousch Excellence in Teaching Award. His research program focuses on the development of small molecular probes, imaging agents, and anticancer and antiviral drugs.

Cooper has been a faculty member with the College of Engineering since 1994. She formerly served as department head for engineering technology and surveying engineering from 2005-2010. Cooper is actively involved in the historic preservation of important landmarks around New Mexico and Texas, such as the Fountain Theatre in Mesilla, the Branigan Cultural Center in Las Cruces and the San Miguel Church in Santa Fe.

She is the current vice president of the New Mexico section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Cooper also served for five years on ASCE's national committee on technology curriculum and accreditation. At NMSU, Cooper is the current chair of the extension development committee, a member of the college promotion and tenure committee and is the lead adviser for all departments in the College of Engineering in preparing for an approaching ABET accreditation visit. When she is not teaching or serving on committees, Cooper is involving her students in community service projects that bring real value to the area.

A faculty member at NMSU for 20 years, Shearer has built a strong international reputation as both a scholar and musician. Recently, Shearer conceived and brought to fruition the Jam Session in Las Cruces. The project brought together the NMSU community with the Las Cruces Museum System, the Doņa Ana Arts Council, the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau, KRWG radio and TV, and KTEP in El Paso. The two-month event included a photography and artifact exhibit, a film series, a lecture series and numerous live concerts. In recognition of his work, Shearer was given the 2011 Papen Family Award for distinguished service from the Doņa Ana Arts Council.

Shearer also helped to create the NMSU Cultural Series, a concert series that brings international artists to perform for NMSU and the Las Cruces/El Paso region. In 2010, Shearer received the Dennis Darnall Faculty Achievement Award in recognition of his scholarship and service to the university. He also is considered one of the nation's leading tuba players, and his most recent recording, "The Memphis Hang," was entered into the first round of Grammy Award consideration in 2008.