Faculty members recognized with named, distinguished service professorships

University Communications

Ten faculty members have received named professorships or have been named distinguished service professors. Luc Anselin, John R. Birge, John List and Angela Olinto received distinguished service professorships; and Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, Michael Franklin, Christopher Kennedy, Jason Merchant, Haresh Sapra and Nir Uriel received named professorships.

Biological Sciences Division

Nir Uriel has been named the Rabbi Esformes Professor in Medicine.

Uriel is a leader in the field of mechanical circulatory support and in the medical management of heart transplant patients. He developed and validated a set of decision-making tools now used to guide treatment of patients with mechanical assist devices. His research focuses on the prevention and treatment of advanced heart failure, ways to improve heart transplantation and advances in mechanical circulatory support. He has been a pioneer in the care of high-risk transplant patients, such as those who are HIV-positive or who have received radiation to the chest during cancer treatment.

Uriel is the national co-principal investigator for the Momentum 3 trial—the largest such study ever done—which will evaluate the safety and efficacy of a new heart-assist device in 1,028 patients. He is also the vice chair of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation’s Mechanical Circulatory Support Council and will become chair in April 2017.

Uriel joined the UChicago faculty in 2014.

Division of the Humanities

Christopher Kennedy has been named the William H. Colvin Professor in Linguistics and the College.

Kennedy’s work is geared toward discovering and describing the principles involved in relating linguistic forms to meanings. He determines how this mapping is achieved through the interaction of properties of the linguistic system, properties of cognition more generally, and broader features of the contexts in which we use language to communicate; and understanding the extent to which structural and typological features of language can be explained in terms of meaning. Over the past two decades, he has investigated these issues primarily through an exploration of expressions of comparison, amount and degree, and through work on vagueness. His research also has touched on core issues in the syntax-semantics interface such as ellipsis, anaphora and quantification.

Kennedy is the author of two books, numerous journal articles and articles in edited volumes. He is associate editor of the journal Language and the Journal of Semantics and served as chair of the Department of Linguistics from 2008-2015.

He received a 2014 fellowship from the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society and is a 2015 recipient of the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring.

Kennedy joined the UChicago faculty in 2005.

Jason Merchant has been named the first Lorna Puttkammer Straus Professor in Linguistics and the College.

Merchant works primarily in the theory of syntax and on its interface with semantics and morphology. Most of his research concentrates on the cross-linguistic grammatical constraints on ellipsis, cases in which the form seems to underdetermine the perceived (and intended) meaning. He is interested in data from a wide variety of languages but has published mostly on Germanic, Greek, Slavic and Romance languages.

He is the author of two books and numerous journal publications and other articles. He has served as deputy dean of the Division of the Humanities since 2013 and this year will complete two years as chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. Previously, he served as director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Linguistics, from 2001-2008.

Merchant is a member of several scholarly editorial boards. In 2012, he received the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and is currently a fellow with the Neubauer Collegium for Society and Culture.

Merchant joined the UChicago faculty in 2001.

Division of the Physical Sciences

Michael Franklin has been named the first Liew Family Chair of Computer Science.

An authority on databases, data analytics, data management and distributed systems, he also serves as senior adviser to the provost on computation and data science.

Franklin most recently was the Thomas M. Siebel Professor of Computer Science and chair of the Computer Science Division of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. He directed Berkeley’s Algorithms, Machines and People Laboratory, a leading academic big data analytics research center, and served as an executive committee member for the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, a campus-wide initiative to advance data science environments.

An entrepreneur in addition to his roles in academica, Franklin founded and became chief technology officer of Truviso, a data analytics company later purchased by Cisco Systems. He serves on the technical advisory boards of various data-driven technology companies, including Databricks, an AMPLab spinout based on the popular Apache Spark analytics framework that was developed at the lab.

Franklin is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and a two-time recipient of the ACM SIGMOD Test of Time award. His many other honors include the outstanding adviser award from Berkeley’s Computer Science Graduate Student Association.

Franklin joined the UChicago faculty in 2016.


Angela Olinto has been named the Homer J. Livingston Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and the College.

Olinto has made important contributions to the physics of quark stars, inflationary theory, cosmic magnetic fields and particle astrophysics. Her research interests span theoretical astrophysics, particle and nuclear astrophysics, and cosmology. She has focused much of her recent work on understanding the origins of the highest-energy cosmic rays and neutrinos.

