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A Champion, a Knight, and Other Honors

Story by
Nancy Joseph
Multiple Awards for "Champion of Justice"
The Lion and the Rising Sun
Top Honors for Political Scientist
Other Honorary Awards
Publication Awards
Other Accomplishments

Multiple Awards for "Champion of Justice"

Katherine Beckett has been busy. Not just with her work as a UW professor of sociology and professor and chair of the Department of Law, Societies & Justice, but also as the recipient of a dizzying number of recent awards. In 2019 alone, Beckett, S. Frank Miyamoto Endowed Professor, has been honored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Washington Defender Association, and the UW Center for Human Rights.

Katherine Beckett head shot

Katherine Beckett's research with graduate student Heather Evans led to the abolishment of the death penalty in Washington state. 

And for good reason: Beckett’s research on the impact of race on the death penalty in Washington state — with graduate student Heather Evans (2005, 2016), now a UW lecturer — led to the abolishment of the death penalty in Washington.

Beckett and Evans reviewed all potential death-penalty cases in Washington between 1981 and 2014 and found that black defendants were far more likely to be sentenced to death than white defendants. The Washington State Supreme Court specifically cited this finding in its opinion to end the death penalty in October 2018, determining that the death penalty violated the state constitution’s prohibition on cruel punishment because of its disproportionate use for black defendants. Washington became the 20th state to abolish the death penalty, and only the third—after Massachusetts and Connecticut—to do so based on racial disparities.

In recognition of her accomplishments, the ACLU recently awarded Beckett its Dorsen Presidential Prize “for lifetime contributions to research on civil liberties and civil rights.” Other awards, with titles including “Champion of Justice” and “Justice Award,” have been presented to Beckett and Evans, along with the attorneys who initially requested the study.

For more about this research, read “Abolished” in University of Washington Magazine. 


The Lion and the Rising Sun

Two Arts & Sciences faculty received prestigious honors from other nations in November, for promoting mutual understanding between nations.

Andrew Nestingen (right) during a presentation of his award.

Andrew Nestingen (right), professor and chair of the UW's Department of Scandinavian Studies, receives the Knight First Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland from Stefan Lindström, Finland's Los Angeles-based consul general. Media credit: Connor Klentschy; instagram @connor.klentschy

Andrew Nestingen, professor and chair of the Department of Scandinavian Studies, was awarded Knight First Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland, bestowed by Finland’s Los Angeles-based consul general on behalf of Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. First established following Finland’s independence in 1917, the Order of the Lion of Finland honors both Finnish and foreign citizens to acknowledge “gallantry and civic merits.”

“These Orders recognize the work of men and women who represent the interests of Finland and its people and culture in their local communities,” said Matti Suokko, Finland’s honorary consul for Washington State. “Andy leads a department that has become a cornerstone of the Finnish community in Seattle.” 

Nestingen’s connection to Finland began as an exchange student 30 years ago. As part of the UW’s Finnish Studies program, Nestingen focuses his research on the study of Finnish literature and culture, Nordic cinema, and Nordic crime fiction.

Donald Hellmann

Don Hellmann was honored by the Government of Japan.  Media credit: Colette Cosner

Donald Hellmann, professor emeritus of international studies and political science, received the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, from the Government of Japan “in recognition of his contributions in promoting academic exchanges and mutual understanding between Japan and the United States.”

During his long academic career, Hellmann helped launch The Journal of Japanese Studies and expanded the number of UW faculty positions focused on Japan. His many publications on Japan-related topics have had far-reaching impact in the United States and abroad, and he has served as a policy advisor on Japan to the U.S. executive branch, Congress, and policy advisory organizations. During more than 50 years at the University, Hellman has taught over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students, thus contributing to the training of generations of scholars in Japan Studies as well as political and business leaders.


Top Honors for Political Scientist

Political scientist and UW professor emerita Margaret Levi has spent years studying state coercion. But there was no coercion involved when she was named the 25th recipient of the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science, widely considered the Nobel-Prize equivalent for political scientists. The prize has been awarded annually since 1995 to a scholar who, in the view of the committee, has made the most valuable contributions to political science.

Margaret Levi speaking behind podium at Uppsala University.

