Dr. Ricky Cox

The Anna S. Brown and Ruth B. Logan Endowed Chair in Pre-Medicine is occupied by Dr. James Ricky Cox. Dr. Cox joined the Department of Chemistry at Murray State in 1999 and has a significant record of research and scholarly activity in the areas of antibiotic resistance, protein biochemistry and teaching with technology. His disciplinary work has been published in journals such as Biochemistry, Chemistry and Biology and the Journal of Physical Chemistry. His efforts to improve teaching and learning and develop innovative technology-based instructional techniques have been published in journals such as the Journal of Chemical Education, Journal of College Science Teaching, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education and the Teaching Professor Newsletter. Dr. Cox’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network, American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft Research. 

Dr. Cox has won the Board of Regents Award for Teaching Excellence for the College of Science, Engineering and Technology and served as the Teaching Scholar-in-Residence and Interim Director in the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology. In 2007, he was named Outstanding College or University Teacher by the Kentucky Academy of Science. In 2008, he was awarded the Karl F. Hussung Professorship in Chemistry and named the Kentucky Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. In 2011, Dr. Cox was named the Murray State University Distinguished Professor (presented by the Alumni Association) and the Max Carman Outstanding Teacher (presented by the Student Government Association) for his work with students inside the classroom and in the research laboratory. He has also served on the Advisory Board of the Teaching Professor Conference and Chair and Past-Chair of this national conference dedicated to teaching excellence and the dissemination of effective educational methods in higher education. 

Currently, Dr. Cox serves as the national Conference Chair for the Inaugural Teaching Professor Technology Conference and is a member of the national review board for the Pre-Health Collection (iCollaborative) of the MedEdPORTAL (American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC)).

Teaching Excellence

Dr. Cox has been involved in several initiatives to improve the instructional and learning environments in the science classroom and laboratory. During the past fiscal year, he used funding from his previous Microsoft Research grant to further investigate the pedagogical advantages of incorporating pen-based technology into traditional and virtual classrooms. He currently has a manuscript accepted for publication in the Journal of Chemical Education that describes a new approach to improving the listening and communication skills of biochemistry students. In addition, Dr. Cox is teaching a new seminar course entitled “Sketchnoting for Academic Success” in Richmond residential college during the Fall 2013 semester. In this course, students will learn how to incorporate external representations (diagrams, schemes, etc.) into science and other courses to help them organize and integrate information, ideas and concepts.

Biomedical Research

Dr. Cox maintains an active research group with both undergraduate and graduate students. His current work spans the broad areas of antibiotic resistance, protein biochemistry and molecular recognition. His group continues to collaborate with Dr. Greg Tschumper at the University of Mississippi on the energetic aspects of pi-stacking interactions in important biological molecules. A manuscript will be submitted in the near future examining biomedically-relevant tyrosine/adenine stacking interactions in proteins. 

Dr. Cox served as a co-PI on a current National Science Foundation (Major Research Instrumentation) Grant that brought a new 400 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer to the campus of Murray State. This instrument has impacted the research efforts of faculty members at Murray State and across the region. This instrument has also allowed the chemistry department to add additional laboratory experiments and expand others in the areas of organic, polymer and synthetic chemistry. 

During the past fiscal year, Dr. Cox served as a manuscript grant reviewer for the Journal of Chemical Education, Biochemistry, and the Journal of Computational Chemistry.

Support of the Pre-Medical/Health Curriculum

In August of 2009, Dr. Cox and a team of students established an American Medical Student Association (AMSA) chapter at Murray State. Since that time, Dr. Cox has worked with the Houston Endowed Professor (Dr. David Canning) to create the Pre-Health Professionals (PHP) Program at Murray State, that consists of a student organization and a faculty committee to evaluate students applying to medical, dental and other professional schools. Dr. Canning and Dr. Cox are co-advisors of the student PHP club that have over 100 registered members. Last year, the club had many activities designed to provide pre-health students various types of information and opportunities. For example, representatives from the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville Colleges/Schools of Medicine and Dentistry visited campus and talked with students about their programs. Dr. Bill Crump, from the University of Louisville-Trover Campus discussed their College Rural Scholar Program. In addition, local physicians Jackie Milo and Arthur Allen talked about their medical school experiences and current practices. Murray State alumni Dr. Clayton Green and Austin McCuiston (medical school student) addressed the PHP students about a variety of topics concerning professional school preparation. Representatives from the Purchase Area Health Education Center conducted a workshop on writing personal statements and interviewing skills for students pursuing medical, dental, and pharmacy school. 

Drs. Cox and Canning will continue to re-examine pre-medical curricula in light of the new 2015 MCAT examination. A great deal of effort will go into helping students take the courses necessary to prepare for this new examination.

Brief Summary of Significant Outcomes

The Teaching Professor Technology Conference is a new national conference for faculty members and instructional designers in higher education to discuss relevant issues related to teaching and technology. The focus of the 2013 conference will be blended courses, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and flipping the classroom. Since January of 2013, Dr. Cox has served as the inaugural Conference Chair and has led efforts to organize this conference with a team of advisory board members from across the nation. Dr. Cox was also invited to join the review board for a new initiative of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). He is serving as the biochemistry content expert and is reviewing materials submitted to the MedEdPORTAL, which is a component of the new iCollaborative initiative of AAMC. 

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