Awards, Honors, and Professorships
AS Perspectives / Winter 1998

Brunskill Hits the Rhodes
McDermott Lauded for Improving Physics Education
Two Lifetime Awards for Holton
Listing of Additional A&S Awards and Honors

Brunskill Hits the Rhodes
When Emma Brunskill was chosen for a Goldwater Scholarship in 1997, she described the award as “a real confirmation that I’m on the right track.” She added, “I was amazed to get it.”

Imagine how she’s feeling now.

Emma Brunskill with UW President Richard McCormick  

Brunskill, who graduated in June 2000 with a double degree in physics and computer engineering, was recently selected as a Rhodes Scholar—the first Rhodes Scholar for the UW in two decades. The scholarship provides for two or three years of study at Oxford University in England.

Brunskill entered the UW at 15 through the Early Entrance Program.She took full advantage of research opportunities on campus, working on six research projects—in physics, geophysics, chemistry, and computer science—during her years at the University. She also managed to make time to swim and row competitively, coordinate the undergraduate mentor program, and volunteer for the campus Amnesty International group.

Now at MIT pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science, Brunskill will head for Oxford this summer to pursue a master’s degree in experimental psychology. She plans to return to MIT in two years to complete her doctorate.

Visiting the UW in December, Brunskill was among the honorees at a celebration of UW scholars. Lauded for her accomplishments, she said all the platitudes were “way too flattering.” She also thanked her UW teachers and fellow students, who she said were all intelligent ”and most of all, fun.”

McDermott Lauded for Improving Physics Education
For more than 20 years, Lillian McDermott has worked to improve student learning in physics. As director of the Physics Education Group in the UW Department of Physics, she and her colleagues study how physics is taught and learned and then design curricula based on their findings.

Lillian McDermott  

Already a national leader in the field, McDermott recently received two more awards for her efforts in physics education: the Oersted Medal of the American Association of Physics Teachers and the Education Research Achievement Award of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents.

“Of course I’m pleased to get these awards,” says McDermott, “especially since they are recognition, from scientists, of the value of education research anchored within a discipline, which is a new approach. I also realize that honors such as these are about more than the work of one person. In this case, they recognize our whole Physics Education Group.”

The Physics Education Group was the first program of its kind and has served as a model for others throughout the U.S. Graduate students in the program earn a Ph.D. in physics, for research on the learning and teaching of physics.

Among the group’s accomplishments has been the development of Physics by Inquiry and Tutorials in Introductory Physics. These curricula, especially the former, help students gain direct experience with the process of science, with an emphasis on discovering rather than memorizing. The texts are being used throughout the U.S. and abroad.

“For people to learn, they have to go through the thinking themselves,” says McDermott. “Teaching by telling won’t do. So the question becomes how to engage students at a sufficiently deep intellectual level that they can go through the thinking necessary to develop and apply the concepts. That’s difficult.”

The group also offers workshops for faculty and K-12 teachers. “I believe that K-12 teacher preparation is an important responsibility of faculty in the sciences,” says McDermott. “It’s the way you affect the next generation—through their teachers.”

McDermott says the UW Department of Physics has been offering summer institutes for K-12 teachers for more than 25 years, reaching 30 to 50 teachers each year.

Two Lifetime Achievement Awards for Holton
This winter, James Holton perfected the one-two punch.

First Holton, chair of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, received the prestigious Roger Revelle Medal from the American Geophysical Union, awarded for “outstanding accomplishments or contributions toward the understanding of the Earth’s atmospheric processes.” Then, exactly one month later, he received the Carl Rossby Research Medal from the American Meteorological Society—the society’s highest honor.

“Getting medals for ‘lifetime achievement’ is a bit sobering,” says Holton. Noting that his friend and colleague Mike Wallace, professor of atmospheric sciences, has previously received both honors, he adds, “It is hard to keep up with Mike, but I am still trying.”

Holton’s research focuses on the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere, about six miles above Earth. He looks at large scale dynamics—things like wind patterns developing and changing over long time periods—to understand how trace constituents such as chemicals are transported skyward and affect the environment.

Holton has served on numerous National Research Council panels and as a principal investigator on NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) Science Team, a program to study global ozone change.

