Spratt Named Cox Distinguished Professor in Science at WWU

Dr. Mary Spratt, professor of biology at William Woods University, has been named the Cox Distinguished Professor in Science.

The Clark Cox Trust established the Clark and Mildred Cox Distinguished Professorship position, and Spratt is the first recipient of the award.

To be eligible, faculty are required to hold a Ph.D. and have a full-time appointment in chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics or geology/physical geography. They must have a specific research activity that involves at least one student in a mentor-mentee type relationship.

Spratt will be given release time of six hours per semester to work on research. Funding up to $6,000 per year is available to support equipment, supplies and materials associated with the research, as well as travel and expenses, and technical, clinical and laboratory consultations that may be required. A stipend of $500 will also be awarded to the student assistant each semester.

“I am thrilled to be the recipient of this award. It will be a wonderful opportunity to have more time for research,” Spratt said.

Over the past several years, Spratt has worked to collect and analyze tick DNA from more than 35 Missouri counties. This year she and WWU were also accepted into the Genomics Education Partnership based at Washington University and the Genome Center in St. Louis. The project gives undergraduate students the opportunity to study genetic codes and genes in living organisms and to make substantive contributions to the published data in genomics.

“I always involve students; I think that one of the great advantages of a small school such as WWU is to involve undergraduates in research,” Spratt said. “Students can participate in real research and get hands-on experience with cutting edge equipment and technology that are normally available only to graduate students in large universities.”

Spratt earned a bachelor degree in biology and English from St. Olaf College, a master’s degree in biology at St. Mary’s College, and a master’s and doctorate degree in physiology and cell biology at the University of Kansas.

A WWU professor for 15 years, Spratt also serves as chief editor of sections of MicrobeLibrary: “Microorganisms in the environment” and “Microbial Evolution and Diversity.”