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Four professors honored with Hilldale Awards

March 23, 2011

Four professors will receive this year’s Hilldale Award, the university’s top honor for faculty members.

Since 1987, these awards have honored professors who excel in teaching, research and service. Honors are given in each of four divisions: biological sciences, physical sciences, social studies and arts and humanities.

The awards, supported by the Hilldale Fund, will be presented at the April 4 meeting of the Faculty Senate.

This year’s recipients are:

Claudia Card

Emma Goldman Professor of Philosophy

As a member of the UW–Madison community for 44 years, Card has written four books and edited six more; published 86 articles and 47 reviews; and delivered more than 300 lectures and talks. She focuses on moral issues, particularly those of interest to woman, including equality, sexism, lesbianism and feminism. She’s working on two more books, including an introduction to feminist philosophy.

Card began her work on feminist philosophy in 1976, when there were no feminist philosophy journals and only a few anthologies dedicated to feminism. Russ Shafer-Landau, professor and chair of philosophy, writes, “Her books and articles have become as essential to feminist thinking as ‘Das Capital’ is to labor theory. You simply can’t do feminism without reading Card, and even if you don’t read Card, today’s feminism bears her mark so deeply that you may not even realize that you have in some other way digested her theoretical perspectives.”

Among her many honors, in 1996 Card was named the Distinguished Woman Philosopher of the Year by the Society for Women in Philosophy. This year, she was named president of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association.

Card has also created numerous courses and trained many graduate students, even though when she began at UW–Madison, there were no feminist philosophy courses offered. She created Feminism and Sexual Politics, Classics in Feminist Theory and Lesbian Culture; taught feminist ethics in graduate seminars; directed dissertations on feminist topics; participated in the creation of the LGBT Studies Program; and holds teaching affiliations in women’s studies, environmental studies, Jewish studies and LGBT studies.

“She must convince some students that one’s sexual orientation does not make one good or evil,” writes Shafer-Landau. “Card succeeds because she cares so much about making her pupils not just excellent students, but excellent people as well.”

Bruce Klein

Gerard B. Odell Professor of Pediatrics

Klein has reshaped the fields of mycology and microbial pathogenesis, write nominators Ellen Wald, Richard Page and Rodney Welch, having been described by experts outside UW–Madison as a “towering figure.” Klein specializes in the field of medical mycology, the study of fungi that are pathogenic for humans, entering the field when the microbes were poorly understood. During his career, Klein has transformed the discipline into one that attracts the best students, fellows and faculty from all over the world.

While working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Klein investigated the largest epidemic of blastomycosis ever recorded, discovering the location of the fungus in the environment and the features required for its growth. He also identified risk factors for exposure to the fungus, leading to public health awareness and measures to minimize exposure and infection.

More recently, Klein has created a transgenic mouse strain that harbors the T-cell receptor of protective T-lymphocytes against Blastomyces. “This is the first mouse of its kind in this discipline, and it should offer new insight into what Bruce believes is unique biology concerning the development of antifungal immunity and memory,” write his nominators. “Bruce’s current work has the potential for enormous public health impact.”

At UW–Madison, Klein leads the Wisconsin Infectious Disease Drug Discovery group in an effort to discover and develop new, anti-infective agents by screening compounds in a small molecule screening facility on campus. He also directs the Microbes in Health and Disease Program and is devoted to mentoring trainees at all levels in his research laboratory.

Klein has received many honors throughout his career. He was the first recipient of the Louis Weinstein Award for Excellence in Infectious Disease, the Gerard Odell Award for Pediatric Research and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Scholar in Molecular Mycology. He also is a fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Max Lagally

professor of materials science

“In the case of teaching and service, they overlap so much that [Lagally’s] contributions in each — the contributions that go beyond lecturing in classrooms or serving on university and professional society committees — are really one and the same for Max, motivated by how he sees his role in the world,” writes nominator Susan Babcock, chair of materials science and engineering. “He loves the science and the ideas and the creating of new things; he loves working with young people and helping them to grow and be successful in their careers and lives; and he wants what he does to benefit society. In this way, teaching is service, and it is in this way that Max epitomizes the Wisconsin Idea.”

Lagally’s research interests have ranged from scanning tunneling microscopy to strain-induced, semiconductor quantum dots on semiconductor surfaces to silicon nanomembranes — all along the common theme of atomic-scale studies of surfaces and interfaces of materials. In the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Lagally has taught more than a dozen different courses, currently lecturing in senior/graduate-level courses on thin film deposition and properties of solid surfaces, and has developed three courses. However, “his most influential and unique contributions come from his role as a mentor,” writes Babcock. “He is an invaluable mentor, one who enjoys working with young people and wants them to succeed on their own terms.”

Lagally has more than 400 publications, is an international member of the German National Academy of Sciences-Leopoldina and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. In his 40-year career, Lagally has averaged more than $600,000 a year in funding, allowing him to support many Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers. He has mentored students both at the university and within the community, having participated in the program College for Kids. He also previously ran a special topics course to build science kits for science teachers in the local school system.

Marsha Mailick Seltzer

professor of social work and pediatrics and director of the Waisman Center

Seltzer came to the university in 1988 to build the School of Social Work’s program in developmental disabilities and to take the position of coordinator of the applied research unit at the Waisman Center, writes nominator Jan Greenberg, director of the School of Social Work. Her research focuses on how family relationships and individual development are changed by the provision of care to a family member with a disability or chronic health problem.

“Professor Seltzer’s longitudinal research on the lifelong impacts of family caregiving has fundamentally transformed our understanding of basic developmental processes, while informing research in multiple disciplines on caregiving of elderly persons, persons with mental illness and persons with developmental disabilities,” writes Greenberg. Seltzer also has recently used biological measures to determine how daily caregiving stress takes a toll on parents’ physiological and mental health.

As a teacher, Seltzer has served on approximately 35 dissertation committees, often co-authoring papers with her students and encouraging them to be the lead author on work related to their dissertation research. She also mentors postdoctoral fellows and has made major contributions to the doctoral curriculum by developing the Seminar in Research Methods course.

Seltzer was a delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Aging, working on initiatives in family caregiving and developmental disabilities. She also was a member of two Legislative Council Committees of the state Legislature, has served on many university committees and, as director of the Waisman Center, is in one of her most visible roles in leadership and service.

As Waisman Center director, she has developed a new program in the area of autism, with more than a dozen research projects on the topic since 2000 and approximately $300,000 in gifts reserved for new program development in autism research.

“[Marsha] is truly extraordinary on every dimension,” writes Greenberg.