LAWRENCE — Four University of Kansas faculty members have been selected for 2015 University Scholarly Achievement Awards, which recognize midcareer scholars who have made significant scholarly or research contributions to their fields.
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will host a ceremony for the four winners at 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 13, in The Commons at Spooner Hall. The event is open to KU faculty and staff as well as the public.
The annual awards are presented in four fields: arts and humanities; clinical sciences; science, technology, and mathematics; and social science and professional programs.
This year's winners:
- Gregory Cushman, associate professor, Department of History (arts and humanities)
- Wonpil Im, associate professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences and Center for Computational Biology (clinical sciences)
- Andrew Torrance, professor, School of Law (social science and professional programs)
- Atanas Stefanov, professor, Department of Mathematics (science, technology and mathematics)
The four winners were chosen for contributions that advance the field of scholarship, exhibit novelty and originality, promote scholarly and research activity at KU, and enhance the university's national and international reputation. The researchers' colleagues from KU and across the nation nominated them for the award.
"As a flagship and international research university, KU has a special mission to pursue discoveries and innovations that improve lives, drive economic growth and help us better understand our world," Gray-Little said. "These four faculty members embrace that mission through their teaching and scholarship, and each of them have become not only leaders in their respective fields but pioneering and forward-thinking researchers who have sought to bring their disciplines to new heights."
This is the fifth year KU has presented the University Scholarly Achievement Awards.
More information about this year's recipients is available below.
Cushman's research focuses on environmental history and the cultural history of environmental engagement among indigenous peoples in the Andean and Pacific worlds. His 2013 book, "Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World," is one of the first studies to examine the environmental and cultural history of the whole Pacific Basin, including how mining of guano helped spur the importance of economic and agricultural development of First World countries. Cushman's book was lauded for its originality and groundbreaking contribution to world history, and it won three national book prizes: the Henry Wallace Award from the Agricultural History Society, the Murdo MacLeod Book Prize from the Southern Historical Association, and the Jerry Bentley Prize in World History of the American Historical Association.
Im's research program focuses on developments and applications of computational methods to help address chemical and physical problems in biology, including cellular membranes and protein-lipid interaction. He developed the CHARMM-GUI interface to help facilitate advanced simulation techniques for what has become the leading simulation package in biochemistry. The computationally based work gives researchers a framework and capability for modeling many complicated and important cellular processes, including signal transduction, ion-channel function, cell adhesion, drug uptake and action, drug design and nanotechnology. The National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health have funded Im's research, and he has published 56 first- or senior-authored papers since 2006.
Torrance is not only one of the world's leading scholars on the emerging field of "biolaw," which is the intersection for law and biological issues, but he also has been instrumental in leading an effort to have it recognized as a field itself by the American Association of Law Schools. Biolaw integrates insights from legal issues surrounding genes, biotechnology, genetically modified organisms, synthetic biology, conservation biology and de-extinction. Torrance has published 30 articles on biolaw topics, including co-authoring a commentary in Nature Biology, a top biotechnology journal. In addition he conducts research in patent law, intellectual property, innovation, food and drug regulation, biotechnology law, biodiversity law and empirical, experimental and big data approaches to the law. His invited presentations include a Google TechTalk at Google's main campus.
Stefanov's broad research interests focus on the local and global behavior of solutions to dispersive partial differential equations, in which he is a world leader. Partial differential equations are used to describe a wide variety of phenomena such as sound, heat, electrostatics, electrodynamics, fluid flow, elasticity and quantum mechanics. Recently, he proved a series of results related to the stability of partial differential equations. His work has helped make significant progress towards the difficult problem in the search for stability of second order partial differential equations, a major open question in the field of mathematics. He has received numerous National Science Foundation grants and has more than 40 journal publications.