Scholarship committee

See the full University of South Dakota Scholarship committee.

Jamie A. Turgeon-Drake

Instructor, Public Health & Health Sciences

Jamie Graduated from USD with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences along with a minor in World Religions. She also received her master's degree from USD in Adult and Higher Education. She is an instructor in the Health Science Major with courses required for the Public Health Major as well as cross listed with Native Studies. She created and teaches the curriculum for HSC/NATV 330 Native People's Health Care Promotion and Policy & co-created HSC 375 US and Global Healthcare Systems (a course on human rights with a travel abroad component). She also teaches HSC 110 Interdisciplinary Healthcare Teams (with a student mentoring program), HSC 380 Health Literacy and Culture Care along with HSC 460 Leading change. She also works with honors students on their undergraduate research and scholarship along with facilitating Enter Mentoring to other professors though the HHMI grant on Inclusive Excellence here at USD.. She has a daughter Jaymes who is a dancer and runner, and a Toy Yorkie named Toto.
Melissa Berninger

Director of Honors Program
Melissa Berninger came to the University of South Dakota in 2018. As director of the University Honors Program, she advises and teaches honors students, provides administrative leadership for the program, and serves as the campus coordinator of nationally competitive scholarships. Before coming to USD, she spent nearly twenty years at Long Island University Brooklyn, where she served as writing program administrator, campus coordinator of assessment, and associate director of the Honors College. Melissa earned a master's degree in English from Pennsylvania State University and a master's degree in library and information science with a certificate in archives and special collections from the Palmer School at Long Island University. She is a merit badge counselor for the Vermillion BSA troop and a regular volunteer at the Vermillion Welcome Table.
Anne Cipperley
Anne Cipperley, CFA, works at the South Dakota Investment Council as a high yield bond portfolio manager. She mostly covers companies in the energy, healthcare, gaming/leisure, metals/mining, and retail industries. Anne graduated summa cum laude with honors from the University of South Dakota in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a minor in Mathematics. Anne played basketball for the Coyotes for two years, was a Presidential Alumni scholarship recipient, participated in the Honors Program, studied abroad in both the Czech Republic and Greece, and won the Midwest Economics Association’s 2009 Undergraduate Paper Competition with her honors thesis titled “The Cost European Union Consumers Bear to Support Rural Dairy Farmers.” Anne and her husband, Kyle, currently reside in Sioux Falls with their two sons.

Allison Gross

USD Student

Allison Gross is a senior majoring in both Political Science and Sustainability with a minor in Economics. She is a member of the Honors Program, the Political Science League, and a recipient of the Dorothy Schieffer Scholarship. In the spring of 2023, she studied Public Economics and Policy at the University of Galway, Ireland. Currently, she is working on a research project exploring the economic impact of zebra mussels in South Dakota, partly made possible by the National Science Foundation. This project will be an important resource for her Honors thesis, which she will present in the spring of 2024 before she graduates.

Benjamin Hagen

Associate Professor, English

Benjamin D. Hagen, Associate Professor in the Department of English, received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Rhode Island in 2012. His research interests include modern and contemporary fiction and poetry, the history of criticism and theory, affect studies, and the intersections of literature, pedagogy, and philosophy. At USD, he teaches graduate courses in these areas as well as sections of ENGL 284 (Introduction to Criticism), ENGL 222 (British Literature II), and UHON 110 (Honors English). Though coming to South Dakota from Rhode Island, he is originally from a small town (Gladstone) in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Michael Hook

Professor, Art Foundation Coordinator

Phillip Michael Hook came to the University of South Dakota in 2006. He teaches two-dimensional design, color theory and all levels of drawing in the Department of Art at USD. Hook is also the academic advisor for all freshmen in the art department as well as mentor for all graduate teaching assistants teaching art classes. Professor Hook’s research interests are in the areas of landscape and abstraction, works on paper, printmaking and hand-bound books. Professor Hook grew up in the small town of Boonville, Missouri though originally from Kansas City. He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Missouri. Hook has frequently exhibited work throughout the Midwest and has been selected to participate in many juried competitions and invitational exhibitions throughout the United States.

Eric Jepsen


Eric M. Jepsen has been at the University of South Dakota since 2006.  He is the Coordinator of the Political Science major at USD and helps students secure internships across the state, region, country, and world.  He teaches classes on comparative politics, international relations, democracy, authoritarianism, and the politics of economic development.  His research interests revolve around subnational development policies in federal countries within the constraints and opportunities of the global economy.  He lives in Vermillion with his wife Kaiya who also teaches at USD along with their teenage son Sver, a dog named Freyja, a cat named Spy Spy, and another cat named Specter.

Gabriela Luevano

USD Student

Gabi Luevano is a third-year Communications Studies major with minors in Business Administration, Multicultural Studies, and Spanish. Gabi works as an Office Assistant for the Dean of Students and as a Resident's Assistant. Gabi is involved on campus as an Honors Peer Mentor and is involved in multiple multicultural student organizations.

