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"Characters Of The First Order"
Faculty At The Forefront Of Their Disciplines

Rotunda PhotoThomas Jefferson understood that the foundation of future eminence for his university would be its faculty. He mounted an international search for "characters of the first order," though the fledgling institution could hope to recruit only "a junior set of aspirants." As in Jefferson's time, the University's current and future stature depends in large measure on its ability to retain women and men who are extending the frontiers of knowledge and who will use their discoveries to enrich the classroom experiences of their students and to serve the people of the Commonwealth and the nation.

Nearly 180 years after Jefferson appointed his first faculty, the University can attract not only superbly qualified young scholars but also distinguished professors with established reputations as leaders in their disciplines. Their honors and achievements this past year reflect the extraordinary dedication, energy, and quality of mind found throughout the academic community on the Grounds today.


Among Distinguished Company


The three faculty members who were elected fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year represent the caliber of individuals who were beyond Jefferson's reach in 1824. Among them is C. David Allis, the Harry F. Byrd, Jr., Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. In one of the most important genetic findings of the past decade, Mr. Allis and his team discovered what has been called a "second genetic code" that is a critical factor in turning genes on and off.

Also honored was Matthew Holden, Jr., who holds the Doherty Professorship in Government and Foreign Affairs. A former commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the author of some thirty books and journal articles, he is an expert on administrative process and national institutions, regulatory and energy policy, and urban government.

Edward L. Ayers, the Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History and the new dean of Arts and Sciences, also was elected a fellow of the Academy. The award-winning teacher has written and edited several important books about U.S. and Southern history, and he launched the "Valley of the Shadow" project, a highly acclaimed digital archive of two Civil War communities.

Distinguished scientists who received accolades this year include Anita K. Jones, University Professor of Engineering and Computer Science and the Lawrence R. Quarles Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, and Zhifeng Shao, professor of molecular physiology and biological physics. Both were named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest federation of scientists and publisher of the journal Science. Ms. Jones was recognized for her service as director of defense research and engineering in the U.S. Department of Defense, while Mr. Shao was honored for his contributions to the development of atomic force microscopy for biological applications.

In the School of Architecture, Associate Professor Kenneth Schwartz was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, one of only seventy-two architects in the nation and the only one from Virginia so honored this year. A former associate dean of the Architecture School, he was cited for advancing the standards of architectural education, training, and practice.


Honored by Their Peers

Green Urbanism: Reducing The Ecological Footprint Of Our Cities

With increasing awareness of the ecological impact of our cities, urban planners are devising ways to make communities not only less damaging to the environment, but also more sustainable and more livable. This is called "green urbanism," and one of its leading proponents is Timothy Beatley, professor of urban and environmental planning in the School of Architecture. In a recent study of European cities that have taken measures to optimize energy use, reduce dependence on automobiles, and prevent sprawl, he uncovered some valuable lessons for the United States.

In Helsinki and Vienna, hot water from power plants is piped into district heating networks, warming homes and offices. The result is more efficient use of fuel and reduced emission of greenhouse gases. In the Dutch city of Amersfoort, solar energy systems are incorporated into new residential and community buildings, including schools and recreation centers. In Delft, public buildings are constructed with solar hot water and heat recovery systems, as well as electric lighting that adjusts automatically to changes in natural illumination. In Freiburg, Germany, the heart of the urban center is accessible only to trams, pedestrians, and bicycles, and the rest of the city uses traffic calming to keep speeds below 30 kilometers per hour. This has led to fewer traffic fatalities, decreased air pollution, and a safe and pleasant pedestrian environment.

Mr. Beatley, who took fifteen graduate students abroad in June to examine models of green urbanism, notes that these approaches to planning and development enjoy strong public support in Europe. He admits it will be a challenge to make such practices equally appealing to Americans, who place a high premium on convenience and independent mobility. "We must overcome the perception that it requires great sacrifice to live in sustainable communities," he says. "There are ways we can continue to progress and flourish, and at the same time protect the natural capital that supports us."

Timothy Beatley Photo
 
Timothy Beatley

The breadth and scope of the honors that have come to our faculty this year are an indication both of the quality of their individual efforts and of the tremendous range of innovative scholarship conducted on the Grounds.

Consider the following examples:

Psychology professor Michael Kubovy received a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2001 to work on his book The Pleasures of Minds.

Rita Felski, professor of English, received the thirty-seventh annual William Riley Parker Prize for an outstanding article published in PMLA, the Modern Language Association's journal of literary scholarship.

Daniel P. Hallahan, professor and chair of curriculum, instruction, and special education, and James M. Kauffman, the Charles S. Robb Professor of Education, were cited among the most influential people nationwide in special education by the journal Remedial and Special Education.

Dr. George A. Beller, chief of cardiology, received the 2000 James B. Herrick Award of the American Heart

Association's Council on Clinical Cardiology.

Doris Kuhlmann-Wilsdorf, a materials scientist and University Professor of Applied Science, was named the Christopher J. Henderson 2001 Inventor of the Year.

David W. LaRue, associate professor of accounting at the McIntire School of Commerce, was named Outstanding Accounting Educator of the Year for 2000 by the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants.

H. C. Erik Midelfort, the Julian Bishko Professor of History, won the Roland Bainton Award in History. He is the only person to have won the Bainton Award twice.

