Cook receives University Distinguished Professors Scholarship

Jeff CookPh.D. candidate Jeffrey Cook of the Department of Political Science has been awarded this year’s University Distinguished Professors Scholarship offered to one graduate student annually.

He was selected for the award due to his exceptional teaching as a graduate student teaching assistant and for his accomplishments in his field of research.

“This scholarship is one of the most incredible honors I have ever received as a student, academic or researcher,” Cook said. “I am still shocked I received this award, and without a doubt this will be one of my fondest memories associated with my time at CSU.”

Cook chose to come to CSU to pursue a doctoral degree in political science after his advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Sara Rinfret, informed him of the CSU political science department’s unique focus on environmental policy. “Deciding to come to CSU was one of the best decisions that I have ever made,” he said. “I have grown so much academically and in my research.”

Research and teaching

Cook’s research is focused on the environmental and energy regulatory proceedings at the state and federal levels. More directly, he evaluates the role of interest groups regarding rule-making processes and their influence on outcomes. Cook’s dissertation focuses on the role and influence of interest groups on climate change regulations at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He said that so far, his research indicates that the EPA does a fairly good job of balancing the goals of pro-business groups with those of pro-environment groups when fashioning regulations.

Cook is an accomplished scholar, having had numerous articles and reports published in prominent and professional journals. “To date, he has 11 peer reviewed journal articles (five of which are solo-authored), one co-authored book chapter and numerous reports to his credit,” CSU Professor Robert Duffy said in a nomination letter for the scholarship.

Cook receiving an award
Co-recipients Jeff Cook and Megan Demasters accept the Department of Political Science Graduate Teaching Award from Professor Charles Davis on April 29, 2015.

“Jeff has also been a superb GTA (much sought after by faculty members) and has excelled in his own stand-alone teaching assignments,” Duffy wrote. “In fact, he is a co-recipient of the department’s graduate teaching award this year; his student evaluations were uniformly strong, with students citing his enthusiasm and knowledge.”

Cook noted that this enthusiasm largely stems from his “genuine enjoyment for in-class discussion, where students not only begin to understand a new concept or topic, but offer unique perspectives that would have never crossed my mind otherwise.” He said he particularly “loves when they look at it from a different perspective than I would.”

Cook attributed these and other accomplishments to the help and advising of Duffy, who he said was “instrumental in helping me complete my academic work and achieve my placement in innovative research firms such as the Center for the New Energy Economy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.”

Invaluable contributions

Cook has worked for the CSU Center for the New Energy Economy in various research roles focused on state clean energy policy. Cook helped CNEE launch the Spot for Clean Energy this May. Former Gov. Bill Ritter, director of CNEE, praised Cook’s contributions to this and other projects as “invaluable.” Cook has also served as a policy analysis intern at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden. In this position, he has contributed to a range of projects such as one focused on identifying a clean energy pathway for a coal plant to a project addressing the scope and impact of municipal ordinances on clean energy development.

Cook said receiving the scholarship is beneficial because it offers him greater flexibility to conduct and financially fund new research projects. It also affords him the ability to balance writing his dissertation, looking for future jobs and managing his teaching schedule “while managing to find some time to sleep,” he said.

Upon graduation, Cook said, he is interested in becoming a tenured faculty member at a university like CSU where he would be able to teach courses, conduct his own research agenda and perform consulting work with associated or external policy analysis centers similar to CNEE or NREL.

This scholarship is funded each year by donations from CSU University Distinguished Professors. The University Distinguished Professors are a small group of faculty from across campus who have been recognized for exceptional scholarship with the highest academic recognition awarded by the University.