Sara Mart

Academic Advisor

A graduate of USD with a bachelor's degree in speech communication ('91) and a master’s in communication studies ('06), Sara Mart worked for six years in admissions for Southwestern College (Kan.) before returning to USD in 1997 to work in the Admissions Office as an Admissions Counselor and then as the Associate Director of Admissions. In 2007, she transitioned to the Academic & Career Planning Center where as Assistant Director, she advises nursing majors, coordinates the First-Year Experience, and enjoys teaching USD 101 to freshmen each fall. Sara’s children have all left her nest, so she enjoys life on the Missouri River with her husband and chocolate lab, Rex.

Michelle Maloney

USD Alumna

A third generation USD alum, Michelle Maloney graduated with a degree in English and a minor in mass communications (now known as contemporary media and journalism). A supporter of all things USD, she serves on the Howling Pack Board of Directors for USD and is a Trustee at the University of South Dakota Foundation. Michelle owns Maloney Real Estate and Property Management in Vermillion where she lives with her husband Kevin Murley (MFA 96').

Daniel Mourlam

Associate Professor and Chair of Teacher Residency & Education

Daniel Mourlam earned his Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Northern Iowa in 2015. He joined the University of South Dakota in 2015 and teaches courses in educational technology, secondary teaching methods, and STEM Education. His research focus is at the intersection of digital technologies and media with the beliefs and knowledge of pre- and in-service teachers, PK-12 learners, and university faculty. Prior to joining the university, he was a technology coordinator, teacher, technology specialist, and project manager at both PK12 and post-secondary institutions.

Megan Red Shirt-Shaw

Director of Native Student Services

Megan Red Shirt-Shaw (Oglala Lakota) earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in English and her Master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Higher Education. She has worked in undergraduate admissions, college counseling, and student success at the University of Pennsylvania, Questbridge, Santa Clara University, Albuquerque Academy, and the 7th Gen Summer Program. She is currently the Director of Native Student Services at the University of South Dakota and a PhD student in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development with a focus on Higher Education and a minor in American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is a member of the Board of Overseers at Harvard University. Her favorite phrase her mother ever taught her in Lakota is “Weksuye, Ciksuye, Miksuye” meaning “I remember, I remember you, remember me.” 

Haoran Sun

Associate Professor

Haoran Sun earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Jilin University. Prior to joining the Department of Chemistry at the University of South Dakota (USD), he worked on fluorinated metalloporphyrins and highly reactive nucleophilic fluorinating reagents at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dr. Sun joined the USD Department of Chemistry in 2008, and he teaches organic chemistry and electrochemistry courses for both undergraduate and graduate students. He also routinely mentors undergraduate and graduate research, which provides students indispensable hands-on learning experience outside the classroom. His lab’s research focuses on study of fluorinated materials for renewable energy generation and storage, as well as developing new fluorination methods for medicinal applications. He has authored and co-authored five book chapters and 84 peer-reviewed journal articles, and he obtained four U.S. patents. Awards include the NSF CAREER award and the USD President's Award for Research Excellence. Dr. Sun enjoys working with students and supporting their future success.

Susan Tuve

Community Member

Susan Tuve attended the University of South Dakota for two years and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in anthropology (a degree not available at USD at the time). The experience at both schools gave her an appreciation for the faculty support and academic and service opportunities afforded at USD as opposed to a much larger university. With a liberal arts background she had a successful career in the business world as a trust and investment banker. She retired in 2018 from the University of South Dakota Foundation, an entity dedicated to raising private dollars for support of the University of South Dakota. She and her husband are chaperones for the USD Chamber Singers when they go on tour. She is an avid Coyote fan. Her hobbies include reading, biking and jigsaw puzzles.

Kaleesta Waysman

USD Student

Kaleesta Waysman is a junior Medical Biology major with minors in Mathematics and Chemistry. She is the junior Nolop Institute Scholarship for Medical Biology recipients and one of the Nolop Research recipients. She is currently collaborating with the CDC on a project that has the potential to support or alter future policy on testing for syphilis by running sensitivity analyses on an SIR model. She is the President of Love of Learning (L.O.L) Tutoring, a small group leader in the Chi Alpha Campus Ministry, and a dance fitness instructor at the Wellness Center. She volunteers at the Sanford Children's Hospital and works as a CNA in Sioux Falls. During Kaleesta's freshman year at USD, she competed on America's Got Talent with a dance group from Las Vegas, Nevada called the Coronado Courgarettes.

Ella Wittmuss

USD Student

Ella Wittmuss is a junior Medical Biology major from Vermillion, South Dakota, and in the Honors Program. She is a recipient of a Mickelson scholarship and was awarded a Sanford School of Medicine’s Alumni Student Scholar position. Ella is involved on campus as Vice President of Internal Affairs for Dakotathon, Vice President of Community Relations for Pi Beta Phi, and is a Biology peer mentor. She began working on ecology research as a UDiscover scholar this summer, which she hopes to develop into her Honors thesis. She also works as a patient care tech at Sanford Vermillion Clinic and volunteers in the Vermillion School system.


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