Two pioneering digital projects in the humanities won the inaugural e-Lincoln Prizes, awarded for scholarship that makes innovative use of technology. They were "The Valley of the Shadow: Eve of the War," created by historians Edward L. Ayers, Anne Rubin, and William G. Thomas, and "Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture: A Multi-Media Archive," created by English professor Stephen F. Railton and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

Poet Rita Dove, the Commonwealth Professor of English, received the Lion Medallion from the New York Public Library.

Lotta M. Lofgren, a member of the English department, received the American-Scandinavian Foundation's 2000 Translation Prize for her English translation of August Strindberg's poetry.

Herman H. "Hank" Shugart, Jr., the William W. Corcoran Professor of Environmental Sciences, was inducted into the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Professors Klaus F. Ley and Thomas C. Skalak were elected fellows of the American Institute of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. William A. Petri, Jr., was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.



Ariel Gomez Photo
 
Dr. R. Ariel Gomez

Biodifferentiation: Pointing to New Ways To Renovate the Body

Given a nurturing environment, cells in a human embryo follow a highly elaborate and tightly synchronized ritual that includes division, specialization, and organization into a smoothly functioning system of complex organs. This is the essence of biodifferentiation, a broad field selected by the Virginia 2020 Commission on Science and Technology as a target for future investment at the University.

One of the leading researchers in this area is Dr. R. Ariel Gomez, the Genentech Professor of Pediatrics and the new interim vice president for research and public service. Dr. Gomez specializes in the molecular processes that govern development of the kidneys, the organs responsible for clearing our blood of impurities. The promise of such research is immense. If we know the mechanisms underlying human development, we can find ways to intervene if these processes become derailed. We can also use our knowledge of cell differentiation to repair damaged tissue and organs.

To foster advances in this field, Dr. Gomez has created the Center for Organogenesis, which brings together University researchers who are studying heart, lung, and lymphocyte development, among other areas. The goal of the center is to capitalize on the inherent plasticity of our cells to reverse the consequences of injury and illness.

Younger Faculty Members Show Exceptional Promise

The faculty destined to lead the University in 2020 are those in the early stages of their careers today. Many have already begun to make their mark, including

Jonathan Haidt, assistant professor of psychology, the unanimous choice to receive the second John Templeton Positive Psychology prize of $100,000 for his pioneering work on "elevation," an emotion triggered by witnessing acts of kindness and generosity

Elizabeth F. Thompson, assistant professor of history, recipient of the American Historical Association's Joan Kelley Prize for the year's best book in women's history

Garrick E. Louis, assistant professor of systems engineering, winner of the fifth annual Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on young researchers

Grace A. Muro, clinical instructor in nursing, recipient of the Outstanding Achievement in Perioperative Clinical Nursing Education Award of the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses.


Sustaining the Academic Enterprise


These and the many other honors received by faculty this year provide a measure of the remarkable work that takes place at the University, as does the nearly $225 million they were awarded through sponsored research grants in 2000–2001. Sustaining scholarly investigations across the Grounds, this external support represents a vote of confidence on the part of government and private funding agencies. They know they can expect significant results from the research under way at the University.

Recent grants support a rich variety of innovative projects, including efforts to share knowledge in new ways. With a two-year, $635,000 award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the University Press of Virginia will establish a peer-reviewed electronic publishing program to disseminate original digital scholarship in the humanities. The Curry School of Education, a nationally recognized leader in educational technology, is one of four recipients of a three-year, $7.2 million grant partially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The outgrowth of a curriculum developed by Zahrl G. Schoeny, associate professor of education, the grant will be used to train K-12 superintendents and principals throughout Virginia in using technology effectively to improve teaching in all state schools.

Other grants have helped to establish new centers of discourse and discovery, such as the Center on Religion and Democracy launched by James Davison Hunter, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Sociology. The center was established with a $2.5 million challenge grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts and a $10 million gift from Frank Levinson (Graduate Arts and Sciences '78, '80) and Wynnette Levinson of Palo Alto, California.

Science and engineering research of exceptional promise also has earned significant support. John A. Stankovic, the BP America Professor and chair of the Department of Computer Sciences, led a team of investigators from the University and other institutions that has attracted $8.6 million for research on such topics as protocols for complex, fluid wireless networks. Approximately $2 million from these awards will directly fund research at the University, fueling new breakthroughs in information science.

Reginald Butler Photo
 
Reginald D. Butler

Preserving Artifacts From The Jim Crow South

Last year, an anonymous donor presented the Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies with a newly discovered treasure. It was a collection of photographs, letters, and other household items, dating from between 1865 and 1950, that were found in an abandoned house once occupied by a local African-American family. In the past, these items might have been discarded. Today, thanks to the Woodson Institute and its ambitious new research project, "Race and Place," there is a growing understanding of the need to preserve cultural artifacts of the Jim Crow South.

The institute's director, Reginald D. Butler, sees the "Race and Place" project--through its photo exhibitions, seminars, and publications--as achieving three significant goals. First, the project introduces African-American undergraduates to the rigors and rewards of historical research. Second, it builds mutually beneficial relationships between the University and local African-American communities. Finally, the project incorporates new technologies through partnerships with the University's Center for Digital History, Digital Media Lab, and Special Collections Digital Center.

To visit the project's online archive, go to http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/vcdh/afam/raceandplace/index.html.

 


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