“Many people studying the ozone layer have been chemists,” explains Holton. “But atmospheric ozone is not confined to a test tube. Rather, it is transported by the winds. To understand how chemicals produced by humans get into the ozone layer and cause ozone depletion requires an understanding not only of the chemistry but of how these chemicals are transported by winds.”

Holton’s current research focuses on how trace chemical constituents may be contributing to the greenhouse effect. He and several colleagues are studying whether changes in the stratosphere may lead to short-term climate changes in the northern hemisphere in winter.

Will he slow down now that he has received two “lifetime achievement” awards? Not a chance. “I’m very keen to stick with the research,” he says. “I’m pretty excited about what we’re doing now.”


Additional Awards, Honors, and Professorships

Alexei Ankudinov, research assistant professor of physics, received the International X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (XAFS) Society’s Outstanding Young Scientist Award in recognition of his important contributions to the XAFS field.

Susan Brainard, affiliate associate professor of women studies and affiliate associate professor of technical communication, was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

P. Dee Boersma, professor of zoology, was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science “for distinguished scientific contributions to the new field of conservation biology and for activities in improving policies to protect endangered species.”

Gardner Brown, professor of economics, has been named a University Fellow of Resources for the Future. The award recognizes outstanding scholarship in the area of environment and natural resources. Brown also has been named to the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Cumulative Environmental Effects of Alaskan North Slope Oil and Gas Activities.

Warren Buck, adjunct professor of physics and chancellor at UW Bothell, was a recipient of the 2001 Giants in Science Award from the Quality Education for Minorities Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Network. The award recognizes Buck’s outstanding contributions to mathematics and science research and teaching.

Patricia Campbell, professor of music, has been appointed to a Donald E. Petersen Endowed Professorship. The professorship continues through June 2003.

Norman Dovichi, professor of chemistry, has been appointed to the Endowed Professorship in Analytical Chemistry.

Vitaly Efimov, affiliate professor of physics, was elected a Fellow in the American Physical Society. The citation reads: “For the investigation of the quantum three-body problem, and especially for his discovery of weakly bound states (called Efimov states) of three quantum particles.”

Jens Gundlach, research associate professor of physics, received the 2001 Francis M. Pipken Prize from the American Physics Society for work in the interdisciplinary area of precision measurement and fundamental constants. In addition, his work at CENPA was identified as one of the top Physics Results of the Year by the American Institute of Physics.

Michael Honey, professor in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program at UW Tacoma, has been appointed to the Harry Bridges Endowed Chair in Labor Studies through September 2003.

Bryan Jones, professor of political science, has been named the first Donald R. Matthews Distinguished Professor in American Politics. For more on the professorship, see page 5.

Jon Jory, professor of drama, was inducted into New York’s Theater Hall of Fame in January 2001. Jory, whose previous awards include a Tony Award, is only the third regional theatre artist to be inducted.

Martina Morris, acting professor of sociology and statistics has been appointed to the Blumstein-Jordan Professorship.

M. Patricia Morse, acting professor of zoology, was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was cited for contributions in marine invertebrate zoology, for improvement of scientific education, and for leadership in professional societies.

James W. Murray, professor of oceanography with an adjunct appoint-ment in chemistry, was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS commended him for, among other things, “selfless leadership of major ocean expeditions.”

Maynard Olson, professor of genetics and medicine, has been awarded the City of Medicine Outstanding Biomedical Scientist Award.

Steven Pearson, professor of drama, has been awarded the Donald E. Petersen Endowment for Excellence.

Oleg Prezhdo, assistant professor of chemistry, has been named a Sloan Foundation Fellow. He studies, at the molecular level, chemical reactivity and energy transfer in complex condensed-phase chemical and biological environments.

B. Seymour Rabinovitch, professor emeritus of chemistry, has been named a Liveryman (honoris causa) of The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, London, in recognition of his contributions to the silversmithing craft.

Richard Salomon, professor of Asian languages and literature, has been appointed to the Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professorship in the Humanities through June 2003.

Jerome Silbergeld, professor of art history, has been awarded the Donald E. Petersen Endowment for Excellence.

John Wingfield, professor of zoology, was named “president-elect” for the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology.

[Winter/Spring 2001 - Table of Contents]