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A publication of the University of Oklahoma Foundation
Sooner Shorts
News and events from around OU.

OU professor makes documentary on Sequoyah

Joshua Nelson, chair of the OU Film and Media Studies Department (in green shirt) has recently received accolades as narrator, co-writer and co-producer of the PBS documentary, “Searching for Sequoyah.” Nelson, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and President’s Associates Presidential Professor, goes deeper than crediting Sequoyah, aka George Guess, with his best-known accomplishment—creating the Cherokee writing system—and explores his life, his final quest and the mystery surrounding his death. Available on demand on PBS.

NSK Neustadt Prize in Literature

Muscogee writer Cynthia Leitich Smith has won the 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s & Young Adult Literature. The prize is administered byWorld Literature Today, an international literature and culture magazine published at OU since 1927.Smith is a New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling YA author of the Tantalize series and Feral trilogy, along with her award-winning works, Rain Is Not My Indian Name and Hearts Unbroken. A citizen of the Muscogee Nation, Smith lives in Austin, Texas. 

OU Pharmacy Researcher receives grant to contain viruses

Anthony Burgett, a researcher in the College of Pharmacy recently received a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, to investigate ways to prevent a virus from hijacking the human protein it needs to replicate—a new approach for antiviral drug development. Burgett says that if successful the therapeutic strategy could work on not just for one virus, but for many different kinds. Take that, coronavirus!

OU students connect with Nearpeer

Many students, especially freshmen, have experienced loneliness at college due to the social restrictions of Covid-19. After looking at other schools, the OU Division of Student Affairs and the Student Government Association launched the Nearpeer app to connect students with others who have similar interests, backgrounds and experiences.Higher education experts agree that feeling connected improves the educational experience and retention rates. Students can log on with their OU email and start connecting. 

Venkatesan named to National Academy of Inventors

The director of OU’s Center for Quantum Research and Technology has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. Thirumalai (Venky) Venkatesan, an internationally noted researcher in advanced technology innovation, is the inventor of the pulsed laser deposition process and has been awarded 33 patents for his innovations. He joined the OU faculty in 2021.

OU Partnering with NPS to launch Aviation Academy

OU’s School of Aviation Studies and Gallogly College of Engineering are partnering with Norman Public Schools to help position high school students for successful careers in Oklahoma’s growing aviation industry. The academy, aided by OU instructors and facilities, will offer STEM-based curriculum covering a variety of related fields including aviation, computer science, engineering, atmospheric sciences, robotics and more. The first academy is slated for fall 2022. 

Farewell, Coach

Gene Thrailkill was teacher, mentor and friend to thousands of Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band members during the three decades that he served as director, from 1971 to 2001. Thrailkill – whose innovations included creating OU’s pregame show – died Nov. 10 at the age of 83. Days later, the Pride offered a moving halftime tribute to Thrailkill in which a heart-rending solo of Auld Lang Syne rose against the backdrop of Pride members forming the word “Coach” on Owen Field.