Faculty Awards and Achievements
Renowned faculty from across the University of Connecticut, including the UConn Health Center, conduct forward-thinking research in the sciences and humanities while serving as mentors to the next generation of nurses, schoolteachers, and engineers. Over the past year, many have been recognized with an extensive range of awards and distinctions from prominent national and international organizations.
Six UConn faculty members have received a Fulbright Scholar award for the 2009-10 academic year, placing the University of Connecticut in the top 10 among U.S. research institutions in terms of the number of faculty selected. Faculty Fulbright Scholars for 2009-10 are as follows:
- Alexis Dudden, associate professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is spending her Fulbright year in Japan working on a new book in which she considers how Japan’s Cold War experience is influencing the ways Japanese society is establishing the country’s place in the region and the world in the 21st century.
- Hedley Freake, a professor of nutritional sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, is based at Hong Kong Polytechnic University for the year as part of a team of Fulbright scholars advising on a project to restructure Hong Kong’s secondary and higher-education system.
- Wendy Glenn, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the Neag School of Education, is traveling to lower secondary schools throughout Norway to talk with students about American life and culture and provide professional development to their teachers.
- Johann Gogarten, professor of molecular and cell biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was awarded a Fulbright program fellowship for lecture and research on horizontal gene transfer at Tel Aviv University in Israel.
- Lawrence Goodheart, a professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, based at the Greater Hartford Campus, is a Fulbright Senior Lecturer at Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey.
- Lanbo Liu, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering in the School of Engineering, is at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway, focusing on the characterization of seafloor sediments.
Women of Innovation
The Connecticut Technology Council has honored two University faculty members with its annual “Women of Innovation” awards for 2010, which honor women in the work force who are innovators, role models, and leaders in the field of technology, science, and engineering.
- Marja Hurley, associate dean, professor of medicine, and director of the Office of Health Career Opportunity Programs at the UConn Health Center, was recognized in the academic innovation and leadership category. Hurley is a nationally recognized expert in the field of cellular and molecular biology of bone. She also has received national acclaim for her work developing innovative programs that have helped hundreds of students from underrepresented groups attend medical and dental schools throughout the United States.
- Baikun Li, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the School of Engineering, was honored for research innovation and leadership. Li leads the Bioenergy Production-Wastewater Treatment Group at UConn, which seeks efficient ways to generate clean energy through wastewater treatment.
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Chester Arnold, Jr., co-director of the Center for Land Use Education and Research at UConn as well as program director and extension educator for the Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) Program, was awarded the Excellence in Extension Education Award for the Northeast Region in 2009 by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
- Fakhreddin Azimi, professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, won the international Mossadegh Prize for his recent book, The Quest for Democracy in Iran.
- Robert Birge, who holds the Harold S. Schwenk Chair in Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, won the 2009 Connecticut Medal of Science, the state’s highest award for scientists. His research, focused on molecular biophysics and molecular electronics, may one day have applications in artificial intelligence, data storage, and bimolecular electronic devices, such as an artificial retina.
- Pamela Brown, a professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the Stamford campus, has been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a year of research, travel, and writing on a book project titled Extravagant Stranger: The Foreign Actress in Shakespearean Drama.
- Shawn Burdette, assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has won a $600,000 National Science Foundation CAREER award for a five-year research project in biological chemistry. The award, which recognizes promising scientists early in their careers, will fund research on “free” metals – metals such as potassium, zinc, or calcium that are unattached to biological molecules such as proteins.
- José Gascón, assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, won a National Science Foundation CAREER award, designed to recognize and promote the work of promising young teacher-scholars. The $600,000 award for five years will support his work in developing protocols for efficiently and accurately describing the electronic structure of a protein, integrating different levels of theory, including quantum and classical mechanics.
- Mwangi Samson Kimenyi, associate professor of economics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is a senior visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
- Nicholas Leadbeater, assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, won a National Science Foundation CAREER award, the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of the career development of promising teacher-scholars who integrate research and education. The $575,000 award for five years will support his work in organic chemistry, using microwaves for making chemical reactions cleaner and faster and monitoring the reactions as they run.
