Faculty
President's Report: 2005-2006 University of Virginia
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University of Virginia
The Intellectual Core of the University
 
Faculty member on graduation day.

The University's faculty is its most valuable resource. Faculty members uncover knowledge and new perspectives, they apply themselves diligently to transmitting that knowledge in ways that have lasting impact, and they create institutions — centers, departments, and schools — that provide the necessary framework for research, education, and public service.

An important measure of the University's success in fulfilling its mission can be measured by the quality of its faculty. James N. Galloway, the Sidman P. Poole Professor of Environmental Sciences, was one of two scientists this year to share the Tyler Environmental Prize, considered the Nobel Prize in environmental sciences, energy, and environmental health. He was cited for his pioneering analysis of the flow of reactive nitrogen through the global ecosystem and his work, undertaken on an international scale, to create approaches to manage this flow more efficiently. Professor Galloway also was elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, an honor that the association confers on just 0.1 percent of its 51,000 members.

John Hudson, the Wills Johnson Professor of Engineering, was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering, among the highest distinctions awarded engineers. He is known for his work engineering complex, dynamic chemical reactions. Dr. Arthur Garson, Jr., the Robert C. Taylor Professor of Health Science and Public Policy and the University's executive vice president and provost, received a comparable honor with his election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. This year, he helped to conceive and draft the Health Partnership Act, a bipartisan bill introduced into the U.S. Senate and House to expand health care coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.

The University's faculty members are receiving recognition from foreign governments for their efforts to promote global understanding. David T. Gies, Commonwealth Professor of Spanish, received one of Spain's highest honors, the Order of Isabella the Catholic. Professor Gies was cited for his work on the Spanish literature of the Enlightenment and Romantic periods, and contemporary Spanish cinema, and for his efforts to promote Spanish literature in Europe and the Americas. His colleague, John Lyons, Commonwealth Professor of French and chair of the Department of French Language and Literature, was inducted into the Legion of Honor, France's highest honor. Professor Lyons was recognized for his scholarship in seventeenth-century French literature and culture and his work to strengthen ties with the French Embassy.

Leaders in Their Fields

Recruiting leading scholars in their fields to teach and study here adds to the quality of the student experience and to the vitality of the University community. This year, Frederick Schauer, a prominent expert on the First Amendment, constitutional law, and legal philosophy joined the School of Law as a David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law. Harrison professorships, supported by a gift from the late David A. Harrison III (College '39, Law '41), are reserved for senior teachers and scholars of national distinction who also embody the ideals of the Law School. Professor Schauer, who has written on a wide range of subjects, is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has held a Guggenheim Fellowship, has been vice president of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, and was a founding co-editor of the journal Legal Theory.

Siva Vaidhyanathan, nationally known for his expertise on new media and the law, joined the new Department of Media Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences as associate professor of media studies and law. He came to the University from the New York University Department of Culture and Communication. The author of Copyrights and Copywrongs and the Googlization of Everything, Mr. Vaidhyanathan is also an authority on intellectual property issues. He organized the department's first high-profile event, a panel discussion called "The Fall & Rise of American Liberalism: Media, Race, Religion and Bruce Springsteen," which brought cultural analysts from other universities to U.Va.

The University also places a premium on nurturing promising young faculty. The University's Fund for Excellence in Science and Technology (FEST) Distinguished Young Investigator Award program was established in 2000 to provide young faculty with seed money to launch research projects. The 200708 winners were astronomer Philip Arras, electrical engineer Avik Ghosh, and cell biologists Noelle Dwyer and Jing Yu.

The preliminary research conducted with this funding has helped young faculty secure research grants from national agencies. Professor Ghosh and former FEST winner Kim Hazelwood, assistant professor of computer science, were among four assistant professors to win National Science Foundation CAREER Awards. These grants range from $200,000 to $500,000 over four or five years. Computer scientists Sudhanva Gurumurthi and Jason Lawrence also received CAREER awards.

