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Faculty Achievements and Awards

Rowley Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Barack Obama honored Janet W. Rowley with the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian honor in the United States—for her groundbreaking cancer research. Rowley, Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor in Medicine, discovered the link between genetics and cancer in 1972. Today, her work has revolutionized cancer research and treatment.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is just one of Rowley’s many honors. This year, she received the American Association for Cancer Research Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research, the National Academy of Sciences Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal, and the Genetics Prize of the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation.

McNeill Receives National Humanities Medal

William H. McNeill, the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in History, received the 2009 National Humanities Medal, which honors those whose work deepens the nation’s understanding of the humanities. President Obama presented the award at a White House ceremony. McNeill, AB’38, AM’39, is known for interdisciplinary research that examines global historical patterns. He has published over 20 books, including The Rise of the West (1963), for which he received the National Book Award, and Plagues and Peoples (1976).

Mellon Award Funds Lear’s Work on Human Imagination

Jonathan Lear, the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor, received a 2009 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The award highlights decisive contributions in the humanities and grants $1.5 million to recipients’ institutions. Lear, one of the nation’s leading philosophers, focuses his work on the ethical significance of human imagination. He currently is working on the forthcoming book Irony and Identity. Since the Mellon Distinguished Achievement Awards were established in 2001, six UChicago faculty members have received them.

Physician Joins Presidential Bioethics Commission

Daniel Sulmasy, associate director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, was named to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The commission advises the president on bioethical issues emerging from advances in biomedicine, science, and technology. A Franciscan friar as well as an ethicist and a practicing physician, Sulmasy studies end-of-life decision-making, ethics education, and spirituality in medicine. The Kilbride-Clinton Professor of Medicine and Ethics in Medicine and the Divinity School, he has published four books and more than 140 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Chemist Wins Presidential Early Career Award

Greg Engel, Assistant Professor in Chemistry, was honored for his innovative research with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. The $1 million award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on young professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research nominated Engel for his discovery of quantum energy transport in photosynthetic systems. He was among 100 recipients honored at the White House by President Obama in February. He is also a 2009 Searle Scholar and the recipient of a new grant from the Air Force’s Young Investigator Research Program.

UChicago Scientists Garner Heineman Astrophysics Prize

Edward Kolb and Michael Turner shared the 2010 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics, which the American Institute of Physics and the American Astronomical Society jointly award. Kolb and Turner were cited “for their joint fundamental contributions to cosmology and their development of the field of particle astrophysics, which have resulted in a vibrant community effort to understand the early universe.” Kolb, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor, and Turner, the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor, wrote the handbook for the field, The Early Universe. They also initiated the Fermilab astrophysics group, which has grown to a vibrant set of activities that link the University and Fermilab, including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the Dark Energy Survey, and the Pierre Auger Observatory.

Sonnenschein Honored for Work on Economic Theory

Hugo F. Sonnenschein, the Adam Smith Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and former University president, received an important international prize in recognition of his contributions to economic theory. He and his former student Andreu Mas-Colell, now secretary general of the European Union Research Council, shared the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Economics, Finance, and Management. Their work has helped achieve better models for the overall behavior of the economy, and particularly for interpreting and empirically measuring consumer behavior.

Steiner Takes Largest Prize for Diabetes Research

Donald F. Steiner, the A. N. Pritzker Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, was awarded the 2009 Manpei Suzuki Diabetes Prize. The prize, which includes a $150,000 award, is the largest for diabetes research and honors “those who have enlightened researchers in the field of diabetes around the world with their original and excellent scientific achievements.” Steiner, MD’56, received the award for his contributions to understanding the biochemical nature of insulin production and the development of C-peptide measurement. “Steiner’s studies have had a profound and fundamental impact on the understanding of human health, disease, and diabetes in particular,” said his faculty colleague Graeme Bell.

Press Kudos Go to Opera Scholar

Martha Feldman, the Mabel Greene Myers Professor in the Humanities, received the Gordon J. Laing Prize from the University of Chicago Press for her 2007 book, Opera and Sovereignty: Transforming Myths in 18th-Century Italy. The Laing Prize, given annually since 1963, honors the faculty author, editor, or translator of a book published in the preceding three years that has brought the Press the greatest distinction. Opera and Sovereignty explores the relationship between opera seria, an Italian form of opera that dominated the European stage in the 18th century, and political change in Europe.

