MacArthur and a Golden Goose
It’s a double-header for the Department of Psychology, with two faculty receiving major awards in recent months.
Kristina Olson, associate professor of psychology, has been named a MacArthur Fellow, awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and commonly known as the “genius grant.” Olson runs the Social Cognitive Development Lab at the UW and created the TransYouth Project, the nation’s largest longitudinal study of transgender children. She is considered a national leader in research into how children develop gender identity.
The award comes with a $625,000 stipend. Olson said she hasn’t decided how, exactly, she’ll use the grant. One priority is to support others in their research and training, such as through a mentorship program for underrepresented undergraduate students. The other priority is to pursue challenging new projects not likely to be supported by traditional grants.
Tony Greenwald, professor of psychology, won the Golden Goose award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his implicit bias research. The award honors federally funded work that, in the words of AAAS, “may have been considered silly, odd or obscure when first conducted but has resulted in significant benefits to society.”
Greenwald and colleagues developed the online Implicit Association Test, which requires the test taker to classify words and images rapidly according to their meanings, to capture unconscious biases toward — depending on the test version — race, gender, age and dozens of other traits and preferences. Since its debut in 1998, the test has been taken online more than 25 million times and has been used in over 2,000 peer-reviewed research articles. Its concepts have been the subject of classroom and workplace debates, policies and programs.
As founding artistic director of the UW’s Chamber Dance Company, Hannah Wiley, professor of dance, is committed to presenting dances that have historical significance.
This year she received a National Endowment for the Arts: Art Works award to present the work of early-20th-century choreographer Harald Kreutzberg to 21st-century audiences. A controversial dance luminary, Kreutzberg played a major role in the development of German expressionist dance and was a critical link in the aesthetic lineage that gave rise to many current American choreographers. The $10,000 Art Works award supported the staging, presentation and documentation of Harald Kreutzberg's Dances Before God, a triptych of remarkable solos performed at Chamber Dance Company’s fall 2018 concert.
“Despite his stature in the American dance scene in the early 20th century, Kreutzberg and his choreography are virtually unknown to 21st-century dance artists, students and audiences — an unfortunate lacuna in dance history, appreciation and education,” says Wiley.
Jiun-Haw Chu, assistant professor of physics and faculty member at the UW’s Clean Energy Institute, has been named a 2018 Packard Fellow by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation for his research on quantum materials. As a Packard Fellow, Chu will receive $875,000 in research funding over five years.
The Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering for early-career scientists are intended for innovative endeavors that may fall beyond the scope of traditional sources of funding. Chu’s research focuses on materials with strange properties emerging from the law of quantum mechanics. Tapping into those quantum-mechanical properties and developing quantum materials are key steps in developing revolutionary innovations in information technology.
In the lab, Chu and his team design and discover different types of crystals — lab-grown compounds with superconducting properties, which have shown promise as quantum materials. They deform the crystal structure through a method known as “strain tuning” to induce a quantum phase transition, in hopes of identifying new types of quantum materials.
“Strain tuning is like a ‘control knob’ for changing crystal properties with precision,” Chu explains “It allows us to make small, specific changes to the crystal’s 3D structure, and we can then test the effects of these alterations.”
The Packard Foundation support will allow Chu to continue and expand his lab’s efforts to identify new types of quantum materials through strain tuning.
Inquisitive. Tireless. Eager for challenging material. The College of Arts & Sciences' 2018 Dean’s Medalists represent the best and brightest in the College’s four divisions. The medalists, who graduated in spring 2018, were selected based on their GPA and glowing recommendations.
Lisa Kwak, Dean’s Medalist in the Arts, was a double major in dance and international studies. She became “a highly sought-after performer in our department,” says dance professor Rachael Lincoln. “She is so adaptable that she could successfully pursue a career in concert dance or in musical theatre, a versatility exceedingly rare in the field.”
International studies faculty are equally effusive. Affiliate professor Philip Wall, who led a Jackson School of International Studies Task Force with Kwak serving as economic editor and coordinator, observed that Kwak displayed a “rare combination of solid scholarship and capable leadership. She figured out quickly how to get the best out of her team with no friction or resentment. She has the makings of an excellent political and economic analyst.”
Kwak also served as an officer in the UW Dance Student Association, mentored low income high school students through the Dream Project, spent a summer volunteering in Cambodia, and performed in numerous UW dance concerts.
Hyeon-Jin Kim, Dean's Medalist in the Natural Sciences, was a triple major in chemistry, biochemistry, and applied and computational mathematical sciences. He earned a 4.0 grade in almost every UW course he took — though in some classes, his grade could have been higher.
“His transcript shows a grade of 4.0, but I had actually adjusted this down from 4.4 in order to not ruin the curve for the rest of the class,” says Joshua Vaughan, assistant professor of chemistry. “Hyeon-Jin is an elite student of the very highest caliber.”
Research has been a constant during Kim’s time at the University. He worked on research with faculty in chemistry, biology, and bioengineering, and developed new methodologies in expansion microscopy techniques. Articles about the process were published in the journals Nature Methods and Molecular Biology of the Cell, and a patent application for the process has been filed, with Kim a co-author on all three. Kim is now in the UW PhD program in genome sciences.