Carolyn M. Callahan
Carolyn M. Callahan
  Edward Berger
Edward Berger
  Lester S. Andrews
Lester S. Andrews

Honored by the Commonwealth and the University

The faculty awards that the state and the University bestow serve a dual purpose. They honor individual faculty members for their outstanding accomplishments, while motivating others to follow in their footsteps. Several University faculty members were singled out for recognition during the 200708 academic year:

  • Commonwealth Professor of Education Carolyn M. Callahan received the 2007 Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award from the U.Va. Women's Center. Professor Callahan is a specialist in educational opportunities for gifted and talented students.
  • Matthew Neurock, the Alice M. and Guy A. Wilson Professor of Engineering, was the first recipient of the School of Engineering and Applied Science's Robert A. Moore, Jr., Award in Chemical Engineering. The award is given for teaching, research, and outreach activities that best represent the interests of industry.
  • Edward Berger, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; and Dr. John Kattwinkel, the Charles Fuller Professor of Neonatology and chief of the Division of Neonatology, received the 2008 Outstanding Faculty Award, administered by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
  • A Richmond Times-Dispatch and Library of Virginia survey included constitutional law expert A. E. Dick Howard, the White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs and Earle K. Shawe Professor of Employment Law, in its list of the most influential Virginians of the twentieth century.
  • The U.Va. Patent Foundation named George T. Rodeheaver, Richard F. Edlich Professor of Biomedical Research, the 2008 Edlich-Henderson Inventor of the Year. Professor Rodeheaver invented an antimicrobial gel that has proven significantly more effective than existing therapies in treating severe burns and chronic wounds.
  • Lester S. Andrews and Ian G. Macara were honored with the 200708 U.Va. Distinguished Scientist Award. Professor Andrews is a renowned physical chemist whose work has fundamentally changed the understanding of chemical bonding in many elements. Ian Macara, the Harrison Distinguished Teaching Professor of Microbiology and director of the School of Medicine's Advanced Microscopy Facility, is an international leader in the field of cellular regulation.

Two other FEST winners — Kelsey Johnson, assistant professor of astronomy; and Jill Venton, assistant professor of chemistry — received large grants from other sources. Professor Johnson was one of twenty young scientists to be awarded a Packard Fellowship by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. She studies globular star clusters and the development of the early universe. Professor Venton received an Eli Lilly and Company Young Investigator Award in Analytical Chemistry. She designs tools to measure the real-time transmission of signals in the brain. Both Professor Johnson and Professor Venton also hold NSF CAREER awards.

Breaking New Ground

The University's ability to push the boundaries of knowledge and to serve the public is a function of both the size of its faculty as well as its quality. Today, 2,140 scholars and researchers are conducting fundamental research in scores of areas critical to the well-being of our society. Some of this work has identified basic areas of education that will benefit directly from improvement. Professor Mabel Kinzie and Robert Pianta, dean of the Curry School of Education, are developing a new pre-kindergarten mathematics and science curriculum. All research points to the importance of pre-kindergarten education, but studies suggest that classroom coverage, especially in these two areas, is highly variable. Their project is funded with a $1.77 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

A number of U.Va. faculty members are working on projects related to national defense and security. Hilary Bart-Smith, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, received a highly competitive Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant from the Office of Naval Research. She heads a team conducting basic research that could lead to the creation of an underwater vehicle that mimics the motion of a manta ray. Such a design would allow an undersea vehicle to accelerate and decelerate more quickly and to move more efficiently.

Professor Bart-Smith is one of five faculty members in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences leading or participating in MURI grants, a high number for any engineering school. Multimillion-dollar, five-year grants like the MURI — long enough and large enough to enable faculty to pursue truly innovative basic research — are extremely rare and are the object of fierce competition.

University business faculty members also conduct research that deepens understanding of basic business concepts and practices. Robert Cross, associate professor of commerce, is an expert on social network analysis and studies the web of ad hoc relationships that employees form to accomplish their work. His findings help corporations make better use of underutilized personnel and highlight the importance of individual enthusiasm in fostering connections that lead to higher performance.

