Perspectives: Newsletter of the College of Arts & Sciences

Awards, Honors, and Professorships

Torii Awarded for Innovative Plant Science
TIME Recognizes A&S Faculty's "New Scientific Discoveries"
Other Awards, Honors, and Professorships

Torii Recognized for Innovative Plant Science

Keiko Torii, professor of biology, is among 15 of the "nation's most innovative plant scientists" selected to share $75 million for fundamental plant science research from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Both organizations say the investment is critical to meet the world's food needs in the face of increasing world population and pressures to raise crops for fuel. Despite the central role plants play in maintaining human health and healthcare, basic research in plant sciences represents only 2 percent of overall life sciences spending by the federal government.

Keiko Torii
Keiko Torii. Photo by Stephen
Brashear/AP ©HHMI.

Torii and her laboratory group, who have had key papers published in Science in 2005 and 2007, study the genetics underlying plant development. Plants adjust in response to drought and other environmental conditions; work led by Torii to better understand the underlying processes should help predict how well crops, trees, and other plants cope with climate change and other threats.

"I had been reconsidering my career as a basic plant developmental biologist in the U.S. due to the difficulty of acquiring federal funding," Torii says. "I thought I might have to reorient my focus. The extraordinary opportunity offered by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation enables me to go back to the basics and explore the fundamental questions in plant development."

Torii is the only researcher in the Pacific Northwest named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute-Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation investigator. The institute is known for advancing biomedical research in the U.S., and the foundation supports environmental conservation and research worldwide.

This joint sponsorship makes this a brand new category of investigators. It is an offshoot of Howard Hughes Medical Institute's long-standing investigator program, which currently includes 11 UW faculty members, all in medicine and health sciences. Torii is the first from the College of Arts and Sciences.

"This is an extremely important and gratifying award for the College of Arts and Sciences," says Ana Mari Cauce, dean of the college. "It really shows an increasing awareness of how basic scientific research provides the building blocks for innovations that will lead to important breakthroughs in crop and energy biomass production that benefit our society. It also is a wonderful example of the important role that women play in scientific discovery."

 

TIME Recognizes A&S Faculty's "New Scientific Discoveries"

A&S faculty Marsha Linehan and Donald Brownlee were among five UW researchers included in a TIME books special publication titled 100 New Scientific Discoveries: Fascinating, Unbelievable and Mind Expanding Stories. TIME’s team of scientific reporters surveyed the disciplines, looking for research that matters, that “moves the knowledge needle in ways that affect us all.”

Marsha Linehan, professor of psychology and director of the UW’s Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics, developed dialectical behavior therapy, a treatment for people who have borderline personality disorder. TIME dubbed the treatment “fixing a busted personality,” saying it is successful with patients who were once considered incurable.

Donald Brownlee, professor of astronomy, was principal investigator on NASA’s 2005 Stardust mission and co-investigator on the 2011 Stardust-NeXT mission. The spacecraft crossed paths with a comet on each mission, gathering valuable data. “Comets are among the oldest artifacts of the ancient solar system,” explained TIME in its coverage. “A good look at them is a good look at our origins.”

 

Other Awards, Honors, and Professorships


Kris Anderson, director of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery in the School of Art and a PhD student in art history, was elected to a three-year term as vice president of communication for the Association of Academic Museums & Galleries.

P. Dee Boersma, Wadsworth Endowed Chair of Conservation Science and professor of biology, is among the 24 new members elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, in recognition of distinguished and continuing scientific achievements.

Neil Bruce, professor of economics, has been appointed to the Washington Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors. The council advises the Governor on state financial matters, including the state budget, tax policy, the issuance of debt and debt management, cash management, and other fiscal matters that reflect upon the overall financial condition of the state.

Charles Campbell, Lloyd E. and Florence M. West Endowed Professor of Chemistry and co-director of the PNNL/UW Joint Institute for Nanoscience, has been named a fellow of the American Chemical Society, an honor bestowed upon distinguished scientists who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in chemistry and made important contributions to ACS, the world’s largest scientific society.

Ana Mari Cauce, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Earl R. Carlson Professor of Psychology, and professor of American ethnic studies, has received the MFP James Jones Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association, recognizing distinguished and exemplary long-term contributions to the field of racial and ethnic minority psychology from senior-level alumni of APA’s Minority Fellowship Program. 

Tom Collier, associate professor of music, has been appointed as an Adelaide D. Currie Cole Professor of Music for a three-year term. Collier is chair of the School of Music’s Percussion Studies program.

Larry Dalton, emeritus professor of chemistry and B. Seymour Rabinovitch Endowed Chair in Chemistry and George B. Kauffman Professor of Electrical Engineering, will receive the Linus Pauling Award from the American Chemical Society to recognize outstanding achievement in chemistry.

Maria Grigoryeva, graduate student in sociology, received the UW Graduate School's 2011 Distinguished Master's Thesis Award, a University-wide award, for her thesis titled, “Parenting, Child Disclosure, and Delinquency: A Structural Equation Panel Model.”

Áine Heneghan, assistant professor of music, has been awarded a national fellowship for the 2011-12 academic year from the  American Association of University Women (AAUW), providing a year of research support. Heneghan plans to work on a book about Arnold Schoenberg that explores the interaction and interdependence of the composer’s musical and written output.

Sarah Keller, associate dean for research activities in the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of chemistry, is among the 24 new members elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, in recognition of distinguished and continuing scientific achievements.

Peter May, Donald R. Matthews Distinguished Professor of American Politics and chair of the Department of Political Science, is among the 24 new members elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, in recognition of distinguished and continuing scientific achievements.

James Mayer, Alvin L. and Verla R. Kwiram Endowed Professor of Chemistry, has been named a fellow of the American Chemical Society, an honor bestowed upon distinguished scientists who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in chemistry and made important contributions to ACS, the world’s largest scientific society.

Susanne Recordon, graduate program assistant in the Department of Political Science, was recognized by the UW Graduate and Professional Student Senate as Graduate Program Assistant of the Year. This award by graduate students is in recognition of the extensive efforts made by a graduate program assistant to support graduate students.

Marc Seales, professor of music, has been appointed as an Adelaide D. Currie Cole Professor of Music for a three-year term.  Seales is chair of the School of Music’s Jazz Studies program.

Stewart Tolnay, Frank Miyamoto Professor of Sociology, is among the 24 new members elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, in recognition of distinguished and continuing scientific achievements.

James Wellman, associate professor of international studies and chair of the Comparative Religion Program, will serve as president of the Pacific Northwest American Academy of Religion/Society for Biblical Literature in 2012.

Jon A. Wellner, professor of statistics, has received a Humboldt Research Award, conferred in recognition of lifetime achievements in research. The awardee is invited to carry out research projects of his own choice in cooperation with specialist colleagues in Germany, thereby promoting further international scientific cooperation.

Return to Table of Contents, September 2011 issue