- Gene Likens, Distinguished Research Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was awarded an “Einstein Professor” designation by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in recognition of his work as a pioneering ecologist.
- Michael Lynch, professor of philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship in 2009, which supports his work on a book defending an original theory of truth that is at odds with both traditional theories and what he calls the new orthodoxy.
- Shayla Nunnally, assistant professor of political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, won the National Conference of Black Political Scientists’ 2009 Fannie Lou Hamer Outstanding Community Service Award.
- Victoria Robinson, an assistant professor of molecular and cell biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, won a $936,000 early career development award from the National Science Foundation, the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of the career development of promising teacher-scholars who integrate research and education. The five-year award is for a research project on a bacterial protein known as BipA.
- James Rusling, professor of chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor of cell biology at the UConn Health Center, received the 2009 ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry Award in Electrochemistry from the American Chemical Society. The award recognizes “an individual who through scholarly activity has definitely and uniquely advanced the field of electrochemistry.”
- Richard Wilson, the Gladstein Distinguished Chair in Human Rights, director of the Human Rights Institute, and professor of anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship. He is devoting his fellowship to completing a book on three United Nations tribunals: the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Neag School of Education
- Linda Pescatello, an expert in exercise and hypertension and professor in the Department of Kinesiology in the Neag School of Education, is the first woman to have been selected to serve as senior editor of the American College of Sports Medicine's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription – the gold standard for professionals in the field.
- Joseph Renzulli, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and Neag Chair in Gifted Education and Talent Development, received one of the top awards in the field of education, the prestigious McGraw Prize in Education. He is director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented as well as co-founder of Renzulli Learning Systems.
- Xae Reyes, associate professor of bilingual/multicultural education in the Neag School of Education and interim director of the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, served as a 2009 Fulbright Senior Specialist, teaching and studying at Burapha University International College in Thailand.
- Eliana Rojas, assistant professor of bilingual/multicultural education in the Neag School of Education, was selected as the 2009 Latina Citizen of the Year by the Connecticut Latino and Puerto Rican Commission.
- Hariharan Swaminathan, professor and department head for educational psychology in the Neag School of Education, has been recognized by the State of Connecticut as the 2009 Outstanding Naturalized U.S. Citizen for his significant contributions to his profession.
School of Business
- Stanley Biggs, professor of accounting in the School of Business, received the 2009 Outstanding Educator Award from the Auditing Section of the American Accounting Association. The award recognizes “exemplary contributions in research or teaching over a sustained period of time, as evidenced by publications, educational innovations, guidance to graduate and undergraduate students, or excellence in teaching.”
School of Engineering
- Aggelos Kiayias, assistant professor of computer science and engineering in the School of Engineering, has received three new grants from the National Science Foundation for research aimed at improving the security of data transmitted and stored electronically. The grants, which total more than $400,000, build upon Kiayias’ ongoing cyber-security research.
- Shiva Kotha, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the School of Engineering, won a five-year, $430,000 National Science Foundation Early Career Development (CAREER) Award to support his research on strategies for improving the body’s ability to repair damaged bone. Kotha is exploring the effects of three distinct mechanisms: changes in whole bone structure by a process known as modeling; replacement of damaged tissue with newly formed intact tissue by a process termed remodeling; and repair by osteocytes – cells embedded in the bone that may play a role in coordinating the skeleton’s adaptive responses.
- Ramamurthy (“Rampi”) Ramprasad, associate professor in the Department of Chemical, Materials, & Biomolecular Engineering in the School of Engineering, has been awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship, which will enable him to conduct research starting in fall 2010 at the Fritz-Haber-Institut of the famed Max Planck Society, in Berlin, Germany.
School of Fine Arts
- Kelly Dennis, an associate professor of art and art history in the School of Fine Arts, was awarded the Ansel Adams Research Fellowship at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona for her research on Ansel Adams’ color photography for Arizona Highways.