Margaret Levi presents her Johan Skytte Prize speech at Uppsala University in Sweden. Media credit: Mikael Wallerstedt. Copyright Johan Skytte Foundation

“I am beyond thrilled by this incredible honor,” said Levi. “I am also deeply humbled, as I’m in awe of previous Skytte Prize winners. They are nothing short of foundational and transformational figures in the political science profession.” Levi has generously decided to donate half of her 500,000 SEK ($51,000) award to the UW Department of Political Science.

Levi, the Jere L. Bacharach Professor Emerita in International Studies at the UW, and director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) and professor of political science at Stanford University, was awarded the prize for “having laid the foundations of our understanding of why citizens accept state coercion, by combining theoretical acumen and historical knowledge.” In her work, Levi often revisits the sources of legitimacy behind state coercion and coercion exercised by other collectives.

Levi argues that the state could not exist without what she calls a quasi-voluntary consent to being governed, including paying taxes and obeying laws that we might not necessarily like or have not actively helped to create. As the experience of many dictatorial rulers shows, the price of governing is often high. In the worst scenarios, people have to be divided by walls, placed under surveillance, bribed with “bread and circuses” — but even these strategies do not necessarily make the rulers safe. A potential revolt is always brewing. Governing becomes much easier when consent is given, which, as Levi shows, is best achieved if national politics are perceived as fair, decision-making procedures are perceived as inclusive, and there is a belief that everyone contributes without free-riding.

Levi spoke about her research, and its relevance in today’s rapidly changing world, in her acceptance speech for the Johan Skytte Prize in Uppsala, Sweden on September 28. “We have choices over where we will go next,” she said, suggesting the need to fashion a new ‘moral political economy.’ “And my energy now is devoted to making those choices both apparent and possible.”


Other Honorary Awards

Three Arts & Sciences faculty have been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences: Martin Savage, professor of physics at the UW Institute of Nuclear Theory; Anne Bowen McCoy, professor of chemistry; and Christopher Bretherton, professor of applied mathematics and atmospheric sciences.

Jeffrey Paz Buenaflor, graduate student in chemistry, received a 2019 UW Excellence in Teaching Award. 

Karen Cheng, professor of visual communication design, and UW student Selina Nguyen won a Sappi Ideas that Matter Grant to realize a design project for the homeless.

Daniel Chirot, Herbert J. Ellison Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bucharest in Romania in recognition of his work on Romanian social history.

Jiun-Haw Chu, assistant professor of physics, was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for his work on superconductivity in strain-tuned materials.

Jennifer H. Doherty, senior lecturer of biology, received a 2019 UW Distinguished Teaching Award. 

Mathias Drton, professor of statistics, received the 2019 Ethel Newbold Prize from the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. The prize is awarded every two years to an outstanding statistical scientist in early or mid-career, for a body of work that represents excellence in research in mathematical statistics, and/or excellence in research that links developments in a substantive field to new advances in statistics.

Dima Drusvyatskiy, associate professor of mathematics, was awarded the 2019 INFORMS Optimization Society Prize for Young Researchers for an outstanding paper in optimization. The prize recognizes promising colleagues who are at the beginning of their academic or industrial career.

Patricia Ebrey, professor of history, is the 2020 recipient of the Association for Asian Studies award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies. The award recognizes her scholarly contributions as well as service to the field of Asian studies over the years.

The Department of English’s Expository Writing Program was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from the Conference on College Composition and Communication.

Lukasz Fidkowski, assistant professor of physics, is a co-recipient of the 2020 New Horizons in Physics Prize, for contributions to the understanding of topological states of matter.

Alex Luedtke, assistant professor of statistics and affiliate assistant member of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Tyler McCormick, associate professor of statistics and sociology and a core faculty member in the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences, have received 2019 Director's New Innovator Awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The awards are part of the NIH's annual High-Risk, High-Reward research program, which supports creative scientists pursuing innovative biomedical research for broad impact. Luedtke and McCormick each have been awarded $2,332,500. Luedtke uses aspects of machine learning to create statistical models to answer questions in public health; McCormick’s research looks at how uncertainty in data-gathering and statistical modeling informs decision-making processes undertaken by policymakers.

Kristine Matthews, associate professor of visual communication design, along with a number of her students and Studio Matthews, received several honors for the design of the UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity's 50th Anniversary exhibition. The team received an award from Communication Arts in environmental design, as well as two awards from the University & College Designers Association: an Award of Excellence for Exhibit/Display Graphics and a Gold Award for Student Classroom Work or Assignments. The project also was a finalist for the 2019 GRAY Awards in the Design for Good category.

