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Take a moment to appreciate the impact MSU Denver students, faculty and staff have on our community, the state and beyond.

By Lindsey Coulter

March 25, 2020

Two students in MSU Denver shirts throwing balloons in the airIn addition to Faculty Citings, the Early Bird shines a spotlight each month on the accomplishments of Metropolitan State University of Denver faculty and staff.

As our campus community continues to navigate teaching, learning and operating online to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it’s great to be reminded of the true impact of MSU Denver students, faculty and staff.

If we missed an award, accolade or opportunity to celebrate an accomplishment big or small, please email us at

Superb students

The Water Connection is now piloting the Nautilus, an in-stream trash-removal device developed by students Mara Maxwell and TJ DiTallo. Maxwell and DiTallo created the Nautilus as part of the Clean River Design Challenge held during the 2015-16 academic year. The half-scale prototype passively collects trash along the north side of Cherry Creek between Blake Street and Market Street and collects valuable information regarding the device’s function and what types of debris are being collected.

Congratulations are also in order for senior Travis Grimsley, who placed second in the Rocky Mountain Invitational Inside Sales Competition hosted by MSU Denver’s Center for Professional Selling.

Fantastic faculty

Join us in congratulating Cynthia Kuhn, Ph.D., professor, English. Her book “The Subject of Malice,” Lila Maclean Academic Mystery No. 4, was nominated for a Lefty Award in the best humorous mystery category, while “The Blue Ribbon” has been nominated for an Agatha Award in the best-short-story category.

Maria Akrabova, Ph.D., chair, Modern Languages, has received the Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers’ Kris Wells Memorial Creativity Award.

Standout staff

Eric Silva, TRIO SSS scholar advisor, will be honored with the JV Educational Leadership Award for providing outstanding leadership within the field of higher education. The award recognizes educational technique, contribution to student retention, dedication to discipline through scholarly advancements and more. Silva will receive the honor at the 18th Annual International Males of Color Empowerment and Retention Conference in October.

Applause for alumni

MSU Denver graduate Austin Nickel was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as a Rising Star Chef of the Year. Nickel, who studied with the School of Hospitality, is the sous chef at Spuntino, where she has worked for four years.

Exemplary programs

The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education granted 10 years of Continuing Accreditation to the Professional Athletic Training Program. Well done!

The Colorado Coalition for the Educational Advancement of Latinxs recognized MSU Denver’s Journey Through Our Heritage Program with the 2020 CoCEAL Community Impact Practice Award this month. In reviewing the nominations, committee members noted they “were humbled and awed by the significant contributions made by those nominated for the awards.” Horacio Borja-Duran, coordinator of Family, Spanish and Special Programs, was also honored with the CoCEAL Staff and Faculty Impact Practice Award.

The Chemistry and Biochemistry Department was listed as No. 14 on GradReports’ 2020 Best Colleges list. The list features the top 25 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in chemistry based on the median salary of students one year after graduation.

The School of Hospitality welcomed a group of students from Skinner Middle School through the CareerSpark program Feb. 13. The students had a great time touring the Hospitality Learning Center and making pizzas as part of the school’s annual eighth-grade Career Day.

MSU Denver partnered with HOSA, an organization for future health professionals, to host part of the group’s annual student competition on campus. Approximately 200 high school students who are interested in health-related fields checked out the campus and 10 Health Institute departments. Students also met MSU Denver faculty and received information from the Departments of Social Work; Health Professions; Nursing; Speech, Language, Hearing Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry; Biology; and Nutrition.

Topics: CADRE, Community, Excellence, Kudos

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