Romnes Awards honor 10 rising faculty stars

February 26, 1998

Ten of UW–Madison’s top young faculty have received 1998 Romnes Awards, which help reward new professors who are making an immediate mark on their fields.

The faculty fellowships have been funded since 1975 by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and awarded by the research committee of the UW- Madison Graduate School. They provide $50,000 in research support to faculty who have received tenure within the past four years. Often the support is instrumental in helping the faculty expand their research programs.

The awards are named for the late H.I. Romnes, former chairman of the board of AT&T and former president of the WARF Board of Trustees.

Winners are:

  • Jillian Banfield, department of geology and geophysics.
    Banfield is internationally recognized for her applications of high-resolution transmission electron microscopy to mineralogy. Her interests span the full range of natural processes from high-temperature minerals that form in lava to low-temperature products of microbial action.
  • Anthony Bleecker, botany.
    Bleecker’s research program concerns the genetic mechanisms that control growth and development in plants. Bleecker is noted for his discoveries of how the plant hormone ethylene regulates such processes as fruit ripening and vegetative aging.
  • Clare Cavanagh, Slavic languages.
    Cavanagh is an expert on modern Russian and Polish poetry as well as contemporary literary theory. One of her essays won the William Riley Parker Prize for the outstanding article of the year (1993-94) in Publications of the Modern Language Association and her book Osip Mandelstam and the Modernist Creation of Tradition won a 1997 award for the best book written by a Slavist.
  • Robin Alta Charo, law and history of medicine.
    Charo is a leading and very productive scholar of bioethics and public policy on biotechnology. She has brought a uniquely informed interdisciplinary approach to these complex and controversial topics. In 1996, President Bill Clinton named her to a four-year term on the President’s National Bioethics Advisory Commission.
  • Jesse Lee Kercheval, English.
    Kercheval is the author of four books, The Dogeater, The Museum of Happiness, Building Fiction and the recently published memoir Space. She has received awards for her writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bunting Institute and the Wisconsin Arts Board. She currently directs the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.
  • Jan Miernowski, French & Italian.
    Miernowski came to the UW–Madison in 1989 from a position at the University of Warsaw, Poland. He has grappled notably with the question of negative theology — the notion that divinity is inaccessible to human language– and has published three books related to this question. Miernowski is studying a group of Renaissance pamphlets, many of which were found in UW–Madison collections.
  • Diana Mutz, political science.
    Mutz is a leading scholar in the area of political behavior and political psychology. She serves as editor of the journal Political Behavior and is a principal investigator of the National Science Foundation-funded Multi-Investigator Study, a biennial national survey open to a wide community of scholars. Her specialty is the juncture of political communication and public opinion.
  • Gilbert Nathanson, chemistry.
    Nathanson teaches chemistry to freshmen, upperclassmen and graduate students, including classes in general and honors chemistry and laboratory courses involving hands-on experiments. Nathanson also supervises five graduate students in research investigating molecular collisions and chemical reactions at gas-liquid interfaces.
  • Guido Podestá, Spanish & Portuguese.
    Podestá has published two books on the Peruvian writer César Vallejo. He has been the recipient of an American Council for Learned Societies fellowship and several other awards. He has been instrumental in the creation of new courses, particularly in the areas of Latin American theatre and drama and film. He is also chair of UW–Madison Lectures committee.
  • Ronald Raines, biochemistry.
    In his research and teaching, Raines is revealing new insights into the relationship between amino acid sequence and protein function (or dysfunction). His efforts have led to the creation of novel proteins for the treatment of cancer, arthritis and other diseases.