Faculty members recognized for outstanding research with new professorships

Thirteen UChicago faculty members — Mark Bradley, Marshall Chin, Juan de Pablo, Frances Ferguson, Ayelet Fishbach, Chang-Tai Hsieh, Holly Humphrey, David J. Levin, Robert McCulloch, Kathleen Morrison, Paul Nealey, Nicholas Polson and Kazuo Yamaguchi — have received named professorships, while six faculty members — Alex Eskin, Michael Fishbane, David Jablonski, Bruce Lincoln, Eric Santner and Rosanna Warren — have been named Distinguished Service Professors. The William Claude Reavis Distinguished Service Professor Richard Shweder has been named the Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor. Alan Kolata, the Neukom Family Distinguished Service Professor, has been named the Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor. Two faculty members, Kenneth Pomeranz and Dam Thanh Son, have been named University Professor.

Biological Sciences Division


Marshall Chin has been appointed the Richard Parrillo Family Professor in Medicine. Chin is a general internist with a research focus on reducing racial and ethnic health disparities. As the director of Finding Answers: Disparities Research For Change, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation based at UChicago, Chin oversees the funding and evaluation of disparities reduction projects around the country. Chin is also co-principal investigator for Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes on the South Side of Chicago, which is working with local clinics, patients and the community on innovative solutions to controlling and treating the chronic disease.


Holly Humphrey has been appointed the Ralph W. Gerard Professor in Medicine. Humphrey studies how the medical school curriculum can be reshaped to fit the modern health care system and place a greater emphasis on professionalism, diversity, doctor-patient relationships, research and scholarship. Her work has informed the implementation of The Pritzker Initiative and other programs at the Pritzker School of Medicine, which Humphrey oversees as dean of Medical Education. Under her supervision, the Pritzker School of Medicine reached the top 10 in national medical school rankings in 2012.

Humanities Division


Frances Ferguson has been named the Ann L. and Lawrence B. Buttenwieser Professor in English Language & Literature and the College. Her research interests include 18th- and 19th-century literature, as well as 20th- and 21st-century literary theory. Ferguson, who comes to the University from Johns Hopkins University, is currently at work on a project that explores the rise of mass education and how it affects our conception of both individuals and society.


David J. Levin has been appointed the Addie Clark Harding Professor in Germanic Studies, Cinema and Media Studies, Theater and Performance Studies, and the College. His latest book, Unsettling Opera: Staging Mozart, Verdi, Wagner and Zemlinksy, (University of Chicago Press, 2007), explores how radical stagings impact one’s understanding of classic operas. Levin, an expert on German opera, theater, cinema and performance theory, serves as executive editor of Opera Quarterly and as the director of the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry.


Eric Santner, a leading scholar of German literature, history and culture, has been named the Philip and Ida Romberg Distinguished Service Professor in Germanic Studies and the College. Santner works at the intersection of literature, political theory, philosophy, psychoanalysis and religious thought. His most recent book, The Royal Remains: The People’s Two Bodies and the Endgames of Sovereignty, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2011.

Divinity School


Michael Fishbane has been named the Nathan Cummings Distinguished Service Professor in Jewish Studies in the Divinity School and the College. His many works explore the ancient Near East, biblical studies and rabbinics, the history of Jewish interpretation, as well as Jewish mysticism and modern Jewish thought. He is presently completing a book that incorporates modern critical and traditional Jewish interpretations of the Song of Songs.


Bruce Lincoln has been named the Caroline E. Haskell Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Committee on Medieval Studies and the College. He is particularly interested in issues of discourse, practice, power, conflict, the violent reconstruction of social borders and ideological aspects of religion. Lincoln tends to focus on pre-Christian Europe and pre-Islamic Iran, with occasional excursions elsewhere. His Gods and Demons, Priests and Scholars: Critical Explorations in the History of Religions, which calls for a more critical approach to studying the role of religion in history and culture, was published in May by the University of Chicago Press.

Institute for Molecular Engineering


Juan de Pablo, who comes to UChicago from the University of Wisconsin, will become the Liew Family Professor in Molecular Theory and Simulations and the College, effective Sept. 1. de Pablo specializes in conducting supercomputer simulations to understand and innovatively design new materials and to find applications for them. He is one of the leading experts in simulating polymeric materials, substances that consist of long, flexible chains of identical molecules. de Pablo also develops computational simulations of molecular and large-scale phenomena, including DNA dynamics, protein aggregation and the latter’s poorly understood relationship to various diseases.


Paul Nealey, also formerly of the University of Wisconsin, will join the faculty as the Brady W. Dougan Professor in Molecular Engineering and the College as of Sept. 1. Nealey is a pioneer of directed self-assembly, a technique that is becoming important in microelectronics processing to create patterns for integrated circuits. He also is a world leader on patterning organic materials, which entails creating physical patterns of structure and composition in materials at the nanoscale, which affects the function of the materials. Nealey’s expertise in fabricating nanostructured surfaces extends to tissue engineering of corneal prosthetic devices.

Physical Sciences Division


Alex Eskin has been appointed the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor in Mathematics and the College. Eskin is generally interested in the aesthetics of mathematics, but his particular research interests include the dynamics and geometry of Teichmüller space, billiards in rational polygons, and geometric group theory. He also studies Lie Groups, discrete groups, ergodic theory, applications to number theory and geometric group theory.


