Faculty members receive named, distinguished service professorships

University Communications

Twenty-four faculty members received named professorships or were appointed distinguished service professors. Steven Davis, Daniel Diermeier, Angela V. Olinto and Canice Prendergast received distinguished service professorships; and Zeresenay Alemseged, Bariş Ata, Katherine Baicker, Joy Bergelson, Michael Bourdaghs, John M. Cunningham, Thomas F. Gajewski, Mikhail Golosov, Rex Haydon, Jeffrey Hubbell, Emir Kamenica, Stefan Nagel, Madhav Rajan, Wilhelm Schlag, Sonali M. Smith, Nir Uriel, Christopher Woods, Ben Zhao, Haitao Zheng and Laurie Zoloth received named professorships.

Biological Sciences Division

ZeresenayZerayAlemseged has been named the Donald N. Pritzker Professor in Organismal Biology and Anatomy and the College.

A noted paleoanthropologist, Alemseged studies the origin of early human ancestors and the environmental factors that influenced their evolution. He established and led the Dikika Research Project, in which Alemseged made several breakthrough findings, including the discovery of the almost-complete fossilized remains of “Selam,” a 3.3-million-year-old child of the species Australopithecus afarensis. Now known as “the world’s oldest child,” it is the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor discovered to date and represents a major advancement in the understanding of human and pre-human evolution.

Alemseged is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the co-founder and president of the East African Association of Paleontologists and Paleoanthropologists. He was a senior scientist at the Max Planck Institute and recently the Irvine Chair and senior curator of anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences.


Joy Bergelson has been named the James D. Watson Professor in Ecology and Evolution and the College.

Bergelson’s work focuses on the plant Arabidopsis thaliana and the community of bacteria that inhabit it, with particular interest in understanding how the ecology of these interactions shapes evolutionary change. Her studies combine molecular evolutionary research with functional genomics under natural field conditions to test models of host-pathogen co-evolution. Along with colleagues she also has pioneered the development of Arabidopsis thaliana as a system for genome-wide mapping studies, which culminated in the Arabidopsis 1001 project. She received the 2017 BSD Distinguished Investigator award for this body of work.

The chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolution, Bergelson is a member of three UChicago committees, and has served on dozens of other departmental, divisional and university committees, National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Agriculture panels, international advisory boards and journal editorial boards. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has served as chair of the AAAS Biology section.


John M. Cunningham has been named the George M. Eisenberg Professor in Pediatrics and the College.

Cunningham is an internationally known expert in the treatment and research of childhood cancers and blood diseases. He has particular expertise in treating leukemia, immunodeficiencies, sickle cell disease and thalassemia. He is a recognized leader in the field of pediatric stem cell transplantation and has developed novel uses for this life-saving treatment. Cunningham studies the transcriptional mechanisms operative in hematopoiesis and leukemia, and the development of clinical trials for the treatment of leukemia and genetic diseases.

Cunningham's research has received support from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the American Society of Hematology; and other prominent scientific organizations. He is a member of the scientific council of the American Cancer Society and a member of the editorial board of The Oncologist.


Thomas F. Gajewski has been named the first AbbVie Foundation Professor of Cancer Immunotherapy in Pathology.

Gajewski’s team members study ways to overcome a tumor’s ability to elude the immune system, with a focus on drugs that help the immune system, especially T cells, gain access to tumor sites. They have discovered genetic clues that correlate with response versus resistance, enabling them to identify new therapies to overcome resistance and expand efficacy. They also discovered that certain components of the gut microbiota—microbes that live in a patient’s digestive tract—could stimulate the immune system to attack tumor cells. They are now refining this approach and analyzing a large cohort of human samples.

Earlier this year, Gajewski received an outstanding investigator award from the National Institutes of Health for productivity in cancer research. Gajewski is an editor for Cancer Research and the Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer and past president of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer.


Rex Haydon has been named the Simon and Kalt Families Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery.

An orthopedic surgeon and physician-scientist, Haydon specializes in the comprehensive treatment of tumors in bone or soft tissue. He works closely with patients hoping to avoid limb amputation as well as those who need reconstructive surgery on their upper and lower extremities. Haydon’s research focuses on advancing the treatment of musculoskeletal tumors. He’s the author of more than 120 articles and book chapters and has accepted career development awards from both the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Beyond his work in the University of Chicago’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, Haydon is also the associate director of the University of Chicago Medicine Molecular Oncology Laboratory.


