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Kelly Named Corix Chair and Director of the Corix Plains Institute

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Jeff Kelly

Kelly Named Corix Chair and Director of the Corix Plains Institute

NORMAN – A University of Oklahoma professor, Jeffrey F. Kelly, has been named the inaugural Corix Chair and director of the Corix Plains Institute. The Corix Plains Institute will link interdisciplinary environmental science and decision making while serving as a nexus among the University’s survey organizations—biological, geological, water, archeological and climate—and stakeholders in the public, private and non-governmental sectors. The institute will provide a platform for innovation in interdisciplinary research and educational programs.

“We want to congratulate Dr. Kelly on his appointment as the inaugural Corix Chair, and we look forward to working with him to further our shared vision for environmental research and education,” said Scott Thomson, Corix Group of Companies President and Chief Executive Officer. “The establishment of the Plains Institute deepens our relationship with the University and aligns with our vision of building sustainable communities. We’re proud to be part of the University and the community and to continue to support the University’s academic mission.”

Kelly joined the University in 2002 as a professor in the Department of Biology and a heritage biologist in the Oklahoma Biological Survey. In 2013, he became the director of the survey. Prior to coming to OU, Kelly was a post-doctoral researcher with the United States Forest Service in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He earned his graduate degrees in zoology at Colorado State University and Oklahoma State University and his bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management at the University of Maine.

“Dr. Kelly is not only an extraordinary researcher, but he is also a transformative thinker and leader,” said Kelvin Droegemeier, OU Vice President for Research. “He has distinguished himself by pioneering new research disciplines, and his vision for the Corix Chair and Corix Plains Institute is compelling. Dr. Kelly sets exactly the sort of high bar desired in these important positions.”

Kelly has taught conservation biology and population ecology courses at OU, and he has been active in developing innovative and interdisciplinary graduate training programs funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education and National Science Foundation. Kelly is the lead investigator of the NSF Research Traineeship Program in Aeroecology, which focuses on emerging human-wildlife conflicts in the lower atmosphere.

Kelly has studied bird migration for over 20 years and is particularly interested in using novel methods such as radar, stable isotope ratios and other tracking technologies to understand the relationships between long-distance animal migration on large-scale environmental change.

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About Corix and OU Relationship: In 2009, Corix entered into a 50-year relationship with the University of Oklahoma for the operation, maintenance and planning associated with the utility systems on the campus, including essential utility service to the research and museum facilities on both the main and research campuses.

The relationship with Corix established OU as a leader in the privatization of utilities in the higher education sector and has been used as a model by other institutions for transferring the cost and risk of utility operations to the private sector and redeploying limited funding to support core academic research, facilities and faculty requirements.

Today, the Corix-OU relationship continues to provide ongoing value and benefits to the University. One of those benefits includes funding from Corix for the Plains Institute and the associated Corix Chair faculty position. For more information about the Corix Chair and Corix Plains Institute, contact

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