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Ohio University graduate commencement speaker shares pearls of wisdom

ATHENS, Ohio (June 11, 2004) -- Associate Professor of Environmental and Plant Biology Morgan Vis shared wisdom she garnered from her own personal experiences with nearly 800 master's and doctoral graduates when she addressed Ohio University's graduate commencement today in the Convocation Center.

Morgan Vis addresses the 2004 graduate class on June 11."As you walk across the stage today, my wish for you is a career, or many careers, that brings you a lifetime of happiness and strength of conviction without compromising on the big things," Vis said. "Remember, you are the future of your discipline."

Honored as the 2003 Outstanding Graduate Faculty Member, Vis has been a member of the Ohio University faculty since 1996. She earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Kalamazoo College, a master's in botany from the University of Rhode Island and a doctorate in biology from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

"We expect great things from you. When you are the leaders of your fields, remember to nurture the future as we hope we have done for you," she said.

Her current research interests focus on systematics and biogeography of freshwater red algae and impacts of acid mine drainage on stream periphyton communities in southeastern Ohio.

She is director of the Ohio University DNA Analysis Facility and a recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences' Dean's Outstanding Teacher Award. Professor Vis has written successful applications for nearly 30 grants, had more than 50 articles published in refereed journals, and has presented 20 papers at professional meetings.

Also at this morning's ceremony, Daniel Modaff, associate professor in the School of Communication Studies of the College of Communication, was honored as the 2004 Outstanding Graduate Faculty Member and Gar Rothwell was named the university's newest Distinguished Professor.

Graduate commencement photo by Rick FaticaAn Ohio University faculty member since 1995, Modaff earned a doctorate in organizational communication and language and social interaction from the University of Texas at Austin. The co-author of a textbook on organizational communication, he also has written two book chapters and numerous articles published in leading professional journals.

He also is the co-developer of CommuniCoach, a speech and performance evaluation software, and he has produced a variety of public radio features. His area of research interest involves the organizing principles of the Sioux Indians.

Rothwell, chair and professor in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, is internationally known for his research in paleobotany and plant systematics.

An Ohio University faculty member since 1974, he has also held visiting teaching and research positions at the University of Alberta and the University of London. He co-authored the book, "Paleobotany and the Evolution of Plants," in 1993 and has written numerous book articles and chapters. He is also a member of several professional organizations.

Rothwell has been recognized in the past for his excellence. In 1993, he was given the Edgar T. Wherry Award from the Botanical Society of America; in 1999, he was named an Ohio University Presidential Research Scholar; and in 2002, he was presented the Michael A. Cichan Award by the Botanical Society of America for the best paper published the previous year that bridges the boundary between plant structure and evolution.

David McCullough, recognized historian and author, will address more than 3,000 undergraduates at Ohio University's June 12 undergraduate commencement ceremonies to be held at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in the Convocation Center. The commencement ceremony for the College of Osteopathic Medicine was held June 5. The Cleveland Clinic's Leonard Calabrese, D.O., an AIDS treatment pioneer and former Philips Medal recipient, delivered the commencement address to those graduates.

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Media Contact: Senior Media Specialist Jack Jeffery, (740) 597-1793 or jefferyj@ohio.edu

Editors: Photos of today's graduate commencement ceremony can be downloaded from the Web at

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