Sonali M. Smith has been selected as the first Elwood V. Jensen Professor in Medicine.

The director of the lymphoma program, Smith is an expert on lymphoma treatment and has made outstanding contributions to the field through clinical care, education and clinical research. She studies new agents and combinations in the management of both treatment-naïve and relapsed/refractory lymphomas. She is currently studying the role of stem cell transplantation for patients with high-risk follicular lymphoma.

Smith is vice chair of the Southwest Oncology Group Lymphoma Committee, where she oversees clinical trial development and mentors faculty. She chairs the American Society of Oncology's Women in Oncology Subcommittee and is the incoming chair of ASCO’s Continuous Professional Development Committee. She is co-editor of ASH’s Hematology and co-chair of the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research Lymphoma Working Group. Smith serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and Cancer. She is an elected fellow of Pritzker’s Academy of Distinguished Medical Educators and a senior faculty scholar in the Bucksbaum Institute. She has more than 140 publications and lectures extensively to peers and patients nationally and internationally.


Nir Uriel has been named the Louis Block Professor in Medicine.

Uriel, who is director of the Heart Failure, Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support program, is a leader in the field of heart failure, mechanical circulatory support and heart transplantation. He specializes in caring for patients who require mechanical circulatory support, including ventricular assist devices. Uriel's research focuses on advanced heart failure physiology, heart transplant and mechanical circulatory support. Uriel specialized and reported physiological changes and developed treatment algorithms for patients supported with Mechanical Circulatory Support that are being used worldwide. These findings were published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology.

Uriel has a strong interest in high-risk transplant populations, including HIV-positive patients and patients who have received mediastinal radiation due to tumors or prior transplants. He has improved treatment protocols and patient care for these high-risk groups.

Division of the Humanities

Michael Bourdaghs has been named the Robert S. Ingersoll Professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and the College.

Bourdaghs is a scholar of modern Japanese literature, culture and intellectual history, as well as popular music and literary and critical theory in Japan. He is also a prolific translator, including most recently Kojin Karatani's The Structure of World History: From Modes< of Production to Modes of Exchange.

Bourdaghs is the author of The Dawn That Never Comes: Shimazaki Toson and Japanese Nationalism, and Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Pre-History of J-Pop. He is currently completing a book on the works of Japanese novelist Natsume Sōseki.

Division of the Physical Sciences

Angela V. Olinto has been named the Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics and the College.

Olinto works on astroparticle physics and cosmology. She has made important contributions to the physics of quark stars, inflationary theory, cosmic magnetic fields and astroparticle physics. She currently leads NASA sub-orbital and space missions to discover the origins of the highest-energy cosmic rays and neutrinos.

Olinto is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society, and has received the Chaire d’Excellence Award of the French Agence Nationale de Recherche, the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring, among other awards. She serves as chair of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University.


Wilhelm Schlag has been named the Homer J. Livingston Professor in Mathematics and the College.

Schlag is the author of more than 80 scholarly papers and five books, and his research focuses on linear and nonlinear partial differential equations, operator and spectral theory, and harmonic and classical analysis, among other subjects.

Schlag serves on the editorial boards of numerous publications, including Communications in Mathematical Physics, Communications in Partial Differential Equations, Geometric and Functional Analysis and Journal of Spectral Theory, and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship. He was an invited speaker at the 2014 International Congress of Mathematicians in Korea, and a plenary speaker at the 2012 International Congress of Mathematical Physics in Denmark.


Ben Zhao has been named the Neubauer Professor in Computer Science and the College.

Zhao’s research covers a range of topics including large-distributed networks and systems, HCI, security and privacy, and wireless and mobile systems, mostly from a data-driven perspective. Zhao is an ACM distinguished scientist and a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award, MIT Tech Review’s TR-35 Award and IEEE Internet Technical Committee’s Early Career Award.

Zhao joined the University in July from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he served as a professor of computer science. He co-directs the Systems, Algorithms, Networking and Data Lab, which is relocating to UChicago.


Haitao “Heather” Zheng has been named the Neubauer Professor in Computer Science and the College.

Zheng’s research focuses on mobile computing, wireless networking, and online and mobile data analysis. Her current research includes developing novel mmWave networking and imaging systems, crowdsourcing enabled spectrum monitoring and enforcement, as well as data-driven networking and systems design. Zheng led the Nautilus project on open spectrum systems at Microsoft Research Asia and worked on radio resource allocation for broadband wireless networks at Bell-Labs.

