Sep 12, 2023

Ken Sher photoResearchers from across the nation recently gathered in Columbia to honor Mizzou’s Ken Sher, Chancellor's Professor and Curators' Distinguished Professor Emeritus. Sher has made a career of strengthening the study of addiction, substance use and related disorders — all while being a source of guidance and strength for those around him.

The event that attracted this cohort of experts was a festschrift, an academic celebration, organized by the Missouri Center for Addiction Research and Engagement (MO-CARE) and the Department of Psychological Sciences in honor of Sher. A steady stream of Sher’s peers, students and mentees took the stage. They came from across the country to tell how Sher helped them achieve their aspirations. Speakers represented multiple generations at varied stages of career development, from Ken’s most recent trainees to his fellow distinguished faculty.  

Many of Sher’s findings are now common knowledge in addiction research and treatment, providing a reliable foundation to the academic and clinical communities as well as benefiting those receiving treatment.  Sher’s influence revealed the profound effects of alcohol consumption on anxiety and provided invaluable insight into the impact that genetics and home environment have on addiction.

Sher is not only positioned as a source of guidance to his field en masse. He’s also a leader at the campus and individual levels, building Mizzou’s reputation for life-changing research and making the Department of Psychological Sciences a go-to for high-achieving faculty and students.

“We would not have our addiction training program or MO-CARE without Kenny,” says Denis McCarthy, professor of psychological sciences at Mizzou and director of MO-CARE. “Many of the addiction faculty at MU, including myself, came here because of Kenny, and then stayed because of the intellectual and training environment Kenny developed here.”

Sher takes a humbler perspective, sharing the credit and saying, “I think it’s fair to say that the current group of faculty associated with research and training in addiction is truly world class. Because of them, MU is known as a leading center for research in alcohol and addiction and our trainees have established productive careers at leading research institutions both in the United States and abroad.”