- Jean Givens, professor of art and art history in the School of Fine Arts, received the 2009 John Nicholas Brown Prize from the Medieval Academy of America for her book, Observation and Image-Making in Gothic Art (Cambridge University Press, 2005).
School of Law
- Mark Janis, William F. Starr Professor of Law at the School of Law, was among the six senior editors of The Encyclopedia of Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2009), which was awarded the prestigious 2010 Dartmouth Medal. The award is given annually by the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) division of the American Library Association and recognizes a reference work of outstanding quality and significance published in the previous calendar year.
School of Nursing
- Cheryl Beck, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Nursing and one of the country’s leading experts on post-traumatic stress disorder and childbirth, was recognized for her dedication to improving the health of women and infants with the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses 2009 Distinguished Professional Service Award.
School of Pharmacy
- Robin Bogner, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the School of Pharmacy, received the Ralph Shangraw Memorial Prize in 2009. This international award is given annually for excellence in research focused on excipients, and is given by the International Pharmaceutical Excipients Council. An excipient is an inert substance used as a vehicle for a drug.
- Robert McCarthy, dean of the School of Pharmacy, has been selected to receive the American Pharmacists Association’s Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) Outstanding Dean Award, which recognizes deans who have made significant contributions to the APhA-ASP Chapter and have promoted with distinction the welfare of student pharmacists through various community service, leadership, and professional activities.
- Michael Pikal, the Pfizer Distinguished Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology, director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Processing Research at the School of Pharmacy, and a globally recognized authority on freeze-drying technology, received the Distinguished Pharmaceutical Scientist Award from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) in 2009, the highest honor bestowed by the AAPS. It recognizes the accomplishments of an individual that have been outstanding because of the impact of his or her work in the pharmaceutical sciences and technologies.
UConn Health Center
- Three UConn Health Center researchers – Thomas Babor, professor and chair of the Department of Community Medicine and Health Care; Zihai Li, associate professor of medicine and immunology; and Bruce Mayer, associate professor of genetics and developmental biology – have been awarded the extremely competitive Challenge Grants, a new National Institutes of Health initiative to jumpstart specific biomedical and behavioral health research. There were more than 20,000 applicants for the Challenge Grants, with only 1% funded.
- Cato T. Laurencin, vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine as well as a professor of chemical engineering in the School of Engineering, received two national honors for his academic and research work. He was named by President Barack Obama as a recipient of the 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, which is presented to individuals or organizations in recognition of their mentoring of minority students who are underrepresented in the fields of science or engineering. He also received the 2009 Pierre Galletti Award from the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the organization’s highest honor, which recognizes contributions to public awareness of medical and biomedical engineering. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, is widely published in scholarly journals, and holds more than 20 U.S. patents.
- Zihai Li, associate professor of medicine and immunology at the UConn Health Center, has been inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation. The ASCI is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected medical honor societies, representing active physician-scientists who are at the bedside, at the research bench, and at the blackboard. Membership to the ASCI is by election only and is considered an extraordinary honor in academic medicine and industry.
- Jay R. Lieberman, professor and chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and director of the UConn Health Center’s New England Musculoskeletal Institute, has been inducted by the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering into its College of Fellows. He was nominated for “significant and sustained contributions to understanding the biology of arthroplasty implants, and for innovative strategies for bone regeneration using gene therapy and materials science.”
- Faryal Mirza, an endocrinologist at the UConn Health Center’s New England Musculoskeletal Institute, has been presented the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research 2009 Award for Most Outstanding Research in the Pathophysiology of Osteoporosis. She was recognized for her abstract of her study on the role of sclerostin, a hormone believed to inhibit bone formation in the development of postmenopausal osteoporosis.
- Phillip P. Smith, head of the Center for Continence and Voiding Disorders at the UConn Health Center, is the recipient of a Dennis W. Jahnigen Career Development Scholars Award from the American Geriatrics Society. The Jahnigen Career Development Scholars Awards Program provides grants to assist young faculty in research and education in the geriatrics aspects of their discipline. Smith is the only 2009 Jahnigen scholar from Connecticut and one of seven nationwide.
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