Scientist James Anderson, artist Kerry James Marshall to receive Benton, Rosenberger medals

University Communications

The University will award the Benton Medal for Distinguished Public Service to James Anderson, the Phillip S. Weld Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at Harvard University, and the Jesse L. Rosenberger Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Creative and Performing Arts to local artist Kerry James Marshall. The recipients will receive their honors at the University of Chicago’s 527th Convocation on Saturday, June 11.

Members of the UChicago faculty nominate candidates for the Benton and Rosenberger medals. The Committee on Awards and Prizes then evaluates the nominations, which are finally voted upon by the Council of the University Senate.

The University president extends an invitation to the Benton and Rosenberger nominees to receive their medals during Spring Convocation. The nominees also are invited to give a public lecture or workshop the following academic year.

James Anderson, 2016 Benton Medal

Anderson is described as a pioneer of in situ measurements of ozone chemistry and a scientific leader who helped forge broad international consensus on potential risks to Earth's ozone layer.

Anderson’s work on the ozone hole prompted the development of the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer and phase out the production of numerous substances that deplete it. More recently, Anderson has linked ozone chemistry to climate change.

For three decades, Anderson has led an eminent research program, exploring the chemical, global and societal impacts of catalytic ozone loss in the upper atmosphere. He pioneered in situ detection of catalytically active radicals in the atmosphere and conducted the first airborne measurements of free radicals in the stratosphere. He followed that work with the first measurements of halogen radicals, injected into the stratosphere from the breakdown of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons).

Combining these measurements, Anderson then conducted pivotal field experiments that conclusively demonstrated that chlorine radicals were responsible for catalytic ozone depletion in the polar stratosphere, colloquially known as “the ozone hole.” Such a suite of precise and complete measurements had never before been conducted in the harsh environment of the winter polar stratosphere.

Turning his attention to climate change in 2000, Anderson began a decade-long effort to elucidate mechanisms of water vapor transport through the tropical tropopause transition layer and into the stratosphere. Through that research, he unexpectedly found that strong convective systems in the tropics inject water high into the stratosphere. He further demonstrated that this water vapor is responsible for mid-latitude ozone loss.

Anderson was able to link ozone loss and climate change in an incontrovertible way. His finding explained the microscopic origin of the thinning of the ozone layer over the most heavily populated portions of the planet and showed that climate change has immediate implications for human health.

Throughout his career, Anderson has championed environmental stewardship by creating data sets that clearly prove how human activities effect change in the atmosphere surrounding our planet. His work spans precise laboratory measurements, airborne field campaigns, and policy initiatives on the national and international stage.

Kerry James Marshall, 2016 Jesse L. Rosenberger Medal

Marshall is recognized as an artist who has shifted how the contemporary art world looks at questions of representation and identity.

Marshall addresses representation in at least two different ways: He attends to the quality of visual representation within painting, as his work focuses on the figure and landscape, and he also focuses on the kinds of images that are represented in museums and galleries. His stated mission is to populate museums and galleries with representations of people of color throughout the United States and around the world.

Marshall was born in Alabama in 1955, and grew up in Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. A 1978 graduate of the Otis College of Art and Design, he currently lives and works in Chicago.

Marshall is considered to be an inspired and imaginative chronicler of the African American experience, who uses painting, sculptural installations, collage, video and photography to comment on the history of black identity both in the United States and in Western art. He is well known for paintings that focus on black subjects historically excluded from the artistic canon, and he has explored issues of race and history through imagery ranging from abstraction to comics.

A recipient of a 1997 MacArthur Fellowship, Marshall currently serves on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He has been featured on the PBS Art 21 series, which profiles the most important artists of the 21st century.

In 2007, the art magazine Artforum noted that Marshall was the “star” of Documenta 12, the renowned international survey of contemporary art, which takes place every five years. His work has been profiled in many international art magazines and journals, and numerous monographic publications have been dedicated to his work. In addition to exhibiting in the United States, Marshall’s work has been shown in Vienna, Belgium, Denmark and Spain.

A mainstay of the Chicago art scene for more than 30 years, Marshall is currently the subject of a major survey exhibition at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition, which opened April 23, is on view through Sept. 25. The exhibition will then travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and then to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Marshall’s work is also represented in UChicago’s Smart Museum of Art along with numerous major public collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Birmingham Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.