Regan A.R. Gurung and Matthew Johnston named 2024 Margaret and Thomas Meehan Honors College Eminent Faculty 

The Oregon State University Honors College has named Regan A. R. Gurung, a professor of psychology, the 2024 Margaret and Thomas Meehan Honors College Eminent Mentor and Matthew Johnston, an associate professor with the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the 2024 Margaret and Thomas Meehan Honors College Eminent Professor.  “These awards recognize the […]

July 1, 2024

The Oregon State University Honors College has named Regan A. R. Gurung, a professor of psychology, the 2024 Margaret and Thomas Meehan Honors College Eminent Mentor and Matthew Johnston, an associate professor with the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the 2024 Margaret and Thomas Meehan Honors College Eminent Professor. 

“These awards recognize the dedication and contributions of two of the Honors College’s most committed faculty partners,” says Honors College Associate Dean Susan Rodgers. “Drs. Gurung and Johnston have consistently exceeded expectations in their support of honors students, exemplifying the significant impact that collaboration with faculty from various university departments can have on our community.” 

Current Honors College students and recent alumni nominate faculty members for the eminent mentor award, and a panel of distinguished Honors College instructors and mentors select the eminent professor and mentor each year. These awards, which include a cash prize, are supported by contributions from the Margaret and Thomas Meehan Estate. 

Regan A. R. Gurung has been in higher education for 25 years, with the last five years spent at Oregon State University. During his tenure, he has held multiple appointments, including professor of psychology, director of the General Psychology Program and associate vice provost and executive director for the Center for Teaching and Learning. His extensive experience and commitment to student success have made him an invaluable asset to the university. 

“My heart swells with pride to know that my students would think of me in the context of such an honor,” he said upon learning the news. “Students work with so many people during their college careers and have so many influences on them. Likewise, so many of my colleagues work so hard to help students succeed and learn. To be singled out for this award is a career highlight and something that I know will fire up my spirits on days when the rigors of teaching wear me down.” 

Over five years, Dr. Gurung has mentored 22 Honors College students and served on 25 thesis committees. “Most of us faculty are in higher education because we are passionate about student education. Mentoring a smart, hardworking student who loves to learn is a bonus. It makes the job even more satisfying, and I am so thankful for the great structure provided by the Honors College at OSU to make it possible to serve students,” he shares. “The rewards of the process are seeing the growth students experience and the sheer joy on their faces when they present their work at regional meetings or even on the campus.” 

One of Dr. Gurung’s mentees who nominated him for this award, Lindsay Beaman, writes, “In my undergraduate journey, I’ve had the privilege of closely collaborating with Dr. Gurung, a remarkable mentor in research and student development. Being a member of his Applied Social Cognition Lab has been transformative. Dr. Gurung’s mentorship fosters independence and critical thinking, empowering students to lead projects aligned with their passions.” 

She continues, “Dr. Gurung embodies qualities of kindness, patience and inclusivity in all aspects of his pedagogy. He fosters a culture of support and empowerment, encouraging his students to ask difficult questions and pursue their passions fearlessly. His dedication to creating an inclusive academic environment where all students can thrive is a defining feature in his many roles at OSU. I have seen this influence through my own academic and personal development, as well as through his impact on other students in my classes and in his lab. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from him.” 

Hannah D’Addario, another one of Dr. Gurung’s mentees who nominated him for the award, says, “Dr. Gurung’s exceptional mentorship, leadership and commitment to our growth make him truly deserving of this recognition. He not only empowers us to excel in our research endeavors but also inspires us to become the best versions of ourselves.” 

Looking ahead to the upcoming year as the Eminent Mentor, Dr. Gurung aims to share his mentoring strategies with other mentors and continually improve his own practices. “I have evolved many strategies to better mentor students and make the experience more rewarding for me and them,” he says. 

Matthew Johnston joined Oregon State University in 2014. His current research interests include electronic sensors, silicon integrated circuit microchips, stretchable circuits and sensor systems, and instrumentation for applications in biology, chemistry, medicine, robotics, and environmental monitoring. Dr. Johnston has received the 2020 Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) Young Faculty Award, the 2021 Oregon State University College of Engineering Faculty Teaching Excellence Award and the 2020 Oregon State University Provost Fellowship. He has served as an associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II, and the IEEE Open Journal of Circuits and Systems. Over his tenure, Dr. Johnston has mentored 16 Honors College students and served on 7 thesis committees. 

On receiving the award, Dr. Johnston says, “This really is an honor! There are so many amazing faculty working with the Honors College, so it feels extraordinary — and surprising — to be selected as the Eminent Professor. I value the Honors College community immensely as part of my own Oregon State University experience, so it’s especially rewarding to be recognized in this way.” 

Dr. Johnston has a record of innovative teaching within the Honors College, developing several honors colloquia courses over his years at OSU. “Honors colloquia are unique because of how much flexibility there is in terms of format and content, so I try to make use of that wherever possible,” he says. 

“For example, I co-developed a hands-on ocean sensing course a few years ago with Professor Meagan Wengrove, a coastal engineer, and Drummond Wengrove, who runs the iLab at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, OR. We were able to have weekly classes in Corvallis for students to build and test their sensors and then a weekend field trip to Newport to deploy their sensors in Yaquina Bay, collect data and retrieve the floating sensor modules. All majors were welcome — and all of that in five weeks! It’s hard to fit that into a normal course structure. Honors colloquia open new possibilities.” 

Set to embark on his third trip as a faculty leader for the HC London Experience study abroad program, Dr. Johnston is “looking forward to being in London for three weeks, with three faculty and about 30 HC students — many of whom will just be starting at Oregon State in the fall,” he says. In his course, Crossing Oceans with Wires and Waves, students will “look at the development of transatlantic communication, highlighting inventions from the telegraph through satellites and undersea fiber optic cables, which now carry nearly all internet traffic around the globe. Being in London, we are also able to visit relevant museum exhibitions and historical sites to put things in context.” 

Looking forward, Dr. Johnston plans to “continue teaching regularly within the Honors College, including a core honors engineering course I teach every fall and a few new and continuing colloquia that are in the works. These opportunities allow us to put together creative courses and interact with students across majors and programs on a very individual level,” he says. “On the research side, I will continue to advise Honors College theses within my own research group.  

“I am hopeful that I can spread the word about the tremendous value of these experiences — for both students and faculty — to continue to grow the roster of faculty advisors and expand the opportunities available to Honors College students,” Johston says. “I have so much respect for the Honors College faculty and staff, who have created and maintain a truly unparalleled environment for HC students — to me, it emulates a ‘small school’ experience while still providing access to the innumerable resources available at our much larger university. I am honored to be a part of this community,” he concludes. 

“I’m so pleased that Drs. Gurung and Johnston are receiving this recognition,” Rodgers says. “They’ve been terrific partners in honors education over the years, and their positive impact on students is immeasurable. Matt and Regan are dedicated, innovative teachers and mentors. I congratulate them both and thank them for all their hard work.” 

By Kallie Hagel, Communications Coordinator

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