Ludo Max, professor of speech and hearing sciences, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the College of Education, Health, and Human Services at Kent State University, his alma mater.

Andrew N. Meltzoff, Job and Gertrud Tamaki Endowed Chair, professor of psychology, and co-director of the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, received the Association for Psychological Science’s highest honor, the APS William James Fellow Award, for a lifetime of significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology. Meltzoff was selected for outstanding contributions to research and theory about infant and child cognitive development.

Patricia Moy, Christy Cressey Professor of Communication and associate vice provost of academic and student affairs, received the 2019 Warren J. Mitofsky Award for Excellence in Public Opinion Research from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at Cornell University. The award recognizes Moy’s contributions to political communication research and her extensive leadership service to the public opinion profession. Moy is editor of Public Opinion Quarterly as well as a former president of the World Association for Public Opinion Research, the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research, and the International Communication Association.

Michael Spafford, professor emeritus of painting, has received the Legacy Award as part of the Washington State Governor’s Arts & Heritage Awards.

Sarah Stroup, associate professor of classics, received the 2019 UW Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology.

Amanda Swarr, associate professor of gender, women & sexuality studies, received a 2019 UW Distinguished Teaching Award. 

Tatiana Toro, Craig McKibben and Sarah Merner Professor of Mathematics, received the 2019 UW Marsha L. Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award.

Aurora Valentinetti, professor emerita of drama, received the 2019 UW Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award. 

Patti Warashina, professor emerita of cermanics, has been selected as the 2020 Visionary Award Recipient as part of the Smithsonian Craft + Design Show.

Mary Pat Wenderoth, principal lecturer of biology, received the American Society for Cell Biology's 2019 Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education, which honors an individual who has demonstrated innovative and sustained contributions to science education.

Marek Wieczorek, associate professor of art history, has been named a fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Daniela Witten, professor of statistics and biostatistics and Dorothy Gilford Endowed Chair in Mathematical Statistics, received the 2019 Mortimer Spiegelman Award from the American Public Health Association.  This award honors a statistician who has made outstanding contributions to statistical methodology and its applications in public health.

Matthew Yankowitz, assistant professor of physics, was a finalist for the 2019 Blavatnik Regional Award for Young Scientists administered by the New York Academy of Science.

Margarita Zeitlin, graduate student in psychology, received a 2019 UW Excellence in Teaching Award. 


Publication Awards

Sareeta Amrute, associate professor of anthropology, won the International Convention of Asian Scholars' IBP Book Prize for the Social Sciences for Encoding Race, Encoding Class: Indian IT Workers in Berlin

Marisol Berríos-Miranda, affiliate assistant professor of music, Shannon Dudley, professor of music, and Michelle Habell-Pallán, professor of gender, women & sexuality studies, won Best History in the 2019 Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) Awards for Excellence, for their bilingual book, American Sabor: Latinos and Latinas in US Popular Music.

Radhika Govindrajan, associate professor of anthropology, received the 2019 Gregory Bateson Prize from The Society for Cultural Anthropology for her book, Animal Intimacies: Interspecies Relatedness in India’s Central Himalayas.

Justin Jesty, associate professor of Asian languages and literature, won the 2019 ASAP Book Prize from the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (ASAP) for his book, Art and Engagement in Early Postwar Japan.

Ralina Joseph, professor of communication and founding/acting director of the UW Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity, received the 2019 Outstanding Book Award from the International Communication Association for her book Postracial Resistance: Black Women, Media, and the Uses of Strategic Ambiguity, which examines how African American women negotiate the minefield of “postracial racism.” 

Matthew Powers, associate professor of communication and associate director of the Center for Civic Engagement, won the Journalism Studies Division Book Award from the International Communication Association for NGO as Newsmakers: The Changing Landscape of International News.

Richard Salomon, William P. and Ruth Gerberding University Professor Emeritus of Buddhist Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature, was awarded the 2019 Prix de la Fondation Colette Caillat en études indiennes, awarded annually for outstanding publications in the field of Indology, for his book The Buddhist Literature of Ancient Gandhara.

Robin Stacey, professor of history, received the Vernam Hull Memorial Prize from the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh Studies (Canolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd Prifysgol Cymru) for her book Law and the Imagination in Medieval Wales. This prize is given “for completed work dealing with Welsh Prose before 1700.”