Annie Lewis, Dean’s Medalist in the Social Sciences, has never shied away from a challenge. A double major in English and history with a minor in Jewish studies and Spanish, Lewis completed senior theses in both majors.
“It is rare that an undergraduate undertakes research in the humanities and social sciences that has the potential to change the trajectory of an entire field, but that is, in short, what Annie Lewis has accomplished,” says history professor Devin Naar, the Isaac Alhadeff Professor in Sephardic Studies, referring to Lewis’s History honors thesis about changes in Sephardic Jewish identity over time. The thesis won the UW Library Research Award Grand Prize.
Lewis also served as a peer adviser in Undergraduate Academic Affairs and a lead writing tutor at the Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment (CLUE), helping students overcome academic challenges. Coming from a disadvantaged background, she’s had many challenges of her own.
“Annie takes risks to empower others, to make sure students after her have an even better experience than she did,” says Mika Ahuvia, assistant professor of Classical Judaism and the Marsha and Jay Glazer Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies. “She knows the purpose of being a student at the University is to learn, to grow, and to contribute back to society.”
Chenyibo Zhu, Dean’s Medalist in the Humanities, was a double major in French and mathematics. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese — her native tongue — and English, but she also has advanced skills in French and a decent mastery of Spanish. And she’s fluent in the international language of mathematics.
“Chenyibo evinces a rare combination of raw intellectual talent, remarkable skills in four languages, and a strong work ethic that makes her an excellent student and the embodiment of the benefits of a liberal arts education,” says Richard Watts, associate professor of French. “She is the most intellectually accomplished and curious student I have had in my 20 years in the profession.”
In her spare time, Zhu volunteered for a Chinese national news website that covers international news, translating subtitles from Chinese to English and working with the publicity department. Zhu also started a UW student organization to support international students when they first arrive on campus, to alleviate some of the stress that many international students — including Zhu — experience upon arriving in a new country and culture.
Zhu is now putting both her French and mathematics skills to use as a graduate student at the prestigious ESSEC Business School in France.
With interests ranging from animation in the former Yugoslavia to the lives of the oppressed Uyghur minority in China, the 2018 College of Arts & Sciences Graduate Medalists — selected from faculty recommendations — have spent years asking difficult questions and developing expertise while completing their doctoral work.
Darren Byler, Graduate Medalist in the Social Sciences, did his doctoral research in anthropology, focusing on the urban residents of Ürümchi, the capital of Xinjiang, China. His work sheds light on the way a war against terror has been used to justify surveillance systems and internment camps that affect millions of Muslim Uyghurs. Recognizing his expertise, foreign journalists have worked with Byler on articles for Time, The Economist, and other publications. Byler received a Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship, and — from the UW’s Simpson Center for the Humanities — a Society of Scholars Fellowship and a Digital Humanities Summer Fellowship.
Zihui Zhao, Graduate Medalist in the Natural Sciences, did mathematics doctoral work on partial differential equations on non-smooth domains. The resulting academic papers, “have had a transformational impact on her field,” says Tatiana Toro, the Craig McKibben & Sarah Merner Professor in Mathematics. Zhao received a Microsoft Scholar Award, an Academic Excellence Award, and the Tanzi-Egerton Fellowship from the Department of Mathematics. This fall she will begin a very prestigious postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, followed by another fellowship at the University of Chicago.
Paul Morton, Graduate Medalist in the Humanities, completed a doctoral thesis in cinema and media studies focusing on the Zagreb School of Animation, whose members created hundreds of animated films in the former Yugoslavia from the 1950s through 1990s. “The quality of Paul’s writing on this inspiring yet difficult material is that of a mature, imaginative, and confident scholar,” says Slavic and Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media professor Gordana Crnkovic. Morton received a UW Graduate School Presidential Dissertation Fellowship and several Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships.
The Department of Asian Languages and Literature was recently honored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its outstanding contributions to the promotion of friendship between Japan and the U.S. Starting in 1910 with a course on classical Japanese literature, the department has been instrumental in the development and expansion of Japanese studies in the Pacific Northwest and across the U.S., and has long-standing collaborations with world-class Japanese universities.
Mary Hammond Bernson, who retired this year after more than two decades as director of the East Asia Resource Center in the Jackson School of International Studies, has been awarded an Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, from the Government of Japan. The honor is one of the most prestigious bestowed by Japan. The East Asia Resource Center provides professional development programs and teaching resources about East Asia to U.S. elementary and secondary school teachers. Bernson also has served as president of the Japan-America Society in Washington state, and co-founded and co-directed the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia.
P. Dee Boersma, professor of biology and director of the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels, was named a 2018 finalist for the Indianapolis Prize, a biennial prize awarded by the Indianapolis Zoo to individuals for extraordinary contributions to conservation efforts affecting one or more animal species. Boersma was previously a finalist for the prize in 2016.