Olinto is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her distinguished contributions to the field of astrophysics, particularly exotic states of matter and extremely high-energy cosmic ray studies at the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina. She now leads the International collaboration of the Extreme Universe Space Observatory mission that will fly in a NASA super pressure balloon in 2017 and will be first to observe tracks of ultra-energy particles from above.

She also is a fellow of the American Physical Society and has received the Chaire d’Excellence Award of the French Agence Nationale de Recherche. Olinto has received the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, as well as the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring.

Olinto joined the UChicago faculty in 1996.

Division of the Social Sciences

Luc Anselin has been named the Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor in Sociology and the College.

Anselin’s work focuses on research questions in areas such as public health and criminology in which location is an important dimension. It includes the development of open-source software tools for modeling and analysis. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Justice and National Science Foundation.

Anselin is a leading expert in spatial econometrics and author of Spatial Econometrics: Methods and Models as well as hundreds of articles in the field. He has developed software packages for spatial data analysis including SpaceStat and GeoDa.

He is director of the new Center for Spatial Data Science, a joint initiative of the Division of Social Sciences and Computation Institute. He joins UChicago from Arizona State University, where he was the chair and founding director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. While there, he also started and was director of the GeoDa Center for Geospatial Analysis and Computation. Anselin serves as a senior fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago.

He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008 and American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011. He is the winner of the Walter Isard Award and William Alonso Memorial Prize.

Anselin joined the UChicago faculty in 2016.


John List has been named the first Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and the College.

List is chairman of the Department of Economics and one of the world’s leading experts on experimental economics. He has pioneered work using field experiments in which he developed scientific methods for testing economic theory directly in the marketplace. His work has provided insight on such issues as pricing behavior, market structure, the valuation of non-marketed goods and services, the impact of environmental regulation, the economics of charitable giving, and the impact of incentives on education and weight loss.

He is co-author of The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life and recipient of the Arrow Prize for Senior Economists and Kenneth Galbraith Award.

He has been at the forefront of environmental economics and has served as senior economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers for Environmental and Resource Economics. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor, and in 2015 received an honorary doctorate from Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

List joined the UChicago faculty in 2005.

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

John R. Birge has been named the Jerry W. and Carol L. Levin Distinguished Service Professor in Operations and Management.

Birge studies mathematical modeling of systems under uncertainty, especially for maximizing operational and financial goals, using the methodologies of stochastic programming and large-scale optimization. He was first drawn to this area by a need to use mathematics in a useful and practical way. His research has shown how special problem structure can allow for the efficient solution of complex problems of decision making under uncertainty.

He is published widely and is the recipient of the Best Paper Award from the Japan Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellows Award, and the Institute of Industrial Engineers Medallion Award. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

A former dean of the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Northwestern University, Birge has worked as a consultant for a variety of firms including the University of Michigan Hospitals, Deutsche Bank, Allstate Insurance Company and Morgan Stanley. He uses cases from these experiences for teaching.

Birge joined the Chicago Booth faculty in 2004.


Haresh Sapra has been named the Leon Carroll Marshall Professor of Accounting.

Sapra studies the real effects of accounting measurement policies, disclosure, regulation, and corporate governance. His current research deals with issues of disclosure, transparency and financial reporting for financial institutions. For example, how accounting measurement rules impact the optimal design of prudential regulation for financial institutions, or the costs and benefits of disclosing banks’ stress tests results.

His research has been published in journals including The Accounting Review, Journal of Accounting Research and Games and Economic Behavior. In 2005, Sapra won the Ernest R. Wish Accounting Research Award for his paper, Do Mandatory Hedge Disclosures Discourage or Encourage Excessive Speculation?

Sapra has won numerous teaching awards at Chicago Booth, including being named one of the top-ranked professors in BusinessWeek’s Guide to the Top Business Schools.

Sapra joined the Chicago Booth faculty in 2000.

Harris School of Public Policy

Ethan Bueno de Mesquita has been named the Sydney Stein Jr. Professor in American Politics.

Bueno de Mesquita is an applied game theorist with expertise in both political violence, including terrorism, rebellion and insurgency, as well as electoral accountability. He is the author of the forthcoming Political Economy for Public Policy. His research has appeared in numerous political science and economics journals, including the American Political Science Review and the Journal of Political Economy.

Bueno de Mesquita is deputy dean for research and strategic initiatives at Chicago Harris and the founding director of the school’s Center for Policy Entrepreneurship, which focuses on the politics of the policymaking process.

Bueno de Mesquita’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research and the United States Institute of Peace. He is an elected member of the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project.

Bueno de Mesquita joined the Chicago Harris faculty in 2007.