Two Scientific Societies Honor UChicago Chemist

The American Chemical Society named Ka Yee Lee the recipient of the 2009 Astellas USA Foundation Award. The Astellas award, which includes a $30,000 research grant, is given to individuals who have made significant research contributions that improve public health through their work in the chemical and related sciences. Lee, Professor in Chemistry, was also elected a fellow of the American Physical Society for her “discoveries of new morphologies and molecular behavior in model lipid films of biological and medical importance.”

Richter’s Spectrum of Geological Contributions Recognized

Frank Richter, SM’71, PhD’72, received the 2009 Harry H. Hess Medal for outstanding research on the constitution and evolution of Earth and its sister planets. Richter, the Sewell Avery Distinguished Service Professor in Geophysical Sciences, has recently focused his studies on the isotopic characteristics of rocks and minerals from the continents, oceans, and meteorites. Measurements of isotopes can be used to reconstruct a variety of Earth’s dynamic geological and oceanographic processes. An elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, he has received many honors for his work.

NEA Fellowship Funds Raeburn’s Memoir

Daniel Raeburn, a lecturer in the Committee on Creative Writing, received a 2010 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. “We are supporting projects that have great works of art at the heart of them, that work to inspire and transport audiences and visitors, and that create and retain opportunities for artists and arts workers to be a part of this country’s real economy,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. Raeburn will use the $25,000 fellowship to write a memoir about his experiences as a father.

Top International Prize Goes to Celiac Disease Researcher

Internationally renowned celiac disease researcher Bana Jabri was awarded the coveted Warren Prize for Excellence in Celiac Disease Research. Jabri is codirector of the University of Chicago Digestive Disease Research Core Center. She was presented the $25,000 award for her groundbreaking research, which includes developing the first-ever mouse model to find a vaccine and cure for celiac disease, the world’s most common autoimmune disease. This is the first time the annual award was given to a researcher in the United States, as well as the first time a female researcher has received this high honor.

Three Faculty Members Earn Guggenheim Fellowships

Three faculty members are among the 180 artists, scientists, and scholars who earned fellowships this year from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. They are Margaret M. Mitchell, Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature in the Divinity School; Marta Ptaszynska, the Helen B. and Frank L. Sulzberger Professor in Music; and archaeologist Adam T. Smith, Associate Professor in Anthropology. Guggenheim fellows are appointed on the basis of achievement and exceptional promise, and are chosen from a group of some 3,000 applicants.

Faculty, Affiliates Join Prestigious Groups

Paleontologist David Jablonski was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Jablonski, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor in Geophysical Sciences, was among 72 new members announced by the academy, which acts as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.

Statistician Stephen Stigler was elected by the Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres, et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique to its Classe des Sciences. The Classe des Sciences has 50 members who are Belgian scientists and 50 foreign members, including Stigler, the Ernest DeWitt Burton Distinguished Service Professor. “My work has the connection that an important figure in the Académie was a major focus of some of my historical work on the history of statistics—Adolphe Quetelet,” said Stigler.

Maryellen L. Giger, Professor in Radiology, was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, part of the National Academies. Giger was elected into the academy’s bioengineering section for her work on digital signal analysis for improved cancer detection and treatment, as well as for her innovation in interdisciplinary training. “It was a pleasant surprise for me, but more fundamentally it recognizes the research that our team has been conducting for almost 25 years at the University of Chicago and the growing role of computer-assisted diagnosis in medical image interpretation,” said Giger.

Professor in Psychology Susan Levine, Argonne National Laboratory scientist Ron Shepard, and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory employees Marge Bardeen and Patty McBride were named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society. Fellows are recognized for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Nine faculty members are among the 229 leaders in the sciences, the humanities and arts, business, public affairs, and the nonprofit sector who were elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the world’s most prestigious honorary societies. Included in the 2010 class were Peter Constantin, Jan Goldstein, Thomas Gunning, Robert Kottwitz, Martin Kreitman, Olufunmilayo Olopade, Eric Posner, Thomas F. Rosenbaum, and Robert Shimer.

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