With the rise of gasoline prices, many scientists are exploring alternative sources of energy. Two U.Va. physicists, Bellave S. Shivaram and Adam B. Phillips, have discovered a new class of materials that can absorb hydrogen at high rates, providing an affordable way to store and transport hydrogen. The inventors are working with the U.Va. Patent Foundation to patent their discovery, with the belief that the novel materials will translate to the marketplace. Their discovery is an important step that could lead to the widespread acceptance of hydrogen fuel cells to power vehicles. At the same time, U.Va. researchers are also helping governments use existing technologies more efficiently. Byungkyu "Brian" Park, assistant professor of civil engineering, is working with the Korea Transport Institute and Virginia Tech to modify traffic signal control systems to operate optimally for reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

Scholarly research can also heighten critical awareness of society's perspectives and perceptions. Maurie McInnis, associate professor of American art and material culture, served as consultant curator on "Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art." This exhibition underscores changes in society's views of race, slavery, and the plantation over the last two hundred years.

For the Common Good

The knowledge and insight faculty members gain over the course of their careers reach society in a number of ways. As scholars, they publish for other specialists, exchange ideas at conferences, and give lectures and presentations. As teachers, they transmit their discoveries and their passion for discovery to students in the classroom, online, and in their offices. And as public servants, they contribute their skills and knowledge in a variety of contexts, from Capitol Hill to the high school classroom.

This year, a number of faculty members testified before Congress on matters of policy. Dean of the School of Nursing Jeanette Lancaster testified on the need to provide more funding to train nurses as the population ages. Brandon Garrett, associate professor of law, described ways to improve the monitoring of corporate fraud settlements. Members of the U.Va. Institute on Aging briefed a Senate committee on the use of technology to promote independent living. Kathryn Thornton, associate dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, advised Congress on the timing of space exploration, recommending that manned expeditions to Mars be undertaken soon.

Faculty members also have accepted positions advising state and federal government agencies and administering their programs. Daniel Pitti, associate director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, was appointed to the National Archives and Record Administration's Advisory Committee on the Electronic Records Archives. Professor Pitti has been the main technical architect on a number of standards for electronic archives.

Faculty in research garden.

Maurice Cox, associate professor of architecture, accepted a two-year appointment as director of design for the National Endowment for the Arts. He will oversee the Mayors' Institute on City Design, the Governors' Institute on Community Design, and the Your Town program, which helps smaller communities preserve their character in the face of economic or social change. Professor Cox brings both his experience as mayor of Charlottesville and his expertise as an urban planner to the position.

U.Va. faculty members also have teamed with local school divisions to expand the opportunities they offer their students. The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the Virginia Center for Digital History helped four school districts in southern Virginia secure a $1 million Teaching American History grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2007. The grant will fund intensive training over three years for twenty-four teachers. A second $1 million Teaching American History grant spearheaded by the Center for the Liberal Arts was secured in 2008. As part of a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation, John Bean, the John Marshall Money Professor of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and his colleagues are working with the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond to develop hands-on educational displays to explain the intricacies of nanoscience.

The University also hosts various institutes and centers that serve the people of the Commonwealth. The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service provides surveys, data, research, technical assistance, and practical training to help state and local officials anticipate and respond to change. The center's annual population estimates are the official figures the Commonwealth uses in the interim between federal censuses. This year, the center estimated that seven out of ten Virginians now live in urban areas.

The Virginia Public History Project and the Executive Political Institute at the Center for Politics also serve the state of Virginia. In partnership with the Weldon Cooper Center, the Virginia Public History Project examines the administrations of Virginia's more recent, former governors and other high-ranking elected officials, and explores the dynamics of various institutions of Virginia government. The Virginia Public History Project presented two conferences during 200708: "Ten Years of Good Politics" and "A Decade of Political Change." Hosted by Larry J. Sabato (College '74), the Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs and director of the Center for Politics, the Executive Politics Institute brings corporate executives from across Virginia to discuss politics, government, and history from a business perspective. Sessions include presentations and panel discussions by academics, policymakers, and state and local government experts.

 

 

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