Eleven professors appointed to named professorships

Oct. 6, 2011

by Susannah Brooks

Eleven distinguished faculty members have received named professorships, some of the highest honors for established faculty.

Susan Coppersmith, Steven Durlauf, Gregg Mitman and Karen Strier have been named Vilas Professors. Stephen Carpenter, Steve J. Stern, Dan Hausman and Juan de Pablo have been named Hilldale Professors. James L. Baughman and Thomas F. Kuech have been named University of Wisconsin Foundation (UWF) Chair Bascom Professors. Michael R. Sussman has been named Class of 1933 Bascom Professor.

Vilas Professorships, created “for the advancement of learning,” recognize proven research ability and unusual qualifications and promise. The individual must have contributed significantly to the research mission of the University and be widely recognized both nationally and internationally for the quality of research. 

Susan Coppersmith, the Robert E. Fassnacht Professor of Physics, came to the university in 2001. A theoretical physicist, she studies the fundamental properties of complex materials. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Steven Durlauf, Kenneth J. Arrow and Laurits R. Christensen Professor of Economics, has taught at UW–Madison since 1993. He has served as the co-director of the economics program of the Santa Fe Institute and is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Earlier this year, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; he is also a fellow of the Econometric Society. He recently served as general editor of the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics.

Gregg Mitman is interim director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and William Coleman Professor of History of Science and Professor of Medical History and Science & Technology Studies. He joined the faculty in 2001. Earlier this year, he was named the next president of the American Society for Environmental History. His latest book, “Breathing Space: How Allergies Shape Our Lives and Landscapes,” was supported, in part, by fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. 

Karen Strier, Irven DeVore Professor of Anthropology, came to the university in 1989. For the five years prior to receiving the Vilas Professorship, she held a Hilldale Professorship. Considered the world's top authority on the muriqui monkey, one of the most critically endangered primates on the planet, she received the 2010 Distinguished Primatologist Award from the American Society of Primatologists. She is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Hilldale Professorships are awarded to faculty who excel in scholarly activity, have outstanding research records and show promise of continued productivity. The five-year appointment is normally renewed and includes $25,000 for scholarly activities.

Stephen Carpenter, Stephen Alfred Forbes Professor of Zoology and director of the Center for Limnology, joined the faculty in 1989. In August, he received the Stockholm Water Prize, often called the “Nobel Prize of water.” He has published five books and more than 300 scientific papers. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Steve J. Stern, Alberto Flores Galindo Professor of History, began teaching at UW–Madison in 1979. Since 2008, he has also served as vice provost for faculty and staff. He has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright-Hays Program of the U.S. Department of Education, and the Social Science Research Council.  His 2006 book “Battling for Hearts and Minds: Memory Struggles in Pinochet’s Chile” (Duke University Press) received the Bolton-Johnson Prize for the best book in Latin American history. 

Dan Hausman, Herbert A. Simon and Hilldale Professor of Philosophy, joined the faculty in 1988. Most of his research has focused on methodological, metaphysical and ethical issues at the boundaries between economics and philosophy; he co-founded the journal Economics and Philosophy and edited it for its first 10 years. His book “Preference, Value, Choice and Welfare” (Cambridge University Press) will be published in November; he is currently working on a book on the measurement of health. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.

Juan de Pablo, who joined the faculty in 1992, is Howard Curler Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. He also serves as the director of the Materials Science and Engineering Center. Earlier this year, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Researchers have cited his papers on more than 10,000 occasions.

UWF Chair Bascom Professorships honor former chairs of the board of the UW Foundation. The five-year renewable professorships recognize faculty for balanced contributions to the university’s teaching, research and service. 

James L. Baughman, named UWF Chair Fetzer-Bascom Professor of Journalism, has been a faculty member since 1979. A popular teacher and former director of the School of Journalism, he won a Distinguished Teaching Award in 2003. In 2005, he also received the Wisconsin Alumni Association's Ken and Linda Ciriacks Alumni Outreach Excellence Award. His books include “Same Time, Same Station” (Johns Hopkins University Press), tracing the birth of American television.

Thomas F. Kuech, named UWF Chair Beckwith-Bascom Professor, is currently Milton J. and A. Maude Shoemaker Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. He came to UW–Madison in 1990. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. In 1996, he played a key role in securing National Science Foundation funding to establish the UW–Madison Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) on Nanostructured Interfaces, which he directed for several years.

The Class of 1933 Bascom Professorship is a five-year nonrenewable professorship made possible through the gift of the Class of 1933 to enhance the scholarly activities of outstanding faculty members. The primary criteria are the quality, significance, and the productivity of the nominee’s research, and the quality and programmatic value of the nominee’s teaching and service. 

Michael R. Sussman, Kellett Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and director of UW–Madison’s Biotechnology Center, began teaching at UW–Madison in 1982. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he has also served as a governor's appointee to the Wisconsin Biofuels Consortium and the Wisconsin Technology Council. He co-founded NimbleGen Systems Inc. (now Roche-NimbleGen), a successful spinoff company formed in collaboration with a UW–Madison engineer and geneticist, whose products allow researchers to quickly and cheaply analyze DNA.