Zheng joined UChicago in July from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she was a professor in the Department of Computer Science and co-directed the Systems, Algorithms, Networking and Data Lab, which is relocating to UChicago. She was selected in 2005 by MIT Technology Review as one of the top 35 innovators under the age of 35. She received the Google Faculty Research Award in 2012, 2014 and 2016 and is an IEEE Fellow.

Division of the Social Sciences

Mikhail Golosov has been named the Homer J. Livingston Professor in Economics and the College.

Golosov joined UChicago in July from Princeton University, where he was a professor of economics. He has also held positions at Yale University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Golosov’s research focus includes macroeconomics, public finance and political economy.

He is an associate editor of Econometrica and the Review of Economic Studies. Golosov has been awarded the Sloan Research Fellowship and the National Science Foundation CAREER Grant. He is a fellow of the Econometric Society and a distinguished CESifo affiliate.

Chicago Booth School of Business

Bariş Ata has been named the Chookaszian Family Professor of Operations Management.

Ata takes a problem-driven approach to bridge the theory and practice of operations management. He has used stochastic models to study delivery of health care services, sustainable operations, management of manufacturing and service operations, and revenue management. His current research interests also include operational issues in the criminal justice system and the logistical challenges in the last-mile delivery problems in Africa.

Ata serves as the editor for the Stochastic Models and Simulation Department of Management Science. He has served as an associate editor for Mathematics of Operations Research, Operations Research, Management Science, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management and Stochastic Systems. Prior to joining the Chicago Booth faculty in 2013, Ata was a faculty member at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


Steven Davis has been named the William H. Abbott Distinguished Service Professor of International Business and Economics.

Davis studies business dynamics, employment, labor market institutions, economic fluctuations, public policy and other topics. He is known for his influential work using longitudinal data on firms and establishments to explore job creation and destruction dynamics and their relationship to economic performance.

Davis is also a co-creator of the Economic Policy Uncertainty Indices and the DHI Hiring Indicators, and he co-organizes the Asian Monetary Policy Forum, held annually in Singapore. He is a former editor of the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics and an elected fellow of the Society of Labor Economists. He is also a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, senior academic fellow with the Asian Bureau of Finance and Economics Research, adviser to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, and visiting scholar and consultant, respectively, with the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Chicago. In 2013, he received the Addington Prize in Measurement, awarded by the Fraser Institute for Public Policy.


Emir Kamenica has been named the Richard O. Ryan Professor of Economics.

Kamenica studies an eclectic set of topics in microeconomics with a focus on theoretical work on the design of informational environments.

His work has been published widely, including articles in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Review of Economic Studies and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Kamenica is a recipient of the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and is an editor of the Journal of Political Economy.


Stefan Nagel has been named the Fama Family Professor of Finance.

Nagel’s research focuses on asset pricing, investor behavior and risk taking of financial intermediaries. His most recent work explores the role of personal experiences in shaping expectations about the macroeconomy and financial market returns, novel approaches for measurement of bank tail risk exposures, and the application of machine learning techniques to understand the risk and return of investment strategies in the stock market.

Nagel is executive editor of the Journal of Finance, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a research fellow at the Centre of Economic Policy Research. Before joining Chicago Booth in 2017, Nagel taught at the University of Michigan, Stanford University and Harvard University.


Canice Prendergast has been named the W. Allen Wallis Distinguished Service Professor of Economics.

Prendergast is a microeconomist who studies the economics of organizations, including compensation practices of firms and social influences of trade within firms. His recent research involves designing and implementing an efficient market system for allocating food to food banks across the United States.

He is the author of “The Motivation and Bias of Bureaucrats,” published in the American Economics Review in 2007 and "The Tenuous Trade-Off Between Risk and Incentives," which appeared in the Journal of Political Economy in 2002. Prendergast’s work also appears in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, The RAND Journal, The Economic Journal, Journal of Labor Economics and European Economic Review. He has worked as the editor of the Journal of Political Economy and the Journal of Labor Economics. In addition to being the Booth Faculty Fellow from 2011 to 2014, he is the recipient of two National Science Foundation Awards, is a fellow of the Society of Labor Economics and has been a faculty research fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research.


Madhav Rajan has been named the George Pratt Shultz Professor of Accounting.

