From humanities to sciences, six faculty members receive named appointments

Six University of Chicago scholars from the Humanities, the Physical Sciences and the Social Sciences have received named and distinguished service professorships. 

Ngô Bao Châu, Gregory Voth, and Paul Wiegmann have received distinguished service professorships and Michael Kremer, John List and Lisa Wedeen have received named chairs.

Fields medalist Ngô Bao Châu, professor in mathematics and the College, has been named the Francis and Rose Yuen Distinguished Service Professor.

Ngô specializes in algebraic geometry, automorphic representations and group theory. He joined the UChicago faculty last September, shortly after receiving the Fields Medal, which is regarded as the highest professional honor a mathematician can attain. Fields Medals are given every four years to the most distinguished mathematicians aged 40 or under.

The International Congress of Mathematicians awarded Ngô the Fields Medal “for his proof of the Fundamental Lemma in the theory of automorphic forms through the introduction of new algebro-geometric methods.”           

Ngô has delivered invited addresses to the International Congress of Mathematicians in 2006 and 2010. His honors include the Oberwolfach Prize, the Prix Sophie Germain de l’Académie des Sciences de Paris, the Clay Research Award and an honorary doctorate from the Vietnamese National University. His proof of the Fundamental Lemma also was named one of Time magazine’s top 10 scientific discoveries of 2009.

A native of Hanoi, Vietnam, Ngô received gold medals at the International Mathematical Olympiad in 1988 and 1989. He received his PhD from Université Paris-Sud in 1997. Before coming to Chicago he held appointments at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., and at Université Paris-Sud.

Gregory Voth, professor in chemistry and the College, has been appointed the Haig P. Papazian Distinguished Service Professor in Chemistry.

Voth has developed leading expertise in the development and application of integrated theoretical and computational methods to study problems involving the dynamics of complex condense-phase systems, including proteins, membranes, liquids, and materials.

He has pioneered an approach known as “multiscale coarse graining,” which reduces the “resolution” of molecular-scale entities into simpler structures while retaining key information about their interactions. The resulting computer simulations based on this method can accurately and efficiently predict the properties of large assemblies of complex molecules such as lipids and proteins.

In 2009, Voth was elected to the inaugural class of fellows of the American Chemical Society. Other honors include a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship and a National Science Foundation Creativity Award.

Voth earned his PhD from the California Institute of Technology in 1987. He was the IBM Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, before joining the University of Pennsylvania faculty. Voth joined the UChicago faculty last year, following 13 years at the University of Utah, where he was elected a distinguished professor in 2005.

Paul Wiegmann, professor in physics and the College, has been named the Robert W. Reneker Distinguished Service Professor in Physics.

Wiegman discovered integrable structures in a number of important problems of theoretical condensed matter physics, which led to essential progress in understanding important quantum phenomena in electronic physics and magnetism. He also emphasized a role of topology in formation quantum states in interacting quantum systems and developed and applied topological methods to problems of condensed matter physics. In his recent works, Wiegman has developed a theory of singularities in certain driven quantum and classical fluids out-of-equilibrium.

Wiegman joined the UChicago faculty in 1992 and now directs the James Franck Institute. Last year, he co-organized the first academic conference ever held at the University’s new Center in Beijing, on novel quantum states in condensed matter.

Wiegmann received his BS in theoretical and mathematical physics in 1975 from the Physical Technical Institute in Moscow, and his PhD in 1978 in theoretical physics from the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics. Before coming to Chicago he held appointments at the Landau Institute and at the Institute for Advanced Study.

Wiegmann has received many international honors, including a Humboldt Research Award for senior U.S. scientists from Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

He has served as the Kramers Chair of the Spinoza Institute at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and as the Blaise Pascal Research Chair of Ille de France at the Université Paris-Sud. He also is a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Michael Kremer, professor in philosophy, has been named the Mary R. Morton Professor in Philosophy and the College. Kremer has published numerous articles on logic, philosophy of language, early analytic philosophy.

Kremer's current research projects include work on the 19th-century mathematician and philosopher Gottlob Frege, and on the early 20th-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

He is the recipient of a 2009-2010 Franke Institute fellowship and a 2008 Llewellyn John & Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Kremer taught at the University of Notre Dame prior to joining the UChicago faculty. He received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. 

John List, a leading researcher on environmental economics and a pioneer in using field experiments in economics, has been named the Homer J. Livingston Professor in Economics and the College.

List has been at the forefront of environmental economics and has served as senior economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors for Environmental and Resource Economics. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor, and a university fellow at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

In his work using field experiments, he developed scientific methods for testing economic theory directly in the marketplace. That work has provided insights into 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.

Recently, List has been involved in creating an experimental laboratory to study the role incentives play for preschool children and their parents at Griffin Early Childhood Center in Chicago Heights. On that project, List is working with Steven Levitt, the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor in Economics, and Roland Fryer, the Robert M. Beren professor of economics at Harvard University. Chicago philanthropists Kenneth and Anne Griffin are funding the project.

List joined the faculty in 2005 after serving on the faculties at the University of Maryland, the University of Arizona, and the University of Central Florida. He received a PhD in Economics from the University of Wyoming in 1996. 

Lisa Wedeen, an expert on Middle East politics, has been named the Mary R. Morton Professor in Political Science and the College.

In addition to the Middle East, Wedeen’s research interests include comparative politics, political theory, and feminist theory.

She is the author of numerous articles and two books, Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (University of Chicago Press, 1999) and Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power and Performance in Yemen (University of Chicago Press, 2008). 

Wedeen does fieldwork throughout the Middle East, and spent 18 months doing research in Yemen. She analyzed the development of national attachments in an environment with weak state institutions. 

Through her work, Wedeen found that much of public life in Yemen revolves around qat, a leafy stimulant, typically chewed during afternoon socializing. By analyzing these informal gatherings, Wedeen showed how the study of public discussions, existing outside of official electoral or governmental institutions, provides insights into the development of participatory politics.

From 2006 to 2007, Wedeen was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.  She also did research at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Italy using a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. She also received a Franke Institute for the Humanities fellowship for study in 2002-2003.

In 2010, Wedeen won the American Political Science Association's Qualitative and Multi-Methods David Collier Mid-Career Award for Achievements in Interpretive Methods.

Currently on sabbatical in Syria, Wedeen received a UChicago Faculty Award for Graduate Teaching in 2008. She received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1995.