Julianne Dalcanton, professor and chair of the Department of Astronomy, has been awarded the 2018 Beatrice Tinsley Prize from the American Astronomical Society, which recognizes “contributions that are of an exceptionally creative or innovative character and that have played a seminal role in furthering our understanding of the universe.” Dalcanton was awarded the prize for her work on large surveys of low-surface-brightness galaxies and her use of the Hubble Space Telescope to create legacy datasets of resolved stellar populations in nearby galaxies.
Victoria Meadows, professor of astronomy and director of UW Astrobiology, received the 2018 Frank Drake Award from the SETI Institute, the top honor in the field of astrobiology. Meadows is also principal investigator for the Virtual Planetary Lab. See related story.
Aseem Prakash, professor of political science and Walker Family Professor for the Arts and Sciences, received the 2018 James N. Rosenau Award from the International Studies Association, which honors a “scholar who has made the most important contributions to globalization studies.” Prakash also received the 2018 Regulatory Studies Development Award from the European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on Regulatory Governance, which recognizes “the contributions to the field of regulatory governance by senior scholars.”
Jessica Werk, assistant professor of astronomy, received a 2018 Sloan Foundation Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Werk studies the extended gaseous components of galaxies and the role they play in galaxy formation and evolution.
Gregory P. Wilson, associate professor of biology and curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Burke Museum, has received the Raymond M. Alf Award for Excellence in Paleontological Research and Education from the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology. The award honors a paleontologist who exhibits excellence both in original scientific research and in education and outreach at the primary and secondary school (K-12) levels.
Jessica Burstein, associate professor of English, received a 2018 Pushcart Prize for her semi-fiction essay, “All Politics.” The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America.
David Crouse, associate professor of English, received the Hamlin Garland Award for the Short Story from Beloit Fiction Journal, for his story "The Alaska Girl" from his short story collection I'm Here: Alaska Stories.
Devon Peña, professor of anthropology and American ethnic studies, was awarded the "Best Edited Volume - 2018" Prize from the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) as co-editor of Mexican-Origin Foods, Foodways, and Social Movements: Decolonial Perspectives. In announcing the award, the ASFS explained the judges considered how the book "...filled in a gap...is incredibly timely and necessary given our political and social landscape....[and] was multidisciplinary and allowed many voices to be heard...."
David Brody, professor of painting and drawing, was appointed to the Hermine Pruzan Faculty Fellowship.
Kim V. L. England, professor of geography, was appointed to the Harry Bridges Endowed Chair in Labor Studies.
Stephanie A. Fryberg, associate professor in American Indian studies and psychology, was appointed to the William P. and Ruth Gerberding University Professorship.
María Elena Garcia, director of Comparative History of Ideas and associate professor in the Jackson School of International Studies, was appointed the Joff Hanauer Honors Professor in Western Civilization.
Anne Greenbaum, professor of applied mathematics, was appointed to the Boeing Endowed Professorship in Applied Mathematics.
Moon-Ho Jung, professor of history, was appointed to the Dio Richardson Endowed Professorship in History.
Margaret O'Mara, professor of history, was appointed to the Howard and Frances Keller Endowed Professorship in History.
Julia Pevtsova, professor of mathematics, was appointed to the Brian and Tiffinie Pang Endowed Faculty Fellowship in Mathematics.
Ileana M. Rodriguez-Silva, associate professor of history, was appointed to the Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professorship in History.
Axel Roesler, chair and associate professor of interaction design, was appointed to the Marsha and Jay Glazer Endowed University Professorship.
Jennifer Salk, chair and associate professor in the Department of Dance, was appointed to the Donald E. Petersen Endowment for Excellence.
Haicheng Wang, associate professor of art history, was appointed to the Mary and Cheney Cowles Endowed Professorship.
Sabine Wilke, professor of Germanics, was appointed the Joff Hanauer Distinguished Professor of Western Civilization.
Daniela M. Witten, professor of statistics and biostatistics, was appointed to the Dorothy Morrow Gilford Endowed Chair in Mathematical Statistics.
Holly Barker, principal lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and curator for Oceanic and Asian Culture at the Burke Museum, was appointed to the National Nuclear Commission of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Among those present for the administration of oath ceremony were the President and cabinet members of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Andrew N. Meltzoff, professor of psychology, Job and Gertrud Tamaki Endowed Chair, and co-director of the UW Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (ILABS), was named one of 50 Most Influential Living Psychologists by The Best Schools. Through decades of research on infants, he has authored or co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and has co-authored or edited four books. In addition, Meltzoff and Patricia K. Kuhl, professor of speech and hearing sciences, Bezos Family Foundation Endowed Chair for Early Childhood Learning, and co-director of ILABS, were co-winners of the Simms/Mann Whole Child Award from the Simms/Mann Institute. The award honors “leaders who pursue a whole child approach in their work” and comes with a $25,000 prize.
Timea Tihanyi (MFA, Ceramics, 2003), senior lecturer in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts in the School of Art + Art History + Design (SoA+AH+D),, was named the winner of the Open Medium category of the 2018 Neddy Artist Awards, hosted by Cornish College of the Arts. She will receive a $25,000 unrestricted award. Aaron Flint Jamison, SoA+AH+D assistant professor of photomedia was a finalist in the same category.