Kelly, Murphy named distinguished professors

Gregory J. Kelly and P. Karen Murphy have been awarded the title of distinguished professor in the College of Education at Penn State.

The title of distinguished professor recognizes the academic contributions of current, full-time faculty members who hold the rank of professor. Distinguished professors are acknowledged leaders in their fields of research or creative activity; demonstrate significant leadership in raising the University's standards in teaching, research or creative activity and service; and exhibit excellent teaching skills.

Kelly, associate dean for research, outreach and technology in the college, joined the faculty in 2004 as a tenured professor of education (science education).

He works in the area of science education and has focused his attention on the analysis of classroom discourse. He is particularly interested in studying ways to make science and engineering accessible to students through their active engagement in investigations. He publishes routinely in the major journals in his field and is frequently invited to contribute to the handbooks that define the field of science education.

"Greg Kelly continues to excel as an adviser to students despite the demands of his administrative responsibilities. The strong reputation Penn State enjoys in the area of science education is closely tied to having Dr. Greg Kelly as a member of our faculty," said David H. Monk, dean of the College of Education.

"Dr. Kelly is a scholar-teacher-leader whose professional example inspires students and colleagues in all areas of academic life," said Maria Schmidt, assistant dean for multicultural programs. "As students supporting his nomination emphasize, Dr. Kelly’s effect on students as researchers is life changing, providing not only the academic training but also the motivation and encouragement to reach heights they never imagined would attain."

She said Kelly is extraordinarily skillful at keeping students focus and engaged in critical thinking, analysis and the reasoning that accompanies educational research. He actively engages students in scholarly work, mentoring them toward successful publications in recognized journals.

Kelly has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the College of Education Outstanding Researcher Award in 2015.

Murphy joined the Penn State faculty in 2002 as associate professor of education (educational psychology). She was promoted to professor in 2008.

"Dr. Murphy is a master at transcending the tradeoffs that can exist between rigor and relevance," said Monk. "Her work is squarely focused on problems of practice and she brings the full weight of deep and rigorous analysis to the explorations she leads."

Murphy has broken new ground in the analysis of discourse in classroom settings. She has developed applications such as Quality Talk for practicing teachers that test the insights she has gained from her research. These applications have been applied to multiple areas of the curriculum, as well as to learners from differing ages and backgrounds, including students from low-income families and from across different cultures and languages.

"The cross-cultural dimensions of Dr. Murphy’s work are especially noteworthy and speak to the broad reach of her impact as a scholar," Monk said. "I know from firsthand experience that her work has been well-received in Taiwan where a major effort is being made to implement Quality Talk throughout the entire Taiwanese school system."

Rayne Sperling, associate dean for undergraduate and graduate studies in the college, said Murphy excels in all areas where she has responsibility as a tenured faculty member. "She is a gifted and dedicated teacher in a demanding area of our curriculum," Sperling said.

"She works very effectively as an adviser and can point to an impressive track record of her students developing into independent and productive scholars. Her publications are numerous and highly influential, and she has distinguished herself as a principal investigator on large grants from major funding sources, including the National Science Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences."

In the college, Murphy, had a two-term appointment as the Eberly Faculty Fellow and earned the Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award in recognition of her work as the chair of the College's elected Faculty Council. Murphy also has been recognized for her accomplishments from organizations including the American Psychological Association and the American Educational Research Association.

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Last Updated January 23, 2018