Linda Blockus has worked at MU for more than 25 years and serves as the Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. She earned her PhD from Mizzou in higher education with support areas in black studies and educational & counseling psychology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Boston University. She took a semester of agriculture courses at Ohio State University as an undergraduate and spent a year as a visiting graduate student at Stanford University. As an undergraduate she spent a summer at the Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center in Wooster researching insect pests of woody ornamental plants (bushes and trees). She has worked as an academic administrator at Boston University and as an academic advisor at MU. During 2008-2009, she took a leave of absence from MU to serve as a fellow for the Center for Advancing Science and Engineering Capacity at AAAS in Washington, D.C. Dr. Blockus is a long-time member of the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR), serving as a councilor for the At-Large Division (2002-2005) and a founding councilor of the Undergraduate Research Program Directors Division (2005-present). She served as the URPD Division Chair and on the CUR Executive Board (2009-2011) and is currently a member of the Student Programs Task Force. With CUR colleagues Susan Larson and Roger Rowlett, she co-authored Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research, which serves as a blueprint for institutions to create an environment supportive of the practice of undergraduate research. Dr. Blockus has also co-edited a book with Joyce Kinkead, Undergraduate Research Offices and Programs: Models and Practices (2012). In 2016 Dr. Blockus wrote a commissioned paper for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on the co-curricular model of undergraduate STEM research. She is married to MU neurobiologist Mark Kirk, PhD, and has two daughters.
Jenn Brown earned undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Science & Chemical Engineering from Westminster College (Fulton, MO) and Washington University in St. Louis, respectively. After completing three amazing laboratory internships at Fisk University, Harvard University, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, she decided to pursue a path toward promoting educational opportunities for other students. In May 2012, she completed the College Student Personnel (M.S.) program at Western Illinois University and then spent the next four years as a Residence Hall Coordinator in the University of Missouri’s Department of Residential Life. As a professional, Jenn aspires to motivate, encourage, support, advocate for, challenge, and learn with students along their educational journey. This is a formal and informal process, as Jenn works with students and interacts with students in Columbia, MO community, at large. Women’s basketball games, live performances, outdoor adventures, local restaurants, and exploring new places are just a few of the things that keep her busy.
Senior Office Support Specialist
Katie Hays is an actor turned finance manager with a BFA in Theater Arts from Stephens College. Upon graduating, Katie quickly learned that the actor’s life was not for her and forayed in sales, childcare, and auto parts delivery before discovering that she enjoys crunching numbers for a living. She was even a starving artist for all of six months before settling down at the University. Not to neglect her first love, Katie has spent much of her spare time working with nearly a dozen local arts organizations on and off stage as well as through classes, workshops, and special events. In 2015 she was elected to the Board of Directors at Columbia Entertainment Company (CEC) and soon after accepted the position of Acting Artistic Director for the theater – a role she still fills. Additionally, Katie worked closely with True/False Film Festival for four years as Venue Coordinator and House Manager. Outside of the office, and when not at the theater, Katie spends her time relaxing with friends, talking about books she plans to read but never does, and taking weekend adventures.
Student Worker - PR & Marketing
Jessica is a senior in the School of Journalism studying Strategic Communication with a focus in Art Direction. She is also a Textile and Apparel Management minor, and her dream job is to work for a fashion company or magazine. For as long as she can remember, she’s loved everything creative– including photography, writing, design and everything in between. When she’s not working on design and PR in the office, she can be found eating sushi, drinking coffee, shopping, dreaming about the places she wants to travel, missing her dogs or watching New Girl.
Student Worker - PR & Marketing
Emma is a fourth year Strategic Communications student focusing in Public Relations. She has a passion for music and aspires to work for a record label, artist or music magazine. She is originally from upstate New York, and hopes to relocate to New York City upon graduation. When she’s not in the office or in class, Emma is most likely hanging out with her friends, listening to her vinyl collection, or at the nearest concert.
IMSD-EXPRESS Undergraduate Coordinator
Brian Booton serves as the Undergraduate Director for the University of Missouri’s IMSD EXPRESS (Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity – Exposure to Research for Science Students) Program funded by the National Institutes of Health via NIGMS. His wholistic intervention strategies draw upon his 25 years of higher education experience in positive coaching, academic advising, admissions, as well as new student orientation programs. Brian’s passion and effectiveness for creating successful programs aimed at implementing inclusion and diversity initiatives is highly regarded by his students and colleagues. At MU, he has been awarded the Chancellor’s Inclusive Excellence Award, the Division of Student Affairs Excellence in Education Award, and was named the MU NAACP Chapter’s Booker T. Washington Organization Advisor of the Year among other awards. He is often asked to consult and present on his undergraduate Peer Mentoring training program. Brian has recently presented workshops at the Understanding Interventions that Broaden Participation in Research Careers Conference, as well as the Mentoring Institute’s Annual Conference at the University of New Mexico.