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USD Recognizes Faculty with the 2019 President's Research Awards

Seal o the University of South Dakota The University of South Dakota recognized KC Santosh, Dave Swanson, Dan Engebretson and Luis Víquez with President's Research Awards.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota presents the four faculty members recognized for their outstanding research, chosen by external reviewers for their research accomplishments, publications and grant success.

The 2019 President’s Award recipients, who receive a $3,000 grant and a plaque include:

  • President’s Award for Research Excellence: Early-Mid Career Faculty
    • KC Santosh, Ph.D, assistant professor of the Department of Computer Science
  • President’s Award for Research Excellence: Established Faculty (tie)
    • Dave Swanson, Ph.D., professor of biology
  • President’s Award for Research Innovation & Entrepreneurship
    • Dan Engebretson, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • President’s Award for Research Creativity
    • Luis Viquez, D.M.A., assistant professor of music

Candidates were reviewed based on past and current research accomplishments, including criteria such as publications, presentations, successful grantsmanship, peer reviewer experience, maintenance of an active graduate or undergraduate program and being conferred other competitive research awards. The Innovation & Entrepreneurship award further required that the winner demonstrate innovative thinking or research findings that had promising commercial potential, as well as a concept that had progressed beyond the theoretical stage to the applied stage.

KC Santosh is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science. He holds a postdoctoral degree in computer science from the University of Lorraine. His research interests include AI, machine learning, pattern recognition, image processing, computer vision and big data. Santosh has authored 85 publications and two books, and has one book in press, all of which have been written during his time at USD. Additionally, Santosh is the associate editor for four journals, is a proceedings editor for another and is on the editorial board for five journals. He has given multiple talks at universities, conferences and symposia.

Dave Swanson is a professor in the biology department, and he holds a doctorate in zoology from Oregon State University. His research interests include patterns and mechanisms of seasonal phenotypic flexibility and adaptation to the cold in birds, freezing tolerance and overwintering strategies in amphibians, and woodland and wetland habitat use by migrating and breeding birds in the Northern Prairie region. Swanson has authored more than 100 well-cited publications and two books, and he is the associate editor for several journals. Over the last nine years, he has obtained more than $4.7 million dollars in external support for his research. 

Dan Engebretson is a professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME). He holds a doctorate in physical chemistry from Michigan State University. Engebretson founded the biomedical engineering department, and he maintains an environment of innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship. Engebretson received a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and he also created Tailored Medical Devices that received a $225k grant from the NIH. In total, Engebretson has received a total of more than $3.6 million in SBIR/STTR awards.

Luis Víquez is an assistant professor and director of orchestral activities in the Department of Music. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in orchestral and opera conducting from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His research interests include clarinet pedagogy, Latin American orchestral and band repertoire, opera conducing and instrumental ensembles pedagogy. Víquez is a well-known conductor and clarinet soloist on national and international stages, and he released his first album as an orchestral conductor last year. He has several articles published as well as a book chapter. 


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News