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Biophysicist, chemical engineer named Steenbock Professors

August 23, 2016 By Chris Barncard

A biophysicist exploring virus replication and a chemical engineer developing methods to model chemical processes are the 2016 recipients of Steenbock Professorships at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Photo: Paul Ahlquist

Paul Ahlquist

Photo: James Rawlings

James Rawlings

Endowed more than 30 years ago by Evelyn Steenbock — wife of Harry Steenbock, an emeritus biochemistry professor — Steenbock Professorships provide a group of outstanding UW–Madison faculty with 10 years of financial support for their research programs.

Paul G. Ahlquist, the new Steenbock Professor of Microbiological Sciences, joined the UW–Madison faculty in 1984 after earning his doctorate in Madison in 1981.

A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator since 1997, Ahlquist discovered that some viruses manipulate the membranes of cells they infect to protect virus replication from the destructive machinery of the cell. His laboratory now studies HIV and viruses that cause human cancers, hoping to identify steps in virus replication that present weak points and opportunities for treatment.

Ahlquist, who has appointments in both oncology and plant pathology, is one of four lead scientists in the Morgridge Institute for Research, and has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1991.

James B. Rawlings, the new Steenbock Professor of Engineering, joined the UW–Madison faculty in 1995. He is the Paul A. Elfers Professor and W. Harmon Ray Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and the co-director of the Texas-Wisconsin-California Control Consortium.

The author of three textbooks, Rawlings’ research interests are in the areas of chemical process modeling, monitoring and control, and his lab engineers molecular-scale chemical reactions. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

The remaining Steenbock professors are: Jin-Yi Cai, mathematical sciences; Robert Hamers, physical sciences; Anthony Ives, biological sciences; Laura Kiessling, chemical sciences; James Ntambi, nutritional sciences; and Su-Chun Zhang, behavioral and neural sciences.