Faculty Mentor Spotlight

Thomas Baechle, Ed.D. - Professor and Chair, Exercise Science and Pre Health Professions

Thomas R. Baechle, Ph.D., believes in practicing what he preaches. That's why he encourages his students to earn nationally respected certifications - and he does the same.

Baechle, who joined the Creighton faculty in the late 1970s, is executive director of the certifying body for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the NSCA Certification Commission. He also serves as president of the National Organization for Competency Assurance, an international organization that sets quality standards for credentialing organizations.

As chair, he runs the department and is in charge of directing all student internships.

Baechle believes hands-on opportunities, excellent faculty, strong advising and interesting courses are why exercise science has grown from a small major to one of the largest at Creighton.

"It is difficult to image that any university is as committed to each student's success as Creighton," he notes. "During the past three years, nine students in our department have had their names on published papers. Students' involvement in research helps to develop their critical thinking skills, making their applications for graduate school and employment opportunities stronger."

Juliane Strauss-Soukup, Ph.D. - Professor of Chemistry and CURAS Director

Creighton chemistry professor Juliane Strauss-Soukup, Ph.D., is a longtime champion for undergraduate research. Throughout her career and currently as director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship at Creighton has continually advocated for increased support for students involved in faculty-led scholarship.

"At Creighton, students work side by side with faculty in the research process. The center coordinates support and scholarship programs for faculty and students involved in undergraduate research projects and communicates those activities to the community," she observes.

Strauss-Soukup, who received a bachelor of science degree from Creighton in 1993, has mentored dozens of undergraduate research students who have given hundreds of presentations on their research projects. Her students have been co-authors on publications that appeared in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology and Chemistry & Biology.

Strauss-Soukup has received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) IDeA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program for 11 years and an NIH Academic Research Enhancement Award Program R15 grant for six years. Both granting programs are focused on providing undergraduates with research experiences in the sciences.

Several of her students have presented the results of their research at the Nebraska INBRE meetings and met with much success. "It's a testament to our students that in the past eight years the award has been given out at the annual INBRE meeting, Creighton has taken home prizes all but one year," Strauss-Soukup said.

Greg Zacharias, Ph.D., professor of English

Greg Zacharias, Nebraska Professor of the Year 2014Greg Zacharias, Ph.D., is project director and co-general editor of The Complete Letters of Henry James, a critical and scholarly edition that will publish all of Henry James's nearly 10,500 known letters to some 900 correspondents. To date, eight volumes have been published (University of Nebraska Press). He also directs the Center for Henry James Studies at Creighton and is executive director of the Henry James Society, Inc.

Students who work at the James Center learn project management, scholarly editing theory and practice, manuscript transcription, and annotation strategies and practices. They contribute directly and materially to The Complete Letters edition and to projects by students and scholars of Henry James who use the Center's services and expertise.

As a professor of English, Dr. Zacharias believes that real scholarship is a learned way of thinking and activity. All students in every course he teaches carry out real-world scholarship.

Jorge Zuniga, Ph.D., Director of the 3D Research & Innovation Laboratory, Exercise Science and Pre-Health Professions

Jorge Zuniga, Ph.D., and student researchers in the 3D Research & Innovation laboratory at Creighton have been turning out affordable, 3-D printed prosthetic hands and limbs since 2012. The team comprises the first research group in the U.S. to develope an open source 3D printed prosthetic hand. Known as “Cyborg Beast,” the innovative design costs much less than traditional prosthetics, making prosthetic limbs more accessible, especially for children.

Recently, alumnus Adam Carson (BS ’15) and Dr. Zuniga were recognized by AIM, a nonprofit organization that promotes technology to create brilliant communities, for their innovations. Carson was named the 2015 Tech Student of the Year and Zuniga was recognized as the 2015 Tech Innovator of the Year.

“We are at the forefront of this thing,” Zuniga said. “It’s serious. It’s going somewhere. And that’s because of the talent we have walking around the halls at Creighton.”

Other organizations have taken note as well. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has the files posted on their website and at least 13 different educational and medical institutions and nonprofit organizations have built upon the work