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Hilldale Awards honor four faculty members

March 24, 2010 By Susannah Brooks

Four professors will receive the 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 meeting of the Faculty Senate.

This year’s recipients are:

F. Fleming Crim, Hilldale and John E. Willard Professor of Chemistry

Crim arrived at UW–Madison in 1977, pioneering research into the elementary microscopic steps in chemical reactions that occur in gas and liquid phases. His insights have transformed physical chemistry research on an international level.

His research in chemical dynamics uses lasers to study the mechanisms of chemical reactions in gases and liquids to understand and control them at the most fundamental level. This work has earned him awards from the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, and the Royal Society of Chemistry as well as election to the National Academy of Sciences.

During his tenure as department chair in the late 1990s, he worked to streamline and restructure the department. He paved the way for subsequent chairs to manage a large, vibrant department while maintaining their own cutting-edge research. He also oversaw planning and development of the Shain Research Tower, ensuring that the department’s facilities could support top-tier research and faculty for decades to come.

As a teacher of many first-year courses for undergraduates, he has led by example. Several of his colleagues have emulated his teaching style, from using his approach as a standard to reviewing his notes and course organization when developing new classes.

This work also extends to other colleges and universities. He served as head of the American Chemical Society’s Committee on Professional Training, which sets the standards for undergraduate chemistry curricula across the country. Fellow faculty members at all levels often ask, “What would Fleming advise?”

Crim received his bachelor’s degree from Southwestern University and his doctorate from Cornell.

Stephen Lucas, professor of communication arts and Evjue-Bascom Professor in the Humanities

Since coming to UW–Madison in 1972, Lucas has distinguished himself as a scholar of rhetorical criticism and the rhetoric of American politics.

He is widely known as one of the world’s top experts on the Declaration of Independence. His first book, the Pulitzer Prize nominee “Portents of Rebellion,” set the standard for the study of rhetoric of social movements.

He spent six years preparing his 2009 book “Words of a Century: The Top 100 American Speeches, 1900–1999.” In addition to surveying communication scholars across the country and providing definitive texts for each speech — many of which had not been reprinted since the beginning of the century — the book clarifies historical references and rhetorical allusions, illuminating the context in which the speech was given.

His award-winning textbook “The Art of Public Speaking” has received international recognition, dovetailing with his renown as a teacher. He teaches one of the most popular courses on campus, Rhetoric of Campaigns and Revolutions. Colleagues describe the American political rhetoric curriculum he has developed as the most comprehensive undergraduate and graduate curriculum on the subject in any American university.

Internationally, he is recognized by many citizens of the People’s Republic of China because of his work with Chinese educators to develop university curricula and his work on nationally televised English-language public speaking competitions. To that end, he also sponsors visiting Chinese scholars in an exchange of ideas between UW–Madison and their home universities.

Lucas received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his master’s degree and doctorate from Penn State.

Ann Palmenberg, professor of biochemistry and director of the Institute for Molecular Virology

Palmenberg first came to UW–Madison as a graduate student, returning in 1979 as a research scientist. In 1987, she took on a teaching role. She has made groundbreaking discoveries related to the mechanisms by which RNA viruses multiply and cause diseases in animals.

Her particular expertise involves a family of RNA viruses called picornaviruses (small RNA). These include pathogens such as poliovirus, human hepatitis A virus and human rhinoviruses.

As lead author, she received extensive recognition, in both the scientific world and the global media, for collaborating with the first team that described the nucleotide sequences, evolution and comparative analysis of all 99 known strains of the human rhinovirus. This study may contribute to the cure for the common cold.

In her teaching, she developed UW–Madison’s first didactic and computer-based courses on bioinformatics of sequence analysis. Despite — and because of — constant changes in the technology, she has constantly rewritten and repackaged the course material to address both updates in scientific content and the many different audiences who benefit from ongoing training.

In addition to training Ph.D. students in sequence analysis, she has also extended these educational opportunities in bioinformatics to graduate students in other fields, as well as undergraduates, faculty, staff and employees from local biotechnology firms.

Her service to colleagues also includes hosting four annual meetings of the American Society of Virology, the largest virology conference in the world. No other individual has hosted as many conferences on behalf of this organization.

Palmenberg received her bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University and her doctorate from UW–Madison.

Bruce Wampold, professor and chair of counseling psychology and clinical professor of psychiatry

Wampold came to UW–Madison in 1991, studying the effectiveness of counseling and psychotherapy. By examining both clinical trials and psychotherapy in real-world settings, he has influenced the delivery of mental health services in the United States and other countries.

In reviewing studies on psychotherapy, he has found that the therapist, not the technique or treatment, is the most important factor leading to patient progress in psychotherapy. Although controversial, his work is characterized by methodological rigor. He has developed several statistical methods to test hypotheses about psychotherapy effectiveness.

He has developed a contextual model for psychotherapy based on an anthropological understanding of healing practices, emphasizing the healing context, the therapist, adaptive explanations, and therapeutic rituals. His 2001 book “The Great Psychotherapy Debate” shows that, despite working differently than medical interventions, psychotherapy is as effective as most medications for mental disorders, with no side effects and few relapses after the treatment’s end.

His current work combines clinical research with health economics to study cost effectiveness of strategies for improving mental health services in routine care.

Valued as a teacher and mentor, he treats his students as full partners in research. In the last six years, he has coauthored more than 20 articles with his students. During his time as department chair, U.S. News and World Report recognized the previously unranked counseling psychology program as the second-best program in the country.

Wampold received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington, his master’s degree from the University of Hawai’i, Manoa, and his doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara.