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34 faculty honored with Vilas professorships

June 19, 2017 By Chris Barncard

Extraordinary members of the University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty were honored during the last year with awards supported by the estate of professor, Senator and Regent William F. Vilas (1840-1908).

Among the recipients: Jo Handelsman, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and professor of plant pathology, was named to a Vilas Research Professorship.

Photo of William Vilas

William Vilas University of Wisconsin Digital Collection/University Archives

Created “for the advancement of learning,” Vilas Research Professorships are granted to candidates with proven research ability and unusual qualifications and promise. The recipients of the award have contributed significantly to the research mission of the university and are widely recognized both nationally and internationally.

Before returning to UW–Madison this year, Handelsman served for three years as associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Since earning her doctorate in molecular biology at UW–Madison, she has authored more than 100 papers, 30 editorials, and three books on microbial communication, metagenomics and gender bias in science. In 2011, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring

The professorship provides a salary supplement, funding for research expenses and a retirement supplement for faculty who serve at least 15 years as a Vilas Research Professor.

Thirteen professors were named to Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professorships, an award recognizing distinguished scholarship as well as standout efforts in teaching and service. The professorship provides five years of flexible funding – two-thirds of which is provided by the Office of the Provost through the generosity of the Vilas trustees and one-third provided by the school or college whose dean nominated the winner.

The recipients are:

  • Martha Alibali, Psychology
  • Caitilyn Allen, Plant Pathology
  • Katherine Bowie, Anthropology
  • Richard Eisenstein, Nutritional Sciences
  • Alfred Hartemink, Soil Science
  • Lea Jacobs, Communication Arts
  • Richard Lindroth, Entomology
  • Kristyn Masters, Biomedical Engineering
  • Patricia McManus, Plant Pathology
  • Stephen Meyers, Geoscience
  • Barton Miller, Computer Sciences
  • Bin Ran, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, History

Eleven professors received Vilas Faculty Mid-Career Investigator Awards, recognizing research and teaching excellence. The award provides flexible research funding for one year.

The recipients are:

  • Bernadette Baker, Curriculum and Instruction
  • Tonya Brito, Law
  • Victor Cabrera, Dairy Science
  • Diane Gooding, Psychology
  • Ive Hermans, Chemistry
  • Kristin Phillips-Court, French and Italian
  • Carla Pugh, Surgery
  • Guilherme Rosa, Animal Science
  • Nasia Safdar, Medicine
  • Christine Schwartz, Sociology
  • Xiaojin (Jerry) Zhu, Computer Sciences

Nine professors received Vilas Faculty Early Career Investigator Awards, recognizing research and teaching excellence in faculty who are relatively early in their careers. The award provides flexible research funding for one year.

The recipients are:

  • Victor Goldgel-Carballo, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Jenny Higgins, Gender and Women’s Studies
  • Richard McFarland, Anthropology
  • Jeniel Nett, Medical Microbiology and Immunology
  • Lindsay Palmer, Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Matthew Ruark, Soil Science
  • Michael Swift, Computer Sciences
  • Xudong Wang, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Victor Zavala, Chemical and Biological Engineering