Linda Blockus has worked at MU for more than 25 years and serves as the Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. She earned a PhD in higher education from Mizzou 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. Dr. Blockus 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 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.
- Blockus, L. (March 2016). “Strengthening Research Experiences for Undergraduate STEM Students: The Co-Curricular Model of the Research Experience.” A commissioned paper for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Strengthening Research Experiences for Undergraduate STEM Students Committee, Board on Science Education.
- Rowlett, R.S., Blockus, L., and Larson, S. 2012. Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research. Council on Undergraduate Research.
- Kinkead, J., and Blockus, L. (Eds.). 2012. Undergraduate Research Offices and Programs: Models and Practices. Council on Undergraduate Research.
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, Missouri, 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.
PR & Marketing Student Worker
Jordyn Bensyl is a junior transfer student from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, majoring in journalism with an interest in communications and minoring in Business. Jordyn is passionate about strategic storytelling and all things social media. She spends her time on campus searching for the perfect latte. Jordyn looks forward to tradition, game day, and being apart of the Mizzou family.
Student Writing Intern
Brian is an MU senior from San José, California, majoring in journalism with an interest in communications. Brian currently works as a writing intern for the MU News Bureau. He also spends time on campus as an active member of Acacia Fraternity, and volunteers for the sports department of MU’s student-run television station, MUTV. Brian’s favorite foods are buffalo wings and macaroni and cheese, and he always looks forward to autumn at MIZZOU as it rings the start of football season and tailgates.
IMSD-EXPRESS Undergraduate Director
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.
IMSD Office Support Assistant
Kristi earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Northwestern University and went on to work in the music business in New York City and Los Angeles. She worked in artist management for several years, working with many major recording artists including TLC and Backstreet Boys. She then came back home to Missouri and has worked in several different areas, including community adult & child education and for the US Census Bureau. She lives in Holts Summit with her husband, daughter and dog where she enjoys music, books and going to concerts with her 13 year old daughter.