David Jablonski has been named the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Service Professor in Geophysical Sciences and the College. Jablonski is a paleontologist who studies macroevolution, which takes place above the species level and encompasses large-scale patterns of evolution, mass extinction, diversification and the origin of evolutionary breakthroughs. He also compares patterns of extinctions and survival during mass extinctions to better understand the evolutionary significance of extinction events. His methods emphasize the combining of data from living and fossil organisms to study the origins and fates of lineages and adaptations.


Dam Thanh Son has been appointed University Professor in Physics, the Enrico Fermi Institute and the James Franck Institute, effective Sept. 1. Son currently serves as a professor of physics and a senior fellow in the Institute for Nuclear Theory at the University of Washington. A theoretician, his research interests span nuclear, particle, condensed matter and atomic physics. Among his accomplishments, Son has borrowed ideas from string theory and black holes physics to explain some phenomena observed in relativistic heavy-ion collisions.

Social Sciences Division


Mark Philip Bradley has been named the Bernadotte E. Schmitt Professor in History and the College. His research and teaching focuses on 20th-century U.S. international history, the global history of human rights politics and postcolonial Southeast Asian history. He is the author of Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, Vietnam at War and is completing a book that explores the place of the United States in the 20th-century global human rights imagination.


Alan Kolata has been named the Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor in Anthropology and the College. He is leading ongoing interdisciplinary research projects studying human-environment interactions over the past 3,000 years in South America and Southeast Asia, including problems of water sustainability and climate change in Cambodia. His new book, Ancient Inca, will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2013.


Kathleen Morrison has been named the Neukom Family Professor in Anthropology and the College. Her research examines the causes and consequences of agrarian transformations in southern India, especially the connections between power relations and environmental change. Morrison’s work indicated that these transformations, begun in ancient times, led to inequality and environmental degradation, including current construction of large dams and a current rash of farmer suicides. This work integrates data from archaeology, history and environmental sciences, including botanical and stable isotope analysis.


Kenneth Pomeranz, one of the nation’s leading scholars of modern China, joined the faculty July 1 as University Professor of History and the College. Pomeranz’s research is focused on three primary areas: reciprocal influences of state, society and economy in late Imperial and 20th-century China; the origins of a world economy as the outcome of mutual influences among various regions; and comparative studies of labor, family organization, and economic change in Europe and East Asia. His book, The Great Divergence (2000), won the John K. Fairbank Book Prize in East Asian History from the American Historical Association, one of the most important honors for a scholar of Asian studies.


Richard Shweder, a cultural anthropologist, has been named the Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in Comparative Human Development and the College. His recent research examines the scopes and limits of pluralism and the multicultural challenge in Western liberal democracies. He also is working with a group of scholars from a number of universities to look at the “equality-difference paradox”—the apparent tradeoff between equality and diversity, such that very few contemporary countries have achieved both; and the implications of the evidence that the most economically egalitarian countries are also the most ethnically and culturally homogeneous.


Rosanna Warren has been named the Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Service Professor in the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought and the College. An acclaimed poet, Warren examines poetry and translation, and the relations between classical and modern literature in her scholarship. Among her award-winning poetry are titles such as: Each Leaf Shines Separate; Stained Glass, which won the Lamont Award from the Academy of American Poets; and Departure (2003). Her most recent book of poems is Ghost in a Red Hat (2011). She is also author of a book of literary criticism, Fables of the Self: Studies in Lyric Poetry (2008).


Kazuo Yamaguchi has been named the Ralph Lewis Professor in Sociology and the College. Yamaguchi is a prominent scholar of statistical modeling of family processes. A specialist in quantitative methodology, social stratification, the family and mathematical sociology, he is interested in statistical models for social data and rational choice theory. He also studies work-life balance and gender inequality in Japan, and is an advisor to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Gender Equality Bureau of the Cabinet Office, regarding the promotion of women in economic activities.

University of chicago Booth School of Business


Ayelet Fishbach has been named the Jeffrey Breakenridge Keller Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing. A member of the Booth faculty since 2002, Fishbach studies the process of self-regulation, specifically the simultaneous pursuit of multiple goals. A primary focus of her research is on the practice of self-control, especially how people protect their long-term goals from the influence of short-term motives or temptations.   


Chang-Tai Hsieh has been named the Phyllis and Irwin Winkelried Professor of Economics at Chicago Booth, where his research is centered on growth and development. Several of his papers have been published in a number of top economic journals, including the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. Hsieh has been a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Banks of San Francisco, New York and Minneapolis.


Robert McCulloch has been named the Katherine Dusak Miller Professor of Econometrics and Statistics. His research centers on applications of data mining and Bayesian statistical methods in business, statistical computing and machine learning. A member of the Chicago Booth faculty from 1985 to 2008, he rejoined the faculty this year after serving on the faculty of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin.


Nicholas Polson has been named the Robert Law Jr. Professor of Economics and Statistics. Polson is a Bayesian statistician who conducts research on financial econometrics and Markow Chain Monte Carlo methods. Inspired by an interest in probability, Polson has added a number of new algorithms to the field of financial econometrics, including the Bayesian analysis of Stochastic Volatility and sequential particle learning. He has published in a variety of disciplinary journals, including the Journal of the American Statistical Association, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society and the Journal of Finance.