Alys Weinbaum, professor of English, won the Sarah A. Whaley prize from the National Women’s Studies Association for her recent book, The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery: Biocapitalism and Black Feminism's Philosophy of History.  The Whaley Prize recognizes the best book in any field on women and labor from an intersectional perspective. The book also received an honorable mention for the Gloria E. Anzaldúa prize, awarded for groundbreaking scholarship in multicultural feminist contributions to women of color/transnational scholarship.



Marie Anchordoguy, professor of international studies, was appointed to the Long Endowed Fund for Excellence.

Anton Andreev, professor of physics, was appointed to the Boeing Distinguished Professorship in Physics.

Emily M. Bender, professor of linguistics and adjunct professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, was appointed to the Howard and Frances Nostrand Endowed Professorship.

Daniel M. Bessner, associate professor of international studies, was appointed to the Anne H.H. and Kenneth B. Pyle Professorship in American Foreign Policy.

Galya Diment, professor of Slavic languages and literatures, was appointed to the Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professorship in the Humanities.

Joël-François Durand, professor and associate director of the School of Music, was appointed the Donald E. Petersen Endowed Professor.

James R. Felak, professor of international studies, was appointed to the Newman Center Term Professorship in Catholic Christianity.

Kirsten A. Foot, professor of communication and adjunct faculty in the Information School, was appointed to the Dart Endowed Professorship in Trauma, Journalism, & Communication.

David S. Ginger, professor of chemistry, adjunct professor of physics, and chief scientist at the UW Clean Energy Institute, was appointed to the Alvin L. and Verla R. Kwiram Endowed Professorship in Chemistry.

Carmen Gonzalez, assistant professor of communication, was appointed to the Dart Endowed Professorship in Trauma, Journalism, & Communication.

James N. Gregory, professor of history, was appointed to the Williams Family Endowed Professorship in History.

Daniel J. Hoffman, associate professor of international studies, chair of the African Studies Program, and associate professor of anthropology, was appointed to the Bartley Dobb Professorship for the Study & Prevention of Violence.

Hajin Jun, assistant professor of international studies and history, was appointed the James B. Palais Endowed Professor in Korean History.

Liliana J. Lengua, professor of psychology, was appointed to the Yaffa and Paul Maritz Endowed Professorship for the Center for Child and Family Well-Being.

Max Lieblich, professor of mathematics, was appointed to the Craig McKibben and Sarah Merner Endowed Professorship in Mathematics.

Kristina R. Olson, professor of psychology and director of the Social Cognitive Development Lab, was appointed to the Earl R. Carlson Endowed Professorship.

Noam Pianko, professor in the Jackson School of International Studies, chair of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, and adjunct professor in the Department of History, was appointed the Samuel N. Stroum Chair in Jewish Studies as well as the Lucia S. and Herbert L. Pruzan Endowed Professorship in Jewish Studies.

Afroditi Psarra, assistant professor of digital arts & experimental media, was appointed the Donald E. Petersen Endowed Fellow.

Naja Ferjan Ramirez, assistant professor of linguistics, was appointed to the Distinguished Professorship in Language Acquisition and Multilingualism.​

Joshua L. Reid, associate professor of history and director of the Center for Study of the Pacific Northwest, was appointed to the John Calhoun Smith Memorial Endowment.

Anand A. Yang, professor of international studies and history, was appointed to the Walker Family Endowed Professorship in History.


Other Accomplishments

The UW’s Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies (CAIIS) received $1.8 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support recruitment, training, and teaching in American Indian and Indigenous Studies. 

Audrey Desjardins, assistant professor of interaction design, has been selected as a 2019–20 UW Mellon Faculty Fellow in Arts, a project that is part of UW’s Arts and Creativity Initiative sponsored by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Margaret O’Mara, Howard and Frances Keller Endowed Professor of History, has been named a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.

Noam Pianko, director of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies and chair of Jewish Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies, has been elected as the next president of the Association of Jewish Studies, the professional organization representing Jewish Studies scholars worldwide.

Abigail Swann, associate professor of biology and atmospheric sciences, was named one of 10 young scientists to watch from Science News. Nominees are selected by Nobel laureates, a recently elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, or someone previously named to the Science News 10 list.