The dean of Chicago Booth, Rajan was most recently senior associate dean at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, where he held the Robert K. Jaedicke Chair in Accounting. Rajan’s primary research interest is the economics-based analysis of management accounting issues, especially as they relate to the choice of internal control and performance systems in firms.

He has served as editor of The Accounting Review and is co-author of Cost Accounting: A Managerial Emphasis, the leading cost accounting textbook used around the world. Before joining Stanford in 2001, Rajan held faculty positions at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In 2000, Rajan won the David W. Hauck Award, Wharton’s highest undergraduate teaching award. Earlier this year, he received the Robert T. Davis Award for lifetime achievement and service, the highest faculty recognition awarded by Stanford GSB. Rajan held a visiting professorship at Chicago Booth in 2007-08.

Divinity School

Laurie Zoloth has been named the Margaret E. Burton Professor in the Divinity School.

The dean of the Divinity School, Zoloth is a leader in the field of religious studies with a particular focus on bioethics and Jewish studies. Her scholarship includes the ethics of genetic engineering, stem cell research, and how science and medicine are taught. She is a founding board member of the Society for Scriptural Reasoning, and has been the president of the American Academy of Religion and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. Before joining UChicago, Zoloth served as a Charles McCormick Deering Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University, holding appointments in the Department of Religious Studies in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and in the Feinberg School of Medicine.

Zoloth is the author of Health Care and the Ethics of Encounter: A Jewish Discussion of Social Justice and co-editor of five books, including Notes from a Narrow Ridge: Religion and Bioethics and& Jews and Genes: The Genetic Future in Contemporary Jewish Thought.

Harris School of Public Policy

Katherine Baicker has been named the Emmett Dedmon Professor in the Harris School of Public Policy.

Baicker, who will begin serving as dean of Harris Public Policy on Aug. 15, is a leading scholar in the economic analysis of health policy. Her research focuses on the effectiveness and value of public and private health insurance. Her scholarship spans Medicaid, health insurance finance, health care quality and the effect of health system reforms.

Baicker arrives at UChicago from Harvard University where she serves as the C. Boyden Gray Professor of Health Economics. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and National Academy of Social Insurance and serves as a member of the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Health Advisers, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and an affiliate of the Jameel Poverty Action Lab. Baicker has served as a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.


Daniel Diermeier has been named the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor in the Harris School of Public Policy and in the College.

Diermeier was appointed provost of UChicago in 2016. Previously, he served as dean of Harris Public Policy, where he was the Emmett Dedmon Professor of Public Administration. His teaching and research focus on formal political theory, political institutions, the interaction of business and politics, as well as crisis and reputation management. He has published two books and more than 100 research articles in academic journals, mostly in the fields of political science, economics and management, but also in other areas ranging from linguistics, sociology and psychology to computer science and applied mathematics.

Diermeier is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research. Prior to joining UChicago, he taught at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, most recently as IBM Professor of Regulation and Practice in the Department of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences and director of the Ford Motor Company Center of Global Citizenship.

Institute for Molecular Engineering

Jeffrey Hubbell has been named the inaugural Eugene Bell Professor of Tissue Engineering.

Hubbell’s research focuses on tissue engineering, including designing materials to guide processes of morphogenesis through engineering of extracellular matrix molecules and growth factors, to create implants that are drug-like in their function. He and his team are also developing molecular- and materials-engineering approaches in immunotherapy, including focusing vaccination on infectious disease and cancer.

Earlier this year, Hubbell received the Society for Biomaterials' Founders Award, the highest honor bestowed by the society. Hubbell has co-founded five companies, three of which are based on or related to research he directs at his UChicago laboratory. The companies include ClostraBio, a startup that is developing treatments for food allergies, Kuros Biosciences, which develops growth factor engineering and biomaterials technology for surgical sealants and tissue repair agents, and QGel, which develops biomaterials matrices for cell culture in drug discovery.

Oriental Institute

Christopher Woods has been named the John A. Wilson Professor in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the College.

Woods began serving as director of the Oriental Institute on July 1. His research and writings focus on Sumerian language as well as early Mesopotamian religion, literature, mathematics and administration. Woods serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies.

His publications include The Grammar of Perspective: The Sumerian Conjugation Prefixes as a System of Voice and the forthcoming Materials for the Sumerian Lexicon 18. Woods is editor of Visible Language: The Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond.